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 | April 7
Russell Westbrook ($11,100 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) is averaging a triple-double with or without Bradley Beal in the lineup this season. He has been much more productive on a per-minute basis without Beal, however, as he has averaged 1.74 DraftKings points per minute in seven games without Beal compared to 1.52 DraftKings points per minute in 35 games played with Beal. Westbrook will be a strong play tonight against Orlando either way, but he is once again the top play on the slate if Beal sits.
Luka Doncic ($10,900 DraftKings/$10,300 FanDuel) has a great matchup against the Houston Rockets. Houston is 28th in defensive rating and ninth in pace over the last month. Kristaps Porzingis is questionable for tonight’s game. Doncic has averaged 1.63 DraftKings points per minute in 29 games with Porzingis this season and 1.52 DraftKings points per minute in 15 games played without him. He is a top play regardless of Porzingis’s status, but keep in mind that Doncic exhibited a similar trend last season where his per-minute production actually decreased in games without Porzingis. This is important to keep in mind because his ownership is likely to increase if Porzingis is out even though it hasn’t been beneficial to Doncic in their two seasons together.
Kyrie Irving ($10,200 DraftKings/$10,400 FanDuel) is in an interesting spot tonight as James Harden is sidelined but Kevin Durant is returning to the lineup. Irving has a favorable matchup against the Pelicans and it remains to be seen whether or not Durant’s playing time will be limited. In seven games alongside Durant and without Harden this season, Irving has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute. While that is strong production, it isn’t in the same class as other pay-up options like Westbrook and Doncic. Still, the matchup is a good one, and if Irving’s ownership is in the single digits while Westbrook and Doncic are two of the most popular plays on the slate, then it could make sense to mix Irving into some GPP lineups.
Trae Young ($8,800 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) had a monster game against the Pelicans last night despite losing nearly four minutes to garbage time. It was nice to see Young bounce back from a dreadful performance against Golden State his last time out. Young has seen an increase in usage rate without John Collins on the floor, which increases his ceiling. The addition of Lou Williams to the rotation limits Young’s playing time a bit, however, and we are only likely to see 33 to 35 minutes instead of the 36-plus minutes that Young was getting after Rajon Rondo was traded and before Williams joined the rotation. Young faces a fast-paced Grizzlies team that is also one of the most efficient defensive teams in the league. He is inexpensive, however, so there appears to be more upside than downside at his current salary.
Terry Rozier ($8,400 DraftKings/$7,400 FanDuel) has averaged 35.8 minutes per game in eight games since LaMelo Ball’s injury. Now, he should see an increased workload with Gordon Hayward joining Ball on the sidelines. Rozier has averaged 1.16 DraftKings points per minute in 191 minutes without Ball or Hayward on the floor this season. He has a 29.1 percent usage rate over that span. He will face an Oklahoma City team that is sixth in pace and last in defensive rating over the last month and they will once again be without their best on-ball defender in Luguentz Dort.
Malcolm Brogdon ($6,800 DraftKings/$6,700 FanDuel) is questionable tonight, but if he plays, he will get a good matchup against Minnesota. Brogdon has averaged 1.05 DraftKings points per minute in nine games with Caris LeVert and Domantas Sabonis active this season. Sabonis is also questionable and Brogdon has averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute in games without Sabonis. If Brogdon sits, T.J. McConnell will get a chance to make up for last night’s disappointing game.
Theo Maledon ($5,400 DraftKings/$5,400 FanDuel) can be expected to play about 32 minutes if tonight’s game with the Hornets is competitive. Maledon has averaged 0.96 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.1 percent usage rate and 14.1 percent assist rate in seven games played without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Al Horford this season. He will once again need to take on an increased workload tonight against Charlotte.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, Trae Young
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Terry Rozier
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Caris LeVert ($7,100 DraftKings/$8,500 FanDuel) has averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute and about 32 minutes per game in his games with Brogdon and Sabonis this season. If they are active, LeVert is too expensive on FanDuel but still offers some value at an extremely weak shooting guard position on DraftKings as he is likely to produce at an above-average rate against the Timberwolves. LeVert’s real value comes if Brogdon and Sabonis are out again, however, as he has averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute with a 24.1 percent usage rate and 26.7 percent assist rate in 97 minutes played without Brogdon or Sabonis on the floor since joining the Pacers.
Devonte’ Graham ($6,900 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) is priced up a bit but he has a great matchup against the Thunder and he will most likely get more opportunities in the offense tonight with Hayward out. Graham has averaged 1.05 DraftKings points per minute with a 23.2 percent usage rate and 30.9 percent assist rate in 194 minutes without Ball or Hayward on the floor this season. In 102 minutes without Hayward, Ball or Rozier on the floor, Graham has a 25 percent usage rate and 36.7 percent assist rate. This is important because his minutes will most likely be staggered with Rozier’s meaning that 25 to 30 percent of his playing time will come at these elevated rates.
