This is Awesemo’s primary in-depth NBA DFS article, and it will be free this season. The goal of this article isn’t just to give you a few plays to plug into your lineup, but to dig a little bit deeper into why projections may (or may not) like certain players. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll have a better feel for the slate as a whole. Combining the context from this article with the raw data that is available in Awesemo’s Boom/Bust tool, Projections and Ownership Projections should allow you to build strong lineups and make optimal NBA DFS picks for any type of contest on DraftKings and FanDuel.
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Russell Westbrook ($11,000 DraftKings/$11,200 FanDuel) is on the slate so he is one of the top plays as usual. Washington is fifth in pace over the last month while their opponent, the Indiana Pacers, leads the league in pace over that time. Since the All-Star break, Westbrook has produced 1.64 DraftKings points per minute in 23 games played alongside Bradley Beal. He has averaged 37.3 minutes per game in those games. Over the last month, Westbrook is second in minutes per game (37.7), first in assists per game (11.8 — second place has 9.1), and fourth in rebounds per game (13.2). Oh, he is also averaging 22.6 points per game. Don’t overthink it. Just keep plugging the guy into your lineups until the sites decide he needs his own pricing tier.
Stephen Curry ($10,800 DraftKings/$9,700 FanDuel) offers similar upside to Westbrook, but he is a riskier option since he doesn’t contribute as much in the way of peripherals. Curry has been excellent without Kelly Oubre on the floor this season, averaging 1.68 DraftKings points per minute with a 36.8 percent usage rate over 730 minutes played. Golden State faces the Pelicans, who are third in pace over the last month. They have also defended well over that time, but the fast pace of this game should make up for the potential efficiency issues.
Damian Lillard ($9,200 DraftKings/$8,900 FanDuel) will be difficult to prioritize ahead of Westbrook or Curry, but he is another high-upside point guard who is capable of pouring in 40-plus actual points any given night. His ownership is likely to be lower than the two stars listed above him, which means we can look to him as a tournament pivot. He has averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute in 26 games played with C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic this season and he has a neutral matchup against the Hawks.
Cole Anthony ($6,900 DraftKings/$6,300 FanDuel) probably isn’t going to be a priority option tonight since there are plenty of stars and plenty of value options on this slate, but he stands out as one of the better mid-range guards. Anthony played 35.5 minutes against the Grizzlies on Saturday, hit a game-winning shot, and then gave one of the best post-game interviews I have ever seen. Since the Magic traded away their best players, Anthony has averaged 1.09 DraftKings points per minute and 28.4 minutes per game over 14 games. He has a 24.8 percent usage rate and 32.1 percent assist rate in those games and he will face a Detroit squad that is resting all of their “good” players tonight. Michael Carter-Williams has been out for nine of those 14 games, as he will be again tonight, and Anthony has produced 1.11 DraftKings points per minute in 30.8 minutes per game.
Killian Hayes ($5,200 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) is likely to play 30 to 32 minutes tonight against the Magic. Hayes has averaged 0.92 DraftKings points per minute in 254 minutes without any of Jerami Grant, Derrick Rose, Mason Plumlee or Blake Griffin on the floor this season. He is appropriately priced on DraftKings, but is still underpriced on FanDuel at $4,400.
R.J. Hampton ($4,400 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel) played 30.3 minutes against Memphis on Saturday and found his way into the closing lineup as well. He may not see another 30 minutes tonight, but I expect that we at least see 25 or 26 if not more. Hampton has averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute in 19 games played since joining Orlando.
Alex Caruso ($3,000 DraftKings/$3,700 FanDuel) started and played 26.1 minutes against Toronto last night. Dennis Schroder is out again tonight, so there is a good chance that Caruso remains in the starting lineup. LeBron James is also questionable as he left last night’s game with a sore ankle and Frank Vogel had said before the game that he wasn’t sure if James would play on the second half of the back-to-back anyway. If James sits, there will be more minutes and more ball-handling responsibilities available for Caruso. Caruso has averaged 0.75 DraftKings points per minute in 116 games over the last two seasons and 0.71 DraftKings points per minute in three starts.
