NBA Daily Fantasy: 3 stars who’ll shine on Thursday night

Kemba Walker has been on a roll with the Celtics and should perform well against the Hornets on Thursday.

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Basketball is the most consistent sport for daily fantasy purposes. Where the top stars in the NFL can always have a down day, a high-priced NBA stud is generally going to get his, though. With so many possessions in a game providing opportunities to produce, top fantasy basketball options will be posting high scores just about every night.

While this consistency puts us in a good position to identify top plays, it also means you can’t afford to miss when you’re paying up for someone. Even with strong value plays in your lineup, paying up and getting a dud is likely going to leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.

Let’s get right into it and look at which top players should be the focal points of your line-ups tonight.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 10: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles during a 111-91 Denver Nuggets preseason win at Staples Center on October 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Kawhi Leonard, SF, Los Angeles Clippers (£10,800)

A controversially well-rested Kawhi Leonard shouldn’t have much trouble proving himself worth the highest salary on this slate.

The Klaw has eclipsed 60 points in three of his last four games. His per-game average is held down by a couple of blowouts, but if we just look at games decided by 15 points or fewer, he’s averaging 56.5 points per game.

This potential playoff matchup doesn’t carry a ton of blowout risk, either, with the Los Angeles Clippers favoured by 5.5 over the Portland Trail Blazers. There’s not much risk that Kawhi’s minutes fall into the 20s tonight.

His 1.76 points per minute are not going to be sustainable (he averaged 1.32 last year), but with a 40.1% usage rate, we can expect him to continue to be incredibly efficient with the minutes he gets while Paul George is on the shelf.

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 25: Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics drives past O.G. Anunoby #3 of the Toronto Raptors in the second half at TD Garden on October 25, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Kemba Walker, PG, Boston Celtics (£9,500)

Kemba Walker fell entirely flat in his Boston Celtics debut, but in five games since he’s averaged a cool 28.8 points, 6.4 boards and 4.0 assists (46.1 points) in 34.8 minutes per game.

He’s sporting a 31.1% usage rate in that stretch, and his .552 effective field goal percentage tops his previous career-high mark of .527.

Leading the C’s in usage, he should be in for a big night as the focal point of the offence in an outstanding match-up (and revenge game, no less) with the Charlotte Hornets. Even without a narrative tacked on, Kemba shouldn’t have much trouble against Charlotte, whose 111.7 defensive rating ranks 26th in the NBA while their 48.7 per cent rebound rate ranks 27th.

Our models also like Kemba to go above his season average in playing time here, projecting him for 35.7 minutes, which would be a nice boost in what should be a high-efficiency matchup.

DENVER, COLORADO – JANUARY 25: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket against Will Barton #5 of the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter at the Pepsi Center on January 25, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Devin Booker, SG, Phoenix Suns (£8,700)

The Phoenix Suns are no strangers to playing fast, and if anything, their 11th-ranked pace (104.0) is somewhat disappointing. The Miami Heat have been running in a way we haven’t really seen from them before, though, with a 105.4 pace (8th) of their own, so this game can be expected to be played at a fast rate.

Both teams also rank top-12 in points per game in the young season, and accordingly, it has the second-highest over/under (219.5) on the slate, and with just a 1.5-point spread, it should be a back-and-forth game.

Devin Booker’s 29.0% usage rate is a drop from what we’ve seen in the past, but not having to force the offence through him could actually be a boon. With the capable Ricky Rubio facilitating, Booker is still matching his career-high with 27.3 points per 36 minutes, despite his 19.0 field goal attempts per 36 being his lowest since the 2016-17 season. His .610 effective field goal percentage isn’t sustainable, but he set a career-best with .521 last season, and a new high-water mark this year would come as no surprise.

He also just dropped 40 points (and a season-best 49.3 fantasy points) in his last outing, and he shouldn’t cool off too much in a matchup with the Heat.

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