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NBA Fantasy: Boom Bust Tool Projections for DraftKings + FanDuel Lineups | Today 12/17

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Friday delivers an eight-game slate, and with 16 teams competing, NBA fantasy lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel will be flush with high-level talent and value plays. The Awesemo NBA Starting Lineups page will provide breaking news when starters are announced as well as a full injury report on players who might be missing in action. Below are some NBA daily fantasy options that stand out for tonight’s slate using Awesemo’s Boom/Bust Tool and NBA DFS projections.

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Boom: DeMarcus Cousins: $3,100 DraftKings/$3,700 FanDuel

60.1% DraftKings Boom/47% FanDuel Boom

Cousins (personal) will return to the Bucks tonight, but Giannis Antetokounmpo (health protocols), Brook Lopez (back), Bobby Portis (health protocols) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (doubtful, leg) will be unavailable. With Milwaukee extremely short-handed up front, Cousins should be forced to play a sizable role tonight against the Pelicans, likely as the team’s starting center. Awesemo is projecting Cousins for 22 minutes, and while this may not seem like much, he is scoring 1.21 DraftKings points per minute since the start of last season. Furthermore, in the 13 games Cousins has logged at least 20 minutes over the last two seasons, he is contributing 33.5 DraftKings points per game.

New Orleans’ defense ranks 27th in defensive efficiency, and Cousins is an elite punt play that simply cannot be ignored. For both DraftKings and FanDuel, he is rating as a top-three value on the slate, according to Awesemo’s projections.

Boom: Khris Middleton: $6,700 DraftKings/$7,700 FanDuel

30.8% DraftKings Boom/13.5% FanDuel Boom

At a season-low $6,700 on DraftKings, Middleton is an elite value play with the Bucks depleted. In the 114 minutes he has played with Antetokounmpo, Lopez and Portis off the floor since the start of last season, Middleton’s usage and assist rates have risen 7.3 and 6 percentage points, respectively, resulting in 1.26 DraftKings points per minute. Plus, in the 10 starts he has made with Antetokounmpo out of the lineup over the last two seasons, Middleton has averaged 39.3 DraftKings points per game.

In this juicy spot against the Pelicans, Middleton’s player props tonight are set at 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists on BetMGM, which is already 35 DraftKings points before defensive stats and bonuses. Awesemo’s Boom/Bust Tool is giving Middleton a ceiling above 40 fantasy points tonight, and he has a top-10 boom score on the slate for DraftKings.

Update: Middelton has been downgraded from probable to out. Instantly, Jrue Holiday becomes one of the top pay up options on the slate. With Antetokounmpo and Middleton off the floor since the start of last season, Holiday has led the Bucks with a 33.7% usage rate and an elite 1.6 DraftKings points per minute. 

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Boom: LeBron James: $10,400 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel

27.4% DraftKings Boom/21.7% FanDuel Boom

Tonight the Lakers will be without Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard and Malik Monk due to health protocols. There is minimal data of this exact situation, but in the 190 minutes James has played with Westbrook off the court, his usage has increased 4.5 percentage points to a team-high 32.1%. Additionally, his assist rate has skyrocketed 11.4 percentage points to a team-high 41.7%. With this incredible role, James is averaging 1.45 DraftKings points per minute.

On the menu for Friday is a date with the Timberwolves. Both Minnesota and Los Angeles are in the top five in pace this season, and this uptempo matchup presents the fourth-highest total on the slate (223 points). Plus, the Lakers’ implied team total is the seventh largest on the board (111 points), and the Timberwolves are only 1-point favorites, which is the tightest spread of this eight-game slate. In this terrific setting, James’ NBA player props are set at 27.5 points, 9.5 assists and 8.5 rebounds on BetMGM, which is already 50.5 DraftKings before defensive stats and bonuses. James has a strong chance to notch a triple-double tonight and is an excellent stud to build around.

Update: Westbrook has surprisingly cleared protocols and will be available tonight. This is an obvious hit to James’ ceiling, but the forward is still viable for GPPs. In his past five, James has produced 54.2 DraftKings points per game playing alongside Westbrook. 


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Boom: Davion Mitchell: $3,600 DraftKings/$4,700 FanDuel

69.3% DraftKings Boom/45% FanDuel Boom

Wednesday night Mitchell got the first start of his career and tallied 24.5 DraftKings points across 28.5 minutes in the win over the Wizards. Starting point guard De’Aaron Fox was active and logged 31 minutes in this game but is expected to be inactive tonight due to health protocols. For the same reason, Marvin Bagley and Terence Davis have been ruled out, while Richaun Holmes (eye) and Alex Len (health protocols) are doubtful, and Tyrese Haliburton (back) and Chimezie Metu (knee) are questionable. All in all, Sacramento is going to be very understaffed tonight, and Mitchell should see over 30 minutes of action as a starter against the Grizzlies. Not having to play alongside the ball-dominant Fox should naturally result in more responsibilities for Mitchell. Mitchell has posted a 21.7% usage rate in 390 minutes he has played with Fox off the floor, which is a 2.7-percentage-point upgrade from his season average, lifting him to 0.9 DraftKings points per minute.

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While Mitchell will be facing a tough Grizzlies defense, both teams are top 10 in pace, and this game’s total is the second highest on the slate (225.5 points). Mitchell is a sharp option on both sites, but for DraftKings, not only does Mitchell have the highest boom score on the slate, but he is also rating as the No. 1 value on the board.

Update: Unfortunately, Mitchell has now been ruled out due to health protocols. Haliburton remains questionable, and if the second-year guard is available to play, he would play huge minutes and be an elite target with the Kings so thin in their backcourt. Since the start of last season, Haliburton has scored 1.1 DraftKings points per minute with Fox off the court, thanks to a team-high 32.8% assist rate, which is a notable 8.3 percentage point upgrade from his average. Now, if Haliburton remains out, Buddy Hield would be forced into huge minutes and be an appealing option. With Fox off the floor since the start of last season, Hield has supplied one DraftKings points per minute. 


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Looking for more DFS NBA news and the best free NBA DFS tools? Check out our DFS basketball rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own daily fantasy basketball projections. Our DFS NBA projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. We also have DraftKings rankings, Yahoo! rankings and FanDuel ownership rankings for today's slate. View our FanDuel NBA ownership, our Yahoo! NBA ownership and our DraftKings NBA ownership.
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