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The Deep Dive: NBA DFS Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Today | Kevin Durant 10/29

Adam Scherer



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


Luka Doncic ($11,000 DraftKings/$10,700 FanDuel) was awful last night and he has a difficult bounce-back spot tonight in Denver. He is always one of the highest upside players on the slate, however, and it is likely that his ownership will be much lower than it was last night thanks to the matchup and an abundance of other strong options at the top of the pricing spectrum. Doncic has produced 1.49 DraftKings points per minute in 27 games without Kristaps Porzingis (questionable) and 1.61 DraftKings points per minute in 43 games alongside Porzingis since the start of last season.

James Harden ($9,600 DraftKings/$9,800 FanDuel) has been terrible by James Harden standards to open the season. He has produced just 1.21 DraftKings points per minute with a 25.9% usage rate and 39.6% assist rate. He has clearly struggled with the NBA’s new foul rules as, in addition to getting to the line about four fewer times per game, he has had a blooper rule of outrageous plays where he tries to draw a foul and ends up just turning the ball over or chucking it off the backboard. Still, Harden is an extremely talented basketball player, and it is likely that he increases his production sooner than later. It is also important that his salary is falling. While 1.21 DraftKings points per minute is lackluster for Harden, it is a reasonable per-minute rate for a player in Harden’s new price range. Even if he keeps performing as he has to date, he is not exactly overpriced, and he will destroy this new salary once he remembers how to play basketball again.

Damian Lillard ($9,300 DraftKings/$8,400 FanDuel) has struggled from the field to open the season. He had a 55.4% effective field goal percentage last season but has only a 37.5% effective field goal percentage this season. Most notably, he has made only six of his first 35 three-point attempts (17.1%). Lillard shot 39.1% from three last season, so enjoy rostering him at a reduced salary while he brings his 3-point percentage closer to last season’s average. Lillard has also only averaged one fewer drive per 36 minutes this season than he did last season, so there is no reason to be concerned with his offensive game. Once his three pointers start falling, he will be back to producing like the DFS stud that he is.

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De’Aaron Fox ($8,400 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) started the season at an expensive price point but it has decreased thanks to a shooting slump to open the year. Fox has a 40.3% effective field goal percentage this season compared to 52.3% last season. He has shot 16.7% from three this season compared to 32.2% last season. He has averaged 18.3 drives per 36 minutes this season compared to 18.9 last season. Like Lillard, there is no reason to think that Fox’s relatively poor DFS production so far this season is anything to be concerned about. He has produced 1.23 DraftKings points per minute since the start of last season, and he should return to that level of production sooner rather than later.

Fred VanVleet ($8,100 DraftKings/$8,100 FanDuel) has averaged 38 minutes per game through Toronto’s first five games this season. While his 23.6% usage rate is a little bit lower than expected with Pascal Siakam sidelined, he has also contributed a 33.9% assist rate and averaged 1.04 DraftKings points per minute. He continues to project as a strong option thanks to his playing time.

Collin Sexton ($6,500 DraftKings/$6,900 FanDuel) has only averaged 30.7 minutes per game this season compared to 35.3 minutes per game last season. While a decrease in playing time makes sense given the Cavaliers’ additions to the rotation in the offseason, the absence of Isaac Okoro makes it likely that Sexton returns to playing huge minutes. He played 37.5 minutes against the Clippers on Wednesday, and Sexton should average 35 to 36 minutes as long as Okoro is sidelined. He has averaged 1.03 DraftKings points per minute since the start of last season and 0.94 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.3% usage rate so far this season. Okoro’s absence may slide under the radar since he is not a fantasy relevant player, but his absence is likely to benefit Sexton’s playing time.

T.J. McConnell ($5,500 DraftKings/$5,700 FanDuel) should benefit from the absence of Malcolm Brogdon. It is likely that McConnell slides into the starting lineup since he no longer has to contend with Aaron Holiday stealing starts from him when Brogdon is sidelined. McConnell has produced 0.95 DraftKings points per minute with a 14% usage rate and 30.1% assist rate in 518 minutes alongside Domantas Sabonis without Brogdon on the floor since the start of last season. McConnell should play at least 30 minutes tonight assuming he replaces Brogdon in the starting lineup.

