This is our primary in-depth NBA DFS article, and it will be free this season. The goal of this article isn’t just to give you a few plays to plug into your lineup, but to dig a little bit deeper into why projections may (or may not) like certain players. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll have a better feel for the slate as a whole. Combining the context from this article with the raw data that is available in our Boom/Bust tool, Projections and Ownership Projections should allow you to build strong lineups and make optimal NBA DFS Picks for any type of contest on DraftKings and FanDuel.
I plan to update this article with notes at the top until about 5 PM EST each day. After that, be sure to check out the Deeper Dive show with Loughy and myself from 5 to 6 every weekday and Live Before Lock in the hour leading up until lock each day on the Awesemo YouTube channel.
If you have any questions after reading the article, always feel free to DM me in Slack.
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NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | Jan. 13
Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons (+10.5): 226.5
We have yet another game where the Bucks are heavy favorites against an inferior team. This is the case so often for Milwaukee, that we can typically use season averages to estimate playing time and production. Giannis Antetokounmpo has averaged 31 minutes per game this season and we’ve seen him play 36 minutes in competitive games, which gives him an extremely high ceiling should the Pistons actually keep this game close. Antetokounmpo’s rates are down across the board this season, but he has still averaged 1.63 DraftKings points per minute. He is one of the most productive players in the league on a per-minute basis, which always means he has one of the highest ceilings on the slate. Still, it’s difficult to view Antetokounmpo as more than a secondary option tonight because of the players priced around him who are playing on short-handed teams and will rival Antetokounmpo’s per-minute production while playing more minutes on average.
Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are also secondary tournament options for me on this slate for the same reasons as Giannis. There are just too many other options that I like more, even though I like Middleton and Holiday too. Middleton, in particular, has been excellent this season. He has averaged 1.30 DraftKings points per minute with a 25.6 percent usage rate and 25.4 percent assist rate. The Bucks have one of the highest implied totals on the slate and I expect that all three of their main players will be low-owned in GPPs so I like getting to them as a contrarian piece, I just can’t prioritize them as top plays in the context of the rest of the slate.
It’s tough to trust either of Bobby Portis or Brook Lopez since they are both averaging less than 26 minutes per game and typically don’t play many minutes alongside each other. This is a matchup where we could see the Bucks play bigger than normal, however, as they could conceivably use Portis alongside Lopez when the Pistons have Blake Griffin and a center on the floor together. Lopez has only averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute this season and takes up a center position, but Portis has averaged 1.10 DraftKings points per minute and can be rostered at power forward.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,600)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000), Khris Middleton ($7,400)
Update: Derrick Rose is questionable. If he sits, it solidifies playing time for Wright and increases the likelihood of Jackson not getting benched mid-game (though he is still risky).
The Pistons are still without Killian Hayes, which means that Delon Wright will probably draw another start. Wright played 36 minutes as a starter last game with Hayes and Rose out and about 28 minutes in regulation two games ago with Hayes out and Rose active. One thing to be cautious of, however, is that he played zero minutes alongside Rose in that game. Rose is going to close more often than not, so I think there is a good chance that we only see 22 to 24 minutes from Wright despite his playing time in the last two games.
There isn’t much to feel confident in from the Pistons, but there are a few spots to look for upside if you’re playing multiple tournament lineups. Jerami Grant has averaged 36.8 minutes per game and 1.10 DraftKings points per minute this season with a 26.7 percent usage rate. His rebounding and assist rates are both between 9 and 10 percent so we shouldn’t expect much in the way of peripherals, but he should get up plenty of shots.
Rose only played about 19 minutes in his last game, but he has averaged about 24 minutes per game for the season. He leads the team with a 30.3 percent usage rate and 1.12 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s relatively inexpensive for his ceiling and makes sense as an option to pair with Giannis or Middleton if you look to them in a tournament lineup.
Josh Jackson is inexpensive, but we can’t trust his playing time as he’s played 18.6 and 14.3 minutes in his last two starts. The nice thing about Jackson is that, if he plays well, he will probably stay on the floor and he could push 30 minutes. He’s averaged 1.04 DraftKings points per minute this season, so the upside is certainly there. The problem is the same thing that we’ve seen from Jackson throughout his career — he is prone to playing poorly and finding himself on the bench for large portions of the game.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: None
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: None
Dallas Mavericks at Charlotte Hornets (+4): 220.5
The Mavericks are short-handed tonight after having their most recent game cancelled due to COVID. Dallas will be without Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell and Josh Richardson. Kristaps Porzingis is probable so it looks like he will play his first game of the season. I haven’t seen news on how many minutes we should expect, but I assume that he will be at least somewhat limited in his first game back.
