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 ($8,100 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) has now played two games without Nikola Vucevic. He has a 34.8% usage rate in those games, compared to a 30.1% usage rate with Vucevic active, but his assist rate has decreased from 20.4% to 6%. LaVine has averaged 8.6 potential assists per 36 minutes in the games that Vucevic has been active this season compared to 4 potential assists per 36 minutes in the two games without him. It seems likely that LaVine will take on a more scoring-dependent role with Vucevic sidelined. This could lower his floor a bit, but he still has a massive ceiling thanks to his usage rate.
Spencer Dinwiddie ($7,200 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) has been excellent in two games without Bradley Beal this season. His usage rate has increased from 22.8% in games without Beal to 33.4% in games without him while his assist rate has also increased from 29.2% to 41.1%. Dinwiddie has played a total of 154 minutes without Beal on the floor this season and has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.9% usage rate and 44% assist rate.
Awesemo’s Eric MacPherson broke down Dinwiddie further in his NBA DFS Building Blocks article for tonight’s daily fantasy basketball slate.
D’Angelo Russell ($7,100 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) has averaged 1.09 DraftKings points per minute this season and his playing time has increased since returning from injury. Prior to his injury, Russell was playing about 29 or 30 minutes in competitive games. Since returning, he has played 35, 34, 34 and 30 (in a blowout) minutes in regulation. He is still priced for his 30 minute per game role, so there is some value here.
Cade Cunningham ($5,500 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) has only produced 0.83 DraftKings points per minute this season, but he has shot about as poorly as he possibly can. He contributes enough rebounds and assists to make up for the poor shooting and he offers an extremely high ceiling in games where his shot is falling. It is likely that Cunningham averages 32-34 minutes per game going forward, and he leads the Pistons with a 26.5% usage rate.
Alex Caruso ($4,000 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) replaced Javonte Green in the Bulls’ starting lineup last night and played 38.7 minutes in his return to Staples Center. He faces his former team tonight, and he projects as an excellent value once again. Coby White is expected to make his debut for the Bulls, which could take a couple of minutes away from Caruso, but White will probably take minutes from Troy Brown and/or Ayo Dosunmu before he has much of an impact on Caruso. Caruso joined DeMar DeRozan on the second unit last night and he has averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute in 252 minutes alongside DeRozan this season.
Aaron Holiday ($3,500 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) and Raul Neto ($3,300 DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel) offer an interesting spot as at least one of them should benefit from the absence of Bradley Beal. Holiday started the last game and played 34.6 minutes while Neto played just 16.7 minutes off the bench. Holiday has averaged 0.73 DraftKings points per minute this season and projects as a strong point-per-dollar value. He is also projected to be extremely popular, while Neto is currently projected for one-twenty-fourth as much ownership. Neto makes for a strong pivot in tournaments because he has averaged 20.5 minutes per game in 8 games where Beal and Dinwiddie were both active this season. It is very unlikely that Beal’s absence leads to fewer minutes for Neto over a large sample. It is likely that Holiday’s performance in their last game led to more playing time than intended and that this is a fluid situation going forward. Neto has averaged 0.85 DraftKings points per minute and could easily find himself in the Wizards’ closing lineup if he happens to be playing better than Holiday in any particular game while Beal is sidelined.
Monte Morris ($4,400 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel), Bones Hyland ($3,400 DraftKings/$4,500 FanDuel) and P.J. Dozier ($3,700 DraftKings/$3,800 FanDuel) all offer increased value with Will Barton doubtful. Morris can be expected to play 30 to 32 minutes if tonight’s game is competitive and he has averaged 0.96 DraftKings points per minute in 161 minutes alongside Nikola Jokic without Barton, Michael Porter Jr. or Jamal Murray on the floor since the start of last season. Hyland has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute this season while Dozier has offered 0.77 DraftKings points per minute. Hyland played 22.9 minutes last night while Dozier played 21.6 minutes. There was no closing lineup since it was a blowout, but there is a good chance that one of these two closes over Austin Rivers, assuming Rivers starts in Barton’s place again.
Kristaps Porzingis ($7,000 DraftKings/$7,400 FanDuel) has an unappealing matchup against the Denver Nuggets. Denver has played at the second slowest pace in the league this season while the Mavericks rank 21st in pace. Denver has also allowed the second fewest points per 100 possessions. Still, Porzingis has played about 32 and 34 minutes in his last two games and he is still priced like he will be playing limited minutes. He has averaged 1.18 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.4% usage rate and 13.4% rebounding rate this season.
Kyle Kuzma ($6,700 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel) is likely to play about 34 minutes tonight and there will be more usage to go around with Beal sidelined. In the two games that he has played without Beal this season, Kuzma has a 24.8% usage rate compared to a 20.8% usage rate in the games that Beal has played. Kuzma has also rebounded as a high level for Washington, posting the second highest rebounding rate on the team behind Montrezl Harrell.