Lines, Odds, and Sportsbook data are current as of 05/07/2021 06:18 PM ET
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Alex Caruso (if starting)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Killian Hayes
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Bradley Beal ($9,500 DraftKings/$9,100 FanDuel) isn’t as productive as his backcourt counterpart, but he isn’t as expensive either. He also is available at a position that is more difficult to fill. Beal started the second half slowly as he dealt with a hip issue, but he is back to full strength and we can expect about 36 minutes from him tonight in a fast-paced game. He has produced 1.27 DraftKings points per minute with a 34 percent usage rate in 49 total games played alongside Westbrook this season.
Jordan Clarkson ($7,300 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) will once again be playing without Mike Conley or Donovan Mitchell. Clarkson lost time to blowouts in the first couple of games without them, but he played 33.1 minutes in a competitive game against Toronto on Saturday. Clarkson has averaged 1.02 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.9 percent usage rate and 15 percent assist rate in 983 minutes without Conley or Mitchell on the floor this season. He offers upside on either site, but is more favorably priced on FanDuel.
Josh Jackson ($5,600 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) was absolutely awful at high ownership in his last game, but he played 34 minutes so we shouldn’t be discouraged from going back to him tonight against Orlando. Jackson has averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute and 28.4 minutes per game in eight starts without Griffin, Rose or Grant this season. In those games, he has a 28.9 percent usage rate. Detroit is also missing several players other than Grant tonight, so it is likely that Jackson exceeds his 28 minute average once again.
Dwayne Bacon ($4,900 DraftKings/$5,100 FanDuel) rejoined Orlando’s starting lineup on Saturday with James Ennis out and Ennis will be out again tonight. Bacon played 35.9 minutes and is likely to play big minutes again tonight. Bacon has averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute with a 22.2 percent usage rate in 558 minutes without Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier or Terrence Ross on the floor this season. He is expensive enough that there is still some downside risk since he is a scoring dependent option who isn’t an efficient scorer, but he is likely to get enough playing time to pay off his salary.
Frank Jackson ($4,700 DraftKings/$4,200 PG FanDuel) has played well when given the opportunity this season and he is likely to get plenty of opportunities again tonight. Jackson played about 34 minutes off the bench in Detroit’s last game. Hamidou Diallo missed that game and is questionable tonight, but other than Diallo, the injury situation is the same for the Pistons. We can expect at least 28 minutes or so for Jackson regardless of Diallo’s status, but his playing time ceiling is higher if Diallo sits. Jackson has averaged 0.87 DraftKings points per minute with a 23.1 percent usage rate in 403 minutes without Grant, Griffin, Rose or Plumlee on the floor this season.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Bradley Beal, Josh Jackson, Dwayne Bacon
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Bradley Beal, Jordan Clarkson, Josh Jackson
Michael Porter ($8,400 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) is priced up for his ceiling, but we can’t ignore his role without Jamal Murray. Porter has averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute and 35.5 minutes per game in 16 starts without Murray this season. In competitive games where he is playing well, we have seen Porter approach 40 minutes. He has a 23.3 percent usage rate and 12.4 percent rebounding rate in his games without Murray this season. He has a tough matchup tonight against the Lakers, but he is still worth a look in tournaments as long as his ownership is relatively low.
Brandon Ingram ($8,200 DraftKings/$7,400 FanDuel) is available at a sizable discount on FanDuel. The Pelicans are facing the Warriors in a game with a 237 point total that is the second highest on the slate. Ingram has averaged 1.17 DraftKings points per minute and 34.2 minutes per game in 46 games played alongside Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball this season.
Joe Ingles ($6,600 DraftKings/$5,700 FanDuel) has averaged 0.99 DraftKings points per minute with an 18.2 percent usage rate and 24.4 percent assist rate in 996 minutes without Conley or Mitchell on the floor this season. He played 33.9 minutes against Toronto on Saturday and I expect that we see another 33 to 34 minutes tonight against the Lakers as long as the game is competitive.
