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Fantasy basketball suggestions and NBA betting picks for Thursday

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ESPN’s fantasy basketball and basketball betting suggestions cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our greatest intel and data to show you how to make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for December twenty first are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice relies on ESPN 10-team leagues.

What you have to know for Thursday’s games

— Jim McCormick & Kyle Soppe

Punting On The Pelicans: Are the Pelicans a fun watch? In fact, but when our expectations grow, they have a tendency to shrink this season. Tonight might be the seventh time this season they’re favored by at the very least 8 points … 2-4 ATS with under tickets cashing in five of six games. The note on the whole is very interesting when you think about that unders are only 8-16 in all other Recent Orleans games this season.

​​​Pricing the Pels: Recent Orleans may not have either Brandon Ingram (toe) or Zion Williamson (health and safety protocols) for tonight’s matchup with the visiting Spurs. In the event that they don’t play, as expected, it’s a very good spot to construct around Jonas Valanciunas ($6,000 on DraftKings) and CJ McCollum ($7,500). “JV” posted a career-high seven 3-pointers and a season-best 37 points in his last outing, suggesting there may be a fun ceiling in place. McCollum, meanwhile, has compiled 17 dimes over his last two games and is probably going the player with essentially the most upside on today’s limited slate. Deeper within the rotation we will expect Trey Murphy III (82% available in ESPN leagues) and Herbert Jones (73%) to supply helpful doses of defense and complementary scoring.

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​​​Streaming Spurs: The Spurs list leading scorer Keldon Johnson as doubtful to play against the Pelicans as a consequence of a hamstring tightness. His likely absence could lead on to more minutes for Zach Collins (96% available in ESPN leagues), who has sported a usage rate above 20% during the last two games while scoring at the very least 10 points in 4 of his last five outings. For DFS purposes, Devin Vassell ($7,400 on DraftKings) and Jakob Poeltl ($6,400) are each projected to cruise past 30 DraftKings points with Johnson’s shot weight loss program out of the rotation.

Rising Rookie: With Utah listing Kelly Olynyk as out for tonight’s matchup with Washington, we’re prone to see rookie rim protector Walker Kessler start once more for the Jazz. Kessler is sixth within the league in blocks per game (1.9) despite averaging just 17.7 minutes. Averaging right around 26 minutes across two recent starts rather than Olynyk, it is time to roster Kessler as a premier defensive pickup for Thursday’s two-game slate.

Breaking down the slate

San Antonio Spurs at Recent Orleans Pelicans
8:00 p.m ET, Smoothie King Center, Recent Orleans

Line: Pelicans (-8.5)
Money line: Spurs (+278), Pelicans (-355)
Total: 228 points
BPI Projected Total: 234.2 points
BPI Win%: Pelicans (78.8%)

Questionable: Romeo Langford, Keldon Johnson, Larry Nance Jr.

Ruled Out: Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who’re ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

Best bet and Fantasy Streamer: Herbert Jones (rostered in 29.2% of ESPN leagues) over 19.5 points+assists+rebounds. With Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram already ruled out, Jones may have to do more offensively. He’s averaged 10.2 PPG, 2.2 APG and three.4 RPG to date this season. Jones is well-positioned to exceed those per-game averages against a Spurs team that ranks thirtieth in points allowed per 100 possessions. — EricMoody

Best bet: Jonas Valanciunas over 27.5 points+rebounds

Against a Spurs team that offers up many offensive rebounds to opponents and allows opponents to shoot the very best effective field goal percentage within the league, Valanciunas advantages from the absence of Zion Williamson. Over the past 4 games, he averaged 17.5 PPG and 10.2 RPG. When he gets enough touches like he should on Thursday night against the Spurs, Valanciunas is among the best two-way big men within the league. — Moody

Fantasy Streamer: Naji Marshall (available in 98.4% of leagues) might be in line for greater minutes with each Williamson and Ingram out. In 4 starts earlier this season, Marshall averaged 15.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.8 3PG and 1.5 SPG in 36.5 MPG. Earlier this month, he had a five-game stretch where he averaged 30.4 MPG, and posted 13.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.0 3PG and 0.6 BPG. When given minutes, he has a solid all-around game that can assist in points, category and DFS formats. – Andre Snellings

Best Bet: CJ McCollum over 24.5 points

With Williamson and Ingram each out, McCollum becomes the first scoring option for the Pelicans against a really friendly Spurs defense that has the worst defensive rating (118.3 points allowed per 100 possessions) within the NBA. — Snellings

Washington Wizards at Utah Jazz
9:00 p.m ET, Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City

Line: Jazz (-6)
Money line: Wizards (+205), Jazz (-250)
Total: 230 points
BPI Projected Total: 235.2 points
BPI Win%: Jazz (69.1%)

Questionable: Kristaps Porzingis

Ruled Out: Collin Sexton, Kelly Olynyk, Delon Wright
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who’re ruled out but assumes questionable players will play

2 Related

Best bet: Bradley Beal over 23.5 points

In two consecutive games, Beal has played 32 or more minutes and scored 27 or more points. The Jazz rank twenty eighth in points allowed per 100 possessions. This game must have numerous points scored with a complete of 230. — Moody

Fantasy Streamer: Malik Beasley (available in 52.6% of leagues) has the occasional poor shooting game and since he does little else for a fantasy team, that could be dangerous, but he has also topped 20 fantasy points in seven of eight games, hitting loads of 3-pointers. Assume he hits loads of them against the Wizards. — Eric Karabell

Best bet: Mike Conley under 10.5 points

I do not like taking the under on points too often, but Conley has made it clear this season and particularly recently that he is way too pleased with distributing and never shooting. While Conley continues to get the assists, he has five consecutive games with seven or fewer points. He just doesn’t shoot much! — Karabell

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