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
Dejounte Murray ($9,600 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel) has been one of the most improved players in the NBA this season and it has translated to an excellent DFS season as well. Murray has averaged 1.33 DraftKings points per minute this season, while leading the Spurs in usage rate (25.6) and assist rate (33.4). His 12.5% rebounding rate is also the highest on the team outside of the centers. He has a difficult matchup against the Wizards, who are 22nd in pace and 11th in defensive rating this season, but he has one of the highest ceilings on the slate.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,000 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) returned to Oklahoma City’s lineup last game and played about 34.5 minutes in a 2-point loss to the Wizards. Oklahoma City is normally a risky team to target since they are one of the worst teams in the league and they are prone to blowouts. Tonight, however, they face the Houston Rockets who are an even worse team. This game has a 3-point spread, so it should be competitive, and the Rockets have played at the league’s fastest pace this season. Gilgeous-Alexander has produced 1.05 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.6% usage rate and 22.9% assist rate and he is likely to perform at an above average rate tonight.
D’Angelo Russell ($7,800 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) has played 12 games since returning from injury on Nov. 8. In those games, he has averaged 1.17 DraftKings points per minute and 33.9 minutes per game. He has a 27.2% usage rate and 30.6% assist rate. It is possible that Russell plays even more minutes tonight with Patrick Beverley sidelined. In the two games that Beverley has missed, Russell played 28.5 minutes in a blowout loss to the Hornets, where none of Minnesota’s starters were on the floor for the final seven minutes of the game, and about 44 minutes in a 1-point loss to Philadelphia. Russell will not likely exceed 40 minutes, but it is nice to know that it is a possibility.
Malcolm Brogdon ($7,400 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) has averaged 1.03 DraftKings points per minute and 33.9 minutes per game in 10 games played alongside Caris LeVert and Myles Turner this season. The playing time is misleading, however, as there are a couple of blowouts and an in-game benching included in that number. Excluding the three-game stretch that included the two massive blowouts and the benching, Brogdon has averaged about 36.6 minutes per game in regulation in seven games with LeVert and Sabonis active. His salary is reasonable tonight, and he projects as one of the best mid-range options.
Kevin Porter, Jr. ($6,800 DraftKings/$6,300 FanDuel) played about 37 minutes in regulation against the Hornets in his last game, and he should get similar playing time tonight against Oklahoma City. Porter has averaged 0.93 DraftKings points per minute this season with a 24.9% usage rate and 27.9% assist rate.
Caris LeVert ($5,300 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) appears to have been unleashed after being limited for most of the season after his return from injury. LeVert played 34 minutes against the Raptors two games ago and then played nearly 27 minutes in three quarters of a blowout loss to Milwaukee yesterday. LeVert has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute with a 24.9% usage rate in 26 minutes per game in the 10 games that he has played alongside Brogdon and Sabonis this season. His salary is in line with his production in 26 minutes per game, which makes him drastically underpriced if he gets 30-plus minutes in competitive games going forward.
Paul George ($10,200 DraftKings/$9,200 FanDuel) has produced at a high level this season with Kawhi Leonard sidelined. He has averaged 1.33 DraftKings points per minute and 35.6 minutes per game in 20 games played. He stands out as one of the top-projected players tonight and is especially affordable on FanDuel at only $9,200.
Anthony Edwards ($7,900 DraftKings/$8,100 FanDuel) has seen a decrease in usage rate since D’Angelo Russell returned from injury and began playing more minutes. He still has maintained a 26.2% usage rate in those 12 games, however, and he has averaged 36.7 minutes per game. He has produced 1.08 DraftKings points per minute and has the upside for more, as he will look to take over a game offensively when things are going well.
Josh Giddey ($6,500 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) is extremely valuable because he is a point guard with small forward eligibility. He leads the Thunder with a 31.6% assist rate this season, and he is second to Gilgeous-Alexander with 1.04 DraftKings points per minute. He also has a serviceable 21.1% usage rate and has contributed a 12.5% rebounding rate that trails only Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Derrick Favors and Aleksej Pokusevski amongst the regular rotation players.