My guess is that Luka Doncic, Josh Green, Tim Hardaway Jr., Porzingis and Willie Cauley-Stein are the starters, but that is just an educated guess based on who is available and the lineup from Dallas’s last game.
Doncic will have to carry the load once again for Dallas, not that that is any different than normal. The return of Porzingis could actually help Doncic a little bit as he averaged 1.73 DraftKings points per minute in 47 games with Porzingis active last season compared to 1.64 DraftKings points per minute in 14 games without Porzingis. The Hornets have been a good team defensively so far this season. They’ve allowed the seventh-fewest points per 100 possessions and they’ve allowed the fewest pick-and-roll possessions and points per game this season. Doncic is third in the league in pick-and-roll possessions and pick-and-roll field goal attempts. He averages one fewer pick-and-roll field goal attempt per game than Trae Young, who the Hornets just limited to 7-for-28 shooting over two meetings. I’m still going to roster Doncic based on how many minutes I expect him to play and his ability to produce stats in all categories, but I do think it’s a tough matchup for him.
The frontcourt is where we can look for most of our value from Dallas. Cauley-Stein has started three straight games and has averaged 24.6 minutes per game in those starts. He has averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute so far this season and 1.04 DraftKings points per minute since joining Dallas last season.
James Johnson played 26.2 minutes in Dallas’s last game and I expect him to play similar minutes tonight with Kleber and Powell joining Finney-Smith on the sidelines. Johnson has always been a fun player for DFS purposes because he can rebound and pick up assists and defensive stats in addition to his scoring. Johnson has averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute in 145 minutes played this season. Wesley Iwundu played 32.4 minutes against Orlando in the Mavericks’ last game. He has only averaged 0.60 DraftKings points per minute this season and averaged 0.66 DraftKings points per minute with Orlando last season. He projects as a good point-per-dollar option since he is close to minimum salary, but it’s very unlikely that he scores enough points that we need to have him in our lineup to win tonight.
Hardaway played 40.4 minutes last game and this is the first place that I would look if I’m buying into Doncic struggling against the Charlotte defense. While the Hornets have limited PNR field goal attempts this season, they’ve allowed the third-most three-point attempts per game. Hardaway leads Dallas with 8.9 three-point attempts per game and is shooting 43.8 percent from deep so far this season. He is fifth in the NBA with 6.9 catch and shoot field goal attempts per game and, if Charlotte is able to limit Doncic, Hardaway should be able to take advantage.
Boban Marjanovic is always tough to predict because he’s such a weird NBA player. He’s a DFS stud when he is on the floor, it’s just a matter of getting him playing time. The Mavs are short-handed at center with Kleber and Powell out, so there is a chance that we get enough run from Marjanovic for him to be a useful value. One tendency that we’ve seen from Rick Carlisle in the past is that he looks to use Marjanovic in spots where he won’t get abused in the pick-and-roll. P.J. Washington, Charlotte’s back-up center, is more involved in the pick-and-roll than Bismack Biyombo, their starter. I mentioned earlier that I’m assuming Cauley-Stein starts, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Carlisle elects to get Marjanovic his minutes against Biyombo and saves Cauley-Stein to match up with Washington. If Marjanovic doesn’t start, I think that there is risk in his minutes, even with the thin frontcourt, because the Mavericks can play small against Washington. Marjanovic has averaged 1.33 DraftKings points per minute since last season so it won’t take much playing time for him to pay off a minimum salary.
Trey Burke had a monster game last time out, but he only played 21 minutes. His salary has increased now to a point where we need him to approach 30 minutes to justify his price tag. I don’t have confidence that he gets there, but there are paths. The most obvious path is that the Mavericks play small and use Porzingis or Johnson as the back-up center. That would open up more minutes for Burke at the expense of Marjanovic. Even though they play different positions, I think setting a rule to only play one of Burke or Marjanovic in a lineup makes a lot of sense.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Luka Doncic ($10,800), Tim Hardaway Jr. ($6,900 — only really like him in tournaments but think this is a matchup where Hardaway can exploit Charlotte), James Johnson ($3,900), Willie Cauley-Stein ($4,100), Boban Marjanovic ($3,000 — I’ll feel a lot better about him if he starts because if he doesn’t we could see Dallas go small with their second unit)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Luka Doncic ($11,300), Tim Hardaway Jr. ($6,800 — same caveat as DraftKings), James Johnson ($4,200), Willie Cauley-Stein ($5,000)
The Hornets are fully healthy, except for Cody Zeller, so tonight’s game should look about the same as their other games recently.
