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.
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I plan to update this article with notes at the top until about 5 p.m. EST each day. After that, be sure to check out the Deeper Dive show with Loughy and me from 4:45 to 6 every tonight and Live Before Lock in the hour leading up until lock each day on the Awesemo YouTube channel.
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NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | March 29
Russell Westbrook ($11,000 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) has been a strong fantasy producer all season long but he has taken a step forward since the All-Star break. He has averaged 1.52 DraftKings points per minute in 35 games with Bradley Beal active this season and 1.61 DraftKings points per minute in nine games alongside Beal since the All-Star break. Westbrook has averaged a triple-double in the nine games since the break with 22.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 11.3 assists per game. He has also averaged 36.3 minutes per game in those games.
Beal is also questionable for tonight’s game after leaving the Wizards’ game on Sunday early. Westbrook has a 40.3 percent usage rate and has averaged 1.77 DraftKings points per minute in his two games without Beal this season. In 437 total minutes without Beal on the floor this season, Westbrook has a 37.6 percent usage rate and 53.2 percent assist rate compared to a 27.2 percent usage rate and 43.5 percent assist rate in 851 minutes alongside Beal.
James Harden ($10,900 DraftKings/$11,300 FanDuel) is priced up and Kyrie Irving is expected to return to the lineup tonight. While Irving’s return lowers Harden’s median projection and makes his salary riskier, there is still plenty of upside here. In 16 games played with Irving active and Kevin Durant inactive this season, Harden has averaged 1.55 DraftKings points per minute and 37.8 minutes per game. He also has an excellent matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who rank 28th in defensive rating and fifth in pace over the last month.
Luka Doncic ($10,800 DraftKings/$10,800 FanDuel) missed Dallas’s last two games but he is not on the injury report tonight. Doncic has averaged 1.64 DraftKings points per minute and 36.1 minutes per game in 26 games played with Kristaps Porzingis active this season. He projects slightly behind Westbrook and Harden but offers similar upside. Doncic should also benefit from Luguentz Dort’s absence tonight as he is Oklahoma City’s best on-ball defender.
John Wall ($8,300 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) takes on the Memphis Grizzlies tonight. Memphis has been the fourth-most efficient defense in the league over the last month but they have also played at the second-fastest pace. Wall only played 25.7 minutes in Houston’s game against Minnesota on Saturday, but he lost about seven minutes to garbage time at the end of the game. He has averaged 33.3 minutes per game in nine games over the last month. In 13 games without Victor Oladipo or Harden this season, Wall has averaged 1.24 DraftKings points per minute with a 35.3 percent usage rate and 44.0 percent assist rate. While he isn’t the most efficient player, it’s difficult to find someone who is responsible for a larger percentage of their team’s offense at this price point. This gives Wall one of the highest ceilings in this price range.
Ja Morant ($7,500 DraftKings/$7,100 FanDuel) will be going up against Wall as the Grizzlies take on the Rockets. Houston is seventh in pace and 26th in defensive rating over the last month, so it sets up as a favorable matchup for Morant. Morant has averaged 33.1 minutes per game over the last month, making him the only player on Memphis that has averaged over 30 minutes per game during that time. For the season, Morant has averaged 1.15 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.3 percent usage rate and 35.8 percent assist rate.
Kyle Lowry ($7,400 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) is questionable tonight against the Detroit Pistons. If he is able to play, he offers some mid-range value — especially on FanDuel. Lowry has averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute and 34.7 minutes per game in 30 games played with Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet active this season. He has a 21.3 percent usage rate and 31.0 percent assist rate in those games.
Dejounte Murray ($7,100 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) takes on the Sacramento Kings. The Kings have played at a slower pace recently than earlier in the season, ranking 13th over the last month, but they are 27th in defensive rating and continue to be one of the worst defenses in the league. Murray has averaged 1.10 DraftKings points per minute and 31.7 minutes per game in 17 games alongside DeMar DeRozan and without LaMarcus Aldridge this season. Murray has contributed in every category, averaging 15.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game in those games. He has played more minutes recently as well, averaging 33 minutes per game over the last month. Our early run of ownership projections only have Murray getting about 8 percent ownership on DraftKings, which makes him look like a high-upside GPP option at this point.
Mike Conley ($6,100 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) should be back in Utah’s lineup after resting on the second half of a back-to-back on Saturday. Conley has had a very strong season for the Jazz, averaging 1.07 DraftKings points per minute in 34 games played alongside Donovan Mitchell. Conley has averaged 29.5 minutes per game overall this season and 30.5 minutes per game over the last month. The matchup against a Cleveland team that ranks 19th in pace and seventh in defensive rating over the last month leaves something to be desired, but he is underpriced for his production this season.
