The NBA Deep Dive is our most in-depth NBA DFS article, offering analysis of some of the top picks and optimal strategy for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups on the slate today. Used in conjunction with Awesemo’s NBA DFS projections, ownership projections and Boom/Bust Tool, it should help you to improve the quality of your lineups. With news breaking throughout the day and the NBA injury reports being released, the best place to find all of today’s starters is our Awesemo NBA Starting Lineups page.
The Deep Dive: NBA DFS Picks & Optimal Lineup Strategy
Zach LaVine ($8,500 DraftKings/$7,900 FanDuel) has a 33.4% usage rate, 10.2% rebounding rate and 12% assist rate in the three games that he has played without Nikola Vucevic this season. While his assist rate is down from 20.4% in the games with Vucevic active, his usage rate is up from 30.1% and his rebounding rate is up from 8.4%. He has only averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute in the games without Vucevic compared to 1.16 DraftKings points per minute in the games alongside him, but his per-minute production without Vucevic should increase over a larger sample thanks to increased usage and more rebounding opportunities.
D’Angelo Russell ($7,300 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) played another 34.9 minutes in his last game and he is still priced for the 30 minutes per game that he was playing earlier in the season. Russell has averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute this season and has a favorable matchup against the Sacramento Kings, who are eighth in pace and 21st in defensive rating this season.
Dennis Schroder ($6,500 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) had a disappointing game against the Cavaliers on Monday, but he played 34.4 minutes and has now averaged 36.2 minutes per game in his six starts without Jaylen Brown. Schroder has averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute in those starts with a 29.6% usage rate and 19.8% assist rate. He faces an Atlanta Hawks team that has allowed the fourth most points per 100 possessions this season.
Ricky Rubio ($6,500 DraftKings/$6,600 FanDuel) joined the starting lineup in Cleveland’s last game and played 37.2 minutes against the Celtics. He will most likely remain in the starting lineup tonight. Rubio has been a strong fantasy producer this season with 1.11 DraftKings points per minute. In 198 minutes alongside Darius Garland, Rubio has produced 1.15 DraftKings points per minute. He has a difficult matchup against the Nets, and the Cavs have one of the lowest implied totals on the slate, but he is underpriced for his ceiling. Pay attention to his projected ownership in tournaments, however, because there are plenty of quality pivot options in his salary range at lower ownership.
Jalen Brunson ($5,700 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) has played well this season, averaging 1.01 DraftKings points per minute in 29.1 minutes per game. The Mavericks will be missing Luka Doncic tonight, so there are more minutes and fantasy points available for Brunson. Brunson has averaged 1.24 DraftKings points per minute with a 27.5% usage rate and 38.5% assist rate in 151 minutes without Doncic on the floor this season. Of those 151 minutes, 58 have been played alongside Kristaps Porzingis. Brunson has averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute with a 22.8% usage rate and 44.7% assist rate in those minutes.
Brunson is popping all over the NBA DFS projections and models, which Zach Brunner wrote about at length in his NBA Daily Fantasy Rankings, Grades & Values article for today’s slate.
Patrick Beverley ($4,200 DraftKings/$4,700 FanDuel) started and played 33.9 minutes against the Suns in his last game after losing playing time to blowouts in his two previous games. Beverley has now averaged 0.75 DraftKings points per minute and 29.1 minutes per game in five starts alongside Russell this season. He is likely to exceed 29 minutes as long as this game is competitive.
Patty Mills ($3,500 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel) once again projects as a strong point-per-dollar option tonight with Joe Harris sidelined. Mills played 31.9 minutes against Golden State last night and was on pace for about 40 minutes had the game been competitive. There is certainly no guarantee that Mills approaches 40 minutes tonight as the Nets played an extremely tight rotation last night, but he is likely to play at least 30 to 32 minutes. Mills has averaged 0.73 DraftKings points per minute this season, but only 0.50 DraftKings points per minute in 151 minutes alongside James Harden and Kevin Durant. It is likely that Mills plays about 75% of his minutes with only one of them on the floor and the other 25% alongside both of them.
Anthony Edwards ($8,100 DraftKings/$8,100 FanDuel) is an excellent option tonight against the Sacramento Kings. Edwards has averaged 36.6 minutes per game with a 29.3% usage rate in 11 games alongside Russell this season. In those games, he has produced 1.11 DraftKings points per minute. It is likely that Edwards produces at an above average rate tonight against the Kings.
Al Horford ($7,500 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel) has produced at a high level this season with 1.19 DraftKings points per minute. His playing time has been somewhat volatile, but Robert Williams is out tonight for the Celtics so there are plenty of center minutes available. Horford has averaged 1.37 DraftKings points per minute in 151 minutes alongside Jayson Tatum without Williams on the floor this season.
Kristaps Porzingis ($7,400 DraftKings/$8,800 FanDuel) stands out as one of the top options on the slate on DraftKings and he is a high upside option on FanDuel as well, even though he is priced up. Porzingis has averaged 1.20 DraftKings points per minute in 553 total minutes without Doncic on the floor since the start of last season. Porzingis’s playing time has increased lately, with 32, 34 and 33 minutes over his last three games. As long as the Mavericks are able to keep tonight’s game against Phoenix close, Porzingis is likely to play 32 to 34 minutes and produce well over a fantasy point per minute.
