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NBA DFS Building Blocks for New Year’s Eve Friday, December 31 | Today, 12/31/21

Eric MacPherson



The best NBA DFS optimizer picks today for Yahoo, DraftKings & FanDuel daily fantasy basketball lineups | Nikola Jokic tonight 1/21/22

Friday, Dec. 31, sends off 2021 with a seven-game main slate beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. Let’s look at the player pool and discuss the top NBA DFS picks for DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo lineups on New Year’s Eve. Do not forget to head over to the Awesemo NBA DFS home page for more great written daily fantasy basketball content.

NBA DFS Picks: New Year’s Eve Building Blocks, Friday, Dec. 31

Yahoo Play of the Day — LeBron James: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers

  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 52.72 | DraftKings: 54.99
  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 31.2% | FanDuel 33.7% | DraftKings 24.4%
  • DFS Salary: Yahoo $53 | FanDuel $11,200 | DraftKings $12,000

Yesterday LeBron James celebrated his 37th birthday, and tonight he is once more a priority option in the 14-team player pool. This is the third game in four days for the Lakers, who play again on Sunday. They have lost six of their last seven and are now two games below .500 and only two games ahead of the 11th seed. This is essentially a must-win game. Los Angeles is favored by 4.5 points tonight against a visiting Portland squad that is shorthanded with both injuries and pandemic-related issues. James has topped 60 Yahoo points in eight of his last 11 outings, and over their last seven games the Trail Blazers are allowing 117.2 points per 100 possessions, which is only better than the Rockets.

Awesemo’s expert projections have LeBron James player prop tonight that is expected to win at a 74% rate. In Awesemo projections, LeBron is coming in around eight rebounds, while his NBA player prop line sits at over/under 9.5 — a New Year’s Eve gift from us to you.

Damian Lillard: Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers

  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 48.01 | DraftKings: 51.41
  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 38.0% | FanDuel 41.1% | DraftKings 19.9%
  • DFS Salary: Yahoo $38 | FanDuel $9,100 | DraftKings $10,900

The Yahoo salary algorithm is giving a gift tonight with a 20% discount on Damian Lillard. Portland is missing Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington, Anfernee Simons, Cody Zeller, Brandon Williams, Trendon Watford and Keljin Blevins due to COVID. C.J. McCollum is still at least a week away from his injury, so Lillard will be carrying the load again for the Blazers. After sitting five games to rest his ailing abdomen/core injury, Lillard has gutted through the last eight games averaging, 38.8 minutes and 21.1 field goal attempts. That has resulted in 31 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 0.9 combined blocks/steals. Los Angeles has not been much better than Portland with their defensive efficiency over the last seven games, allowing just 3 fewer points per 100 possessions. Ben McLemore and Dennis Smith Jr. should be available tonight, which gives Portland some additional depth. Nassir Little, Larry Nance Jr. and Norman Powell are excellent options in all formats tonight and can be employed with or without Lillard.

Ja Morant: Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs

  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 42.8 | DraftKings: 44.96
  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 20.4% | FanDuel 22.4% | DraftKings 18.7%
  • DFS Salary: Yahoo $40 | FanDuel $9,300 | DraftKings $9,600

It looks like Ja Morant has put his knee injury behind him, and his minutes have continued to trend higher in the five games since his return. He been sublime in his last two games, averaging 34.7 minutes and 26 field goal attempts with a 51.9% success rate. This has culminated in 37 points, seven rebounds, three assists with three combined blocks and steals. Dillon Brooks, Ziaire Williams, De’Anthony Melton, John Konchar and Jarrett Culver are among the regular Memphis contributors who are on the COVID-reserve. San Antonio has been a below-average defense all season, and even though they are missing half of their rotation, the Grizzlies are favored by 6 tonight and projected to score 116.5 points.

Miami Heat at Houston Rockets

Miami had their game in San Antonio postponed on Wednesday because they did not have enough players available. Tonight Jimmy Butler (ankle) should be back, and Kyle Lowry is also likely to return from the health and safety protocol. The Heat are still missing Max Strus, P.J. Tucker, Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, Dewayne Dedmon, K.Z. Okpala, Udonis Haslem and Marcus Garrett in the health and safety protocol, and Bam Adebayo is out with his injury. Butler is a core play tonight, while Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin are close behind assuming no other regulars aside from Lowry return to the backcourt. Omer Yurtseven continues to bring a cheap salary, and he is shaping up to be one of the most rostered players of the slate. Nik Stauskas, Chris Silva and Mario Chalmers (yes, that Mario Chalmers) are all on 10-day contracts and will provide depth, along with Kyle Guy, Haywood Highsmith and Aric Holman. This motley crew can be avoided for DFS purposes.

Houston is also missing several rotation members, including Garrison Mathews, Jae’Sean Tate and D.J. Augustin. Christian Wood is a solid option, and Kevin Porter Jr. was strong in his return to action on Tuesday. K.J. Martin is nearing a return, and that could curtail some of the extra run for Josh Christopher, David Nwaba and Armoni Brooks.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS picks for the Friday, Dec. 31 Slate

The final game of the night does not tip off until 10:30 p.m. ET, so be sure to monitor things for any late-breaking news while ringing in the new year. 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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