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
Stephen Curry ($11,100 DraftKings/$10,100 FanDuel) headlines the guard positions tonight against the Charlotte Hornets. Charlotte has played at the fifth fastest pace this season while allowing the third most points per 100 possessions, so it sets up nicely for Curry. He has produced 1.49 DraftKings points per minute in 34.9 minutes per game so far this season with a 32.3% usage rate and 29.5% assist rate.
Luka Doncic ($10,700 DraftKings/$10,300 FanDuel) has had a string of difficult matchups lately, including last night against the Miami Heat. Things get a little bit easier tonight as he faces the San Antonio Spurs, who are 10th in pace and 15th in defensive rating so far this season. Doncic has only produced 1.34 DraftKings points per minute so far this season, but his 34.7% usage rate, 11.6% rebounding rate and 42.7% assist rate are similar to his rates last season. Since he is getting similar opportunities, his per-minute production should begin to resemble last season’s 1.55 DraftKings points per minute as well.
James Harden ($10,200 DraftKings/$9,900 FanDuel) has struggled to adapt to the new rules limiting fouls so far, but he has still averaged 1.33 DraftKings points per minute. Harden has a 25.9% usage rate, 11.8% rebounding rate and 41.1% assist rate so far this season. His opponent, the Atlanta Hawks, are in the middle of the pack in defensive rating this season but they have also played at a bottom 10 pace, so the matchup is not quite as appealing as it is for Curry or Doncic.
Devonte’ Graham ($6,300 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel) played 34.1 minutes against the Suns last night, and he should get another 32 to 34 minutes against Sacramento. He has produced 1.01 DraftKings points per minute with a 23.5% usage rate and 22.8% assist rate so far this season. Brandon Ingram is questionable tonight, and if he misses the game, Graham’s usage and assist rates would be likely to increase. He has averaged 1.05 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.4% usage rate and 28.6% assist rate in 103 minutes without Ingram on the floor this season.
Collin Sexton ($5,900 DraftKings/$6,300 FanDuel) is likely to play about 36 minutes tonight with Isaac Okoro, Lauri Markkanen and Kevin Love sidelined. Sexton has only averaged 0.85 DraftKings points per minute this season, but he leads the Cavaliers with a 27.7% usage rate.
Malik Beasley ($4,100 DraftKings/$4,500 FanDuel) should benefit from D’Angelo Russell’s absence and he has guard and forward eligibility which makes it easier to fit him into lineups. He has not been involved much offensively so far this season with just a 17.7% usage rate, but Russell has a 28.6% usage rate this season so there are plenty of available shots in his absence. In 312 minutes alongside Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns without Russell on the floor last season, Beasley averaged 0.84 DraftKings points per minute with a 20.8% usage rate.
Jordan McLaughlin ($3,000 DraftKings/$3,600 FanDuel) started the second half of Minnesota’s last game in place of Russell and played about 13 and a half minutes between the third and fourth quarters. Patrick Beverley missed that game and is questionable tonight. If Beverley plays, McLaughlin should play about 22 to 24 minutes. If Beverley misses the game, then McLaughlin could approach 30 minutes. He averaged 0.76 DraftKings points per minute in 157 minutes alongside Edwards and Towns without Russell on the floor last season.
Julius Randle ($9,400 DraftKings/$9,300 FanDuel) is producing at a high level again this season. He has averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute in 37.2 minutes per game through the first seven games of the season. He has contributed in every category, leading the team with a 26.6% usage rate and a 25.6% assist rate while posting a higher rebounding rate than anyone other than Mitchell Robinson. There are plenty of players to choose from in Randle’s price range, but there is less opportunity cost at the forward positions than at the guard positions or center, so Randle makes a lot of sense on a slate with plenty of value.
Harrison Barnes ($7,500 DraftKings/$7,700 FanDuel) is not typically someone that stands out at a mid-$7,000s price tag, but he leads the Kings with 37 minutes per game this season. He also is shooting more this season as he has a 22.8% usage rate compared to 17.2% last season. His per-minute production has increased from 0.87 DraftKings points per minute last season to 1.12 DraftKings points per minute this season and it is not as a result of unsustainable shooting, as his true shooting percentage is only about 2 points higher this season than last season. He has a favorable matchup against the Pelicans, who rank 15th in pace and 26th in defensive rating.
Jaren Jackson, Jr. ($5,500 DraftKings/$6,300 FanDuel) let a lot of DFS players down in his last game as foul trouble limited him to 18.5 minutes against the Nuggets. He has averaged 26 minutes per game so far this season, and if the game is competitive and he can avoid foul trouble, it is likely that he plays a few extra minutes tonight. Jackson has not been an elite fantasy producer this season, but he has averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute so he should easily justify his salary as long as he is able to stay on the floor.
Gary Trent, Jr. ($5,100 DraftKings/$5,400 FanDuel) played 42.9 minutes with Scottie Barnes sidelined against the Knicks in his last game. Barnes is out again tonight, and while Trent will not play another 43 minutes, it is certainly possible that he does so. Even if he plays 36 to 38 minutes, he projects as a strong value as he has averaged 0.84 DraftKings points per minute with a 20.4% usage rate this season.