We continue to see Devonte’ Graham, Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball play a few more minutes alongside each other, which improves the outlook for all three of them. Ball is the most productive DFS option, as he has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute this season and leads the team in rebounding rate and assist rate while also posting a 24.3 percent usage rate that only trails Gordon Hayward. He will probably play the fewest minutes of this trio, but he is likely to play 28 to 30 minutes which is enough to look to him in tournaments. Rozier and Graham’s salaries have come up slightly as they continue to play 32 to 35 minutes in most games. Rozier is the higher upside option since he has a 23.4 percent usage rate compared to 18.3 percent for Graham. Graham is the better source of peripherals with a 30.1 percent assist rate compared to 14.6 percent for Rozier.
Hayward has been a boom or bust player so far this season, but the ceiling has been massive. He leads the Hornets with a 25.3 percent usage rate, and he has also contributed a 20 percent assist rate. Hayward can be counted on to play 34-plus minutes in competitive games and he has averaged 1.11 DraftKings points per minute this season.
Washington has averaged 1.01 DraftKings points per minute this season and typically plays 30 to 32 minutes when he isn’t in foul trouble. He could potentially have a favorable matchup against the thin Dallas frontcourt, depending on who Rick Carlisle uses as his back-up center, but it’s tough to get to Washington at his current price point regardless of matchup.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: LaMelo Ball ($7,200), Gordon Hayward ($7,800)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: LaMelo Ball ($7,400), Gordon Hayward ($7,800)
Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks (+6): 219.5
Durant remains a top option as he is the clear number one option for Brooklyn with Irving sidelined. He has averaged 1.67 DraftKings points per minute with a 36 percent usage rate, 17.4 percent rebounding rate and 36.4 percent assist rate in his two games without Irving this season. He has also played 37.7 and 35.9 minutes in those two games. When Durant was with the Golden State Warriors, he averaged 1.54 DraftKings points per minute with a 38.2 percent usage rate over 936 minutes without Stephen Curry on the floor. Durant’s salary isn’t rising fast enough with Irving out and he is one of the best plays on the entire slate again tonight.
Jarrett Allen continues to play huge minutes for Brooklyn since joining the starting lineup. When he was coming off the bench, he was typically playing more minutes than DeAndre Jordan, but we usually saw 26 to 28 minutes from Allen. Since he joined the starting lineup, Allen has averaged 31.9 minutes per game over five games. He has averaged 1.09 DraftKings points per minute in those five games. He is a high upside mid-range center option tonight.
Other than Durant and Allen, I don’t have much interest in the Nets tonight. The Knicks have played at the slowest pace in the league and rank in the middle of the pack in defensive efficiency. More importantly, the only players that topped 30 minutes in a competitive game against Denver last night were Durant, Allen and Joe Harris. Harris doesn’t stand out as a great play since he is a scoring dependent wing with a relatively low usage rate, even without Irving, and Caris LeVert returned to the bench and only played about 26 minutes last night. At LeVert’s salary, we need to know he is playing 33 or 34 minutes to really consider him.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Kevin Durant ($9,400), Jarrett Allen ($6,700)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Kevin Durant ($10,100), Jarrett Allen ($7,200)
New York Knicks
Reggie Bullock is doubtful while Alec Burks and Frank Ntilikina remain out. Taj Gibson is available to play for the first time tonight and Obi Toppin is now probable despite being listed as out on last night’s injury report.
Julius Randle’s salary has decreased slightly and he gets a nice matchup against the Nets. Brooklyn has played at the fourth fastest pace in the league and Randle should be able to take advantage of the extra possessions. Randle has averaged 37.1 minutes per game this season while averaging 1.25 DraftKings points per minute. He leads the Knicks in usage rate and assist rate and is second to Nerlens Noel in rebounding rate. The only thing that slightly concerns me with Randle is that Gibson and Toppin are both likely to be available. I don’t think that it will matter because Tom Thibodeau has a long history of playing his starters huge minutes, but they are two available bodies behind Randle that weren’t active previously. At his salary, we don’t want Randle to play 34 or 35 minutes instead of 37 or 38.