Goran Dragic ($5,400 DraftKings/$4,800 FanDuel) hasn’t played since March 19 but he is listed as probable for tonight’s game against the Knicks. Kendrick Nunn is out for Miami, so there are plenty of backcourt minutes available. Dragic has averaged 30 minutes per game in eight starts this season and 25.9 minutes per game off the bench. He has averaged between 0.94 and 0.99 DraftKings points per minute in either role. At his current salary, he looks like a decent value option despite an unappealing matchup with the Knicks.
Saben Lee ($3,800 DraftKings/$3,700 FanDuel) started and played 24.5 minutes in Detroit’s loss to the Wizards on Saturday. Dennis Smith Jr. is out again tonight, and Rodney McGruder is doubtful, so I am expecting Lee to start again. Lee has averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute in the 389 minutes that he has played this season. The matchup against the Celtics isn’t particularly friendly, but he is extremely inexpensive for a starting point guard on a team that only has one high-usage player (Jerami Grant) in its starting lineup.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, John Wall, Saben Lee
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, John Wall, Kyle Lowry (Q), Mike Conley, Saben Lee
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Bradley Beal ($9,100 DraftKings/$8,800) is questionable tonight against the Pacers. Beal has struggled since the All-Star break, averaging only 1.10 DraftKings points per minute with a 30.1 percent usage rate in nine games since the break. I think that it is likely he is playing through a nagging injury based on his performance and the frequency with which he has been on the injury report lately. If he plays, however, he still offers substantial upside as his salary has fallen along with his production. Even if an injury is the reason for Beal’s decreased production, we will have no way of knowing how he is feeling tonight so there is always the potential that he quickly returns to his form from the first half of the season where he averaged about 1.35 DraftKings points per minute with a 35 percent usage rate.
Paul George ($8,500 DraftKings/$8,700 FanDuel) gets a pace-up spot against the Bucks, who have played at the third-fastest pace over the last month. Milwaukee is a strong team defensively, but the additional possessions should help to offset their defensive efficiency for DFS purposes. George has produced at a rate similar to Kawhi Leonard in the games that they have played together this season with 1.26 DraftKings points per minute and 33.7 minutes per game in the 32 games they have played together.
Fred VanVleet ($7,900 DraftKings/$7,400 FanDuel) always has a high ceiling as we have seen him take a step forward as a player this season and post some monster totals. He has averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute and 36.7 minutes per game with Lowry and Siakam active this season and he has shown that the ceiling is much higher. If Lowry sits tonight, VanVleet will look even better as he has averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute and 37.2 minutes per game in seven games without Lowry and with Siakam.
Collin Sexton ($7,400 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against Utah, but it is worth noting that the Jazz have played at a faster pace recently than they were earlier in the season. They are 10th in defensive rating over the last month but they have played at the sixth-fastest pace. Sexton played 40 minutes against the Kings on Saturday and he has averaged 1.01 DraftKings points per minute and 37.5 minutes per game in 18 games played without Andre Drummond this season.
Tyrese Haliburton ($6,100 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) has started eight games without Marvin Bagley this season and has averaged 32.3 minutes per game. He has averaged 0.85 DraftKings points per minute in those games, which is down from 0.95 DraftKings points per minute overall this season, but the more consistent playing time mostly offsets it from a DFS standpoint. Tonight’s matchup against the Spurs is a tough one as San Antonio is ninth in defensive rating and 20th in pace over the last month, but he stands out at only $5,500 on FanDuel in particular.
Brodric Thomas ($3,300 DraftKings/$3,600 FanDuel) started against the Kings on Saturday with Jarrett Allen out. Allen is out again tonight, though Isaiah Hartenstein is available to make his Cavs debut. We will have to wait and see whether the Cavaliers start Larry Nance Jr. or Hartenstein at center, but if they elect to go with Nance, Thomas will most likely remain in the starting lineup after playing 31.2 minutes and leading the team in plus/minus on Saturday. He has only played a total of 89 minutes this season, but he has averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Bradley Beal (Q), Paul George, Brodric Thomas (if starting)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Bradley Beal (Q), Fred VanVleet, Tyrese Haliburton, Brodric Thomas (if starting)
Kawhi Leonard ($8,900 DraftKings/$9,600 FanDuel) has averaged 1.33 DraftKings points per minute and 34.3 minutes per game in 32 games played with George this season. Small forward is a relatively weak position tonight, so there is some merit to paying up for Leonard even though he isn’t quite as appealing as some of the other pay up options.
Evan Fournier ($6,500 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) will make his debut for the Celtics tonight. I expect the Celtics to be an unappealing spot to target for DFS going forward, but Jaylen Brown is out tonight so there is one fewer mouth to feed than there normally will be. Fournier averaged 1.02 DraftKings points per minute in 16 games played with Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic in Orlando and I think that’s the closest proxy to what we can expect in Boston.
