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The Deep Dive: NBA DFS Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel | Friday, 5/7

Adam Scherer

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Zach Brunner utilizes the Awesemo Boom/Bust Tool for NBA Fantasy projections for DraftKings and FanDuel today with Nikola Jokic.

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, NBA DFS 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.

***Get a SNEAK PEEK with our free premium data, tools and content of the day, the Awesemo Premium NBA DFS Ownership Rankings.***

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.

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 7

Point Guard

Luka Doncic ($10,900 DraftKings/$10,900 FanDuel) faces the Cavaliers tonight after playing 35.6 minutes in Dallas’s win over Brooklyn last night. Doncic has averaged 1.58 DraftKings points per minute and 35.1 minutes per game in 60 games this season. The Cavaliers are 24th in pace over the last month so this is likely to be a slow-paced game as the Mavericks are 23rd in pace over that time. Cleveland has struggled defensively, however, allowing the third most points per 100 possessions. They have also allowed the most points per possession to pick-and-roll ball-handlers this season. Doncic is second in the NBA with 13.4 pick-and-roll possessions per game and he ranks in the 85th percentile in efficiency. This sets up as a nice spot for Doncic other than the plodding pace of the game.

Dejounte Murray ($7,800 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) probably won’t show up in the highest-projected lineups, but he has a massive ceiling tonight against the Kings. Sacramento is 25th in defensive rating and 10th in pace over the last month. Murray has averaged 33.8 minutes per game over the last month and has averaged 1.12 DraftKings points per minute this season. Murray is a capable contributor in all stat categories as he has averaged 15.9 points, 7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. His median projection may be a bit too low to find his way into optimal lineups before lock, but he has triple-double upside in this matchup.

Ben Simmons ($7,400 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) has been a disappointing fantasy option recently, but that has partly been due to blowouts. Five of the 76ers’ last six games have been decided by more than 20 points. In those games, Simmons has played 24, 33, 35, 27, 16 and 23 minutes. His salary has decreased as a result and he has a favorable matchup tonight against the Pelicans. The Sixers are 9-point favorites so there is blowout risk again but, if the Pelicans can keep the game close, we will most likely see 33 to 35 minutes from Simmons. The Pelicans have played at the fourth-fastest pace over the last month, which is likely to benefit Simmons even though New Orleans is top five in defensive rating over that span as well. In 34 games played with Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris active this season, Simmons has averaged 1.16 DraftKings points per minute and 32.7 minutes per game.

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Delon Wright ($6,800 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) has played extremely well since Tyrese Haliburton’s injury and it has led to a significant increase in his salary. While the elevated price tag increases the risk in rostering Wright, it doesn’t price him out of consideration. He has played 37 and 40 minutes in the two games without Haliburton and De’Aaron Fox. Wright has averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute in 57 games played between the Pistons and the Kings this season. If we just assume that he is likely to produce at that rate, he would grade out as a reasonable play at his new salary. We have to keep in mind that he is likely to exceed that production, however, since he has increased opportunities on this version of the Kings. In the two games without Haliburton and Fox, he has an 18.7 percent usage rate, a 10.6 percent rebounding rate and a 27.3 percent assist rate. Overall this season, he has a 16.1 percent usage rate, 8.6 percent rebounding rate and 22.8 percent assist rate so his rates are up across the board under his current circumstances. Wright leads the team with 16 potential assists per game in the two games without Haliburton and Fox and he has averaged 15 rebound chances per game as well. If Fox is able to play, disregard all of this and don’t roster Wright.

Derrick Rose ($6,000 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against the Phoenix Suns, but he is likely to see increased playing time with Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley unlikely to play. Rose has averaged 29.8 minutes per game without Burks this season (since joining the Knicks) compared to 25 minutes per game with Burks active. If tonight’s game is competitive, it is likely that we get 32-plus minutes from Rose. Rose has averaged 1.01 DraftKings points per minute with a 24 percent usage rate and 25.3 percent assist rate in 29 games played alongside RJ Barrett and Julius Randle.

