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The Deep Dive: NBA DFS Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel | Thursday, April 22

Dave Loughran



See the best NBA betting picks today for Heat vs. Bucks, including NBA odds, lines, props, betting trends & prediction for today.

This is our 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 our 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.

Be sure to catch the Awesemo NBA Daily Fantasy Strategy Show every morning on our Awesemo YouTube Channel to find the best NBA DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel!

NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | April 22

PISTONS UPDATE: Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Cory Joseph, Rodney McGruder and Dennis Smith have all been ruled out for the Pistons. This opens things up for Isaiah Stewart, who has posted 50-plus DraftKings points in two of his last four and 40-plus three times over that span while averaging 1.55 DraftKings points per minute over that stretch.

Josh Jackson also becomes an elite option at a mid-$5,000 price point and averages 1.00 DraftKings points per minute on the season. With Grant, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin off the court, Jackson averages 1.07 DraftKings points per minute with a team-high 27.8 percent usage rate.

Killian Hayes should see an easy 30-plus minutes in the starting lineup with Joseph out, and while he hasn’t had the best rookie campaign, Hayes is cheap and should see enough ball-handling responsibilities to warrant considerable ownership tonight.

A good indicator of what the rotation will look like could be the Pistons’ game from April 19 where Saddiq Bey played 36 minutes, Tyler Cook logged 30 minutes as a starter, and Frank Jackson grabbed 28. In that game, Detroit was missing Grant, Plumlee, Ellington, Joseph, McGruder, Smith and Sekou Doumbouya, who will be back tonight in some capacity. On a slate that was mostly devoid of value before this Pistons news broke, you can take shots on pretty much anyone in the starting lineup, and even a couple primary options off the bench like Jackson and even Saben Lee if Hamidou Diallo ends up joining the other 476 players on the bench.

Point Guard

Kemba Walker (DraftKings: $7,400; FanDuel: $6,900) has played 320 minutes without Jaylen Brown this season, producing a solid 1.17 DraftKings points per minute on 30.5 percent usage and 27.3 percent assist rate. Those rates don’t change much at all playing alongside Tatum outside of a six percent dip in assist rate. Walker has been playing huge minutes in competitive games lately, and tonight’s home tilt with the Suns (-2) should certainly remain close throughout. You aren’t paying a premium for Walker, either, making him one of the strongest plays across the board on what profiles to be a pretty ugly slate.

Coby White (DraftKings: $5,500; FanDuel: $5,800) has played 30-plus minutes in the four games Zach LaVine has missed in COVID-19 protocol, and is averaging 1.10 over that span. Those are strong enough rates, combined with 23 percent usage and a 30.9 percent assist rate to feel pretty good about White tonight at a sub-$6K price point on both FanDuel and DraftKings. The Bulls are slight home favorites, too, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see Billy Donovan give White upwards of 35 minutes in the starting lineup.

This is a largely unappealing, slow-paced matchup against the Hornets, but White is averaging 75 touches and 12.5 potential assists per game over his last four and should continue to run the offense alongside Nikola Vucevic.

Cole Anthony (DraftKings: $6,400; FanDuel: $6,300) is churning out a strong 1.12 DraftKings points per minute since he returned to action in early April, and should see no shortage of opportunity tonight against the Pelicans. Over that same span, Anthony is operating with team-high rates in usage (24.3%) and assists (35.6%) while hauling in rebounds at a very respectable 10.1 percent clip. New Orleans ranks 24th in defensive rating and ninth in pace since the start of March, presenting a nice pace-up matchup for Anthony and the Magic. Anthony is providing quality numbers in multiple categories, which is exactly what we’re looking for in a mid-range point guard.

Honorable Mention: Luka Doncic, Dejounte Murray, Marcus Smart

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Shooting Guard

DeMar DeRozan (DraftKings: $8,400; FanDuel: $7,900) stands out as a strong play on FanDuel where the shooting guard position has little to offer. DeRozan is averaging 1.14 DraftKings points per minute since LaMarcus Aldridge’s last game (March 1), while producing a team-high usage rate (27.3%) and assist rate (31.8%). The Spurs are competing for a playoff spot in the west, so we can continue to expect DeRozan to play huge minutes in close games. It’s hard to say how competitive tonight’s game will be, but DeRozan has a great matchup against a Pistons team that ranks bottom 10 in defensive rating and is actually playing at a top 12 pace over the last month.

Marcus Smart (DraftKings: $6,600; FanDuel: $6,900) isn’t a world beater from a DFS perspective, but he does enough to warrant consideration tonight at a barren shooting guard position. With 0.93 DraftKings points per minute on the season and 36-plus minutes played in five of his last seven games, Smart is locked into big minutes in what should be a competitive affair with Phoenix. He’s a 20-plus percent usage and assist rate player with Brown off the floor, and is averaging two stocks (steals + blocks) per game on the year.

Jalen Brunson (DraftKings: $4,600; FanDuel: $5,200) is logging almost 28 minutes since the start of April, with 30-plus minutes played in six of those 11 games. Brunson has played more minutes with Luka Doncic off the floor (133) over than span than anyone else on the Mavericks. 44 percent of his minutes this month have come with Doncic off the court, making Brunson a perfectly reasonable value option at $4600 on DraftKings. The matchup against the Lakers leaves much to be desired, but there aren’t many games on tonight’s slate that are collectively attractive. On the season Brunson 0.93 DraftKings points per minute on 20 percent usage and 20 percent assists.

Honorable Mention: Josh Jackson, Terrence Ross

Small Forward

Luka Doncic (DraftKings: $11,000; FanDuel: $11,400) is a more appealing play on DraftKings tonight, especially with his small forward eligibility. We shouldn’t expect a high-scoring game between two slower paced teams, but Doncic is pretty much matchup proof so we don’t have much to worry about. He’s correctly priced at $11,000, though, so it would be very helpful to have some more value NBA DFS picks open up throughout the day.

