Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Thursday


ESPN’s fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data, featuring ESPN’s proprietary Basketball Power Index (BPI) to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for Thursday, March 23 are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.

What you need to know for Thursday’s games

With Karl-Anthony Towns sinking game-winning free throws for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Ja Morant proving efficient off the pine for the Memphis Grizzlies, Wednesday marked a night of rousing returns in the NBA. Both can be considered impact contributors for the rest of the season, which is quite the boon amid the fantasy playoffs.

Tonight’s four-game slate doesn’t have as many exciting narratives as Wednesday, but it does feature a potential league-winning waiver warrior in Jalen Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The rising rookie is a free agent in a third of ESPN leagues ahead of tonight’s matchup with the LA Clippers and yet has produced at least 29 DraftKings points in a dozen straight games. It’s also likely that Luguentz Dort (73% available) assumes a large role defending Kawhi Leonard this evening.

We’ll learn more about the fallout of Paul George‘s recent knee injury tonight, as the Clippers are likely to turn to Eric Gordon and Russell Westbrook for increased scoring and playmaking. Westbrook could be a fun target for double-double and triple-double props given the expected uptick in minutes and touches.

— Jim McCormick

Breaking down Thursday’s slate

New York Knicks at Orlando Magic
7 p.m. ET, Amway Center, Orlando, Florida

Records (Against the Spread)
Knicks: 42-32 (41-32-1)
Magic: 30-43 (40-31-2)

Line: Knicks (-3)
BPI Projection: Knicks (127.8-124)
Money Line: Knicks (-165), Magic (+140)
BPI Projected winner: Knicks (63.7%)
Total: 228.5 points BPI Projected Total: 251.8 points

Injury Report:
Knicks: Trevor Keels, (GTD – Concussion)
Magic: Jalen Suggs, (OUT – Concussion); Jonathan Isaac, (OUT – Thigh)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Cole Anthony (rostered in 42.9% of ESPN leagues) Anthony is someone managers shouldn’t overlook. Jalen Suggs has already been ruled out for Thursday night and Anthony has scored 30 or more fantasy points in three consecutive games. He should continue to perform well against the Knicks. — Eric Moody

Best bet: Franz Wagner over 26.5 points + assists + rebounds. Wagner has surpassed 26.5 PAR in seven of his past nine games and faces a Knicks team that has given up the most PPG to small forwards this season. While Wagner has made huge improvements this year, he hasn’t reached his potential yet. However, I still like him to deliver another excellent performance against the Knicks on Thursday night. — Moody

Best bet: Julius Randle over 34.5 points + rebounds. I think Randle will bounce back nicely against the Magic on Thursday after a disappointing performance against the Heat last night. Randle has averaged 23.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in his previous two games against the Magic this season and there’s a good chance he’ll meet or surpass those numbers tonight. — Moody

Best bet: Markelle Fultz over 16.5 points. Fultz is averaging 17.5 PPG along with 6.3 APG in March, making him a sleeper for a double-double performance Thursday night. Fultz has topped 16.5 points in three of his past four games and reached 25 points in three of his past seven contests, much of it in the mid-range game as he remains a poor 3-point shooter. — Eric Karabell

Trend: The Knicks are on the second night of a back-to-back, but maybe that’s a good thing? New York is 7-3-1 ATS in such spots, including four straight covers, and they are favored against a Magic team that is just 2-4 ATS in their past six as a home underdog. If you want to take it a step further, note that the Knicks opened with an implied total of 116 points. When scoring at least that many points, New York is 21-15-1 ATS and the Magic are 9-21 ATS when giving up at least 116 points. — Kyle Soppe

Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets
7:30 p.m. ET, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

Records (Against the Spread)
Cavaliers: 46-28 (39-33-2)
Nets: 39-33 (38-34-0)

Line: Cavaliers (-4)
BPI Projection: Cavaliers (127.8-120)
Money Line: Cavaliers (-170), Nets (+143)
BPI Projected winner: Cavaliers (63.1%)
Total: 219 points BPI Projected Total: 243.5 points

Injury Report:
Cavaliers: None reported
Nets: Ben Simmons, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Caris LeVert (rostered in 53.2% of ESPN leagues) LeVert has played very well lately, scoring 45 or more fantasy points in three of his past four games. His ability to accumulate points, rebounds, assists, and steals makes him an ideal streamer for Thursday night. — Moody

Best bet: Jarrett Allen over 23.5 points + rebounds. You can expect a solid performance from Allen against his old team. In his past seven games against the Nets, he has averaged 13.7 points and 11.1 rebounds. — Moody