D’Angelo Russell ($6,400 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel) is a risky option but he also carries some upside at a very weak position. He came off the bench in his return from injury last game and played about 24 minutes. The playing time was pleasantly surprising as the report before the game was that he would be significantly limited. Russell has averaged 1.17 DraftKings points per minute this season so he is underpriced if he sees an increase in playing time. He is very risky if he comes off the bench, but if he rejoins the starting lineup, I think we could see him approach 30 minutes.
Svi Mykhailiuk ($5,500 DraftKings/$3,800 FanDuel) has played seven games without Gilgeous-Alexander or Horford since joining Oklahoma City. In those games, he has averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute with a 20.4 percent usage rate. On DraftKings, he currently projects as one of the better point-per-dollar values at shooting guard but that could quickly change as more players open up with injury news. At $3,800 on FanDuel, Mykhailiuk is one of the best values at the position regardless of news.
Will Barton ($5,400 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) is similar to Mykhailiuk in that he currently looks like a decent value because there are so few strong options at the position. Barton has averaged 34.2 minutes per game and 0.91 DraftKings points per minute in five games since Aaron Gordon joined the team. Overall this season, Barton has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute and he has averaged 34.5 minutes per game over the last month. Jamal Murray is questionable tonight after missing last night’s game and, if he sits, Barton could see increased production as well.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Caris LeVert, Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Devonte’ Graham, Will Barton, Svi Mykhailiuk
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Jaylen Brown ($7,800 DraftKings/$7,700 FanDuel) has an unappealing matchup against a slow, defensively sound Knicks team but he will be playing without Kemba Walker or Evan Fournier. Brown has averaged 1.20 DraftKings points per minute with a 30.9 percent usage rate in 17 games played without Walker and with Jayson Tatum this season.
Terrence Ross ($6,400 DraftKings/$6,600 SG FanDuel) has played four games now without Gordon, Nikola Vucevic or Fournier this season. He has averaged 29.2 minutes per game in those games and 0.95 DraftKings points per minute. He has a 28.8 percent usage rate and 17.8 percent assist rate, however, so there is plenty of upside at his salary — especially in a great matchup against the Wizards and at a position that doesn’t offer many strong options tonight.
Josh Richardson ($4,800 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) has had an underwhelming season with the Mavericks so far. He has averaged 0.74 DraftKings points per minute and 31.5 minutes per game in 34 games played with Doncic. He is reasonably priced for this slate, however, and gets a matchup against the Rockets that is likely to allow him to produce at above-average rates.
Doug McDermott ($4,100 DraftKings/$4,200 PF FanDuel) is a potential beneficiary of the injury situation(s) in Indiana. McDermott is likely to get 30-plus minutes tonight against the Timberwolves if Sabonis, Myles Turner and/or Jeremy Lamb are sidelined. McDermott has averaged 0.78 DraftKings points per minute and 28.1 minutes per game in 18 starts this season and he will project as one of the top point-per-dollar forward values if the Pacers are missing either of their normal frontcourt starters tonight.
Cody Martin ($3,500 DraftKings/$3,800 SG FanDuel) has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute in 241 minutes without Hayward or Ball on the floor this season. With Malik Monk also sidelined, there are plenty of minutes available for Martin. He will most likely play 20 to 22 minutes, but if he plays well, there is a path to more. At a near minimum salary, he is a reasonable punt option at a weak position since we have plenty of players that we want to pay up for elsewhere.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Jaylen Brown, Doug McDermott (if starting), Cody Martin
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Jaylen Brown, Josh Richardson, Kyle Anderson
Julius Randle ($9,900 DraftKings/$9,400 FanDuel) has a relatively difficult matchup against the Celtics but he has shown all season long that he has a huge ceiling. He leads the NBA with 37.8 minutes per game over the last month and he has averaged 1.29 DraftKings points per minute in 11 games played with Derrick Rose and Elfrid Payton active this season. Power forward is one of the deeper positions on the slate so Randle is more of a luxury than a necessity, but that should keep his ownership relatively low in tournaments.
Jayson Tatum ($9,100 DraftKings/$8,800 FanDuel) is another beneficiary of Walker’s absence. Tatum has averaged 1.30 DraftKings points per minute with a 31.8 percent usage rate in 17 games alongside Brown and without Walker this season. By comparison, he has averaged 1.18 DraftKings points per minute in 24 games with both players active. The matchup against the Knicks is a tough one, but Tatum is one of the most talented players in the league and will get more opportunities tonight with the Celtics missing two of their four main scorers.
