The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a two-game slate starting at 8 p.m. ET. Instead of the usual positional breakdown, let’s go game-by-game instead.
Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans (-2), 232 Over/Under
Thunder (115 implied points)
The Thunder are second on the slate in implied team total, which makes sense given their matchup. The Pelicans have been poor defensively all season and play at a super fast pace, so this should be a high-scoring game.
Darius Bazley remains out with a knee injury, and rookie Luguentz Dort is expected to start in his place. Dort plays for near the minimum along with Terrance Ferguson, but don’t count on either in your lineup — Dort averages just 0.54 fantasy points per minute and Ferguson is well short of that.
There are really only six main Thunder fantasy options, and they’re all pretty good plays tonight since they get to split the usage pie between fewer players in such a nice matchup. You’ll especially want to load up on Thunder guards.
Danilo Gallinari stands out as the top option at over a +6.5 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites, including a whopping +9.5 at DraftKings. Gallo has a good chance to lead the team in scoring and has an 87% Bargain Rating at DraftKings at just $5,500. There aren’t many good forward options tonight so he’s a pretty obvious play.
All three Thunder guards look great, but Dennis Schroder has really been an awesome bargain of late. He’s exceeded expectations in eight of his past 10 games with an average +9.55 during that span. At over +6.0 Projected Plus/Minus, he’s a strong play at both sites and an especially good one at DraftKings. He’s also the cheapest of the three guards.
Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be good plays, too. You’re definitely going to want to stack up some Thunder players tonight. CP3 has exceeded expectations in 68% of his games over the past month and has become a very steady fantasy option once again, but he would actually be my third choice of the three. Gilgeous-Alexander typically plays the most minutes of the three and has the biggest upside if everything hits. He could fill up the box score. Both guards are over a +3.9 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel are your big men options on Oklahoma City. Noel is a bit of a wildcard because he plays so few minutes, but he has big upside playing for just $3,200 at DraftKings, a 94% Bargain Rating. He has total bust potential but can also easily hit +10 or better if he gets some nice block and rebound numbers. Adams is over a +3.5 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites and feels like an easy center play on a lite slate, but he’s fallen short of expectations in 7 of his last 11 games and isn’t a top option.
Pelicans (117 implied points)
The Pelicans lead the slate in implied team total and should score plenty of points like usual.
The big injury to monitor tonight is Brandon Ingram. He’s listed as questionable with a sprained ankle, and you gotta think it’s tempting to let Ingram sit one more with the All-Star break looming — though remember, he’s an All Star, so he doesn’t get the weekend off. We’re currently projecting Ingram with 33.6 minutes, but if he does sit, that would be a boost for everyone else in New Orleans since he eats up so many minutes and possessions.
If Ingram does play, he’s by far the best Pelicans option on the board at DraftKings at $7,200. He’s been killing it at DraftKings all season, exceeding expectations in an incredible 73% of his games with a +4.98 on the season, an unheard of mark. With a +4.18 Projected Plus/Minus, you can get a real leg up on your competition if he’s a late go and you get him in your lineup.
Our models are fading almost every other Pelicans player at DraftKings, but Derrick Favors looks like a positive play. The Thunder offer a +3.67 Opponent Plus/Minus to centers and he scores 1.15 fantasy points per minute, so he should have a nice night with plenty of rebounds up for grabs. Favors is under a +2.5 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites but still a decent play with not many strong center options.
Lonzo Ball is the top Pelicans play at FanDuel, and he’s someone whose value will increase if Ingram sits. Ball leads all Pelicans with 10 Pro Trends and has an 89% Bargain Rating at FanDuel with a +3.35 Projected Plus/Minus. He’s averaging a +5.88 over his last 10 games there, topping expectations in eight of them.
I don’t care what the computers say — I’m still playing Zion Williamson. Our models rate him as a negative Projected Plus/Minus at both sites now that his salary is rising after his biggest game yet, a 31-point outing Tuesday night for his first 50-point fantasy game. Zion’s salary now implies a game in the 36- to 38-point fantasy range so there’s not as much upside, but I like this matchup and I’m still riding him.
Jrue Holiday is below a -1.0 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites, a clear fade tonight in a tough matchup. He’ll have his hands full defensively and may not be reliable as a fantasy option. J.J. Redick and Josh Hart also look like fades in our model, though Redick has exceeded expectations in eight of his last nine games. Hart is a better option at FanDuel, if you do want to play him, but overall there’s just not a ton of Pelicans value tonight.