Best bet: Darius Garland over 26.5 points + assists. Garland led the Cavaliers in assists in Tuesday’s win over Brooklyn and has at least 15 points and five assists in 10 straight games. He should continue to have success against the Nets on Thursday night. In his last six games against Brooklyn, Garland has averaged 27.3 points and 7.7 assists. — Moody

Trend: The Cavs are 7-1 ATS over their past eight games as a road favorite and the Nets have failed to cover five of their past seven at home. If you want to play the “what is the point total telling us” game, unders are 22-15 this season when a Cleveland game has a projected total under 220 points and the Nets are just 3-6 ATS since New Year’s when a home game goes under the total. — Soppe.

Charlotte Hornets at New Orleans Pelicans
8 p.m. ET, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana

Records (Against the Spread)
Hornets: 23-50 (32-39-2)
Pelicans: 35-37 (33-38-1)

Line: Pelicans (-8)
BPI Projection: Pelicans (128.7-119.3)
Money Line: Hornets (+270), Pelicans (-345)
BPI Projected winner: Pelicans (80.5%)
Total: 225 points BPI Projected Total: 248 points

Injury Report:
Hornets: Mark Williams, (OUT – Thumb); Cody Martin, (OUT – Knee); LaMelo Ball, (OUT – Ankle)
Pelicans: Jose Alvarado, (OUT – Leg); Zion Williamson, (OUT – Hamstring); E.J. Liddell, (OUT – Knee)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Fantasy streamer: Nick Richards (rostered in 8.6% of ESPN leagues) has started the past five games for injured Mark Williams and delivered 40-plus fantasy points in three of those contests. Richards has averaged 9.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG and shot 70% from the field in that span. Williams will not be back in Thursday’s lineup. — Eric Karabell

Fantasy streamer: Trey Murphy III (rostered in 35% of ESPN leagues) keeps on scoring in double digits and he has hit three or more 3-pointers in five consecutive games, and nine out of 10. Murphy has topped 40 fantasy points in three games this month, and he may make it four against a terrible Charlotte defense. — Karabell

Best bet: Jonas Valanciunas over 28.5 points + rebounds. The Hornets have been a favorable matchup for centers all season. Charlotte gives up the third most points per game and most rebounds per game to the position. Valanciunas has surpassed 28.5 PR in three consecutive games. — Moody

Oklahoma City Thunder at LA Clippers
10:30 p.m. ET, Arena, Los Angeles, CA

Records (Against the Spread)
Thunder: 36-36 (45-26-1)
Clippers: 38-35 (36-37-0)

Line: Clippers (-4.5)
BPI Projection: Clippers (129.2-123.2)
Money Line: Thunder (+152), Clippers (-180)
BPI Projected winner: Clippers (71%)
Total: 232.5 points BPI Projected Total: 252.4 points

Injury Report:
Thunder: Chet Holmgren, (OUT – Foot); Kenrich Williams, (OUT – Wrist)
Clippers: Brandon Boston Jr., (OUT – Lower Body); Norman Powell, (OUT – Shoulder); Paul George, (OUT – Leg)
Note: BPI numbers factor players who are ruled out but assumes GTD players will play

Best bet: Kawhi Leonard over 36.5 points + rebounds. Leonard’s usage should increase dramatically in the coming weeks with Paul George out. Leonard has averaged 26.9 points and 7.1 rebounds over his past 10 games and averaged 29.2 points and 7.5 rebounds over the 35 games he’s played without George. — Moody

Best bet: Marcus Morris over 13.5 points + rebounds. Morris will be leaned on even more now that George is out for the immediate future. During the 25 games he’s played 30 or more minutes this season, Morris has averaged 12.9 points and 5.1 rebounds. — Moody

Best bet: Jalen Williams over 24.5 points + assists + rebounds. Williams continues to contribute in multiple statistical areas for the Thunder. He has averaged 16.8 points, 4.8 assists, and 8.4 rebounds over the past five games. With Paul George out, Williams should have another strong game. — Moody

Trend: Everything about what the Thunder are doing is trending up: 5-1 ATS in their past six, 12-4-1 ATS in their past 17 on the road and 30-16-1 ATS as an underdog this season. All of those boxes will again be checked tonight against a Clippers team sans Paul George that has failed to cover seven of their past 11 at home. If you want to take it a step further, unders are 22-13 this season in Clipper games where the spread is less than five points and the Thunder have covered six straight (and 11 of 13) games that have come in under the projected total. — Soppe

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