Austin Rivers started and played 37.8 minutes in place of Reggie Bullock last game. Rivers has averaged 0.74 DraftKings points per minute this season and he is a decent value at his price point if he is going to play 35-plus minutes now that he is starting. The more appealing DFS option that came out of their last game, however, is Immanuel Quickley. Quickley played 29 minutes off the bench and only about one minute was garbage time. We could potentially see Quickley play a little bit less with Obi Toppin back in the rotation, but the fact he played 28 minutes while Elfrid Payton played 31 and Rivers played 38 makes me feel relatively confident that we can expect at least 24 minutes from Quickley. He has averaged 0.73 DraftKings points per minute in 111 minutes played this season.
R.J. Barrett and Payton are more appealing on FanDuel than DraftKings. Barrett leads the Knicks with 37.9 minutes per game this season while Payton has averaged 29.7 minutes per game. Barrett has averaged 0.84 FanDuel points per minute and Payton has averaged 0.90 FanDuel points per minute.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Julius Randle ($9,100), Immanuel Quickley ($3,100)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Julius Randle ($9,100), Elfrid Payton ($5,700), R.J. Barrett ($6,300), Austin Rivers ($4,500)
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Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves (-2.5): 222
The Grizzlies’ injury situation remains the same, except John Konchar is questionable instead of out. Memphis continues to run a deep rotation that will make it difficult to prioritize any of their players on this slate.
All five of the Grizzlies’ starters played between 29.8 and 31.6 minutes last game, except for Dillon Brooks who played 33.4 minutes. This is actually more playing time than we have seen recently for most of the Memphis starters, which is the problem with targeting this team in DFS right now. Their salaries have increased because Ja Morant is out, but their playing time hasn’t increased. They do have a great matchup tonight against a Minnesota team that ranks 28th in defensive rating and ninth in pace.
Jonas Valanciunas has averaged 1.23 DraftKings points per minute and 24.7 minutes per game in seven games since Morant’s injury. The playing time isn’t ideal, but we can usually expect at least 27 or 28 minutes if the game is competitive. Gorgui Dieng is also no longer in the Memphis rotation as he has been replaced by Xavier Tillman in the last two games. This could potentially add a couple minutes to Valanciunas’ playing time going forward.
Brooks has a 28.9 percent usage rate and has averaged 29.2 minutes per game since Morant’s injury. I think that he has the highest ceiling of anyone other than Valanciunas given that he is the most likely to get hot and start pouring in points — and he certainly isn’t shy about shooting.
Kyle Anderson has seemingly regained his role as the back-up point guard, which is good for his value. He has averaged 0.99 DraftKings points per minute with a 21.6 percent usage rate and 25.1 percent assist rate in 28.9 minutes per game since Morant’s injury. Tyus Jones, who replaced Morant in the starting lineup, has averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute in 29.3 minutes per game since becoming a starter.
Brandon Clarke has started the last six games for Memphis and has averaged 0.93 DraftKings points per minute in 30.3 minutes per game. He is the least expensive of the Grizzlies’ starters on DraftKings and is the second cheapest on FanDuel behind Anderson. His rates are limited because he plays most of his minutes alongside Valanciunas instead of at center, but he is still cheap enough in a good matchup that there is some value here.
There is a good chance that at least one of the main Memphis players has a big game in this matchup against Minnesota. The problem is trying to guess which one that is because they are all priced where they should be for their median production and playing time. I don’t expect any Memphis player to be among my highest owned, but I do think that cycling through them if you are playing a lot of tournament lineups is a good approach.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Jonas Valanciunas ($6,900), Brandon Clarke ($5,800)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Jonas Valanciunas ($6,900), Dillon Brooks ($6,300), Kyle Anderson ($5,400), Brandon Clarke ($5,600)
Towns played 37 minutes, including five minutes in overtime, against the Spurs in his first game back. They had said before the game that he would be limited but it doesn’t appear that limit will be strictly enforced. I think we should expect 32 to 34 minutes from Towns tonight. Towns has averaged 1.5 DraftKings points per minute since the start of last season and has plenty of upside tonight. That said, it will be difficult to prioritize him since he is a center and there are plenty of other pay-up options that aren’t playing their second game of the season.