Los Angeles Clippers at Boston Celtics (-2), 227 Over/Under
Clippers (112.5 implied points)
The Clippers have tonight’s lowest implied team total, so be careful about investing too much here in what could be a low-scoring, defensive slugfest.
Patrick Beverley is still out with a groin injury, but everyone else should be a full go since the Clippers had Wednesday off and obviously don’t play again for a week.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are the only two true “studs” on the entire slate, and I’m not sure either of them is a great play tonight. Both of them rate as negative Projected Plus/Minus options at both sites.
If I had to play one, I’d go with Leonard. This is a spot where he could get a few extra minutes of run, and Kawhi averages 1.69 fantasy points per minute over the past month, up from his season average. He has a better chance of exceeding expectations. PG is more of a neutral play than a bad one, but he doesn’t offer much bang for your buck and has consistently fallen short of expectations more often than not this month and season.
Montrezl Harrell is the center you’re looking for. It’s a brutal matchup spot for him with Boston offering a -3.39 Opponent Plus/Minus and a -2.9 pace differential, but Harrell should play big minutes against an undersized Celtics team, and he’s the sort of energy guy you want on a night where many players may already be mentally on break. Harrell looks like the best center option on the slate, especially at DraftKings with his +7.13 Projected Plus/Minus.
If you can’t afford Harrell, Ivica Zubac looks like a serviceable center option too. He has an 87% Bargain Rating at DraftKings along with a +3.16 Projected Plus/Minus, and we project him at 21.6 minutes tonight.
Lou Williams looks like a pretty strong FanDuel option at $5,500, a 95% Bargain Rating. Lou is another guy who can fill it up in a hurry with energy points off the bench, so I like this spot for him. At +2.45 Projected Plus/Minus, he might be the best Clipper play at FanDuel.
JaMychal Green is the top bargain option on the team. He can be hit or miss, but he plays for barely above the minimum and could get some extra run against a smaller opponent. At over a +2.1 Projected Plus/Minus on both sites, he’s a nice plug and play.
Don’t be afraid to give Marcus Morris a shot. Our computers rate him a relatively neutral play, but the computers don’t know Morris plays with a chip on his shoulder and is up against his old team. Don’t be surprised to see him get a lot of shots up tonight.
One Clipper to avoid is Landry Shamet, who simply hasn’t been producing enough. He rates as a negative Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
Celtics (114.5 implied points)
Jaylen Brown is listed as probable with a left calf contusion but expected to play a regular load. He looks like the top Boston option on the slate and should probably slot into your lineup, with over a +4.3 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites to lead the team. With a moderate salary, he looks like a great play tonight.
Jayson Tatum has been on fire of late, exceeding expectations in eight of 10 games with an average +7.66 per outing. His salary has begun to catch up to his outstanding play, but he still rates as a slightly positive option. On a night that lacks high-end salary options, that makes Tatum pretty playable as he continues his strong play into his first All-Star appearance.
Gordon Hayward looks like a quality option too. I’d probably play him after both Brown and Tatum, but this is a relatively positive matchup for these wings, and Hayward is over a +2.4 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites. Like Tatum, he’s been balling lately with a +8.85 average over his last 10. Don’t be afraid to get at least two of these guys in your lineup.
I’m sure Kemba Walker won’t miss Patrick Beverley in this game. That could free him up for a bigger game, but Kemba has fallen short of expectations in 64% of his games over the past month. With four somewhat similarly priced Celtics and the other guard options on the slate, I’m fading Kemba tonight despite a positive Projected Plus/Minus.
Boston remains an easy place to plug in a bargain center if you need one. Both Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter work here. We project Theis at nearly double Kanter’s minutes and I like Theis slightly better if you can afford the extra $1,000 or so in salary. Kanter could struggle to stay on the court in a defensive battle, but both are solid options.
Marcus Smart depends on the site. He’s a complete fade at DraftKings but has a +6.2 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel, along with a 97% Bargain Rating. Smart is an energy guy that you know will play hard even for a tired team, and he’s gone over expectations in 65% of his FanDuel games over the last month.
Grant Williams and Brad Wanamaker are definite fades. Don’t get too creative here. There’s just not enough minutes or usage for either in a big time matchup, and both are below a -4.5 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.