Saddiq Bey ($5,900 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) played 40 minutes in Detroit’s most recent game and they are in a similar injury situation tonight against Orlando. While he may not reach 40 minutes again, Bey’s playing time is relatively easy to trust since he is one of the rookies that the Pistons are looking to develop. He isn’t the most productive fantasy option on a per-minute basis, but he has still produced a respectable 0.88 DraftKings points per minute in 435 minutes played without Grant, Griffin, Rose or Plumlee on the floor this season.
Kent Bazemore ($5,200 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) takes on the Pelicans in a fast-paced game and Golden State will once again be without Oubre. Andrew Wiggins is also questionable, and if he sits, even more minutes will be available for Bazemore. Bazemore has started eight games without Oubre this season and has averaged 0.86 DraftKings points per minute in 29.6 minutes per game.
Kyle Kuzma ($5,200 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) had a big game last night and he will be playing without Schroder or James tonight. He played 36 minutes off the bench against Toronto and it is likely that he is inserted into the starting lineup tonight in place of James. If that is the case, I expect that we see another 34 to 36 minutes from Kuzma. In seven games without James and with Anthony Davis since the start of last season, Kuzma has averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute.
Rui Hachimura ($4,800 PF DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel) is a power forward on DraftKings but a small forward on FanDuel. I normally use DraftKings positions when in doubt for this article, but Hachimura has such an egregious price tag on FanDuel that I am listing him with the small forwards. Hachimura has only averaged 0.73 FanDuel points per minute in 40 games played with Westbrook and Beal active this season, but he has also averaged 31.4 minutes per game. He only played about 28 minutes last game, but he was hurt by first half foul trouble. If he can avoid foul trouble tonight against the Pacers, it is likely that we see 32 to 34 minutes from Hachimura in the game with the highest total on the slate by a wide margin.
Lines, Odds, and Sportsbook data are current as of 05/07/2021 06:18 PM ET
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Brandon Ingram, Joe Ingles, Kyle Kuzma
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Brandon Ingram, Joe Ingles, Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura
Domantas Sabonis ($9,800 DraftKings/$9,500 FanDuel) returned from injury in Indiana’s last game and didn’t miss a beat. He played about 30 minutes in three quarters of a blowout win over the Thunder and produced 75.75 DraftKings points per in the process. We don’t know yet exactly what the rest of the Pacers’ lineup will look like tonight, but we know that Sabonis is expected to be in it. The “worst” case scenario for Sabonis is that Malcolm Brogdon and Goga Bitadze are both available to play. Even then, we can expect Sabonis to play about 24 minutes at center and 36 to 38 minutes total. Sabonis has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute in 14 games without Turner and with Brogdon since the start of last season. The best case scenario is that Brogdon also sits. Sabonis has only played three games without Brogdon and Turner since the start of last season, but he has played a total of 296 minutes without either of them on the floor this season. He has a 24.5 percent usage rate and a 27 percent assist rate. He is a top option regardless of Indiana’s injury news tonight, but he moves up the board even further if Brogdon and/or Bitadze sit.
Anthony Davis ($9,700 DraftKings/$9,500 FanDuel) has struggled recently but he has played about 34 minutes in each of his last two games. The Lakers will be without James tonight, which increases Davis’s ceiling as well. Davis has only averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute in seven games without James since the start of last season, but he has averaged 1.48 DraftKings points per minute in 1,250 total minutes without LeBron on the floor over that time. Davis’s matchup isn’t as appealing as several others on this slate, but he will be a strong tournament option if his ownership is low.
Zion Williamson ($10,000 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) will be difficult to prioritize at his salary on DraftKings, but he looks like one of the best power forward options available on FanDuel. Williamson has averaged 1.26 FanDuel points per minute in 46 total games alongside Ingram and Ball this season and he is likely to produce at an increased rate tonight due to the pace of the game. Williamson is second on the team with 33.9 minutes per game over the last month.