D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley should continue playing big minutes, but they will lose some production playing alongside Towns. Russell has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute with a 27.8 percent usage rate in 89 minutes alongside Towns since coming to Minnesota last season while Beasley has averaged 1.09 DraftKings points per minute in 132 minutes played.
Given their pricing and the return of Towns, Minnesota looks like one of the more unappealing teams on the slate.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,800)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Malik Beasley ($5,800)
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder (+7): 218
Los Angeles Lakers
For now, I’m assuming that Davis plays but it’s possible that he sits on the second half of a back-to-back after jamming his toe last night. If he plays, it’s the normal story for the Lakers.
James has averaged 1.52 DraftKings points per minute in 10 games with Davis active this season. In those 10 games, he has a 32.1 percent usage rate and 38.8 percent assist rate. Davis has averaged 1.37 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.0 percent usage rate in those games. James and Davis both played less than 30 minutes in last night’s blowout win over the Rockets, so I don’t expect either of them to be limited tonight if they both do play.
Dennis Schroder is the third piece from the Lakers that I am interested in as he has averaged 31.1 minutes per game in his 10 games with Davis and James this season. He has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute with a 22.4 percent usage rate and 21.8 percent assist rate. His median production is slightly lower than it was last season with the Thunder since he is clearly the third option offensively, but he is involved enough as a scorer and as a facilitator that he still has a nice ceiling for his salary. One potential negative for Schroder is that the Lakers didn’t stagger his minutes with LeBron’s last night as they have for most of the season. It could be because the game was a blowout from the beginning but, if that trend continues, it would be detrimental to Schroder’s production.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: LeBron James ($9,600), Anthony Davis ($9,000)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: LeBron James ($9,900), Anthony Davis ($9,800), Dennis Schroder ($5,900)
Oklahoma City Thunder
Update: Al Horford is out tonight for rest. Isaiah Roby started in his place the last time that he rested and played 28.1 minutes against the Magic on Dec. 29. Roby has averaged 0.85 DraftKings points per minute this season. The other candidate to start is Mike Muscala, who has averaged 0.99 DraftKings points per minute this season. He played 19.9 minutes off the bench in the game against Orlando.
This is a brutal spot for Oklahoma City as they take on the Lakers after losing to the Spurs last night. The Lakers have been the second most efficient defense this season while ranking 16th in pace. The Thunder have the lowest implied total on the slate tonight.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was disappointing last night, but he will have those games from time to time since he is still a young player and he is surrounded by a weak supporting cast. The same thing that gives him a low floor gives him a high ceiling since his weak supporting cast allows him to dominate opportunities within the offense. Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 33.6 minutes per game this season with 1.22 DraftKings points per minute. He leads the Thunder with a 26.6 percent usage rate and 33.2 percent assist rate.
Darius Bazley is the only other player on the team that is averaging at least 30 minutes per game, with 30.3 minutes per game. He only has an 18 percent usage rate this season but he leads the team with a 14.5 percent rebounding rate and he has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute. He is far from a priority on this slate, but he would be the second place that I look after Gilgeous-Alexander.
I don’t have much interest in the rest of this team as I don’t make it a habit to target players that are likely to play 26 minutes on a team with a 103-point implied total unless the slate lacks value, which this one does not.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($7,700)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: None
New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Clippers (-6.5): 218
New Orleans Pelicans
Update: Zion Williamson is out tonight. That will probably move Nicolo Melli into the rotation. It also helps to solidify minutes for Josh Hart, J.J. Redick and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Brandon Ingram is likely to see a bump in his rates as he will get more time at the four and won’t have to share the ball with Zion in general. Ingram has averaged 1.42 DraftKings points per minute in 113 minutes without Zion this season compared to 1.14 DraftKings points per minute in 162 minutes alongside him.
Lonzo Ball is out tonight for the Pelicans, which should increase playing time for Eric Bledsoe and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. Bledsoe himself is questionable, however, so we will have to keep an out on his status. For now, I am assuming that Bledsoe is able to play.