Keldon Johnson ($5,800 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) played about 38 minutes against the Celtics in his last game after playing about 35 minutes against Atlanta in the game before — and sitting the final five minutes in a blowout. Doug McDermott and Devin Vassell are out again tonight, so there are still extra minutes available for Johnson. Johnson has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute this season.
Jae’Sean Tate ($4,800 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) has quietly been a reliable fantasy producer for the Rockets this season. Tate has produced 0.88 DraftKings points per minute, and there are more minutes available tonight with Jalen Green sidelined. Tate played about 31 minutes in regulation against the Hornets without Green in his last game, compared to his season average of 27.4 minutes per game.
Nassir Little ($3,500 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel) started two games in place of Norman Powell earlier in the season and he averaged 0.75 DraftKings points per minute in 29.4 minutes per game. Tony Snell is starting in place of Powell tonight, so Little is playing time is a bit riskier, but he also is likely to play fewer minutes alongside both of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum which boosts his per-minute production. Little has averaged 22.2 minutes per game overall this season while producing 0.86 DraftKings points per minute. It is likely that he picks up at least a few more minutes in Powell’s absence even though he is not starting.
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Nikola Jokic ($11,400 DraftKings/$11,300 FanDuel) has not played since Nov. 18 and he is questionable to return tonight. He seemed close to playing two games ago, so it was surprising he did not play in Denver’s last game. If he is able to play tonight, he will have a difficult matchup against the Miami Heat. Miami is 26th in pace this season while the Nuggets are 29th, so this game should be played at a crawling pace. Miami has also been the fourth most efficient defense in the NBA this season. Still, Jokic has averaged 1.95 DraftKings points per minute with a 35% usage rate, 24.4% rebounding rate and 39.5% assist rate in 234 minutes without Michael Porter, Jr. on the floor this season. In 634 minutes without Porter or Jamal Murray on the floor since the start of last season, Jokic has averaged 1.80 DraftKings points per minute with a 35.4% usage rate, 20.7% rebounding rate and 39.5% assist rate. He will be the highest-projected player on the slate tonight if he is able to play, assuming that his minutes will not be limited.
Christian Wood ($8,200 DraftKings/$7,400 FanDuel) is another Houston player who projects a bit better than normal because Houston is not expected to be blown out. Wood has produced 1.19 DraftKings points per minute with a 24.8% usage rate and 16.4% rebounding rate this season. Wood frequently plays 35-plus minutes in competitive games, but his salary does not reflect that since the Rockets are involved in so many blowouts which keeps Wood’s average playing time lower than it otherwise would be.
EMac has Wood as his NBA DFS Play of the Day in his NBA DFS Building Blocks article. Be sure to see who else he is targeting as must-plays and discount dandies today.
Myles Turner ($6,100 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) is questionable for tonight’s game with an illness. Assuming that he is able to play, he is a strong mid-range tournament option. He has averaged 0.99 DraftKings points per minute and 28.6 minutes per game in 10 games alongside Sabonis, Brogdon and LeVert this season. There is the potential for several more minutes if the game is competitive and Turner can avoid foul trouble, however. He has also averaged 4.8 blocks per 100 possessions this season and Minnesota’s opponents have averaged the seventh most blocks per game this season.
Jakob Poeltl ($5,700 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) has played 31, 29 and 34 minutes in three starts since returning from injury. In 10 total starts this season, Poeltl has averaged 1.07 DraftKings points per minute in 30.4 minutes per game. He is facing the Wizards, who typically have one of Montrezl Harrell or Daniel Gafford on the floor for all 48 minutes of the game, so there is a chance that Poeltl plays a few more minutes tonight.
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Looking for more NBA DFS tonight and the best NBA DFS tools? Our NBA DFS projections DraftKings are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Check out our NBA daily fantasy rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA daily fantasy projections. View our Yahoo! ownership, our FanDuel NBA ownership and our DraftKings NBA ownership projections. We also have DraftKings ownership rankings, FanDuel rankings and Yahoo! rankings for today's slate.
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