Larry Nance Jr. ($7,000 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against the Jazz but he could get another start at center tonight. Nance has averaged 1.15 DraftKings points per minute in 82 minutes without Drummond, Allen or JaVale McGee on the floor this season and we saw his production increase under similar circumstances last season as well. Nance has averaged 33.3 minutes per game in 27 starts this season as well. The matchup makes him a risky option, but if the Cavs start the same lineup as they did last game, we should expect Nance to produce at a higher rate than usual.
Josh Richardson ($5,200 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) and Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,200 DraftKings/$3,800 FanDuel) are both difficult options to trust because they play on a Dallas team where Doncic and Porzingis dominate usage, assists and rebounds. Still, they both play a lot of minutes and they are fairly priced tonight against the Thunder. Richardson has averaged 0.76 DraftKings points per minute and 31.2 minutes per game in 19 games with Doncic and Porzingis active this season while Finney-Smith has averaged 0.67 DraftKings points per minute and 30.9 minutes per game.
Deni Avdija ($3,400 DraftKings/$3,600 FanDuel) replaced Garrison Mathews in the starting lineup last game and played 26.8 minutes against the Pistons. He didn’t play his final rotation either as the Wizards’ second unit went on a run to close out the game. Avdija has averaged 0.69 DraftKings points per minute in 12 starts with Westbrook and Beal active this season and I expect 26 to 30 minutes from Avdija tonight. He isn’t an exciting option, but this is a weak position and punting it with a starter who is likely to approach 30 minutes isn’t a bad option as long as you are able to use the salary to fit in high-upside plays elsewhere.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Evan Fournier, Josh Richardson, Deni Avdija
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Larry Nance Jr., Keldon Johnson, Rui Hachimura, Dorian Finney-Smith
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,700 DraftKings/$11,100 FanDuel) is the highest-projected player at power forward and he is always one of the highest-upside players on a slate. He has averaged 1.65 DraftKings points per minute and 33.4 minutes per game in 32 games with Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday this season. While he has a massive ceiling, I think that roster construction makes Antetokounmpo more of a luxury than a necessity tonight. There is an abundance of value at power forward tonight so I think we will be able to get more upside in our lineups by saving money here and paying up at other positions.
Domantas Sabonis ($9,600 DraftKings/$8,800 FanDuel) has a great matchup against the Wizards. Washington is 20th in defensive rating and first in pace over the last month. The Wizards have also allowed the fifth-most rebounds per game over that time. Sabonis has now played seven games with Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert both active. He has averaged 1.34 DraftKings points per minute and 34.9 minutes per game with a 22.2 percent usage rate, 19 percent rebounding rate and 26.1 percent assist rate in those games.
Jayson Tatum ($8,600 DraftKings/$8,500 FanDuel) has averaged 1.30 DraftKings points per minute in three games without Brown and with Kemba Walker this season compared to 1.17 DraftKings points per minute when both players are active. Brown is out tonight, but he will most likely be replaced in the starting lineup by Evan Fournier, who is a higher-usage player than Brown’s normal replacements. My expectation is that Tatum’s per-minute production under these circumstances would end up between 1.17 and 1.30 points per minute. The matchup against the Pelicans is favorable as New Orleans is 17th in pace but 24th in defensive rating over the last month. Tatum looks like a secondary option for me tonight, but he does have a very high ceiling.
Rui Hachimura ($5,900 DraftKings/$5,500 SF FanDuel) has been playing huge minutes lately and that should continue tonight as Davis Bertans remains sidelined. Hachimura has averaged 0.84 DraftKings points per minute and 34.9 minutes per game in 10 games since the All-Star break.
Kyle Anderson ($5,500 DraftKings/$5,900 FanDuel) is a risky option as he has only averaged 25.7 minutes per game over the last month (13 games played). He has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute over those games so we have also seen his fantasy production decrease since the start of the season. He does get a favorable matchup against the Rockets, however, so we could see Anderson produce at above-average rates, and if he is playing well, he could see increased minutes as well.
Keldon Johnson ($5,300 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) has been disappointing more often than not lately, but that has kept his price point down as well. Johnson has a very high ceiling in a great matchup against the Kings, but he has a low floor as well. Overall this season, Johnson has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute and 27.4 minutes per game in 18 games played without Aldridge and with DeRozan.
