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 5 to 6 every weekday 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 23
Luka Doncic ($11,000 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) has an excellent matchup against the Timberwolves. Minnesota is 26th in defensive rating and fourth in pace over the last month. They have also allowed the eighth-most points per possession to pick-and-roll ball handlers this season. Doncic is tied for the league lead in pick-and-roll possessions per game and they make up almost 50 percent of his total possessions. Doncic has averaged 1.66 DraftKings points per minute and 36.5 minutes per game in 25 games with Kristaps Porzingis active this season and he should be able to light up the Timberwolves tonight.
James Harden ($10,900 DraftKings/$11,300 FanDuel) has a difficult matchup against the Jazz on the second half of a back-to-back, but he will once again be playing without Kyrie Irving. Utah has been one of the most efficient defenses in the league this season, but they have struggled a bit of late. Over the last month, Utah is 18th in defensive rating and they have also played at the 10th-fastest pace. Harden has played five games without Kevin Durant or Irving this season and he has averaged 1.75 DraftKings points per minute and 36.1 minutes per game. He played 40 minutes against Portland last night. Doncic is close enough to Harden that he can be used as a tournament pivot, but Harden is the higher projected player despite the more difficult matchup. Keep in mind that he is questionable tonight so you’ll need to keep an eye on his status.
Trae Young ($8,700 DraftKings/$8,700 FanDuel) has averaged 1.31 DraftKings points per minute and 32.6 minutes per game in nine games since Atlanta’s coaching change. Over those games, Young has a 32.1 percent usage rate and 45.2 percent assist rate. These numbers are in line with his season long 32.4 percent usage rate and 45.3 percent assist rate so it doesn’t appear that the coaching change has made any difference in his expected production. The playing time is down slightly, but in competitive games we are still typically seeing 34-plus minutes from Young. He has a phenomenal matchup tonight against the Kings, who are 11th in pace and 27th in defensive rating over the last month. In addition to being an all-around bad defense, the Kings are tied for the third-most points per possession allowed to pick-and-roll ball handlers this season. Young is tied with Doncic for the league lead in pick-and-roll possessions per game and he should be able to take advantage of the Kings’ defense.
John Wall ($7,600 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) played both halves of Houston’s back-to-back on Sunday and Monday. He played 35.5 minutes on Sunday and 36.1 minutes on Monday despite being on a minutes limit. Once again, it is important to remember that coaches lie constantly. It seems safe to assume that Wall is not, in fact, limited and he is fairly priced for his matchup against the Hornets. Charlotte is 21st in defensive rating and sixth in pace over the last month. Even if their pace slows with LaMelo Ball out, their defense isn’t likely to get any better. Wall has a 31.1 percent usage rate and 37 percent assist rate in five games with Victor Oladipo and Christian Wood both active this season.
Terry Rozier ($7,100 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) played 38.6 minutes against the Spurs on Monday in his first game without LaMelo Ball. I don’t anticipate that Rozier averages 38 minutes per game going forward, but I do think that Ball’s absence solidifies Rozier’s playing time and that he settles into a consistent 34 to 36 minutes with the potential for more when he is playing well. Rozier’s per minute production hasn’t changed much with or without Ball on the floor, but he has averaged 1.03 DraftKings points per minute in his 40 starts this season. This makes him project as a solid value with some upside in tonight’s matchup against the Rockets.
Mike Conley ($6,300 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) has had a strong season after struggling for most of last year. He has averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute and 29.6 minutes per game in 32 games with Donovan Mitchell active. Over the last month, Conley has averaged 31.2 minutes per game, which likely coincides with Utah’s declining defensive efficiency since they are blowing teams out less often. Brooklyn is in the middle of the pack in pace and defensive rating over the last month and I expect Conley to produce similarly to his season averages, making him a decent value at his salary.
Tomas Satoransky ($4,600 DraftKings/$4,800 FanDuel) had another solid performance in his last game as he scored 27 DraftKings points against Utah. He has been a steady performer since joining the starting lineup and he is affordably priced again tonight against the Cavaliers. Satoransky has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute and 29.8 minutes per game in his six starts this season. He doesn’t have a particularly high ceiling thanks for a 14.7 percent usage rate in those starts, but his 29.2 percent assist rate offers peripherals that make him a viable value option.