Furkan Korkmaz ($4,300 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel) played 24.8 minutes against Portland on Monday, but there could be more minutes available tonight. Danny Green will join Tobias Harris on the sidelines, so there are more wing minutes to be had. Korkmaz also did not close on Monday as Georges Niang was playing extremely well and got the nod in his place. There will be some games where Korkmaz gets those minutes instead, however. In 80 minutes alongside Joel Embiid without Harris or Ben Simmons on the floor since last season, Korkmaz has averaged 0.77 DraftKings points per minute with a 19.2% usage rate. Be sure to keep an eye on his ownership, as Niang and Shake Milton are viable pivots away from Korkmaz if it gets too high.
Thaddeus Young ($4,100 DraftKings/4,600 FanDuel) could see his first extended run of the season tonight with Jakob Poeltl sidelined. There is no guarantee that Young benefits, since it is not exactly clear why he has not been playing more minutes anyway, but he has been in the rotation for the last couple of games and it is likely that he plays at least 20 minutes off the bench tonight. Young has produced 1.07 DraftKings points per minute in his limited playing time this season and he averaged 1.18 DraftKings points per minute with the Bulls last season.
Svi Mykhailiuk ($3,700 DraftKings/$4,500 FanDuel) started in place of Barnes on Monday and played 34.8 minutes. He is a somewhat risky option since the Raptors have a plethora of options to fill Barnes’ minutes, so there is no guarantee that Mykhailiuk replicates his playing time from last game. That said, Nick Nurse typically prefers to give his starters extended minutes, and as long as Mykhailiuk is playing reasonably well, it is likely that he plays 30-plus minutes again tonight.
Cedi Osman ($3,600 DraftKings/$4,500 FanDuel) is not particularly fun to roster, but he is likely to see a large uptick in playing time tonight. He played about 21 minutes last game with Okoro and Love sidelined and now Markkanen is out as well. Markkanen played 35.1 minutes in the last game, so it would be surprising if Osman does not pick up at least six to 10 of those minutes. He has produced 0.84 DraftKings points per minute since the start of last season and 0.82 DraftKings points per minute so far this season.
Nikola Jokic ($11,400 DraftKings/$11,200 FanDuel) has been one of the best per-minute fantasy producers this season with 1.76 DraftKings points per minute. He leads Denver in usage rate, rebounding rate and assist rate at 31.3, 18.6 and 36.3%, respectively. He typically plays about 34 or 35 minutes in competitive games and there is only a one point spread in tonight’s game. The only factor working against Jokic is that there is a high opportunity cost at the center position tonight because there are strong values, a strong mid-range and strong pay-up options.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,600 DraftKings/$10,400 FanDuel) has averaged 1.39 DraftKings points per minute with a 29.3% usage rate in 206 minutes so far this season. His per-minute production is likely to increase with D’Angelo Russell sidelined. In 1,113 minutes alongside Edwards without Russell since the start of last season, Towns has averaged 1.44 DraftKings points per minute with a 29.7% usage rate.
Joel Embiid ($10,300 DraftKings/$9,700 FanDuel) has been relatively disappointing this season, but a lot of his issues have been out of his control as he has lost a couple of fourth quarters to blowout. If tonight’s game is competitive, it is likely that he plays 32 or 33 minutes. So far this season, Embiid has averaged 1.41 DraftKings points per minute. His production is likely to increase tonight, however, because Tobias Harris is sidelined so there is even more usage available for Embiid. Since the start of last season, he has averaged 2.06 DraftKings points per minute with a 46.2% usage rate, 24.5% rebounding rate and 32.5% assist rate. While Embiid will not continue that level of production over a larger sample, Harris has a 24.5% usage rate, 14.9% rebounding rate and 22.1% assist rate this season so removing him from the floor should lead to increased production from Embiid in every category.
Jonas Valanciunas ($8,500 DraftKings/$8,800 FanDuel) played about 35 minutes last night and has now averaged 34.3 minutes per game this season. The increased playing time has not hurt his production, as he has produced 1.33 DraftKings points per minute with a 24.1% usage rate, 21.7% rebounding rate and 12% assist rate. If Ingram misses tonight’s game, Valanciunas should get even more. He has a 27.9% usage rate, 24.9% rebounding rate and 15.9% assist rate while averaging 1.47 DraftKings points per minute in 116 minutes without Ingram on the floor this season.
Richaun Holmes ($6,300 DraftKings/$7,600 FanDuel) had an injury scare last night, but he returned to the floor and ended up playing 32.7 minutes in the Kings’ loss to Utah. Holmes has been an excellent source of fantasy points this season with 1.23 DraftKings points per minute. He is likely to play 30 to 32 minutes as long as he avoids foul trouble tonight against New Orleans.
Drew Eubanks ($3,000 DraftKings/$3,700 FanDuel) is the favorite to start in place of Jakob Poeltl tonight against Dallas, but it is not a guarantee so be sure to keep an eye out for the Spurs’ starting lineup. Assuming he starts, Eubanks projects as an excellent point-per-dollar value. He averaged 24 minutes per game and 1.27 DraftKings points per minute in three starts last season. So far this season, he has produced 1.07 DraftKings points per minute over 77 minutes played.
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