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NBA DFS Building Blocks for Christmas Day, December 25 | Today, 12/25/21

Eric MacPherson



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Saturday, Dec. 25, brings the NBA’s featured Christmas Day slate with staggered start time from 12:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Let’s look at the player pool and discuss the top NBA DFS picks for DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo lineups. Do not forget to head over to the Awesemo NBA DFS home page for more great written daily fantasy basketball content.

NBA DFS Picks: Building Blocks, Christmas Day, Dec. 25

Yahoo Play of the Day — James Harden: Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers

  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 49.0 | DraftKings: 52.58
  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 43.6% | FanDuel 53.6% | DraftKings 59.7%
  • DFS Salary: Yahoo $48 | FanDuel $10,200 | DraftKings $10,700

James Harden has not played in two weeks while in the COVID protocol and this will be the first game for Brooklyn since last Saturday when their shorthanded squad suffered the ignominy of losing to Orlando. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LaMarcus Aldridge, Cam Thomas, Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe are all in the health and safety protocol.

Joining Harden will be Patty Mills, Bruce Brown Jr., DeAndre’ Bembry, Nicolas Claxton, Blake Griffin, James Johnson and likely Paul Millsap. This means the Nets will have plenty of players, though their stamina and potential rust from varying layoffs could impact their effectiveness. Fortunately they will not be spending a lot of energy guarding anyone and the Lakers are not exactly defensive stalwarts either, particularly without Anthony Davis. In this situation, Harden should see something approaching a 30% usage rate which bodes well for his fantasy production.

LeBron James: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Brooklyn Nets

  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 50.89 | DraftKings: 52.3
  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 40.8% | FanDuel 33.2% | DraftKings 37.5%
  • DFS Salary: Yahoo $48 | FanDuel $10,900 | DraftKings $10,800

Over the last two seasons without Davis on the court, LeBron James is averaging nearly 1.5 fantasy points per minute. Without Davis this season but with Russell Westbrook – in 255 minutes – James has been even better with nearly 1.7 fantasy points per minute. Brooklyn is missing half of their regulars, while most of those who are available, were out with COVID. This is their first game in a week, so they may not be cohesive on defense. We have seen James show out countless times on the featured Christmas slate and anything less than 50 fantasy points tonight will be a disappointment.

Although we want to target Harden and LeBron in DFS, they have some intriguing unders with their various player props according to the Awesemo projections. This is a nice way to hedge some of our action with the LeBron under 8.5 rebounds which with the 7.5 projected by Awesemo, this is a bet that is likely to win 67% of the time, according to OddsShopper. Similarly the under 11.5 assists for Harden who is projected for 9.3 has nearly an 80% chance of coming to fruition. See these player props and more on OddsShopper.

Draymond Green: Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns

  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 30.51 | DraftKings: 31.12
  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 12.0% | FanDuel 11.7% | DraftKings 11.5%
  • DFS Salary: Yahoo $30 | FanDuel $7,600 | DraftKings $7,300

Getting Draymond Green when he is motivated is key these days. While he usually plays solid defense, he really picks up his all-around game when he is at a high engagement level. Saturday will be among the most watched NBA games during the regular season and the players are all quite aware of that wrinkle. In his last four games against DeAndre Ayton, Green has a pair of 50 fantasy point performances. The 10-year veteran is not getting a lot of love from the rest of the field which makes him a very intriguing option. Today he will likely once again flirt with a triple double and this is a situation where he should also see double digit field goal attempts.

Bonus analysis: since joining the Suns as the head coach, Monty Williams has done an excellent job scheming against Stephen Curry. In the last five regular season games, including two this year, Curry has been held in check failing to reach the 40 fantasy point plateau in any of these matchups. Over these games, Curry is averaging 31.6 minutes with a dreadful 33.6% success rate on 18.8 field goal attempts and only 29.9% on 10.6 three-point attempts. For his career, the two-time MVP averages 47.5% overall from the field and an amazing 43.1% from downtown. Curry is coming in at nearly twice the popularity of Green which seems like a perfect time to zig while others zag.

Atlanta Hawks at New York Knickerbockers

In the first game of the slate we have two teams that are dealing with injuries and pandemic ramifications. Atlanta will be without Trae Young, Clint Capela, Kevin Huerter, Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, Wesley Iwundu, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Onyeka Okongwu. This is also their third game in the last four days and we saw the shorthanded roster in action in on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Expect big minutes from John Collins, Cam Reddish, Delon Wright and Gorgui Dieng. Skylar Mays saw 33 minutes after getting just six on Tuesday and he will likely be the co-facilitator along with Wright. Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) played 22 and 28 minutes in these games after missing nearly a month and he should be in the 28-30 minute range today. It is preferable for him to come off the bench since he will see more usage with the reserves.

New York will be without Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, Kevin Knox, Luka Samanic, Damyean Dotson and although recent signee Danuel House cleared the protocols this morning and should be available to play. Immanuel Quickley is doubtful and RJ Barrett may be returning from his bout with COVID, though his conditioning is questionable after missing two full weeks.

Kemba Walker has had three straight “Remember Me?!” games and it has been funny to see the fans and media rumblings towards coach Tom Thibodeau growing louder and louder. In these game, Walker is averaging 40.1 minutes with 31.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists after ten DNP-CDs. Julius Randle, Alec Burks and Mitchell Robinson are all viable plays depending on positional need an personal preference.

Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz

Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maximilian Kleber and Trey Burke all on the COVID reserve. Kristaps Porzingis has missed the last two games with a sore toe and it sounds like his availability will be announced shortly before tipoff in the final game of the night. The focus however should be on Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith who will see ample opportunities on offense. Frank Ntilikina and Sterling Brown are best left for the late-slate. Regardless of the availability of Porzingis, Dwight Powell and Marquese Chriss are both dart throws as they will be manning the pivot position against Rudy Gobert for as long as their fouls hold out.

Utah is currently favored by a dozen points, though they dropped two of their last four home games including losses to the Wizards and Spurs. Gobert is the top option as Dallas is not equipped to deal with him by any stretch of the imagination. Donovan Mitchell is viable, though in his 11 December games he has not topped 50 fantasy points despite averaging 33.7 minutes and 20.8 field goal attempts. Playing to his favor is the that coach Quin Snyder is unlikely to empty the bench early during this showcase game, even in a rout. Mitchell does not seem to have the tournament upside we are looking for today. The rest of the Jazz players are neutral options at best on the main slate. For the two-game evening action, everyone is in play.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS picks for the Christmas Day, Dec. 25 Slate

Get ready for a full day of NBA action. There may be additional pandemic related issues so be sure to follow along with news updates. Keep in mind that salaries and scoring formats differ across the various fantasy sites, and a slam-dunk play on Yahoo may be a below-average NBA DFS pick on DraftKings or FanDuel.

Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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