Jaren Jackson Jr. ($6,000 DraftKings/$6,700 FanDuel) is an inconsistent player, but he has an excellent matchup tonight against the Houston Rockets. Jackson has averaged 1.05 DraftKings points per minute this season with a 23.6% usage rate and 10.8% rebounding rate. His floor is low because he is prone to foul trouble, but he is likely to play about 30 minutes tonight if he can avoid foul trouble and the Rockets lead the league in pace.
Kevin Huerter ($3,800 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel) has played 39, 30 and 33 minutes over his last three games and he is likely to get plenty of minutes again tonight with De’Andre Hunter still sidelined. Huerter has averaged 0.86 DraftKings points per minute in his three starts alongside Trae Young this season and 0.80 DraftKings points per minute in 44 starts alongside him since the beginning of last season.
Josh Richardson ($3,500 DraftKings/$5,100 FanDuel) is unappealing on FanDuel, but projects as a strong point-per-dollar value on DraftKings despite a game with a 200-point total. Richardson has only averaged 0.69 DraftKings points per minute this season, but he has averaged 27.6 minutes per game in four games without Jaylen Brown this season. In his last three games, Richardson has played 31, 33 and 28 minutes. He is currently projected for 6% ownership on DraftKings, so he offers a lower owned alternative to some of the more popular value options.
Talen Horton-Tucker ($3,000 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) started for the Lakers in place of Kent Bazemore yesterday and played 27 minutes. Assuming he starts again tonight, he projects as one of the top values on DraftKings — and he is a strong option on FanDuel as well. Horton-Tucker has averaged 0.92 DraftKings points per minute in 1,379 total minutes since the start of last season and 0.82 DraftKings points per minute in 232 minutes alongside Anthony Davis.
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Nikola Jokic ($11,700 DraftKings/$11,500 FanDuel) is currently the best per-minute producer in the NBA as he plays without Murray, Porter Jr. and, most likely, Barton. Jokic has averaged 2.05 DraftKings points per minute in 162 minutes without Porter (and Murray) on the floor this season. Since the beginning of last season, he has averaged 1.81 DraftKings points per minute with a 35.5% usage rate, 20.7% rebounding rate and 39.6% assist rate in 562 minutes without Porter or Murray on the floor. Barton has also been on the bench for 306 of those minutes. Jokic has averaged 1.74 DraftKings points per minute with a 37.5% usage rate, 19.6% rebounding rate and 34% assist rate over that sample. In 28 minutes last night when Barton was a surprise scratch, Jokic led the team with 18 rebound chances, 11 potential assists (Hyland was second with 8 in 22.9 minutes) and a 33.9% usage rate.
Bam Adebayo ($8,100 DraftKings/$8,400 FanDuel) is a strong option tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder with or without Jimmy Butler, who is questionable. Adebayo has averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute this season with a 27% usage rate, 17.4% rebounding rate and 14% assist rate. In 161 minutes without Butler on the floor, Adebayo has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute with a 27.9% usage rate, 16.5% rebounding rate and 15.7% assist rate.
Jarrett Allen ($7,500 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) only played about 28 minutes against Boston on Saturday, but he has averaged 34.7 minutes per game in six games without Kevin Love and Lauri Markkanen this season. Allen has also averaged 1.11 DraftKings points per minute in those games with a 19.2% usage rate and 20.3% rebounding rate. Allen was a popular play on Saturday but is projected for just 3.4% ownership on DraftKings tonight. Center is stacked on this slate, but Allen offers 50-point upside at a reasonable price tag.
Clint Capela ($7,000 DraftKings/$6,400 FanDuel) has only averaged about 1 DraftKings point per minute this season, but he is facing a big Orlando frontcourt with Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba. Capela has approached 34 minutes against big frontcourts recently and that is a likely outcome tonight.
Isaiah Stewart ($5,000 DraftKings/$5,100 FanDuel) will remain a volatile player without Kelly Olynyk, but Olynyk’s absence makes his playing time somewhat more secure. There have been two things keeping Stewart from consistently playing 30 to 32 minutes this season. One is foul trouble, which will still be an issue going forward. The other is Olynyk, who was frequently closing games over Stewart. With Olynyk sidelined, Stewart should play 30 minutes in most games where he is able to avoid foul trouble. He has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute this season and offers a nice ceiling at his price tag.
JaVale McGee ($4,200 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) finally showed his ceiling last night as he produced 47 DraftKings points with 19 points and 14 rebounds in about 25 minutes. Deandre Ayton is listed as questionable for tonight’s game. If he is out, then McGee will most likely start again. McGee’s playing time has been volatile as a starter because he is frequently in foul trouble, but he has averaged 1.29 DraftKings points per minute in 19.9 minutes per game in his six starts. He is still underpriced for 20 minutes of action, so the fact that he can play 24 to 26 if he avoids foul trouble means he has a massive ceiling.
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