This is our primary in-depth daily fantasy basketball 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.
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 I from 5 to 6 every weekday and Live Before Lock in the hour leading up until lock each day on the Awesemo YouTube channel.
As always, if you have any questions after reading the article, feel free to DM me in Slack.
NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | May 14
Note: There are a ton of teams resting players today since there are only a couple of days left in the season and many teams have nothing left to play for. This article is in no way an exhaustive list of the potential options tonight, particularly value options, because there are too many of them to write about efficiently. I have highlighted the ones that stand out the most with the information that we have to this point so you should be able to get an early start on your lineups. Be sure to tune into the Deeper Dive and Live Before Lock from 5:00 PM EST until 7:00 PM EST for a more thorough breakdown of the slate.
Update 1: As expected, Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green are out tonight for the Warriors.
Russell Westbrook ($12,800 DraftKings/$12,500 FanDuel) is one of the few pay-up options who has something to play for tonight. The Wizards clinch a spot in the play-in tournament if they are able to beat the Cavs, so we should see Westbrook play as many minutes as he needs to in order to ensure a win. He has averaged 1.77 DraftKings points per minute in 10 games without Beal this season and is easily the top-projected player in Awesemo’s daily fantasy basketball projections.
Luka Doncic ($10,800 DraftKings/$10,100 FanDuel) is likely to see normal minutes tonight as well since the Mavericks will clinch a playoff spot with a win. They are currently half a game ahead of the Blazers for the five seed in the West. Doncic has averaged 1.61 DraftKings points per minute in 38 games played with Kristaps Porzingis this season. He looks like the second-best pay-up option behind Westbrook.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker ($6,400 DraftKings/$6,200 SG FanDuel) started last game in place of Lonzo Ball and he is likely to start again tonight with Ball sidelined. Zion Williamson is also out for the Pelicans, while Brandon Ingram is questionable. Alexander-Walker has averaged 1.03 DraftKings points per minute in 395 minutes without Williamson or Ball on the floor this season and he played 34.5 minutes in his start against Dallas last game.
Malachi Flynn ($6,000 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) played 41.5 minutes against the Bulls last night and it is likely that he will get similar minutes tonight. It looks like the Raptors will only have eight players available tonight. They used an eight man rotation last night even though they had 10 players available, but two of the players from last night’s rotation (Jalen Harris and Yuta Watanabe) are unlikely to play tonight. Flynn has averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute in four games played without Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam this season. Flynn has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute in 338 total minutes without the trio on the floor.
Jordan Poole ($4,100 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) is technically still a question mark tonight as Curry, Green and Wiggins are questionable. My assumption is that Golden State’s main trio will sit tonight because the game is meaningless. Regardless of what happens tonight, their final seeding will come down to their game against the Grizzlies over the weekend. Poole has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute and 32.7 minutes per game with a 24.7 percent usage percentage in seven games without Curry this season.
Saben Lee ($4,000 DraftKings/$4,100 FanDuel) played 28.8 minutes against Minnesota last game as he once again played substantial minutes alongside Killian Hayes. Lee will most likely need to play a lot of minutes again tonight as the Pistons are without Wayne Ellington, Jerami Grant, Frank Jackson, Cory Joseph, Rodney McGruder, Mason Plumlee, Dennis Smith, Jr. and Isaiah Stewart. Hamidou Diallo is also questionable. Lee has averaged 0.93 DraftKings points per minute this season and projects as a strong option assuming he gets around 28 minutes again tonight.
Tyus Jones ($3,100 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel) is a clear top value with Memphis resting their starters tonight. Jonas Valanciunas, Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Brandon Clarke will all sit for the Grizzlies tonight. Jones has averaged 0.96 DraftKings points per minute in 473 minutes without Morant, Valanciunas or Brooks on the floor this season and he is likely to play 30-plus minutes tonight.
Yogi Ferrell ($3,000 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) is apparently on the Clippers now. There was no real reason for anyone to know that before today, but it will probably be useful information on tonight’s slate. The Clippers will be without Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley and Terance Mann tonight. Amir Coffey remains out as well and Reggie Jackson is doubtful. There hasn’t been news on Rajon Rondo’s status yet and, if he starts, he would be a strong value against the Rockets. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Clippers decide not to play Rondo in this game, however, which would lead to a ton of minutes for Ferrell. In his career, Ferrell has averaged 0.77 DraftKings points per minute.