R.J. Hampton ($5,200 DraftKings/$6,300 FanDuel) played 31.4 minutes in Orlando’s blowout loss to the Celtics on Wednesday. Hampton has now topped 30 minutes in three straight games. On one hand, his playing time has been somewhat fluky as he played the entire fourth quarter in garbage time on Wednesday and he played the entire fourth quarter with a hot bench unit in the previous game. On the other hand, Hampton is a young prospect who can play multiple positions so he is likely to find his way into Orlando’s closing lineup often. Since joining Orlando, Hampton has averaged 0.88 DraftKings points per minute. In 14 games without Michael Carter-Williams, Hampton has averaged 0.92 DraftKings points per minute with a well-rounded 21 percent usage rate, 10.1 percent rebounding rate and 18.6 percent assist rate. He is likely to play 30 to 32 minutes again tonight against the Hornets.

Alex Caruso ($4,000 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) started again last night and played 28.6 minutes in only three quarters of action. In the Lakers’ previous game, he started and played 26.1 minutes. The notable difference between the two games is that Talen Horton-Tucker was sidelined last night. Horton-Tucker is expected to miss tonight’s game as well. Caruso is likely to play 32-plus minutes if tonight’s game against the Blazers is competitive. He has averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute in 421 minutes without Dennis Schroder or LeBron James on the floor this season.

Armoni Brooks ($3,900 DraftKings/$3,800 SG FanDuel) came off the bench in Houston’s last game but still played 31 minutes as Houston had only seven players in their rotation. The Rockets are likely to be in a similar situation tonight. Avery Bradley, Sterling Brown, Dante Exum, Eric Gordon, David Nwaba, Kevin Porter Jr., John Wall and D.J. Wilson are all out. Danuel House is doubtful. Kelly Olynyk, Christian Wood, Jae’Sean Tate and D.J. Augustin are all questionable. Assuming House sits, Houston would have a maximum of nine players if all of the questionable players play (assuming that recent signee Khyri Thomas is available). If one or two of the questionable players sit, we will be in the same situation as Wednesday.. It is also worth noting that Bradley and Porter played on Wednesday so their absence tonight opens up more backcourt minutes for Brooks. There is a good chance that we see 30-plus minutes from Brooks again tonight in a fast-paced matchup with the Bucks. Brooks has only produced 0.68 DraftKings points per minute this season in 153 minutes without James Harden, Wall, Porter or Victor Oladipo but his playing time, according to the Awesemo NBA DFS projections, makes him a strong point-per-dollar value despite the subpar production so far this season.

Austin Rivers ($3,700 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) came through with a big game in his first game without P.J. Dozier on Wednesday. I have mixed feelings about that game. On one hand, we knew that Rivers would have an opportunity to outperform his near minimum salary and he showed that was true. On the other hand, he shot 6-for-9 from 3 and picked up three steals. We obviously can’t expect that to become a normal occurrence. Somewhat concerning is the fact that Rivers still only played 28.4 minutes (though he probably would have played 30 to 32 minutes had the game been competitive to the end). We saw Paul Millsap start, so Mike Malone made it clear that he is comfortable using a bigger lineup and we can’t assume that Rivers is going to soak up the majority of Dozier’s minutes. Ultimately, I think that Rivers plays a similar role to his role prior to Dozier’s injury, but Dozier’s absence gives him a higher ceiling since he has an easier path into the closing lineup if he is playing well. Tonight’s matchup against Utah is a difficult one. Rivers looks like a reasonable value on DraftKings but I have very little interest on FanDuel.

Elfrid Payton ($3,300 DraftKings/$3,600 FanDuel) rounds out the list of terrible point guard options that are in play tonight. Payton has averaged only 18.6 minutes per game over the last month despite being the Knicks’ starting point guard. Typically, we see Payton start and play either two or three stints. He rarely plays in the fourth quarter. Tonight, however, he is likely to pick up more playing time with Quickley and Burks unlikely to play. Frank Ntilikina will probably join the rotation and soak up some of the missing minutes, while Rose, Reggie Bullock and Barrett will play more minutes as well. Still, there will probably be at least four to six more minutes available for Payton. Payton has averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute in 26 games played with Rose and Randle active this season, so he projects as a strong value at close to minimum salary as long as he gets around 24 minutes.

Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Luka Doncic, Delon Wright, Alex Caruso, Armoni Brooks

Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Luka Doncic, Delon Wright, Alex Caruso, Elfrid Payton


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Shooting Guard

Terry Rozier ($8,000 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) only played 26.1 minutes in Charlotte’s blowout loss against the Bulls last night, but he would have most likely played 34 to 36 minutes had the game been competitive based on his first half rotation. Rozier has averaged 35.8 minutes per game over the last month and he will once again be playing without Gordon Hayward, Devonte’ Graham and Cody Martin tonight. There are plenty of minutes available for Rozier, who has averaged 1.05 DraftKings points per minute in eight games alongside LaMelo Ball without Hayward this season. Rozier is appropriately priced on DraftKings, but is a glaring NBA DFS value pick on FanDuel.

