NBA Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 1/7/16

Can Jeff Withey stay hot tonight as he continues to fill in for the injured Derrick Favors?

If you've never played daily fantasy basketball before, it's time to start. Unlike traditional leagues, you're able to select the players you want on that specific day only, giving you a different squad to root for each and every NBA night.

Today's lineups can be found here. The information below is to help you understand why particular players are being picked, because we don't want you going into the night completely blind. We want to help you. Keep in mind, however, that things often change up until tip-off, so make sure you're refreshing the optimal lineups as close to the start of games as possible.

Oh, and if you're interested, check out our daily fantasy basketball heat chart for today's slate. It's full of information like tonight's Vegas lines, team offensive and defensive efficiency ratings, pace, fantasy points against and so much more.

As for today's picks -- let's get to it.

The Best of the Best

DeMarcus Cousins (FD: $10,400, DK: 10,300) - Boogie comes into tonight scorching hot, averaging a ridiculous 33.3 points, 15 rebounds, 2.6 steals, 2 assists and a block per game over his last three outings. He's scored at least 32 points with 9 boards in every game over that span, and should be in prime position to do so again tonight against a Lakers' defense that ranks in the bottom five of the league in both Defensive Rating (109.6) and opposing points per game (105.8). 

Isaiah Thomas (FD: $8,100, DK: 7,800) - Thomas is having a career year, posting career-bests in scoring (20.9 points per game), assists (6.9 per game), rebounds (2.9 per game), steals (1.3 per game) and Usage Rate (28.5%). Tonight, the diminutive point guard draws a spectacular matchup against a Bulls' backcourt that has given up the fifth most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards on the year in what should be the most competitive game on the slate.

Pau Gasol (FD: $8,900, DK: 8,000) - While Boston has shown significant improvement on the defensive end this season, they still struggle to defend opposing big men, having allowed the eighth most fantasy points per game to opposing power forwards and the 10th most to opposing centers. Gasol has seen a major bump in both usage and playing time with Joakim Noah out and should see another massive workload tonight in a plus matchup against the Celtics.

Top Mid-Range Values

Ishmael Smith (FD: $6,100, DK: 6,900) - In the six games since coming back to Philadelphia, Smith has averaged 14.7 points, 8.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. While his price has come up a significant amount over that span, the 76ers' point guard continues to be the focal point of his teams' offense and still makes a strong play in all formats on tonight's small slate, despite his increase in price.

Evan Turner (FD: $5,700, DK: 5,800) - With Avery Bradley out of commission, Turner has looked incredible in the Celtics' starting lineup, scoring 12 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 3 assists in 37 minutes per game over his last two games. While a matchup with Jimmy Butler is less-than-ideal, Turner's price is too good to pass up on a night where value will be incredibly hard to find with only four games on the slate.

Taj Gibson (FD: $5,400, DK: 5,900) - Similarly to the aforementioned Gasol, Gibson has seen a huge boost with Noah out of the lineup and draws a tremendous matchup against the struggling Celtics' interior defense. With his price tag still under $6,000 on both FanDuel and DraftKings, Gibson is dollar for dollar one of my favorite players on the board tonight.

Basement Ballers

Jeff Withey (FD: $4,700, DK: 5,100) - Withey has been outstanding while filling in for the injured Derrick Favors. He's averaging 10.8 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks in 31 minutes per game over his last five outings, and should reach those totals easily tonight against a Rockets' team that has allowed the third most fantasy points per game to opposing centers on the season.

Amir Johnson (FD: $4,400, DK: 4,400) - Johnson seems to have eclipsed Jared Sullinger in the starting lineup for the Celtics as of late, playing at least 28 minutes in each of the last two games. The Celtics' center should see a similar workload tonight in a great matchup against a Bulls' defense that has struggled to slow down opposing big men all season long.

Trey Burke (FD: $4,900, DK: 4,900) - With Alec Burks still sidelined with an ankle injury, Burke has seen his workload increase a great deal, playing at least 29 minutes in each of the past four games while averaging 17.3 points, 3 assists, 2.3 rebounds and a steal per game over that span. With a matchup against a Rockets' defense that ranks in the bottom five in both Defensive Rating (107.9) and opposing points per game (105.8), Burke makes a strong play at a very reasonable price.