Top DraftKings Picks: Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, Malachi Flynn, Jordan Poole (if the Warriors’ starters sit), Tyus Jones
Top FanDuel Picks: Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, Malachi Flynn, Jordan Poole, Tyus Jones
Eric Bledsoe ($6,500 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) played 26 minutes without Ball, Williamson or Ingram last game but he lost the fourth quarter to a blowout. I expect 30 to 32 minutes for Bledsoe tonight and he has averaged 0.92 DraftKings points per minute in 384 minutes without Williamson or Ball on the floor this season. If Ingram also sits, his per-minute production increases to 1.05 DraftKings points per minute. I wouldn’t call Bledsoe a priority tonight because this is such a bizarre slate with so much value, but he is a fine option as a last guy in.
Khyri Thomas ($5,800 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) has averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute in his four games with Houston. He has a 21.8 percent usage percentage and 26.1 percent assist percentage in those games. Thomas played 37.2 minutes against the Lakers on Wednesday and is likely to play similar minutes against a depleted Clippers’ squad tonight as the Rockets once again have eight players.
Gary Trent, Jr. ($6,300 DraftKings/$4,900 FanDuel) was available but didn’t play for the Raptors last night. He is a risky option tonight since we don’t really know what Nick Nurse is going to do, but Nurse is likely to only have eight players at his disposal and the Raptors have locked in their spot in the lottery so there is no reason for them to intentionally lose. If Trent starts, I assume he will play big minutes tonight. Trent has a 27.9 percent usage percentage and has averaged 1.12 DraftKings points per minute in 147 minutes without Lowry, Siakam or VanVleet on the floor since joining Toronto.
De’Anthony Melton ($3,900 DraftKings/$3,600 FanDuel) hasn’t played nearly as many minutes as many fantasy owners/players would like this season, but that is unlikely to be an issue tonight. Melton has averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute in 404 minutes without Morant, Valanciunas or Brooks on the floor this season. He’s the No. 2 overall play in our daily fantasy basketball projections tonight.
Luke Kennard ($3,400 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel) is likely to get plenty of minutes for the Clippers tonight. Kennard has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute in 493 minutes without George or Leonard on the floor this season.
Desmond Bane ($4,500 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel) and John Konchar ($3,700 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) will both most likely have increased roles for the short-handed Grizzlies tonight. Bane has averaged 0.84 DraftKings points per minute in 533 minutes without Morant, Valanciunas or Brooks on the floor this season while Konchar has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute in 336 such minutes.
Top DraftKings Picks: Gary Trent (if starting), De’Anthony Melton, Luke Kennard, John Konchar
Top FanDuel Picks: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Gary Trent, De’Anthony Melton, John Konchar
Lines, Odds, and Sportsbook data are current as of 06/21/2021 02:06 AM ET
Saddiq Bey ($6,800 DraftKings/$5,900 FanDuel) played about 36 minutes in the Pistons’ last game and we should expect similar minutes tonight. If Diallo sits, Bey could end up exceeding 40 minutes. He isn’t the best per-minute producer and he won’t grade out as a top play tonight given all of the alternatives, but he is a reasonable last piece of a lineup thanks to his playing time.
Kent Bazemore ($5,200 DraftKings/$4,900 FanDuel) will benefit if Golden State elects to rest their primary scorers. Bazemore has played 456 minutes without Curry on the floor this season and has averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute. In 81 minutes without Curry, Wiggins or Kelly Oubre, Bazemore has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute. He is inexpensive and likely to play 30 to 32 minutes tonight, and according to Awesemo daily fantasy basketball projections, he’s looking good for 31.99 points.
Stanley Johnson ($4,000 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) played 43.1 minutes last night and we could see 40 minutes again tonight. While Johnson isn’t known as a great fantasy producer, he has actually been relatively productive for Toronto when Siakam, Lowry and VanVleet haven’t been on the floor this season. Johnson has averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute in 240 minutes without the trio.
DeAndre’ Bembry ($3,800 DraftKings/$3,900 SG FanDuel) has been in and out of the rotation this season, but he played nearly 40 minutes off the bench last night. With Harris and Watanabe unlikely to play tonight, Bembry should play huge minutes once again. He has averaged 0.75 DraftKings points per minute in 270 minutes without Siakam, VanVleet or Lowry on the floor this season.
Top DraftKings Picks: Kent Bazemore, Stanley Johnson, DeAndre’ Bembry
Top FanDuel Picks: Kent Bazemore, Stanley Johnson
Juan Toscano-Anderson ($5,000 DraftKings/$5,400 FanDuel) played 30.6 minutes against Phoenix on Tuesday so we don’t need to be concerned about his playing time being limited after missing several games. Toscano-Anderson will need to take on a bigger role tonight assuming that the Warriors rest their main players. He has averaged 0.85 DraftKings points per minute this season and is likely to play 30-plus minutes again tonight.
Sekou Doumbouya ($4,800 DraftKings/$4,700 FanDuel) is difficult to be excited about since he has only averaged 0.74 DraftKings points per minute in 10 games played without Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee this season. He is likely to see increased playing time and production tonight, however, because Isaiah Stewart is also out. We have seen Doumbouya used as a back-up center at times this season and he could get some time at the five tonight. Either way, Stewart’s absence opens up more minutes.