Doncic is churning out 1.55 DraftKings points per minute on 35.8 percent usage, 42.7 percent assists and 12.6 percent rebounds this season, so he’s still producing elite rates at almost every level despite some underwhelming fantasy totals this month. He ranks top five in drives, touches and potential assists per game, so we already know Doncic controls the Mavericks offense every night.

Patrick Williams (DraftKings: $4,300; FanDuel: $4,000) should see enough minutes to be viable tonight at a low-$4K price point. We’re grasping at straws here since Charlotte is averaging 95.6 possessions per 48 (29th) over the last month and has actually been pretty good defensively, but the dearth of options at small forward are going to force our hand in some spots. Williams only produces 0.72 DraftKings points per minute on the season but that number at least improves to 0.80 with LaVine off the floor.

Cameron Johnson (DraftKings: $3,500; FanDuel: $3,800) played 30 minutes in last night’s win over the Sixers after Jae Crowder departed early (13 minutes) with a knee injury. Crowder has already been ruled out for tonight’s road tilt with Boston, and Dario Saric remains questionable, so Johnson should be locked into 30-plus minutes regardless. He only averages 0.80 DraftKings points per minute on the season, but value is scarce tonight and Johnson is close to minimum salary on both FanDuel and DraftKings. Pretty simple process here.

Honorable Mention: Saddiq Bey, Denzel Valentine, Miles Bridges (FanDuel)


Power Forward

Zion Williamson (DraftKings: $9,900; FanDuel: $9,800) should annihilate the Magic tonight, as there is absolutely no one in their frontcourt capable of slowing him down. Williamson has been dominant over the last month, sporting a 34.5 percent usage rate, 23.6 percent assist rate and 12.1 percent rebound rate with 1.44 DraftKings points per minute. The peripherals leave something to be desired at times, but Williamson should be able to score at will tonight against a depleted Magic team. Orlando ranks 26th in defensive rating since the March 25th trade deadline.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (DraftKings: $10,800; FanDuel: $11,000) is questionable tonight after suffering a leg cramp in overtime the other night, but there’s no real reason to assume he doesn’t play. The Bucks are 8-point favorites against the likely shorthanded Sixers, and while Joel Embiid is one of the league’s preeminent defenders, Philadelphia won’t have the personnel to slow down Giannis when he’s barreling to the rim. Assuming he plays and isn’t limited, I’ll be prioritizing Antetokounmpo over Doncic. Philadelphia is playing their second of a back-to-back on the road and could be without both Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris again. Giannis averages 1.63 DraftKings points per minute on 34 percent usage, 17.6 percent rebounding and 28.5 percent assists while picking up about 2.5 stocks per game.

Jayson Tatum (DraftKings: $10,200; FanDuel: $9,500) there’s really no shortage of top-tier options at power forward tonight. Tatum is one of the handful of elite players in a good spot tonight, especially with Brown doubtful to play. Tatum has played 373 minutes without Brown and Robert Williams (out) this season, averaging 1.35 DraftKings points per minute on 33.2 percent usage,11 percent rebounding and 23 percent assists. He’s flashed a gigantic ceiling of late, too, with games of 68 and 75 DraftKings points over the past two weeks. Phoenix is a solid defensive team, but the fact that this game is almost certain to stay close makes Tatum even more appealing. And it’s not like you can’t score against the Suns, either, as Embiid just dropped 38 on them last night.

Honorable Mention: Kristaps Porzingis (FanDuel)


Nikola Vucevic (DraftKings: $10,000; FanDuel: $8,800) is more of a FanDuel-specific play tonight at only $8,800. Vucevic had maybe his worst game of the season last night, but he has still averaged 1.45 DraftKings points per minute on the season and will play another game without LaVine tonight against Charlotte. In 228 minutes without LaVine, Vucevic is averaging 1.44 DraftKings points per minute on 29.1 percent usage and still has legitimate triple-double upside as one of the most versatile big men in the game. It’s probably not a crazy idea to consider him in tournaments on DraftKings, but he’s definitely expensive compared to the other players in his tier.

P.J. Washington (DraftKings: $5,900) has come off the bench since returning to action, but he’s logged 34-plus minutes in both games with 23-plus points in each. Much of Washington’s production has been dependent on 3-point shooting (11-21), but he’s still below $6K on DraftKings and faces a Bulls team that ranks 23rd in defensive rating over the last month.

Daniel Theis (DraftKings: $3,700) and Tristan Thompson (DraftKings: $4,800; FanDuel: $4,100) are two cheap value centers worth targeting tonight. Theis is dirt cheap on DraftKings and should see between 24-27 minutes in the starting lineup. Thompson will get more extended run tonight with Williams sidelined, and is only $4100 on FanDuel. Both big men average around 0.90 DraftKings points per minute, which is fine at their salaries, and make them fine options as NBA DFS picks.

Honorable Mention: Joel Embiid (check status), Dario Saric

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Dave "Loughy" Loughran has been a fixture in the daily fantasy community since not long after its inception, quitting his career as a Drug and Alcohol therapist to become a full-time DFS analyst, player and media personality in 2014. Loughy is the host of "Awesemo Radio" on SiriusXM Fantasy, qualified for the 2016 DraftKings Fantasy Football World Championship, and was featured in the Washington Post and other publications for his success as a player. You can find him on Twitter at @Loughy_D where he'll likely be ranting about the miserable life of a Philadelphia sports fan, using "fella" in almost every tweet, or via email at

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