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
Note: Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter Jr. are all out tonight for Golden State. This opens up a ton of value. Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins are likely to dominate usage as Poole has a 32.5% usage rate without Curry on the floor this season and Wiggins has a 28.1% usage rate.
It also opens up more minutes for Kevon Looney, who played nearly 30 minutes in the game that Green left earlier several nights ago. Iguodala and Porter’s absences make it likely that Jonathan Kuminga and Nemanja Bjelica will get plenty of minutes as well. It is also likely that Gary Payton II and Damion Lee play enough minutes to be viable value options tonight.
Finally, it is likely that tonight’s game is more competitive than it otherwise would have been, and Golden State’s defense may struggle more than usual. That opens the door for all of the main Pistons options to look like better targets, particularly Cade Cunningham.
James Harden ($11,200 DraftKings/$9,900 FanDuel) quickly went from a mediocre option to one of the best plays of the slate when Kevin Durant was ruled out of tonight’s game against the Magic. Harden has played 109 minutes without Durant on the floor this season and has averaged 1.61 DraftKings points per minute with a 29.9% usage rate, 14.3% rebounding rate and 45.2% assist rate. He draws a favorable matchup against the Orlando Magic, who have allowed the fourth most points per 100 possessions this season while ranking in the middle of the pack in pace.
Malcolm Brogdon ($8,300 DraftKings/$8,600 FanDuel) will probably go a bit overlooked tonight in terms of ownership because of the abundance of guard options. He has a great matchup against the Hornets, however, who have played at the fourth fastest pace this season while allowing the sixth most points per 100 possessions. Brogdon’s usage has taken a hit with the return of Caris LeVert, as expected, but he has still maintained a 25.8% usage rate and has averaged 1.07 DraftKings points per minute in the four games he has played with LeVert this season.
Jalen Brunson ($6,700 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) is one of the top mid-range options tonight as he takes on the Phoenix Suns. Luka Doncic is doubtful for the Mavericks, so Brunson is likely to remain in the starting lineup. He played 36.8 minutes in his start on Wednesday, and he should get similar playing time tonight. Brunson has produced 1.13 DraftKings points per minute in 89 minutes alongside Kristaps Porzingis without Doncic this season and 1.03 DraftKings points per minute in 521 minutes alongside Porzingis without Doncic since the start of last season.
Brunson is one of the players with the best ratings in the Awesemo Boom/Bust tool, and Alex Hunter has an in-depth look at where Brunson — and others — are showing up in his NBA DFS Boom & Bust Picks.
Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5,300 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) played 36.8 minutes without Doncic in the Mavericks’ last game, and he should get similar playing time tonight. Hardaway is the third member of the Mavs who is likely to get increased usage with Doncic sidelined. He also played some minutes without Porzingis and Brunson last game as he stayed in longer than them and then they subbed back in with the second unit. In 110 minutes without Doncic on the floor this season, Hardaway has averaged 1.19 DraftKings points per minute with a 25% usage rate.
Patty Mills ($3,600 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel) already projected as a strong value before the Durant news, but he looks even better now. Durant’s absence means there are more minutes available but, more importantly, there is more usage and production available. Mills has averaged 0.88 DraftKings points per minute in 137 minutes without Durant on the floor this season compared to 0.67 DraftKings points per minute in 279 minutes alongside Durant. There is also a good chance that Mills will be on the floor during the periods that Harden rests, which will allow him to play a bigger role as well.
Paul George ($10,300 DraftKings/$10,100 FanDuel) faces a weak Pelicans defense tonight in New Orleans. The Pelicans have allowed the most points per 100 possessions this season, though they also rank 20th in pace. George has averaged 1.41 DraftKings points per minute this season and is likely to play about 35 minutes tonight.
Kristaps Porzingis ($7,800 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) is likely to play 32 to 34 minutes tonight against the Suns. He has averaged 1.22 DraftKings points per minute with a 29% usage rate, 14.5% rebounding rate and 8.8% assist rate in 585 minutes without Doncic on the floor since the start of last season.
Josh Hart ($5,400 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) is not the most exciting fantasy producer, but he has played at least 33 minutes in four straight games and 38 minutes in three of his last four. Hart has averaged 0.93 DraftKings points per minute in the five games that he has played with Ingram this season and he has averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute this season overall.
Bruce Brown ($4,200 DraftKings/$4,700 FanDuel) is in line for a heavy workload tonight as he can play multiple positions and be useful with Joe Harris and Durant sidelined. He has not produced at a high level this season but, since the start of last season, Brown has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute in 231 minutes alongside Harden without Durant or Kyrie Irving.
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Nikola Jokic ($12,000 DraftKings/$11,300 FanDuel) is questionable tonight with a wrist injury. If he is able to play, he is the clear top pay-up option on the slate. 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. If he sits, it would open up minutes and production for just about every player in Denver’s rotation, specifically JaMychal Green, Will Barton and Monte Morris.
Deandre Ayton ($6,700 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) has played about 33 and 35 minutes in the two games since he returned from injury, despite his coach saying that would not happen. At this point, there is no reason to believe that Ayton is going to be limited at all tonight against Dallas. He has averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute this season and is especially valuable on DraftKings where he is more underpriced and two centers are playable.
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LaMarcus Aldridge ($4,900 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) played about 30 minutes last game after nearly being a DNP in the Nets’ previous game. That does not mean he will play 30 minutes tonight, but it is good to know that he is physically capable of doing so. Aldridge has played 126 minutes without Durant on the floor this season and has averaged 1.29 DraftKings points per minute with a 27.5% usage rate, 14.6% rebounding rate and 15.3% assist rate. There is also a possibility that he plays minutes alongside Blake Griffin in Durant’s absence. Not only are the minutes available, but the Nets are facing a big Orlando frontcourt that plays Wendell Carter Jr. alongside Mo Bamba for large stretches of time. It would not be a shock if Aldridge replaces Durant in the starting lineup but, even if he comes off the bench, he projects as one of the top center options tonight.
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Our NBA FanDuel projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. View our FanDuel NBA ownership, our Yahoo! NBA ownership projections and our DraftKings NBA ownership. Looking for more DFS NBA news and the best NBA DFS advice? We also have FanDuel rankings, Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings and DraftKings NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Check out our daily fantasy basketball rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA daily fantasy projections.
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