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Jalen Suggs ($5,100 DraftKings/$4,600 FanDuel) has had a disappointing start to the season with just 0.76 DraftKings points per minute. However, his underlying opportunity rates are excellent for a player of his salary, and he has shot extremely poorly with 40.3% true shooting. Suggs leads the Magic with a 25.6% usage rate this season and he is second to Cole Anthony with an 18.2% assist rate. He has averaged 30 minutes per game and played about 36 minutes in his most recent game thanks to a shortened Orlando rotation that did not include Robin Lopez and limited R.J. Hampton to just 10 minutes of action.


Kevin Durant ($10,300 DraftKings/$10,900 FanDuel) has played very well to start the season, unlike Harden. Durant has produced 1.53 DraftKings points per minute with a 31.5% usage rate, 28.7% assist rate and 14.2% rebounding rate. He has now averaged 1.56 DraftKings points per minute in 744 minutes sans Kyrie Irving since the start of last season. He is a strong option any time he is available, and he has a favorable matchup against an Indiana team that has allowed the fourth most points per 100 possessions to start the season.

Paul George ($10,000 DraftKings/$10,100 FanDuel) has averaged 1.37 DraftKings points per minute in 1,297 minutes without Kawhi Leonard on the floor since the start of last season and he has produced 1.46 DraftKings points per minute through his first 132 minutes this season. Tonight, he faces the Portland Trail Blazers who lead the league in pace through their first four games. There are plenty of options to pay up for tonight, but George deserves consideration.

Domantas Sabonis ($9,400 DraftKings/$9,300 FanDuel) is likely to see an increase in production with Brogdon sidelined. One of the most notable stats early in Indiana’s season is that Sabonis has only averaged 5.3 potential assists per 36 minutes compared to 11.4 last season. Brogdon has increased from 12 potential assists per 36 minutes last season to 16 this season. As a result, Sabonis has a 16.5% assist rate this season compared to 28.3% last season. With Brogdon sidelined, it is likely that Sabonis’s assist numbers increase — though some of the vacated assists will obviously go to McConnell as well. Sabonis has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute with a 24% usage rate and 26.7% assist rate alongside McConnell without Brogdon on the floor since the start of last season. The caveat to all of this analysis is that there is a new coach in Indiana, so it is certainly possible that the new scheme leads to McConnell absorbing a larger piece of Brogdon’s workload, but Sabonis should benefit from his absence.

Jimmy Butler ($8,700 DraftKings/$9,200 FanDuel) has a 29% usage rate and 25.9% assist rate in 34.9 minutes per game to begin the season. He also has a favorable matchup against the Hornets, who have played at the league’s fourth fastest pace while ranking in the bottom 10 in defensive rating. Butler could also benefit if Bam Adebayo is sidelined. Adebayo was downgraded from probable to questionable earlier today and Butler has averaged 1.51 DraftKings points per minute in 850 minutes without him on the floor since last season.

O.G. Anunoby ($6,800 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) is becoming relatively expensive, but he has earned his new price tag thanks to an increased usage rate without Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry. Anunoby leads the Raptors with a 26% usage rate this season and he has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute. Like most of the other starters for Toronto, he plays a ton of minutes as well with an average of 34.5 minutes per game so far this season. In addition to leading the team in usage, he is averaging 10.4 rebound chances and 4.3 potential assists per game.

Scottie Barnes ($6,100 DraftKings/$6,000 FanDuel) has averaged 34.5 minutes per game through his first five NBA games and he has produced 0.91 DraftKings points per minute. His 23.1% usage rate only trails Anunoby and VanVleet, and he is second on the team in rebound chances and potential assists.

Nicolas Batum ($4,000 DraftKings/$4,600 FanDuel) has started the last two games in place of Marcus Morris and Morris is out again tonight. Batum played about 22 minutes in a blowout in the first game and then about 32 minutes in a more competitive game in his last start. Assuming tonight’s game against Portland is competitive, Batum is likely to play 30-plus minutes. He has averaged 0.75 DraftKings points per minute in 649 minutes alongside George and without Leonard since last season.

Bruce Brown ($3,800 DraftKings/$4,700 FanDuel) played 27 minutes off the bench three games ago against Charlotte and has started the last two games, playing 30 and 35 minutes against Washington and Miami. Brooklyn’s rotation has been a mess this season, but if Brown starts again tonight, assume that he will once again play 30-plus minutes. He has averaged 0.71 DraftKings points per minute in 152 minutes alongside Harden and Durant without Irving since last season and 0.72 DraftKings points per minute so far this season.