We don’t have much of a sample of Bledsoe playing alongside Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson without Ball this season, but Bledsoe has averaged 1.19 DraftKings points per minute with a 23.6 percent usage rate and 36.4 percent assist rate in 107 minutes without Ball on the floor. Keep in mind that most of those minutes are playing against opposing second units, but we have a long history of Bledsoe being a productive fantasy player. He averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute with Milwaukee last season and he should have more ball-handling responsibilities tonight without Lonzo. He also is likely to play 33 or 34 minutes tonight compared to his season average of 29.9 minutes per game.
Ingram has been excellent this season as he has averaged 1.25 DraftKings points per minute in 34.6 minutes per game. He leads the team with a 28.6 percent assist rate and that number could increase tonight with Ball sidelined. Even if he doesn’t see increased assist opportunities, he is a high upside option tonight based on his play so far this season.
Williamson has been relatively disappointing this season, but he has still averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute and 31.8 minutes per game. There was a stretch where Williamson was too close in salary to Ingram and it made him a clearly inferior play. That isn’t the case anymore, however, as Williamson is $1,200 less expensive on DraftKings and $1,100 less expensive on FanDuel. It seems safe at this point to say that Ingram is the better fantasy producer, but Williamson still has a high ceiling for his salary if he can avoid foul trouble and give us 33 or 34 minutes tonight.
Josh Hart is my guess at who replaces Ball in the starting lineup, but he is priced up to $5,400 on DraftKings. He’s only $4,400 on FanDuel, however, and has averaged 0.78 FanDuel points per minute in 953 minutes alongside Ingram since the start of last season. I expect at least 32 or 33 minutes for Hart tonight if he starts.
Alexander-Walker and J.J. Redick look like two value options who will be more useful on DraftKings than FanDuel since there are fewer cheap players to choose from on DraftKings. Alexander-Walker has averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute in 694 minutes since last season. I expect that we get 22 to 24 minutes off the bench from Alexander-Walker tonight, assuming that Bledsoe is in. Redick has averaged 21 minutes per game this season, but he will have a chance at more playing time as well without Ball. He is only $3,300 on DraftKings and has guard and forward eligibility. Redick has averaged 0.85 DraftKings points since the start of last season. He has been awful so far this season, with only 0.54 DraftKings points per minute in 169 minutes, however. His usage is down from last year, but he also has a 48 percent true shooting rate which would be the lowest of his career by more than eight points. He hasn’t shot below 59.8 percent since the 2012-13 season. His shooting numbers should improve soon and, when they do, his usage will probably increase as well.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Brandon Ingram ($8,500), Eric Bledsoe ($5,800), Nickeil Alexander-Walker ($3,100), J.J. Redick ($3,300)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Brandon Ingram ($8,800), Eric Bledsoe ($5,300), Josh Hart ($4,400)
Los Angeles Clippers
The Pelicans have been a tough DFS matchup this season as they rank fifth in defensive rating and 25th in pace. The Clippers are healthy, so there isn’t much value here. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are high upside options, as usual. Leonard has averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute in 34.6 minutes per game this season while George has averaged 1.31 DraftKings points per minute in 34.7 minutes per game. We should see Leonard’s per-minute production surpass George’s as we get further into the season, but we’ll continue to see plenty of big games from George as well.
The other spot from the Clippers that interests me is Ibaka. He has only averaged 25.6 minutes per game this season, but he has averaged 1 DraftKings point per minute. His average playing time has been hurt, in part, by foul trouble and blowouts. He has the ability to play 30-plus minutes in competitive games if he isn’t in foul trouble and the likelihood of that happening will increase if Zubac is out tonight. The Clippers closed small in their last competitive game, which is something that will probably happen often moving forward with Marcus Morris back from injury. Tonight’s matchup against Steven Adams isn’t a likely spot for a small lineup, however, so I think that we could get 30 to 32 minutes from Ibaka. Still, he is a center and not really necessary on this slate, so it’s a speculative tournament target at best.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Kawhi Leonard ($9,700)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Kawhi Leonard ($9,200)
Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings (+3.5): 236.5
Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard is probable and Jusuf Nurkic is questionable. If Nurkic sits, Enes Kanter becomes one of the best values on the slate as the Kings are the worst interior defense (and overall defense) in the NBA and Kanter has averaged 1.29 DraftKings points per minute this season. Alternatively, we could also look to Carmelo Anthony if Nurkic sits as he played 19 second-half minutes last game compared to only about five for Kanter. This game has the potential to go small as the Kings have undersized centers with the exception of Hassan Whiteside.