Draymond Green ($7,000 DraftKings/$7,400 FanDuel) is affordably priced for a fast paced matchup with the Pelicans. Green has thrived in games without James Wiseman this season and the absence of Oubre shouldn’t hurt either. In six games alongside Curry without Oubre or Wiseman, Green has averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute and 33.7 minutes per game. He has averaged 10 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists per game in those games, giving him triple-double upside if everything breaks his way tonight. He has also averaged 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game in those games.
Moritz Wagner ($4,600 DraftKings/$4,900 FanDuel) is likely to get another start tonight with Chuma Okeke sidelined. Wagner made his first start with Orlando two games ago and played about 28 minutes and then he followed it up with 34 minutes in a competitive game against Memphis on Saturday. In three games since joining Orlando, Wagner has averaged 0.87 DraftKings points per minute. He has averaged about 1 fantasy point per minute for his career, but he is playing all of his minutes in Orlando alongside a center so it is expected that his rebounding rate will decrease. Still, he offers plenty of value tonight against the Pistons.
Georges Niang ($3,800 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel) has started four games this season. In those games, he has averaged 27.1 minutes per game and 0.82 DraftKings points per minute. In the three games that he has started without Mitchell and Conley, he has averaged 24.8 minutes per game and 0.68 DraftKings points per minute. He only played 23.5 minutes against Toronto on Saturday in a competitive game, so there is no guarantee that he is in the closing lineup. If he is playing well, however, we could see him get 28 minutes or so tonight.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Domantas Sabonis, Draymond Green, Moritz Wagner
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Domantas Sabonis, Zion Williamson, Isaiah Stewart, Moritz Wagner
Nikola Jokic ($10,900 DraftKings/$10,900 FanDuel) is the closest thing to Russell Westbrook as far as consistent production in every category. In the 12 games that Jokic has played without Murray and with Porter and Aaron Gordon this season, Jokic has averaged 1.72 DraftKings points per minute with a 30.3 percent usage rate, 18.7 percent rebounding rate and 42.9 percent assist rate in 32.7 minutes per game. In competitive games, we are typically seeing 34 to 36 minutes from Jokic. He has a tough matchup against a slow Lakers team that is strong defensively tonight, but Jokic is borderline unstoppable and is one of the best pay-up options on the slate once again.
Nikola Vucevic ($9,900 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) is questionable tonight after being a late scratch prior to Chicago’s last game. If Vucevic plays, he is an interesting target in tournaments — particularly on FanDuel at only $9,000. Vucevic has played 10 games without Zach LaVine (who is doubtful) since joining Chicago. In those games, Vucevic has averaged 1.41 DraftKings points per minute and 33.3 minutes per game. In his recent games, however, we have seen Vucevic play 36 and 37 minutes in competitive games whereas he was typically playing 31 to 33 minutes earlier on in his tenure with Chicago. Assuming he can play about 36 minutes again tonight without LaVine, Vucevic offers a high ceiling for his salary. It is a risky matchup, however, as he will have to contend with Joel Embiid and the 76ers’ excellent defense.
Isaiah Stewart ($6,300 DraftKings/$6,300 PF FanDuel) has started six games without Grant or Plumlee this season. In those games, Stewart has averaged 1.29 DraftKings points per minute and 30 minutes per game. He has an excellent 22.6 percent rebounding rate that has led to 12.5 rebounds per game and he has contributed 14.3 points per game as well. His salary has increased to a point where he isn’t necessarily a top priority anymore, but he still offers value here.
Mohamed Bamba ($5,100 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) is a risky option because he is coming off the bench behind Wendell Carter. Carter normally doesn’t play more than 27 or 28 minutes, however, and we often see him finish closer to 24 minutes. Bamba has produced at an excellent rate since getting an opportunity to be a regular part of the rotation when Vucevic was traded. In 16 games played alongside Carter, Bamba has averaged 1.29 DraftKings points per minute and 18.5 minutes per game. He has only played fewer than 20 minutes once in his last six games, however, so I think expecting 20 to 22 minutes from Bamba tonight is reasonable.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Isaiah Stewart, Mo Bamba
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba
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