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NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings & FanDuel Picks | Thursday, June 10

Dave Loughran



Dave Loughran presents the Awesemo NBA DFS Deep Dive, the top DraftKings and FanDuel picks for Thursday, June 10 with Kyrie Irving.

This is our primary in-depth NBA DFS picks and strategy 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 daily fantasy basketball picks for any type of contest on DraftKings and FanDuel.

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NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings & FanDuel Picks | June 10

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Point Guard

Kyrie Irving (DraftKings: $9,700; FanDuel: $9,700) is producing 1.13 DraftKings points per minute on 23.8 percent usage and 24.1 percent assists through the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with James Harden sidelined. On the season, however, Irving sees those rates increase to 1.30, 29.8 and 26.9, respectively. While Kevin Durant is always going to be my preferred option in the Nets offense when Harden is out, Irving’s ceiling keeps him in play every night. Game 2 presumed to be competitive and it was not, but it would be even more surprising if Milwaukee doesn’t keep this one tight at home in a do-or-die game. If that’s the case, Irving is going to be locked into north of 40 minutes after he played 45 in Game 1 and even lost 1.5 minutes at the end of the fourth quarter in a blowout.

Jrue Holiday (DraftKings: $7,600; FanDuel: $8,200) was a massive upgrade from Eric Bledsoe all season long and also in Round 1 of the postseason. But like the rest of this Bucks team, he has struggled to make a difference against the Nets. That said, he’s still averaging 1.05 DraftKings points per minute in the postseason with a 21 percent usage rate and 30 percent assist rate. Those numbers aren’t electric, but given that Holiday doesn’t lose minutes in garbage time and gets upwards of 40 minutes in Game 3, he’ll be more than viable at his price point –especially considering the Nets defense isn’t nearly as good as the Bucks have made them look through the first two games.

Mike James (DraftKings: $3,800, FanDuel: $4,800) saw a similar Game 2 rotation as he did in Game 1, but likely lost a decent number of minutes in a blowout when Steve Nash emptied the bench less than midway through the fourth quarter. James is averaging 17.5 percent usage and 0.88 DraftKings points per minute through the first two games of this series, both of which are fine considering he’s playing most of his minutes alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. At $3,800 on DraftKings he’s the No. 2 overall value play in our Awesemo daily fantasy basketball projections, who Nash has clearly taken a liking to. He isn’t as appealing at $4,800 on FanDuel but is still pulling 35 percent ownership given that this is by far the best of the two games on Thursday night. He’s now played 30 and 24 minutes in games 1 and 2, respectively, and one was impacted by the Bucks being awful.

Rajon Rondo (DraftKings: $3,500; FanDuel: $4,300) played 28 minutes in the series opener against Utah, but Reggie Jackson fouled out in 17 minutes and was in obvious constant foul trouble throughout the game. Rondo logged 19 total minutes over the last two games against Dallas and was on the floor for nearly the entire time Utah erased the Clippers’ lead in the second half. Fifteen-ish minutes is a far more realistic projection for Rondo tonight, so I don’t hate the idea of taking some shots on him at $3,500 on DraftKings, but only because he’s close to minimum salary and is a 0.95 DraftKings points per minute producer on the year.

I would much rather get to Reggie Jackson (DraftKings: $5,400; FanDuel: $4,800) at only $4,800 on FanDuel assuming he gets back to playing around 30 minutes tonight. He’s averaging 0.87 DraftKings points per minute on 21.4 percent usage in the postseason, which is enough to like him at a sub-$5,000 price point, especially when he’s only $500 more expensive than Rondo.

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Shooting Guard

Donovan Mitchell (DraftKings: $8,900; FanDuel: $9,500) has been electric in the 100 minutes he’s played without Mike Conley (OUT) this postseason, churning out 1.48 DraftKings points per minute on 39 percent usage and 33.3 percent assists. He was a 1.30 DraftKings points per minute producer across 1,048 minutes without Conley in the regular season too, so we know he can keep this going on Thursday. Mitchell poured in 45 points on 16-for-30 shooting (6-for-15 from 3) in Game 1 and should be expected to see similar volume tonight as the Jazz look to take 2-0 lead in the series. Mitchell should be priced higher with Conley sidelined.

