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NBA picks: Hornets’ LaMelo Ball remains top fantasy target for Friday amid hot streak

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Minnesota Timberwolves
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Seven games will make up Friday’s NBA schedule. Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam will play together for the first time ever, but we’re focused elsewhere ahead of the weekend. Two players recently made comebacks from injuries and could end up being some of the most optimal players available. Among them is star Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball.

Are you looking for strong returns? Here’s who you should keep an eye on as you look to build lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel: 

Stud: LaMelo Ball

Ball wasted no time putting up big numbers after returning from an ankle injury to face the San Antonio Spurs. He tallied 28 points, three rebounds, five assists, and five steals in his first appearance of 2024. He went on to average 25.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists over his next two games. San Antonio won’t have Victor Wembanyama this time around, so Ball could play more minutes in a more competitive game. 

The Atlanta Hawks will face the Miami Heat without Trae Young on Friday, so Murray will take over as the primary ball handler. The highly sought-after trade target has a chance to show what he can do running the show ahead of February’s deadline, and he shouldn’t disappoint. Murray’s averaging 26.5 points, 9.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds without his backcourt partner this season. He can flourish against Miami’s lackluster defensive guards.

Carter Jr. was demoted to a bench role earlier in January after returning from an injury and will stay in one for the Orlando Magic’s matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. Goga Bitadze should have a tough time keeping up with one of the league’s most physical scorers. Joel Embiid is sure to be aggressive early and look to draw fouls, so Carter Jr.’s defensive prowess could be called on quickly. He’s averaged a double-double against Embiid since joining the Magic.

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