This article is part of our Category Strategy series.
Thursday presents a tricky five-game slate on Yahoo. With the trade deadline looming in the afternoon, things could turn on a dime for several of the teams in action. As things currently stand, here are some players to target, as well as a few to avoid, for your entry. However, be sure to monitor for news leading up to tip off to see if trades alter plans for some of these teams.
Zach LaVine, CHI vs. NO ($38): The Bulls haven't played since Sunday, so LaVine certainly comes into this game well rested. He struggled against the Raptors in that contest, but they are one of the best defensive teams in the league. The same can't be said for the Pelicans, who have allowed the third-most points per game. With really no one on the Bulls' roster to challenge him for shot attempts, LaVine could be in line for a very productive evening.
Tomas Satoransky, CHI vs. NO ($15): Staying with the Bulls brings us to Satoransky, who has scored at least 30.6 Yahoo points in three of his last five games. He logged at least 30 minutes in four of those contests, in large part because the Bulls have been decimated by injuries. With a high minutes floor and the Pelicans struggling so much defensively, Satoransky could be worth the risk at this cheap price.
Guard to Avoid
Evan Fournier, ORL at NY ($19): The Knicks figure to be an active team at the deadline, so their roster could look very different by the time we get to tip off. Still, this has the potential to be a low-scoring affair between two teams that are ranked inside the bottom-10 of the league in pace of play. Fournier is heavily reliant on the scoring column to provide value and will be playing for the second consecutive night after recently dealing with a back issue, so this could be an uphill battle for him to provide value.
Brandon Ingram, NO at CHI ($35): It may have taken some time for Ingram to gel with Zion Williamson, but things appear to be moving in the right direction for him now. Across the first three games that Williamson played, Ingram averaged 17.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Over four games since, he's averaged 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He's been one of the Pelicans' best players all season and should once again have a high floor against a Bulls team that is lacking size up front.
Chandler Hutchison, CHI vs. NO ($10): Speaking of the Bulls' injuries, their most recent crushing blow was a knee injury to Kris Dunn that will keep him out at least two weeks. Hutchison started in his place against the Raptors, scoring 25.5 Yahoo points across 28 minutes. Denzel Valentine (hamstring) is now listed as doubtful for this matchup, which should further force the Bulls to rely on Hutchison for added playing time. At the minimum price, he could be a risk that is well worth taking in tournament play.
Forward to Avoid
Eric Gordon, HOU at LAL ($21): Taking a wait-and-see approach with the players on the Rockets could be key. They made a big trade Tuesday that saw them deal away Clint Capela (heel) and are reportedly still working the phones to make an additional move or two. To complicate matters, Russell Westbrook (thumb) is questionable after sitting out Tuesday against the Hornets. If he does make his return, that would likely mean fewer shot attempts for Gordon. With that being, this might not be the best matchup for Gordon even if Westbrook doesn't play since the Lakers have the fourth-best defensive rating.
Hassan Whiteside, POR vs. SA ($38): Nothing went right for the Blazers during their blowout loss to the Nuggets on Tuesday. Whiteside was limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble, leaving him to record only eight points and five rebounds. Don't read too much into one bad outing, though, since he had averaged 17.7 points, 14.9 rebounds and 4.1 blocks across his previous nine games.
LaMarcus Aldridge, SA at POR ($27): The cheap center options leave a lot to be desired for this slate, so if you can't squeeze Whiteside into your lineup, then maybe Aldridge could help at a more budget-friendly price. The Spurs have very little size outside of Whiteside and have the fifth-worst defensive rating, both of which plays right into Aldridge's wheelhouse. The last time he faced them, Aldridge produced 30 points, 12 rebounds and two assists.
Center to Avoid
Dwight Howard, LAL vs. HOU ($17): Everyone knows that the Rockets like to play small. However, they are really going full-throttle in that direction lately with P.J. Tucker playing center. To counter, don't expect the Lakers to give the duo of Howard and JaVale McGee many minutes. Howard is the more expensive option out of that those two, so keeping him out of your lineup might be wise.