Fantasy basketball tips and betting picks for Thursday

What you need to know for Thursday’s games

As teams prepare for travel and fuller weekend schedules, Thursday’s often present fantasy managers with smaller slates. Tonight is no exception, with just six teams in action.

Running a simple projection model, we find Josh Okogie of the Phoenix Suns, who is a free agent in 95% of ESPN leagues, stands out as a prominent value. Okogie recently rejoined the rotation after the team’s blockbuster move for Kevin Durant and has averaged 35.3 minutes and 20.3 points, 5.3 boards, and two steals across his last three games.

In tonight’s tilt between the Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves, Daniel Gafford should get back above 20 minutes in a game that could see his elite block rate surface. Taurean Prince and Kyle Anderson are doing a bit of everything for the Wolves lately, while the recently acquired Mike Conley is a major DFS value at just $5,200 on DraftKings against a porous Washington perimeter defense. Rostering a backcourt of say Conley and Okogie could allow you to afford Giannis Antetokounmpo in lineups this evening.

For those in weekly head-to-head leagues, securing extra games played during a light night can prove pivotal, as you can separate from the competition based on sheer volume. For both redraft and DFS purposes, Thursday’s often demand we look deeper into rotations, as fewer teams fittingly result in fewer players at our disposal.

— Jim McCormick

Breaking down Thursday’s slate

Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls
7:30 p.m. ET, United Center, Chicago, Illinois

Records (Against the Spread)
Bucks: 40-17 (31-23-3)
Bulls: 26-32 (30-28-0)

Line: Bucks (-8)
BPI Projection: Bucks (117.4-116.5)
Money Line: Bucks (-345), Bulls (+270)
BPI Projected winner: Bucks (53.2%)
Total: 230 points BPI Projected Total: 233.9 points

Injury Report:
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, (GTD – Knee); Pat Connaughton, (OUT – Calf); Bobby Portis, (OUT – Knee); Jae Crowder, (OUT – Not Injury Related)
Bulls: DeMar DeRozan, (GTD – Quadriceps); Derrick Jones Jr., (GTD – Groin); Goran Dragic, (GTD – Knee); Javonte Green, (OUT – Knee); Lonzo Ball, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Bucks -7.0. The Bucks are on an 11-game winning streak and have already lost twice to the Bulls this season. With Chicago on a five-game losing streak, the Bucks will have revenge on their minds. It’s a good bet for Milwaukee to cover the spread regardless of DeMar DeRozan’s availability. The Bucks are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games. Additionally, Milwaukee is 5-0 against the spread in their last five games on the road. — Moody

Trend: The Milwaukee Bucks got Evan Mobley-ed on January 21st (career-high 38 points in a game without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton) … that’s their only loss over the past month. Included in their recent run of strong play is a 8-2-1 mark ATS in their past 11 road games, a stretch that has seen unders go 10-1. That’s a nice trend when paired with a Chicago Bulls team that has seen 11 of their past 13 games go under. Even better? The Bulls have failed to cover eight of the past 12 games that have come in under the number. — Kyle Soppe

Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves
8 p.m. ET, Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Records (Against the Spread)
Wizards: 27-30 (27-29-1)
Timberwolves: 31-29 (29-31-0)

Line: Timberwolves (-3)
BPI Projection: Timberwolves (122.6-121.6)
Money Line: Wizards (+130), Timberwolves (-155)
BPI Projected winner: Timberwolves (53.7%)
Total: 234.5 points BPI Projected Total: 244.2 points

Injury Report:
Wizards: None reported
Timberwolves: Kyle Anderson, (GTD – Back); Rudy Gobert, (GTD – Groin); Karl-Anthony Towns, (OUT – Calf)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Naz Reid (rostered in 1.9% of ESPN leagues) is a solid streaming option with Rudy Gobert questionable due to right groin soreness. As the league transitions into the All-Star break, it makes sense for the Timberwolves to rest Gobert. This season, Reid averages 23.0 points and 10.6 rebounds per 40 minutes. — Moody

Best bet: Kristaps Porzingis over 23.5 points. Since the Wizards are still trying to make the playoffs, Porzingis should still be given his usual playing time. Three of his last four games have seen him surpass 23.5 points. Porzingis should be actively involved against the Timberwolves. — Moody

Trend: The Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves boast very similar betting profiles, both short-term and during the first half of the season as a whole. The Wizards have covered nine of their past 13 road games while the Timberwolves are 13-6 ATS over their past 19 at home. Picking a winner against the spread in this spot is tough, but the point total might not be as bad. Consider this: combined, these teams are 21-34-1 ATS in games that go over the projected point total. My take from that is that we may be more comfortable in projecting points in bunches than either of these teams is actually in that setting. If two teams struggle in games that light up the scoreboard, you can find me with an under ticket in my pocket. — Soppe

LA Clippers at Phoenix Suns
10 p.m. ET, Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Records (Against the Spread)
Clippers: 32-28 (30-30-0)
Suns: 32-27 (32-27-0)

Line: Suns (-1)
BPI Projection: Clippers (122.6-114.1)
Money Line: Clippers (-115), Suns (-105)
BPI Projected winner: Clippers (63.8%)
Total: 222.5 points BPI Projected Total: 232 points

Injury Report:
Clippers: Norman Powell, (OUT – Rest)
Suns: Cameron Payne, (OUT – Foot); Kevin Durant, (OUT – Knee); Landry Shamet, (OUT – Foot)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Bones Hyland (rostered in 12.7% of ESPN leagues) could play additional minutes against the Suns with Norman Powell already ruled out due to right knee injury management. Hyland is a solid streamer in deeper formats. This season, he has averaged 15.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per 40 minutes. — Moody

Best bet: Chris Paul over 24.5 points + assists. Despite returning to the court, Devin Booker has yet to play more than 30 minutes in a game. Paul has surpassed 24.5 PA in two consecutive games. In his last eight games against the Clippers, Paul has averaged 14.8 points and 9.4 assists per game. — Moody

Trend: The Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns play tonight in a game that will go off with a small spread. At time of publish, the Clippers are a slight favorite, so it’s worth noting that overs are 10-1 in the past 11 instances in which the Clips have been a road favorite. And you know what? It hasn’t been all that close. Over their past six such games that have gone over, the final score has been more than 16 points above expectation (on three of those instances, the game went over by 30-plus points). Even without Kevin Durant in the mix, the Suns have proven more than comfortable in such a game setting: 9-3 ATS this season when they are an underdog in a game that goes over the total.. — Soppe

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