Paul George (DraftKings: $8,500; FanDuel: $9,200) is averaging 1.12 DraftKings points per minute through eight postseason games, which is good but not great. That said, he’s getting so much run that his decline in per-minute production is mitigated by the fact that he’s logging north of 40 minutes per game. George’s shot volume may increase too, but he has gone to the line 10 times in three straight games and leads the Clippers with 15.8 rebound chances per game in the playoffs. George is also second behind Kawhi Leonard in potential assists (8.9), so the potential for a huge game is still very much alive.

Khris Middleton (DraftKings: $7,800; FanDuel: $7,700) is an unbelievably frustrating player for DFS, and I think you’d all agree. It’s like we’re living in a time loop after last season when Middleton completely disappeared in the playoffs. Now he’s shooting 30.2 percent (13-for-43) from the field and 23 percent (3-for-13) from deep in the semifinals and has turned the ball over seven times in two games with careless ball handling and reckless passing.

The only encouraging thing here is Middleton’s struggles haven’t kept him from shooting; he’s still sporting a 30 percent usage rate in the series and has no reason to slow down now since things can’t exactly get any worse (0.88 DraftKings points per minute). The crazy thing is Middleton is still projected to be one of the higher owned players on Thursday’s slate. So you won’t exactly be making the contrarian play by going with the guy who’s been terrible of late.

Jordan Clarkson (DraftKings: $6,300; FanDuel: $5,800) was absolutely gunning in the two games Conley missed or only played 12 minutes (Game 4 vs. Memphis), sporting a robust 31.8 percent usage rate and 1.02 DraftKings points per minute. Clarkson doesn’t offer much in the way of peripherals, but he’s an elite bench scorer who should see upwards of 30 minutes and 20 field-goal attempts tonight. If he’s on, Clarkson has the potential to run up the fantasy totals real fast even if he isn’t proficient at accumulating counting stats. With that in mind, if Clarkson’s ownership — he’s currently at 26% in the Awesemo daily fantasy basketball ownership projections — climbs exponentially, he’s not a terrible player to fade given his volatility and downside on a poor shooting night.

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Honorable Mention: Joe Harris, Bryn Forbes

Small Forward

Kevin Durant (DraftKings: $10,600; $10,700) has been pretty much unstoppable this postseason, with 68 percent true shooting and 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc. He’s also averaging 1.51 DraftKings points per minute on 31 percent usage, 28 percent assists and 11.6 percent rebounding with Harden off the floor since the start of the season. Durant plays well over 40 minutes tonight if the game stays competitive, which is why he’s No. 2 in the Awesemo daily fantasy basketball point projections at 54.77, and there’s really nothing else to say. The only question now is whether you’re prioritizing Durant or Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Joe Ingles (DraftKings: $4,700; FanDuel: $4,600) got the spot start for Mike Conley on Tuesday and should draw another start tonight. He played 32 minutes and closed the game but only finished with 22 DraftKings points thanks to 3-for-12 shooting and 1-for-8 from 3-point range. Still, Ingles can get hot from beyond the arc, and led the Jazz in potential assists with 11 in Game 1. He’s a solid playmaker and a 44 percent 3-point shooter on the season, making him a very strong play at a mid-$4,000 price point.

Bruce Brown (DraftKings: $4,200; FanDuel: $5,900) is a whole lot less enticing at $5,900 on FanDuel, but $4,200 on DraftKings makes him a premier value play at the small forward position. Brown played 24 minutes in Game 1 and 26 minutes in Game 2, but it’s reasonable to assume he, and not Mike James, would’ve closed things out in a competitive spot. While Brown and James play some minutes alongside each other, it stands to reason that whoever is playing better will be in the closing rotation. If it’s Brown, he’ll definitely be eclipsing 30 minutes of court time. Brown is averaging 0.95 DraftKings points per minute in the postseason and 1.00 DraftKings points per minute in 84 minutes with Harden off the floor.