Darius Garland ($6,600 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) is once again much less expensive on FanDuel than he is on DraftKings. Garland has averaged 0.88 FanDuel points per minute and 34.4 minutes per game in 16 games without Andre Drummond and with Collin Sexton this season. The Bulls are 15th in pace and 15th in defensive rating over the last month, making this about as neutral a matchup as you can find.
Derrick White ($5,800 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) played 35.7 minutes in his last game. He has now played at least 32 minutes in four straight games after being limited by foul trouble and/or blowouts in several games before that. White has now started seven games with DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray active this season and he has averaged 0.91 FanDuel points per minute with a 21 percent usage rate. He is more favorably priced on FanDuel than DraftKings but has tournament upside on either site.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Luka Doncic, James Harden, Trae Young, John Wall, Tomas Satoransky
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Luka Doncic, Trae Young, John Wall, Mike Conley, Derrick White
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Zach LaVine ($8,500 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) has averaged 1.20 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.6 percent usage rate in 22 games played with Lauri Markkanen in the lineup this season compared to 1.33 DraftKings points per minute with a 33.4 percent usage rate in 20 games without Markkanen. While Markkanen clearly has hurt LaVine’s performance, he remains a high upside scorer. His salary is falling as a result of the decreased production, making this a good time to take a chance on him in GPPs.
Paul George ($8,200 DraftKings/$8,400 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against the Spurs. San Antonio is in the bottom 10 in pace and top 10 in defensive rating over the last month. George has been nearly as productive as Kawhi Leonard in games that they have both played this season, however, and he is available at a discount. George has a 28.3 percent usage rate and 25.6 percent assist rate in 30 games played with Leonard. He has averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute and 33.6 minutes per game in those games.
Collin Sexton ($7,400 DraftKings/$7,300) is almost always a viable option at this price point because he plays so many minutes. In 16 games without Drummond and with Garland this season, Sexton has averaged 37.7 minutes per game and 1.01 DraftKings points per minute. He has only averaged 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in those games so he is a scoring dependent option, but he has averaged 26.1 points per game. He grades out well again tonight simply because of how much playing time we can expect.
Tyrese Haliburton ($5,700 DraftKings/$5,700 FanDuel) has joined the Kings’ starting lineup in place of the injured Marvin Bagley. In six starts this season, Haliburton has averaged 31.2 minutes per game and 0.88 DraftKings points per minute with a 19.3 percent usage rate and 25.0 percent assist rate. In the four games that he has started since Bagley’s most recent injury, he has averaged 32.3 minutes per game and 0.83 DraftKings points per minute. Tonight’s matchup against the Hawks is difficult as Atlanta is 28th in pace and sixth in defensive rating since their coaching change, but Haliburton is playing enough minutes that he stands out as a value option at a relatively thin shooting guard position.
Devonte’ Graham ($5,300 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) was disappointing in his return to the starting lineup on Monday, but he did play 28.7 minutes. Graham’s per-minute production was down this season even before his injury and demotion to the bench, so I don’t think Ball’s absence is suddenly going to make him a great per-minute producer. It does open up more minutes, however, as we saw on Monday. Tonight’s matchup against the Rockets is much more favorable than Monday’s matchup against the Spurs. Graham has averaged 0.87 DraftKings points per minute and 32.7 minutes per game in 26 starts this season.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Collin Sexton, Tyrese Haliburton, Devonte’ Graham
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: James Harden, Tyrese Haliburton, Devonte’ Graham
Lines, Odds, and Sportsbook data are current as of 04/18/2021 10:52 PM ET
Kawhi Leonard ($9,000 DraftKings/$9,500 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against his former team, but he headlines the small forward position. He has averaged 1.32 DraftKings points per minute and 34.4 minutes per game in 30 games alongside George this season with a 28.9 percent usage rate and 23.1 percent assist rate. I don’t anticipate Leonard being a core piece for me tonight simply because there are pay up options that I like more, but I obviously won’t be upset if I’m able to find a way to get him into some lineups.
Gordon Hayward ($7,900 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) has a favorable matchup against the Rockets, who are seventh in pace and 24th in defensive rating over the last month. Hayward played 36.9 minutes against the Spurs on Monday and I expect that we will continue to see Hayward play 35-plus minutes consistently with Ball sidelined. Hayward has averaged 1.05 FanDuel points per minute this season and stands out as an especially strong option on that site at only $7,000.
