Fantasy basketball tips and projections for Thursday

Royce O'Neale should be busy on Thursday night with Devin Booker out against the Raptors. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The erosion of the NBA marathon is mounting. Players sidelined by injuries have always been part of the picture in such a demanding, pace-driven league, but this time of year often sees the weight of the campaign convert to games missed by important contributors.

Rookie of the Year favorite Victor Wembanyama won't face Domantas Sabonis and the Sacramento Kings this evening due to an ailing ankle. Former Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons was shut down for the season by the Brooklyn Nets given an ongoing back injury. Karl-Anthony Towns and the top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves face uncertainty over his recent knee issue. It's simply that time of the season.

With regards to Wembanyama, we can look to versatile big man Zach Collins (17.4% rostered in ESPN men's basketball leagues) to step into a starting role this evening. After all, Collins has averaged roughly 14 points and six boards to go with solid shooting and defensive results in 24 starts this season.

With Simmons done for the season, Dennis Schroder's (70.8%) ascent as a playmaker appears sustainable, especially with an inviting matchup with the porous Detroit Pistons on deck. Meanwhile, Towns' absence for the Timberwolves often results in versatile outcomes for Kyle Anderson (19.0%) and even Naz Reid (38.9%).

One Thursday contest that appears spared from important injury issues is the marquee matchup between the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets, one that betting markets eye as the favorite NBA Finals contenders. It will be interesting to see how the results of Thursday night's rare tilt between these top teams influences the futures race.

For each injury that surfaces, fantasy managers are tasked to sift for the resulting rotation shifts and consider just how this can play into statistical production. You'll notice this theme serves as a trend throughout the streaming endorsements below.

Thursday's Stream Team

Malik Monk, SG/SF, Sacramento Kings (Rostered in 63.9% of ESPN leagues)

One of the best offensive microwaves in the game these days, Monk could thrive against a San Antonio Spurs defense that lacks guard depth. The contest has a lofty total of 237.5 points at ESPN BET, signaling the high scoring volume from Monk.

Royce O'Neale, SF/PF, Phoenix Suns (32.5%)

With Devin Booker out, expect O'Neale to be very busy as a two-way glue guy for a Phoenix team that has empowered him with plenty of minutes lately.

Ayo Dosunmu, PG/SG, Chicago Bulls (26.1%)

Zach LaVine's absence has propelled Dosunmu into a rewarding creation role, one that has him regularly producing nice assist numbers to go with surprisingly capable scoring skills. The Warriors likely don't have enough point-of-attack defense to curb his drives.

Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Toronto Raptors (20.6%)

With the Raptors missing Jakob Poeltl and Scottie Barnes, Olynyk's unique skills could result in some interesting fantasy lines, like his awesome work against the Pelicans (15 PTS, 7 AST, 6 REB) a few nights back.

Projections and injury reports

Fantasy projections powered by ESPN Analytics. * Projections assume all players who are listed as GTD will play. Injury aggregation by Rotowire.com. Players available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues are listed in italics.

Brooklyn Nets at Detroit Pistons
7 p.m. Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

BPI Projection: Pistons in the 7th highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Nets: Day'Ron Sharpe, (GTD - Wrist); Cam Thomas, (OUT - Ankle); Cameron Johnson, (OUT - Ankle); Ben Simmons, (OUT - Back); Dariq Whitehead, (OUT - Lower Leg)
Pistons: Quentin Grimes, (OUT - Knee)

Nets projections:

Pistons projections:

Minnesota Timberwolves at Indiana Pacers
7 p.m. Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

BPI Projection: Timberwolves in the 3rd highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Timberwolves: Jordan McLaughlin, (GTD - Illness); Jaylen Clark, (OUT - Achilles); Karl-Anthony Towns, (OUT - Knee)
Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin, (OUT - Shoulder); Doug McDermott, (OUT - Calf)

Timberwolves projections:

Pacers projections:

Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks
7:30 p.m. American Airlines Center, Dallas

BPI Projection: Mavericks in the 6th highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:

Heat: Kevin Love, (OUT - Heel); Tyler Herro, (OUT - Knee); Josh Richardson, (OUT - Shoulder)
Mavericks: Luka Doncic, (GTD - Ankle); Maxi Kleber, (GTD - Knee)

Heat projections:

Mavericks projections:

Toronto Raptors at Phoenix Suns
9 p.m. Footprint Center, Phoenix

BPI Projection: Suns in the 4th highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Raptors: Ochai Agbaji, (GTD - Knee); Bruce Brown, (OUT - Knee); Jakob Poeltl, (OUT - Finger); Scottie Barnes, (OUT - Hand)
Suns: Josh Okogie, (OUT - Abdomen); Devin Booker, (OUT - Ankle); Nassir Little, (OUT - Knee); Damion Lee, (OUT - Knee)

Raptors projections:

Suns projections:

Boston Celtics at Denver Nuggets
10 p.m. Ball Arena, Denver

BPI Projection: Celtics in the 5th highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Celtics: Jaylen Brown, (GTD - Pelvis); Neemias Queta, (OUT - Knee)
Nuggets: Vlatko Cancar, (OUT - Knee)

Celtics projections:

Nuggets projections:

Chicago Bulls at Golden State Warriors
10 p.m. Chase Center, San Francisco

BPI Projection: Warriors in the 2nd highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Bulls: Torrey Craig, (GTD - Knee); Dalen Terry, (OUT - Personal); Lonzo Ball, (OUT - Knee); Patrick Williams, (OUT - Foot); Zach LaVine, (OUT - Foot)
Warriors: None reported

Bulls projections:

Warriors projections:

San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings
10 p.m. Golden 1 Center, Sacramento

BPI Projection: Kings in the highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, (OUT - Ankle); Charles Bassey, (OUT - Knee)
Kings: Sasha Vezenkov, (OUT - Ankle)

Spurs projections:

Kings projections:

  • Domantas Sabonis, PF/C: 47.6 FPTS (19.4 pts, 12.4 reb, 7.3 ast)

  • De'Aaron Fox, PG: 46.4 FPTS (28.1 pts, 4.4 reb, 6.1 ast, 3.0 3PM)

  • Malik Monk, SG/SF: 26.3 FPTS (13.6 pts, 3.0 reb, 4.0 ast, 2.2 3PM)

  • Keegan Murray, SF/PF: 26.0 FPTS (14.6 pts, 5.5 reb, 1.6 ast, 2.5 3PM)

  • Kevin Huerter, SG/SF: 21.2 FPTS (10.9 pts, 4.0 reb, 2.0 ast, 2.1 3PM)

  • Harrison Barnes, SF/PF: 16.1 FPTS (10.0 pts, 2.5 reb, 1.0 ast)

  • Trey Lyles, PF: 13.8 FPTS (7.3 pts, 3.7 reb, 0.8 ast)