Lillard and C.J. McCollum continue to have their minutes staggered, which increases both of their ceilings. It is particularly beneficial for McCollum since he is typically the second option when he shares the floor with Lillard but he is the number one option whenever Lillard is on the bench. Lillard has averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute this season with a 29.3 percent usage rate while McCollum has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.7 percent usage rate. Lillard has averaged 35.1 minutes per game this season and McCollum has averaged 34.5 minutes per game. They both look like strong pay-up options tonight.
Nurkic or Kanter look like strong center plays depending on Nurkic’s status. We can only expect Nurkic to play 26 to 28 minutes even if he is healthy, but he should be able to dominate the Kings’ frontcourt. Anthony has averaged 0.88 DraftKings points per minute this season and would probably see increased playing time if Nurkic is out. I don’t expect that we would see 36 minutes like we did last game, but it’s at least in the range of outcomes and I would expect we get at least 28 to 30 minutes.
If you’re multi-entering large field tournaments, getting exposure to the cheap wings like Derrick Jones Jr. and Gary Trent Jr. makes sense given the matchup. They would each be candidates to gain minutes if Nurkic sits and the Kings are awful defensively. Neither player should get much ownership given the other value that we have on the slate, so they could potentially be difference makers in large field tournaments if Nurkic is ruled out after lock.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Damian Lillard ($9,500), C.J. McCollum ($8,600), Jusuf Nurkic ($6,100 — Questionable), Enes Kanter ($4,800 if Nurkic is out), Carmelo Anthony ($4,200 if Nurkic is out)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Damian Lillard ($9,200), C.J. McCollum ($9,200), Jusuf Nurkic ($6,400), Enes Kanter ($5,300 if Nurkic is out), Carmelo Anthony ($4,500 if Nurkic is out)
De’Aaron Fox played 38.4 minutes against the Pacers last game, so whatever minutes restriction he was on appears to have gone out the window. Fox has averaged 1.1 DraftKings points per minute this season and has a favorable matchup against a Portland team that ranks 23rd in defensive rating and 10th in pace. His salary has fallen as a result of his injury and subsequent minutes restriction, so Fox stands out as one of the best mid-range plays on the board.
The center rotation is interesting for Sacramento. Luke Walton said after their loss to Toronto three games ago that he needs to use Whiteside more to improve their interior defense. Holmes was out the next game (against Portland) and Whiteside played 24 minutes off the bench. Holmes returned to the lineup last game against Indiana and Whiteside played 9.6 minutes off the bench. The thing that makes me somewhat interested in Whiteside in large field tournaments, however, is that he was the only player that played center against Indiana other than Holmes. If Holmes and Whiteside are going to split 48 minutes, there is a lot of volatility in Whiteside’s minutes since he could potentially play 18 to 20 minutes if Holmes is in foul trouble or just getting dominated by a big frontcourt, like the Blazers have. Given the fact that Whiteside is a center, and there’s no guarantee he plays more than 10 minutes, it’s a very thin play but I do think there is a chance Whiteside plays a lot more than people are expecting if Nurkic and Kanter are both active. If Nurkic sits, I think this game is likely to go small and Whiteside will probably lose center minutes to Bjelica and/or Bagley whenever Holmes isn’t on the floor.
Marvin Bagley and Harrison Barnes have appeal as mid-range forward options. Bagley has averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute this season. He has the second highest usage rate and rebounding rate on the team, however, so there is plenty of upside in any given game. I’m more interested in Bagley if Nurkic is out because I think the game is likely to go small and he could pick up additional minutes at center behind Holmes. Barnes has been surprisingly productive this season with 0.96 DraftKings points per minute and he has averaged a team-leading 34.7 minutes per game. He is never a “priority”, but this game should be high-scoring and Barnes will be useful as a last guy in for lineups that need a mid-range forward.
Hield is only $5,000 on FanDuel and I still have trouble believing that he is going to be this bad all season long. That said, he has been awful and his usage rate is down to 19.1 percent this season. He would have been one of the easiest plays on the slate in this spot at $5,000 last season, but he’s a secondary option tonight just hoping he happens to remember how to play basketball.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: De’Aaron Fox ($7,400)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: De’Aaron Fox ($7,300)
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