Isaiah Roby ($5,300 DraftKings/$4,700 FanDuel) is Oklahoma City’s back-up center now that Al Horford is no longer playing in games. Roby will start at power forward alongside Moses Brown, but they will have their minutes staggered so that Roby is on the floor whenever Brown goes to the bench. This leads to increased production for Roby and also gives him the potential to play more minutes. He played 27.2 minutes against the Celtics on Saturday but he was on the bench for nearly four minutes at the end of the game. In games he closes, Roby will most likely play 32 or 33 minutes. He has averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute and 28 minutes per game in 19 games started overall this season.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Domantas Sabonis, Rui Hachimura, Keldon Johnson, Isaiah Roby
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Domantas Sabonis, Isaiah Roby
Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,900 DraftKings/$10,000) is the most expensive center on the slate tonight, which in a way means that he will be easier to roster than he is on most nights since he isn’t competing with Nikola Jokic or Joel Embiid. Towns has averaged 1.44 DraftKings points per minute and 33.6 minutes per game this season. He gets to face a Brooklyn team that is 22nd in defensive rating over the last month, though they only rank 21st in pace. There is a lot of upside among the mid-range centers tonight but there are no glaring values so the opportunity cost is a little bit lower than usual at the position.
Nikola Vucevic ($9,300 DraftKings/$9,200 FanDuel) played 31.8 minutes in his debut with the Bulls on Saturday. He lost a couple minutes to garbage time at the end of the game, so it looks like we can count on 33 to 34 minutes from Vucevic in competitive games with his new team. It will obviously take some time to know exactly what type of production to expect from Vucevic with the Bulls and his underlying opportunity stats send mixed messages from his first game. During his time with Orlando, Vucevic averaged 80.9 touches per 36 minutes, 8 potential assists per 36 minutes and 18.2 rebound chances per 36 minutes with a 30.0 percent usage rate this season. In his first game with Chicago, he had 79.2 touches per 36 minutes, 5.7 potential assists per 36 minutes, 18.1 rebound chances per 36 minutes and a 22.1 percent usage rate. It’s good to see that he touched the ball about the same as he did with Orlando and that he had a similar number of rebound chances. It’s concerning that his potential assists and usage rate were down since his scoring and passing in addition to his rebounding is what made him such a valuable fantasy producer in Orlando. It’s also concerning because it makes sense for those numbers to be down with the Bulls since they have an abundance of playmakers and Zach LaVine is a higher-usage player than anyone Vucevic played with in Orlando. My overall thoughts are that we can’t trust Vucevic at this price point in Chicago, but he’s still going to be involved enough that he offers some upside in tournaments if he is not popular.
Christian Wood ($8,400 DraftKings/$7,700 FanDuel) is questionable tonight after being a late scratch prior to Houston’s last game. If he is active, Wood deserves a look in tournaments as he has been extremely productive this season. He has averaged 1.31 DraftKings points per minute and 31 minutes per game in 23 starts this season. If he sits, we can look to Kelly Olynyk ($4,400 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) who played 25.1 minutes in Wood’s absence against Sacramento in his Houston debut.
Jonas Valanciunas ($7,700 DraftKings/$7,300 FanDuel) offers a relatively low floor for his salary since he has only averaged 27.5 minutes per game over the last month. He also offers a high ceiling, however, because he has averaged 1.34 DraftKings points per minute this season and he has a good matchup against Houston. Valanciunas is likely to have his way with the Rockets’ frontcourt, and if he happens to play a few minutes more than his average, he can easily be a player that helps take down a tournament. Our Boom/Bust tool currently gives him a slight edge in terms of optimal-lineup rate compared to ownership rate on DraftKings.
Moses Brown ($6,800 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) had a monster game against the Celtics in his last game as he scored 21 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in 33 minutes. Overall this season, he has averaged 1.28 DraftKings points per minute and 29.7 minutes per game in five starts. He is extremely volatile and his salary has increased, but he clearly still has a massive ceiling even at the elevated salary.
Robert Williams ($6,700 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) is similar to Brown in that his floor is lower than most players priced around him but his ceiling is higher than most of those players. Williams’ ability to produce defensive stats makes him much more volatile than most players in his price range, but his reliance on those defensive stats also makes him risky on a night to night basis since he isn’t a high-usage player and defensive stats are difficult to predict from game to game. Overall this season, Williams has averaged 1.32 DraftKings points per minute and he has averaged 26.5 minutes per game in his two starts since Daniel Theis was traded.
Ivica Zubac ($5,900 DraftKings/$5,900 FanDuel) should draw another start tonight with Serge Ibaka sidelined. Excluding a start earlier in the season where Zubac only played about 18 minutes, he has averaged 28.9 minutes per game in seven starts during Ibaka’s absence this month. He has averaged 1.04 DraftKings points per minute in those starts and continues to be a strong value option at center.
James Wiseman ($5,200 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel) hasn’t produced at a very high level since joining the Warriors’ starting lineup, but he has played at least 26 minutes in four straight games. For the season, Wiseman has averaged 1.02 DraftKings points per minute in 20 starts. If we expect similar production over 26 to 30 minutes, he projects as a good point-per-dollar value, especially on FanDuel.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Karl-Anthony Towns, Jonas Valanciunas, Moses Brown, Robert Williams
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Karl-Anthony Towns, Christian Wood, Moses Brown, Robert Williams, James Wiseman
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