This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a six-game slate Thursday night, one that does have some notable names on the injury report but that's also expected to feature the return of Paul George to action from his hamstring injury. We also have a trio of games projected over the desired 220-point threshold, and the two most defensively vulnerable teams in the league, the Wizards and Hawks, in action.
As usual, we'll proceed to break down the positional outlook below, along with possible chalk plays and some likely under-owned bargains that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.
Without further ado, let's take a more comprehensive look at Thursday's slate!
Here's a closer look at the three games on Thursday's slate with the highest projected totals:
Philadelphia 76ers at Atlanta Hawks (Projected total: 228.5 points)
The Hawks check in allowing the second-most points per game (118.1), including a whopping 134.3 over the last three contests. Atlanta combines that vulnerability with a pace that ranks as the third fastest in the league (107.6 possessions per game). The 76ers are less potent offensively on the road (105.7 PPG), but they've also been more vulnerable on defense when traveling (108.4 PPG allowed, compared to 101.2 PPG at home). All the main 76ers pieces should be in particularly advantageous positions here, especially considering the bump in pace.
Charlotte Hornets at Washington Wizards (Projected total: 227.5 points)
The Wizards have been even more generous than the Hawks on defense, as they'll come in surrendering an NBA-high 121.3 points per contest, including a league-worst 138.3 over the last three. Granted, the Hornets haven't shown much punch on offense this season (NBA-low 100.8 PPG on road), but Washington (106.9 possessions per game) will bring a major bump in pace for a Hornets squad that plays at the slowest pace in the league (99.6 possessions per game on road).
Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Clippers (Projected total: 227.0 points)
The Clippers are averaging the third-most points per game of any team on its home floor (117.7 PPG) and the Kings allow 110.7 points per contest on the road. Los Angeles will also likely afford Sacramento some extra possessions throughout, as the Clips are ranked in the top-10 with 105.9 possessions per contest, while the Kings check in with just 102.3 per game.
Point guard is in strong shape overall, with Jamal Murray's ankle injury prompting the one confirmed absence of note. However, the Clippers are likely to get Patrick Beverley back in action, and there's some viable value plays down into the high $3K/low-$4K range.
Shooting guard will also endure a couple of absences, as both Josh Richardson (hamstring) and Jordan McRae (ankle) will sit out. The rest of the position is in relatively strong shape, however, and D'Angelo Russell and Fred VanVleet could both prove to be excellent fantasy-point-per-dollar values at $7.4K and $7.3K, respectively.
Small forward appears set to welcome Paul George back into its ranks after a nine-game absence, making him and Pascal Siakam an especially appealing duo up top at prices of $8.6K and $8.2K, respectively. Tobias Harris ($6.9K) could also prove to be a bargain, especially if Al Horford (knee) sits out. Then, a solid mid-tier gives way to an attractive value level that includes intriguing options as far down as the high $3K range.
Power forward's higher end partly hinges on the outcome of a couple of uncertain injury situations (Jayson Tatum, Al Horford). There are also a multitude of confirmed absences in the mid-tier and below with Marvin Bagley (foot), Richaun Holmes (shoulder), Rui Hachimura (groin), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) and Paul Millsap (knee) all out of action. All told, this isn't exactly one of the deepest spots of the night, and the scarcity could make John Collins ($7.4K) and Kevin Love ($6.8K) especially valuable at reasonable prices.
Center has a few injuries in its own right, with Marc Gasol (hamstring) the most prominent. Alex Len (hip) and Enes Kanter (hip) are also two valuable backups that will sit out Thursday, but there are still plenty of viable top- and mid-tier options in the likes of Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid and Tristan Thompson, among others.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Paul George, LAC
George is probable to return from the hamstring injury that's cost him the last nine games. Kawhi Leonard should see a dip in usage to some degree as a result.
Patrick Beverley, LAC
Beverley is probable to return from the groin injury that's cost him the last three games.
Derrick Walton, LAC
Walton is questionable due to an elbow contusion.
Jamal Murray, DEN
Murray remains out with the ankle injury that's already caused him to miss seven games.
Jordan McRae, WAS
McRae will not play due to an ankle injury.
Marc Gasol, TOR
Jefferson is out due to an ankle injury.
Patrick McCaw, TOR
McCaw is questionable due to a nose injury.
Al Horford, PHI
Horford is questionable due to knee soreness. Mike Scott (knee) could draw the start at power forward if Horford misses and Scott is able to play.
Mike Scott, PHI
Scott is questionable due to knee soreness. If he's able to suit up, he could draw a start at power forward if Al Horford (knee) sits out.
Alex Len, ATL
Len is out due to the hip injury that's already cost him the last two games.