P.J. Washington ($6,100 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) has been much more productive at center than at power forward this season. I think that he will see fewer minutes at center with Monk, Hayward and Ball out because he will need to log more minutes at the four and Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller will soak up most of the center minutes. That said, Washington is also likely to see an increase in playing time and usage without Hayward in the lineup. Washington has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute with a 21.4 percent usage rate in 159 total minutes without Hayward or Ball on the floor this season. About 53 percent of those minutes have come with a center on the floor. My best guess is that Washington’s baseline production is about 0.82 DraftKings points per minute in this situation but that he will pick up a few more minutes per game. The matchup against the Thunder is favorable and he is relatively inexpensive- particularly on FanDuel.
Aleksej Pokusevski ($5,600 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) should draw another start at power forward tonight with Isaiah Roby out. Pokusevski has averaged between 0.90 and 1 DraftKings point per minute this season when he has played power forward compared to 0.75 to 0.80 DraftKings points per minute at small forward. He played 31.5 minutes against the Pistons last game, despite a blowout, and I expect similar playing time tonight against the Hornets.
Kyle Anderson ($5,500 DraftKings/$6,300 FanDuel) should benefit from Brandon Clarke’s absence again tonight. Like Pokusevski, Anderson produces at a higher rate when he plays power forward and he will get more minutes at the position without Clarke available. Justise Winslow is out as well, which helps to solidify Anderson’s playing time. Anderson has averaged 1.22 DraftKings points per minute and 29.8 minutes per game in six games without Clarke and with Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas this season compared to 1.05 DraftKings points per minute and 26.7 minutes per game in 27 games with all three players active.
Miles Bridges ($5,000 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) leads the Hornets with 256 minutes played without Ball or Hayward on the floor this season. Bridges has averaged 0.79 DraftKings points per minute over that sample. Bridges started Charlotte’s last game in place of Hayward and played 30.7 minutes. He lost about six minutes to garbage time as well. I’m not entirely sure why he is more expensive than Washington on FanDuel, but he is a decent value there and an even stronger play on DraftKings.
Naz Reid ($3,800 DraftKings/$4,000 C FanDuel) closed Minnesota’s last game alongside Karl-Anthony Towns as we continue to see the Wolves play the two of them together. They have typically played 8 to 10 minutes alongside each other over Minnesota’s last four games and I expect to see that continue since the team had said a couple of weeks ago that they wanted to get Reid more minutes alongside Towns. Reid has averaged 1.12 DraftKings points per minute overall this season and 1.01 DraftKings points per minute alongside Towns, making him a high-upside option at his salary. He still has a relatively low floor since he is coming off the bench and most of his minutes are behind Towns, but it’s difficult to find options at this price point that offer similar per-minute production. He is a much better play on DraftKings where he doesn’t take up a center spot.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Jayson Tatum, Aleksej Pokusevski, Kyle Anderson, Miles Bridges
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Jayson Tatum, P.J. Washington, Aleksej Pokusevski, Miles Bridges
Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,700 DraftKings/$11,400 FanDuel) played 36.1 minutes last game as he continues to play huge minutes for the Timberwolves. He has averaged 36.2 minutes per game over the last month and has reached 40 minutes a couple of times in the last week or two. For the season, Towns has produced 1.46 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.4 percent usage rate, 17.3 percent rebounding rate and 21.7 percent assist rate. He is more expensive than Nikola Jokic on DraftKings and FanDuel, which is likely to make him a contrarian option in tournaments.
Nikola Jokic ($10,600 DraftKings/$10,200 FanDuel) is one of the best plays again tonight as he faces the San Antonio Spurs. Jokic has an extremely high floor and high ceiling because of his ability to produce in every category. If an opposing team takes one thing away from him, he is typically able to make up for it elsewhere and he obviously offers triple-double upside every game. He has averaged 34.4 minutes per game and 1.62 DraftKings points per minute in 14 games played over the last month. He is inexplicably the third-most expensive center on FanDuel.
Wendell Carter ($6,000 DraftKings/$7,300 FanDuel) has started Orlando’s last two games with Khem Birch out and has played 34-plus minutes in each game. Birch is expected back tonight, so it is possible that Carter returns to the bench. I am optimistic that he will remain in the starting lineup, however, because he started the second half of Orlando’s April 1 game over Birch and he also started overtime. If he starts, I expect that we see at least 30 to 32 minutes from Carter. He has averaged 1.23 DraftKings points per minute in five games since joining Orlando and gets a great matchup against the Wizards.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Wendell Carter
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic
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