JaMychal Green ($3,600 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) only played 20.1 minutes off the bench with Michael Porter, Jr. resting last night. Tonight, the Nuggets will be without Aaron Gordon, Facundo Campazzo and Paul Millsap which is likely to open up a few more minutes for Green. He has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute this season and is still close to minimum salary.
Tyler Cook ($3,300 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) has averaged 0.72 DraftKings points per minute in 26 games with the Pistons this season. While the per-minute production leaves plenty to be desired, he is likely to play increased minutes tonight with Stewart sidelined. Cook played about 21 minutes in his last game and I think it is likely that we get 24 to 28 minutes from him tonight.
Xavier Tillman ($4,200 DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel) started the last time that Valanciunas was out but he only played about 23 minutes. He lost playing time to a blowout, however, and the Grizzlies are even more short-handed tonight. I expect at least 28 to 30 minutes for Tillman, who has averaged 0.99 DraftKings points per minute in 11 starts this season. He will most likely be backed up by Killian Tillie ($3,100 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) who has averaged 0.72 DraftKings points per minute and could also approach 30 minutes tonight. Tillman is a Top-5 value play in the Awesemo daily fantasy basketball projections.
Top DraftKings Picks: Juan Toscano-Anderson, JaMychal Green, Xavier Tillman, Killian Tillie
Top FanDuel Picks: Juan Toscano-Anderson, JaMychal Green, Xavier Tillman, Killian Tillie
Nikola Jokic ($11,000 DraftKings/$10,600 FanDuel) is in play tonight since there is an abundance of value and we need to get raw points somewhere. The concern for Jokic is that this game doesn’t really matter for Denver and he is the only starter that didn’t rest last night or isn’t being rested tonight. He has been adamant that he wants to play every game, so it seems reasonable that Mike Malone would grant him his wish but he could also limit his rotations within the game. Jokic has averaged 1.71 DraftKings points per minute in 22 games without Jamal Murray this season. He has averaged 33.6 minutes per game in those games, but I think it is likely that he plays closer to 30 minutes tonight. According to our daily fantasy basketball projections, Jokic is in line for 56.25 DraftKings points tonight.
Chris Boucher ($6,500 DraftKings/$6,400 FanDuel) played about 37 minutes two games ago in his return from a prolonged absence. Last night, he was available but didn’t play. I expect that he starts tonight’s game and, if he does, we can expect him to play mid-thirties minutes again. Boucher has averaged 1.19 DraftKings points per minute this season.
Chimezie Metu ($4,300 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel) played 34.3 minutes last night as he got additional minutes due to an injury to Richaun Holmes. We can expect another 28 to 30 minutes from Metu tonight, assuming Harrison Barnes doesn’t play, with the potential for more if Holmes were to sit. Metu has averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute in 34 games with the Kings this season.
Freddie Gillespie ($3,900 DraftKings/$3,800 FanDuel) played 30.8 minutes off the bench last night. The biggest takeaway is that he played alongside Aron Baynes. Three of Toronto’s eight players tonight are “centers” so it is good to know that Nick Nurse is willing to utilize a big frontcourt (which isn’t surprising since he clearly doesn’t care about winning these games). It is likely that Gillespie plays around 30 minutes again tonight and he has averaged 0.84 DraftKings points per minute this season.
Jahlil Okafor ($3,200 DraftKings/$3,600 FanDuel) hasn’t started a game yet this season but he could get his first start tonight without Plumlee or Stewart. There is certainly a chance that the Pistons do something else since they have nothing to play for, but Okafor is the most likely starter. If he starts, I expect that we see 26 to 28 minutes. He has only averaged 0.75 DraftKings points per minute in 25 games this season, but he has averaged 1.03 DraftKings points per minute in 114 career starts.
Javale McGee ($3,000 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) started alongside Nikola Jokic last night in a lineup that Mike Malone said the Nuggets had wanted to use ever since they acquired him. If you remember, Malone was not afraid to play Jokic alongside Mason Plumlee in the past so it’s not overly surprising that he wanted to see how the jumbo lineup looked before the regular season was over. I assume that McGee will start again tonight after playing 24.4 minutes last night. McGee has averaged 1.19 DraftKings points per minute in 44 games between Cleveland and Denver this season and has a massive ceiling if he starts again.
Top DraftKings Picks: Nikola Jokic, Chris Boucher (if starting), Jahlil Okafor (if starting), JaVale McGee (if starting)
Top FanDuel Picks: Nikola Jokic, Chris Boucher (if starting), Jahlil Okafor (if starting), JaVale McGee (if starting)
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