Maxi Kleber ($3,300 DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel) had a monster fantasy performance off the bench last night with Porzingis sidelined. He played 29.3 minutes, which is a reasonable expectation tonight whether he starts or comes off the bench — Boban Marjanovic is probable tonight so the minutes are slightly riskier but my assumption is that Kleber still plays 28 to 30 minutes. That part of last night’s game to throw out completely is Kleber’s production. He blocked six shots and also had a steal. In addition, he had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Overall, he averaged 1.54 DraftKings points per minute. It is not a hot take to say that he will never ever score that many fantasy points again over 29 minutes again in his career. That said, he is close to the minimum salary, so he does not need to come remotely close to replicating his performance to be a viable DFS option. Kleber played about half his minutes with Doncic on the bench and the other half alongside him last night. He has averaged 0.65 DraftKings points per minute alongside Doncic without Porzingis and 0.82 DraftKings points per minute without either player on the floor since last season. He is likely to be wildly over-owned after last night’s performance, but he still projects as an excellent point-per-dollar value.

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Nikola Jokic ($10,700 DraftKings/$11,100 FanDuel) is questionable tonight after leaving Denver’s last game late in the first half. Assuming that Jokic is able to play, he is one of the top pay-up options tonight against Dallas. Jokic has averaged 1.82 DraftKings points per minute this season and he had averaged 34.4 minutes per game prior to the game where he was injured. He has produced 1.66 DraftKings points per minute with a 34% usage rate, 18.4% rebounding rate and 38.1% assist rate in 1,588 minutes without Jamal Murray on the floor since last season.

Jonas Valanciunas ($8,500 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) is getting more expensive, but it is not much of an issue given the number of minutes that he has been playing in his first season with the Pelicans. He has averaged 34.7 minutes per game through the Pelicans’ first five games and a couple of those games were impacted by blowouts and/or foul trouble. He has played 36, 39 and 36 minutes in the three games decided by fewer than 10 points so far. While his playing time has increased from previous seasons, his per-minute production has still been excellent with 1.25 DraftKings points per minute. His 24.8 rebound chances per game lead the NBA and he is second to Rudy Gobert with 15 total rebounds per game. Valanciunas also has a massive size advantage against Richaun Holmes tonight as Holmes is giving up about two inches and 30 pounds to the Lithuanian big man.

Bam Adebayo ($7,800 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) was downgraded from probable to questionable earlier today. If he is able to play, he is a strong center option as he has gotten off to an excellent start this season. He is third with 20.5 rebound chances per game and fourth with 12.8 total rebounds per game. He has averaged 30.4 minutes per game but has also lost playing time in a couple of blowouts, so it is likely that he plays 33 or 34 minutes in competitive games. Adebayo has averaged 1.23 DraftKings points per minute through his first 121 minutes this season. If he sits, Dewayne Dedmon would most likely start in his place and become the top value option on the slate.

Mo Bamba ($6,600 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) has continued his career resurgence this season after seemingly being a bust for most of the early part of his career. Bamba has averaged 31 minutes per game through Orlando’s first five games and he is close to blowout proof since the Magic have no reason not to play him for as many minutes as they can this season regardless of game circumstances. He has produced 1.04 DraftKings points per minute so far this season and 1.20 DraftKings points per minute since the start of last season.

Richaun Holmes ($5,800 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) may be undersized compared to Valanciunas (and most NBA centers) but he is also underpriced on DraftKings. Holmes has averaged 26.9 minutes per game through his first four games this season, but he has played 29, 32 and 29 minutes in the three games that he did not foul out of. Holmes has averaged 1.31 DraftKings points per minute with a 20.7% rebounding rate this season. While that number is much higher than his 15.8% rebounding rate last season, his rebound chances per 36 minutes have also increased from 19.2 last season to 24.8 this season.

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Check out our NBA FanDuel rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own best DFS NBA projections. View our Yahoo! ownership projections, our DraftKings NBA ownership projections and our FanDuel NBA ownership. Our NBA projections DFS are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. We also have Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings, FanDuel ownership rankings and DraftKings rankings for today's slate. Looking for more NBA DFS plays today and the best NBA DFS advice?

Adam "ShipMyMoney" Scherer has been playing and analyzing DFS full-time since quitting law school in 2016. He has qualified for the 2016 FanDuel MLB Playboy Championship, the 2016 DraftKings Fantasy Baseball World Championship (3x) and the 2019 DraftKings Fantasy Basketball World Championship. You can find him on Twitter at @ShipMyMoneyDFS or by emailing [email protected].

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