Harrison Barnes ($6,500 DraftKings/$6,000 FanDuel) leads the Kings with 37.5 minutes per game over the last month and his rebounding numbers benefit from Bagley’s absence because he slides to the four. Barnes has a 12.5 percent rebounding rate and has averaged 7.8 rebounds per game in six games without Bagley this season compared to a 9.6 percent rebounding rate and 6.3 rebounds per game (in 1 more minute per game) in 34 games with Bagley active. The matchup against the Hawks is tough, but we can count on a lot of minutes for Barnes as long as the game is competitive.
Josh Richardson ($5,300 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) has been underwhelming this season, but a matchup with the Timberwolves can go a long way towards fixing that. Richardson has averaged 0.76 DraftKings points per minute and 31.3 minutes per game in 18 games with Doncic and Porzingis active this season. An average game would give us a serviceable score for his salary, especially at a relatively weak position, and there is reason to expect an above average game given the matchup.
Bogdan Bogdanovic ($4,000 DraftKings/$4,800 FanDuel) has also been disappointing this season but he could get additional run tonight with Danilo Gallinari questionable. Even if Gallinari plays, Bogdanovic is worth a look on DraftKings given the excellent matchup with the Kings. He has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute this season and 22.3 minutes per game over the last month. De’Andre Hunter’s return to the rotation didn’t hurt Bogdanovic last game as he played 21.5 minutes while Solomon Hill was mainly bumped from the rotation.
Justise Winslow ($3,600 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel) is another value option that I am much more interested in using on DraftKings. We can only expect Winslow to play 20 to 22 minutes tonight, but he has averaged 0.84 DraftKings points per minute this season. His 22.6 percent usage rate is higher than most options that we will find in his price range and he also has double-digit rebounding and assist rates. His involvement when he is on the floor gives him a relatively high ceiling for his playing time and average production.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Harrison Barnes, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justise Winslow
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Gordon Hayward, Harrison Barnes, Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,800 DraftKings/$11,400 FanDuel) is questionable tonight against the Celtics. Assuming he plays, he will be one of the highest-upside options as usual — though the matchup isn’t too appealing against the Celtics. Antetokounmpo has averaged 1.68 DraftKings points per minute with a 32.2 percent usage rate, 17.6 percent rebounding rate and 30.7 percent assist rate in 33.6 minutes per game in 30 games with Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday active this season. If Antetokounmpo sits, we can look to Middleton, Holiday, Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton again tonight.
Domantas Sabonis ($9,400 DraftKings/$8,800 FanDuel) has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute and 35.4 minutes per game in his first five games alongside Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert. His 21.5 percent usage rate is lower than his season average, but he has continued to provide peripherals with 11.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. Myles Turner and Brogdon are both questionable after missing the Pacers’ last game and, if either of them are out, Sabonis will become an even better option tonight against the Pistons.
Kristaps Porzingis ($8,000 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) has been consistently playing 33 to 34 minutes in competitive games recently despite only averaging 31.1 minutes per game over the last month. Assuming tonight’s game with the Timberwolves is competitive, Porzingis should be in line for a good game for his salary. He has averaged 1.23 DraftKings points per minute in 25 games played with Doncic this season and he should produce at an above average rate in this matchup.
Jerami Grant ($7,400 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) hasn’t produced at the same rates lately as he did early in the season — which isn’t surprising since he drastically exceeded expectations early on. The result is that his salary is more in line with his average production, however, so there is a high ceiling for the salary. Grant has averaged 1 DraftKings point per minute and 35.6 minutes per game in 16 games without Blake Griffin or Derrick Rose this season. The Pacers have actually been a favorable matchup recently as well, as they are 10th in pace and 21st in defensive rating over the last month.
Lauri Markkanen ($5,500 DraftKings/$5,400 FanDuel) hasn’t had a breakthrough game recently but he offers more upside than downside at his salary. We can expect 30 to 32 minutes from Markkanen if tonight’s game is competitive and he has averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute with a 22.2 percent usage rate and 11 percent rebounding rate this season.
Kyle Anderson ($5,100 DraftKings/$5,500 SF FanDuel) is always a risky option but his salary reflects that. Anderson has averaged 26 minutes per game over the last month. He has also averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute over that time. He doesn’t offer a lot of production in any one category, but he fills the stat sheet with 10.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game over that time. He isn’t a priority, but he offers a decent ceiling as the last piece into a lineup.
Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,100 DraftKings/$3,900 SF FanDuel) is an interesting value option given his price tag. Finney-Smith has averaged 31.5 minutes per game in nine games over the last month and 31 minutes per game in 16 total games with Doncic and Porzingis this season. Finney-Smith has averaged 0.67 DraftKings points per minute in those games, so we definitely aren’t talking about a player that we can be overly confident in. That said, 0.67 DraftKings points per minute over 31 minutes projects as a decent value at $4,100. The same can be said at a weak small forward position on FanDuel.
Paul Millsap ($4,000 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) was disappointing last night and there is a good chance that he will be disappointing tonight as well. He is cheap, however, and his playing time is volatile, which means that his ceiling is relatively high for his salary. He played about 30 minutes two games ago and followed it up with about 18 minutes last night. On average, Millsap has played about 24 minutes per game as a starter this season while averaging 0.91 DraftKings points per minute. He is much more appealing on DraftKings than FanDuel.
Maxi Kleber ($4,900 DraftKings/$3,800 FanDuel) stands out as a clear top value at power forward on FanDuel. Kleber has averaged 30.6 minutes per game over the last month and 29.5 minutes per game in 16 total starts alongside Doncic and Porzingis. Like so many other players on the Mavericks, Kleber has only averaged 0.67 FanDuel points per minute in those games but tonight’s matchup should allow him to produce at a higher rate than normal and he is cheap even by his average standards.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Domantas Sabonis, Kristaps Porzingis, Lauri Markkanen, Dorian Finney-Smith
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Domantas Sabonis, Kristaps Porzingis, Lauri Markkanen, Maxi Kleber
Lines, Odds, and Sportsbook data are current as of 04/18/2021 10:52 PM ET
Nikola Jokic ($10,800 DraftKings/$10,800 FanDuel) is always one of the highest-projected players as he has averaged 1.68 DraftKings points per minute and 35.8 minutes per game this season. He leads the Nuggets in usage rate, rebounding and assist rate and consistently gives us strong fantasy performances even for his elevated salary. He is more of a tournament option than a cash option for me tonight because of the presence of Harden (maybe) and Doncic, but Jokic certainly has the upside to outscore both of them at lower ownership.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,000 DraftKings/$10,200 FanDuel) is similar to Jokic in that he has a very high ceiling tonight but it will probably be difficult to fit him into “optimal” lineups. This should keep his ownership in check and make him a strong contrarian option in tournaments. Towns has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute with a 29.7 percent usage rate, 14.9 percent rebounding rate and 18.7 percent assist rate in 10 games without D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley this season.
Christian Wood ($8,100 DraftKings/$8,100 FanDuel) only played 28.3 minutes last game after playing about 36 minutes in the game before. There is no reason to be concerned, however, as he missed almost his entire second quarter rotation due to foul trouble. Wood has been excellent this season, averaging 1.35 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.4 percent usage rate and 16.8 percent rebounding rate. In the five games he has played with Wall and Oladipo, Wood has a 23.9 percent usage rate and 17.8 percent rebounding rate.
Clint Capela ($7,300 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) has only averaged 27 minutes per game since the Hawks’ coaching change, which makes him difficult to trust on most DFS slates. Tonight is no different, but he does have a fantastic matchup against the Kings. Capela has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute and is likely to outproduce that rate tonight against Sacramento. The playing time is underwhelming, but there is always the potential that we see a couple extra minutes in any given game — especially if Gallinari is ruled out. He is a strong tournament option in the mid-range.
Deandre Ayton ($5,900 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) has now played at least 32 minutes in back to back games after failing to reach 30 minutes in any of his previous eight games. This volatility is why his salary is so low and why he is a risky option. It also makes him a high-upside option, however, as he has averaged about 1.10 DraftKings points per minute this season.
Ivica Zubac ($5,500 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) is still ridiculously inexpensive with Serge Ibaka sidelined. Zubac has now started five games in place of Ibaka with Leonard and George active this season. He has averaged 27.1 minutes per game and 1.02 DraftKings points per minute. In the four most recent starts, Zubac has averaged 30 minutes per game. He is the top point per dollar center option tonight and he offers plenty of upside as well.
Nicolas Claxton ($4,000 DraftKings/$5,000 PF FanDuel) played about 22 minutes last night, which marks four straight games of at least 21 minutes for Claxton. He has averaged about 1.12 DraftKings points per minute this season and Griffin is out tonight so there is less risk of a weird rotation taking minutes away from Claxton. He is much more appealing on DraftKings than FanDuel given his salary.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Christian Wood, Clint Capela, Ivica Zubac
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Christian Wood, Clint Capela, Ivica Zubac
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