There is a small five-game NBA fantasy slate tonight. With that, NBA DFS injury news will be a big part of tonight’s process. Be sure to check the Awesemo NBA Starting Lineups page to see who is in, who is out and who is starting as news breaks, and look at the NBA DFS rankings and projections for both DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.
NBA Daily Fantasy Picks: Awesemo Grades | Jan. 4
*Grades are ordered DraftKings, FanDuel. Initial grade indicates a player’s strength of output, with the value grade indicating their strength as a play in relation to their salary.
SG Devin Booker — Grades: A, A | Values: C, A
Devin Booker stands out as one of the best plays on FanDuel tonight. He is the only player on the slate with an A grade and A value for either site. Booker does most of his damage scoring the ball, as he continues to lead the Suns in points scoring — 23.6 per game. He also leads the Suns in field goal attempts from both the field and from 3-point range while having a team-high 31.1% usage rate. However, he has had at least two combined steals and blocks in five of his last six games, which increases his ceiling on FanDuel.
The matchup for Booker and the Suns is a juicy one against the Pelicans. They specifically get torched from behind the arc, as they allow their opponents to shoot 37.1%, which is the second highest in the league. That bodes well for Booker, who has made at least three 3-pointers in eight of his last 11 games. He has shot 45% from distance during that time. The Pelicans also rank 24th in defensive rating this season. Awesemo projects Booker with the highest value on FanDuel among players priced $8,000 or higher.
PF Obi Toppin — Grades: B, B | Values: A, A
Drawing his second start of the season last game, Obi Toppin played a ridiculous 45 minutes in regulation. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau runs his starters into the ground, but 45 minutes is a little extreme. Toppin easily had his best game of the season, scoring 19 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists. He finished with a career-high 41 DraftKings points. Awesemo projects Toppin to only play 30.9 minutes tonight, and he is still popping as one of the best value plays on the slate.
The main news for Toppin is the status of Julius Randle. He cleared the COVID protocols but is questionable to play tonight due to conditioning. Most teams have been sitting their players one game to allow their conditioning to get up to speed, but the Knicks are a different breed. Gamers will need to monitor his status closer to lock. The only knock on Toppin and in this matchup against the Pacers is the game total is the lowest on the slate at 205.5 points. Both the Knicks and Pacers play at extremely slow paces.
PF Domantas Sabonis — Grades: A, A | Values: B, B
One of the most consistent players in the league lately has been Domantas Sabonis. Over the last four games, Sabonis is averaging a double-double with 21.3 points and 15.3 rebounds per game. He is a near lock to double-double each time he steps on the floor. Sabonis is second behind Rudy Gobert in double-doubles with 27 this season, while he is averaging 18.4 points and 12 rebounds per game. Using Awesemo Boom/Bust Tool, Sabonis has the slate’s highest optimal percentage on both sites tonight.
Sabonis should be able to dominate the paint against the Knicks, especially if Julius Randle does not play. In two games without Randle this season, the Knicks allowed 120 points to the Raptors and 95 points to the Thunder. The Pacers have their own concerns, as they will likely be playing without Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert and Chris Duarte, who are all in the COVID protocol. Awesemo projects Sabonis to play a slate-high 37.7 minutes tonight, as he should get all of the usage that he can handle against a depleted Knicks frontcourt.
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SF Devin Vassell — Grades: C, C | Values: A, A
Another value option who played a tremendous number of minutes in their last game, Devin Vassell played a career-high 41 minutes in his last game against the Pistons, which went into overtime. Vassell finished with 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the floor and 5-for-12 from downtown. Vassell’s 16 field goal attempts and 12 3-point attempts were both season highs. Dejounte Murray will be out once again tonight, which will solidify the minutes and usage for Vassell. Murray leads the Spurs in points, assists and steals this season.
The matchup against the Raptors is not as bad as it has been in past seasons. They rank 21st in defensive rating, but they play at the fifth-slowest pace this season. The Spurs are 7-point road underdogs while the total is at 224.5 points, which is the second highest on the slate. Using Awesemo’s Boom/Bust tool, Vassell ranks second in boom percentage on DraftKings and fifth on FanDuel. He is also drawing a healthy amount of ownership on both sites. Vassell seems very safe for cash games tonight.
SF LeBron James — Grades: A, A | Values: C, B
The most expensive player on the slate by far is Lakers star LeBron James. Without Anthony Davis in the lineup, this is peak LeBron right now. In 11 games without Davis this season, James is averaging 32.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and a 33% usage rate per game. A major leap from only averaging 24 points, six rebounds and a 28.7% usage rate per game with Davis in the lineup. Last game against the Timberwolves was the first time James has not scored over 30 points in eight straight games.
Not only is James playing on a masterful level recently, but this matchup against the Kings is close to as good as it gets. They rank 26th in defensive rating and sixth in pace. The Kings have allowed 113.7 points per game, which is the third-highest total in the league. The Lakers are implied for a slate-high 118 points tonight, as the game total is also the highest on the slate (229 points). Awesemo’s ownership projections have James as the highest-owned player on both sites, but for good reason.
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Our NBA daily fantasy projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. View our FanDuel NBA ownership, our DraftKings NBA ownership projections and our Yahoo! NBA ownership projections. We also have DraftKings NBA ownership rankings, Yahoo! ownership rankings and FanDuel NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Looking for more DFS NBA tonight and the top NBA DFS picks for today? Check out our DFS rankings NBA for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA daily fantasy projections.
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