With Doncic out, some of the leftover usage should shift to Porzingis, and EMac’s NBA DFS Building Blocks article explains what to expect from Porzingis tonight.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. ($5,300 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) has only averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute this season with an 18% usage rate. He is likely to benefit from Doncic’s absence, however, as he has a 23.9% usage rate in 73 minutes without Doncic on the floor. Since the start of last season, Hardaway has produced 1.05 DraftKings points per minute in 869 minutes without Doncic on the floor and 0.96 DraftKings points per minute in 404 minutes alongside Porzingis without Doncic.
Talen Horton-Tucker ($4,800 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) has started each of the Lakers’ last two games and has played 27 and 37.2 minutes. Unlike most of the wings that the Lakers have paraded out this season, Horton-Tucker is capable of producing fantasy points at a high rate. He has averaged 0.93 DraftKings points per minute in 1,416 minutes since the start of last season, including 0.79 DraftKings points per minute in 404 minutes alongside LeBron James. James is, of course, not playing tonight but he is a decent proxy to account for nearly all of Horton-Tucker’s minutes coming alongside at least one of Russell Westbrook or Anthony Davis. Horton-Tucker is now at a price point where he is at least capable of failing, unlikely his $3,000 salary on Monday, but he is still a strong value option.
Cedi Osman ($4,000 DraftKings/$4,600 FanDuel) played 31.3 minutes off the bench against the Celtics on Monday, including the final 18.5 minutes of the game. He could replace Evan Mobley in the starting lineup tonight, which would indicate that he is likely to play 30-plus minutes again. He still offers value if he comes off the bench, but his playing time would be a bit safer if he starts. Osman has produced 0.87 DraftKings points per minute this season, including 0.94 DraftKings points per minute in 101 minutes alongside Rubio and Garland.
Chimezie Metu ($3,800 DraftKings/$4,100 FanDuel) has started each of Sacramento’s last two games and he has played 24.5 and 31.7 minutes. In 168 minutes alongside De’Aaron Fox since the start of last season, Metu has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute. He has averaged 1.07 DraftKings points per minute in his two starts so far this season.
Dean Wade ($3,200 DraftKings/$3,600 FanDuel) is an awful per-minute fantasy producer, but he is likely to see substantial playing time tonight with Mobley sidelined. Wade played 35.1 minutes against the Celtics on Monday, and he is likely to play similar minutes tonight. The issue for Wade is that he has only averaged 0.53 DraftKings points per minute in 230 minutes played this season. Of those 230 minutes, 50 minutes have been played alongside Rubio and Garland and he has averaged just 0.27 DraftKings points per minute. One positive for Wade is that Mobley’s absence should lead to increased rebounding opportunities whenever Kevin Love is not on the floor alongside Wade.
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Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,400 DraftKings/$9,800 FanDuel) has averaged 1.34 DraftKings points per minute and 35.5 minutes per game in 11 games with Russell active this season. Naz Reid is questionable and, if he sits, Towns is likely to play a couple of extra minutes tonight. There are plenty of strong options at the center position, but the absence of Nikola Jokic makes Towns a relatively stronger option than he is on slates that feature Jokic.
On a semi-related note, Reid ($3,000 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) is an interesting punt option in GPPs on DraftKings if he is able to play. He is an excellent per-minute producer and the Timberwolves have used him alongside Towns at times recently. It would not be shocking to see a few minutes of that tonight against a Metu-Richaun Holmes frontcourt. It would be even more likely if Marvin Bagley remains in Sacramento’s rotation.
Adam Strangis has a full write-up on Towns’ matchup tonight in his NBA DFS Big Board Picks article, which considers the Awesemo premium Big Board Rankings in finding the best plays.
Bam Adebayo ($8,200 DraftKings/$8,400 FanDuel) is questionable tonight after going from “probable” to “questionable” to “out” over about a 30-minute period on Monday. Assuming he plays, he is a strong mid-range option. Adebayo has averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute this season and he would project even better if Jimmy Butler (also questionable) misses the game.
Christian Wood ($7,700 DraftKings/$7,300 FanDuel) is becoming less expensive by the day and he is one of the top center options tonight against Oklahoma City. Wood’s playing time is frequently impacted by blowouts, but he has still averaged 32.9 minutes per game this season. In competitive games, he is typically playing 35-plus minutes. The Rockets face another bad team tonight and they are only 4-point underdogs. Kevin Porter, Jr. is questionable and missed shootaround this morning as well. Wood has averaged 1.10 DraftKings points per minute overall this season and 1.28 DraftKings points per minute without Porter on the floor.
Deandre Ayton ($6,200 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) is appropriately priced on FanDuel, but severely underpriced on DraftKings for his matchup against Dallas. Ayton returned to the lineup on Monday and played 32.9 minutes, so there is no reason to expect him to be limited tonight. He has averaged 1.15 DraftKings points per minute this season.
Tony Bradley ($3,300 DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel) is a risky option because his minutes are volatile, but he also offers plenty of upside as he has produced 0.80 DraftKings points per minute this season and 0.94 DraftKings points per minute in 14 career starts. He has only averaged 0.63 DraftKings points per minute and 21.5 minutes per game in his three starts this season, but he could see minutes if the Blazers decide to play Jusuf Nurkic down the stretch.
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Looking for more NBA DFS plays tonight and the best free NBA DFS tools? Check out our NBA daily fantasy rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA DFS projections today. Our daily fantasy basketball projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. We also have Yahoo! ownership rankings, DraftKings ownership rankings and FanDuel NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. View our Yahoo! NBA ownership projections, our FanDuel ownership and our DraftKings ownership projections.
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