Bruno Fernando, ATL
Fernando is doubtful with the calf injury that's already cost him one game.
DeAndre' Bembry, ATL
Bembry is doubtful with the hand injury that's already cost him four games.
Enes Kanter, BOS
Kanter remains out with the hip injury that's already cost him four games.
Jayson Tatum, BOS
Marvin Bagley, SAC
Bagley is out due to a foot injury that's cost him the last four games.
Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW; Kevon Looney, GSW; Rui Hachimura, WAS; Moritz Wagner, WAS; Garrison Mathews, WAS; Josh Richardson, PHI; Brandon Knight, CLE; Ante Zizic, CLE; Robert Williams, BOS; Jabari Parker, ATL; Chandler Parsons, ATL; Paul Millsap, DEN; Mason Plumlee, DEN; Richaun Holmes, SAC
We have just a pair of five-figure salaries on the six-game slate, with Kawhi Leonard ($10,500) and Nikola Jokic ($10,200) fitting the bill. With respect to Leonard, it's important to note Paul George is projected back from his nine-game absence due to a hamstring injury. Leonard goes from averaging 1.63 FanDuel points per minute with George off the court to 1.31 per minute when sharing the floor with his teammate. Naturally, that's still an impressive figure, but the drop-off is notable, especially when factoring in Leonard is the most expensive player on the slate.
Then, we do have a more crowded $9K range than usual, with Bradley Beal and Joel Embiid (both priced at exactly $9K) in particularly good matchups. Additionally, it's worth noting Pascal Siakam ($8.6K) could offer a particularly nice fantasy-point-per-dollar return with Marc Gasol (hamstring) out of action. Siakam has a 32.1 percent usage rate with his teammate off the floor, compared to 28.9 percent when Gasol is on the court with him.
There shouldn't be too many surprises on the chalk front Thursday, and with Paul George likely returning to action, the ownership on Kawhi Leonard should flatten to a degree. In Toronto, the starting frontcourt duo of Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka should be particularly popular with Marc Gasol out, while Chris Boucher could see plenty of clicks as a value play for the same reason. Additionally, if Al Horford sits out due to knee soreness, the likes of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris could also enjoy an extra level of popularity.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Malik Monk, CHA at WAS ($4,400)
Monk has been inconsistent enough that his ownership should still be relatively modest Thursday, but he's worth a look for large-field tournament play due to the upside his matchup offers. The Wizards check in allowing the second-highest offensive efficiency rating to shooting guards (25.2), along with the highest shooting percentage (48.1) to second-unit players. Monk offered a glimpse at his ceiling with a masterful 47.5 FanDuel-point performance against the Bucks last Friday, and he's eclipsed 20 FanDuel points on 15 occasions already this season. The third-year wing also seems to have a trustworthy role in the backcourt rotation for the time being, having logged between 22 and 34 minutes in his last three.
Furkan Korkmaz, PHI at ATL ($4,100)
Josh Richardson continues out with a hamstring injury, and while Shake Milton is currently drawing the starts at two-guard, Korkmaz is currently locked into a role affording him minutes in the low 20s on a consistent basis. The third-year wing has been offering solid returns relative to his current salary, scoring 17.0 to 30.8 FanDuel points in four of his last six contests. Korkmaz will be in a good position to generate one of his better performances Thursday as well, as the Hawks have allowed the most FanDuel points per game (62.2) to twos, along with the highest offensive efficiency rating (48.4) to opposing benches.
Damian Jones, ATL vs. PHI ($3,500)
Alex Len remains out with a hip injury Thursday, while Bruno Fernando is doubtful due to a calf injury. Those developments should lock Jones into another solid role in the frontcourt rotation Thursday, one that already afforded him 22 minutes against the Raptors on Tuesday with both of his teammates sitting. Jones posted a modest 14.5 FanDuel points in that opportunity, a respectable return on a minimum salary. However, he has the capacity for much more, as evidenced by the fact he's scored 19.1 to 33.1 FanDuel points in 11 games overall this season. With minimal risk attached and playing time essentially locked in, Jones is worthy of consideration if you're punting at center altogether and spending up elsewhere.
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Draymond Green, GSW ($5,900); Marcus Smart, BOS ($5,600): Davis Bertans, WAS ($5,600); Serge Ibaka, TOR ($5,600); Lou Williams, LAC ($5,600); P.J. Washington, CHA ($5,300); Michael Porter, DEN ($4,900): Norman Powell, TOR ($4,900); Chris Boucher, TOR ($4,400); Thomas Bryant, WAS ($4,400); Cody Zeller, CHA ($4,400); Shake Milton, PHI ($3,700)