Bojan Bogdanovic (DraftKings: $5,900; FanDuel: $5,400) also benefits from Conley’s absence on opportunity alone and is a great play on FanDuel at a relatively weak small forward position.

Honorable Mention: Kawhi Leonard (DK), Royce O’Neale, Nicolas Batum

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Power Forward

Giannis Antetokounmpo (DraftKings: $11,100; FanDuel: $11,300) needs to take advantage of this matchup with Brooklyn, and to be fair, it’s not like he hasn’t done that through the first two games. He’s still shooting 62 percent in the series but has lost minutes in back-to-back blowouts and has shot a dismal 2-for-10 from the free-throw line.

I’m not at all worried about Antetokounmpo, though. The Nets’ interior defense simply isn’t good, and while each of the first two games have been embarrassing losses for Milwaukee, they’re still 3.5-point favorites tonight at home. The problem has been how badly the Bucks have played in the halfcourt, and also how poorly they’ve shot from 3-point range while Brooklyn rains down threes all night. But the two games we’ve seen aren’t necessarily a representation of what we’ll see tonight, especially with the Bucks’ season on the line. Giannis is a clear top option on the slate.

Blake Griffin (DraftKings: $4,800; $5,500) only played 26 minutes in a blowout win over Milwaukee the other night, but he was still on pace to play around 32 minutes which is more than enough to make him a strong value play once again. Griffin is producing 1.13 DraftKings points per minute in this series while rebounding at a team-high 16.5 percent clip. His usage is negligible, but so long as he’s on the floor Griffin is going to be in a position to pay off a discounted price point. Tonight’s game boasts a 233.5-point total, so pulling value plays from this one makes a lot of sense.

Marcus Morris (DraftKings: $4,500; FanDuel: $5,300) was brutal in Game 1, but he shot 4-for-14 on the night and still played 33 minutes. The range of outcomes for Morris is huge, but he’s still capable of popping off for a big game here and there, as evidenced by two 35-plus-DraftKings points performances over his last four starts. He’s also priced at only $4,500 on DraftKings, which is quite appealing given the lack of low-end talent.

Honorable Mention: Bobby Portis

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Rudy Gobert (DraftKings: $7,700; FanDuel: $8,800) gets lumped into the conversation tonight by default, not because he isn’t a good play or doesn’t have a quality matchup, but because the center position is dreadfully thin on FanDuel. On DraftKings you can plug Antetokounmpo or Griffin in at center and not have to worry about anything else, although that doesn’t make Gobert a bad play there either, at $7,700.

Gobert was very underwhelming in Game 1 against the Clippers, but he finished the game with 24 rebound chances — that’s a huge number of opportunities — and should still be positioned to excel against the Clippers’ undersized starting frontcourt. I don’t look at Gobert as a priority on either site, but there’s benefits to playing him on both: on FanDuel the center position has a dearth of viable options but he’s a little overpriced, and on DraftKings there are plenty of options, but Gobert is underpriced.

Brook Lopez (DraftKings: $4,800; FanDuel: $6,000 is averaging a respectable 0.93 DraftKings points per minute in the postseason and 28 minutes per game despite the four of the Bucks’ six games being blowouts. With a 21.7 percent usage rate,10.7 percent rebounding and 65.7 percent true shooting in the playoffs, Lopez still offers some value at $4,800 on DraftKings and even $6,000 on FanDuel based on the lack of depth at the position. Bobby Portis (DraftKings: $3,900; FanDuel: $4,700) won’t see the same minutes as Lopez, but he was a 1.18 DraftKings points per minute on the season and could do enough in 17 to 19 minutes tonight to justify a roster spot.

Nicolas Claxton (DraftKings: $3,000; FanDuel: $3,900) is there if you’re looking to completely punt the center position tonight. He’s played 14 minutes in both games this series and didn’t gain minutes as a result of blowouts. He’s also right around a 1.00 DraftKings points per minute on the year. This is really just a way to avoid having to pay up at center on FanDuel if it negatively affects the rest of your lineup. Claxton hasn’t provided much upside this postseason, but you don’t usually get minimum salary guys who are in the rotation and also get minutes at center, where fantasy points are generally the easiest to come by.

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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 [email protected].

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