Buddy Hield ($8,000 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) has played 42, 38 and 40 minutes over his last three games. In addition to taking 19, 16 and 16 shots, he also has been contributing peripherals without Fox or Haliburton. Over the two games that Haliburton has missed, Hield leads the team with 17 rebound chances per game and he also has averaged 12 potential assists per game. In 214 minutes without Fox or Haliburton on the floor this season, Hield has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute with a 21.3 percent usage rate, 11.4 percent rebounding rate and 18.4 percent assist rate. Overall this season, Hield has averaged 0.91 DraftKings point per minute with a 19.7 percent usage rate, 7.7 percent rebounding rate and 13 percent assist rate so we have seen his rates increase across the board, leading to better fantasy production.

Jordan Clarkson ($7,500 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) is finally priced where he should be on DraftKings and FanDuel with Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell sidelined. Just because he is appropriately priced for his average production doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have upside at that price point, however. Clarkson is a scoring dependent player regardless of who he shares the floor with, which lowers his floor and keeps his average production in check. He has a 30.1 percent usage rate in the six games without Conley and Mitchell, however, which is a lot of usage for someone at this price point. He isn’t someone I plan on building around tonight, but he is a worthy tournament target as long as his ownership is relatively low.

Evan Fournier ($5,300 DraftKings/$6,000 SF FanDuel) has shot well in back to back games, so maybe his headaches and blurred vision are going away. He will get plenty of opportunities again tonight as Jaylen Brown remains sidelined for the Celtics. Fournier played 28.8 minutes against Orlando on Wednesday but he missed most of his final rotation due to garbage time. He played about 18 first half minutes and it is likely that we would have seen 34-plus minutes had the game been competitive.

Dwayne Bacon ($4,900 DraftKings/$5,100 FanDuel) has started 11 games with Carter-Williams inactive since Orlando traded away their three best players at the deadline. In those games, Bacon has only averaged 0.76 DraftKings points per minute. He has averaged 30.9 minutes per game, however, and has a 21.4 percent usage rate that is respectable for his price tag. I don’t think anything about Bacon stands out tonight, but he is at a price point that will probably make him useful as a last piece into lineups.

Seth Curry ($4,400 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) continues to pique my interest at a very inexpensive price tag on DraftKings. He only played 21.9 minutes in the blowout win over Houston on Wednesday, but he had played about 30 and 35 minutes in regulation in Philadelphia’s previous two games. Curry has averaged 0.78 DraftKings points per minute and 29.5 minutes per game in 30 games alongside Embiid, Simmons and Harris this season. That alone is enough to warrant consideration at $4,400 on DraftKings. The matchup interests me too, however. In addition to playing at a top five pace over the last month, the Pelicans typically force opponents to shoot three-pointers. New Orleans has allowed the fourth most three-point attempts per game this season and they have also allowed the fourth-highest 3-point percentage. Curry is second to Danny Green on the 76ers with 4.9 3-point attempts per game this season and he leads the team with a 44 percent shooting rate from 3.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($3,800 DraftKings/$4,400 SF FanDuel) is likely to take on an increased role again tonight against the Blazers since the Lakers are short-handed. He played about 33 minutes in the Lakers’ last competitive game and he played 29.3 minutes in three quarters last night against the Clippers. Caldwell-Pope played more than 20 minutes in the first half last night and we could see him approach 40 minutes tonight if the game is competitive. While he isn’t a productive fantasy producer, he doesn’t need to produce at a high rate if he plays close to 40 minutes at his salary. The Lakers need to win this game, so it is likely that they run a tight rotation tonight that includes a ton of Caldwell-Pope. He has averaged 0.74 DraftKings points per minute in 250 minutes without Schroder or James on the floor this season.

DaQuan Jeffries ($3,300 DraftKings/$4,100 SF FanDuel) started and played 41 minutes for the short-handed Rockets on Wednesday. He is likely to play huge minutes again tonight as the Rockets will be short-handed again (see Armoni Brooks’ paragraph for a more in-depth breakdown of their injury situation). Jeffries has averaged only 0.61 DraftKings points per minute in 173 minutes with Houston this season and 0.58 DraftKings points per minute overall including his time with the Kings. Still, anyone who has a chance to play 40 minutes at essentially minimum salary needs to be considered in DFS.

Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Buddy Hield, Evan Fournier, Seth Curry, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Buddy Hield, Terry Rozier, Armoni Brooks

Small Forward

Jimmy Butler ($9,500 DraftKings/$9,400 FanDuel) is relatively expensive but it doesn’t matter all that much on this slate due to an abundance of value. This slate is also unusual because there are very few appealing matchups/games. Butler and the Heat have one of the most appealing matchups, however, as they face the Minnesota Timberwolves. Butler has been excellent this season, averaging 1.33 DraftKings points per minute and 33.7 minutes per game in 44 games played alongside Bam Adebayo. He is likely to be a better play on FanDuel than DraftKings since the roster requirements force us to use two small forwards. Be sure to keep an eye on Butler’s status as he is questionable for tonight’s game.

DeMar DeRozan ($8,400 DraftKings/$8,600 SG FanDuel) is similar to Butler in that the price point isn’t overly enticing but he offers 50-plus fantasy point upside in an appealing matchup against the Sacramento Kings. DeRozan has averaged 1.18 DraftKings points per minute and 33.9 minutes per game in 37 games played without LaMarcus Aldridge this season. He doesn’t look like a priority, but he is someone that could be useful in rounding out your tournament lineups once you’ve filled in the best value and top-priced options.

Joe Ingles ($6,700 DraftKings/$6,300 FanDuel) remains less expensive than Clarkson despite offering similar per-minute production and playing time. Ingles has averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute in the six games that he has played without Conley and Mitchell. In those games, he has a 21.4 percent usage rate and 37.1 percent assist rate. His role as the de facto point guard increases his floor and it is likely that we see around 33 minutes from Ingles if tonight’s game is competitive.

Kyle Kuzma ($5,600 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) posted a big game against the Clippers last night and the Lakers will need him to take on an increased role tonight as well. Kuzma played 31.1 minutes in the blowout and would have most likely played about 36 minutes had the game been competitive until the end. He has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute this season and, while his production doesn’t change much even with the Lakers’ injuries, his expected playing time makes him underpriced for his current salary.

Naji Marshall ($4,100 DraftKings/$4,300 FanDuel) is likely to start in place of Brandon Ingram tonight. Marshall has maintained a sizable role in the Pelicans’ rotation since filling in as an injury replacement earlier in the season. In four total starts, Marshall has averaged 29.3 minutes per game and 0.87 DraftKings points per minute. Marshall has played 297 minutes alongside Zion Williamson this season and has averaged 0.93 DraftKings points per minute.

Anthony Lamb ($3,400 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) played 35.8 minutes off the bench Wednesday and is likely to exceed 30 minutes again tonight (possibly by a wide margin depending how many players the Rockets have available). Like fellow value options Armoni Brooks and Jeffries, Lamb has been a relatively unproductive option on a per-minute basis this season with only 0.68 DraftKings points per minute. Still, he is close to minimum salary so he projects as a strong point-per-dollar option.

Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Joe Ingles, Kyle Kuzma, Naji Marshall, Anthony Lamb

Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Joe Ingles, Kyle Kuzma, Naji Marshall, Anthony Lamb

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Power Forward

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000 DraftKings/$11,400 FanDuel) has a phenomenal matchup against the Houston Rockets. Houston is 8th in pace and 29th in defensive rating over the last month. They have also allowed the 10th most points in the paint over that time, which we know is important for Antetokounmpo. For the season, Giannis has averaged 1.70 DraftKings points per minute with a 33.3 percent usage rate, 17.7 percent rebounding rate and 28.9 percent assist rate. While there is a ton of blowout risk in tonight’s game, Antetokounmpo’s season average of 33.1 minutes accounts for the fact that the Bucks are often significantly better than their opponents and are frequently involved in blowouts. Be sure to keep an eye on the Bucks’ starting lineup because there is a greater than zero chance that we see Mike Budenholzer decide to rest all of his starters tonight but, assuming that doesn’t happen, Antetokounmpo is clearly one of the top options on tonight’s slate regardless of position.

Jayson Tatum ($10,500 DraftKings/$10,100 FanDuel) is expensive but there is no shortage of value on this slate so raw points will come into play in our other roster spots. Tatum has produced at a higher rate when Brown has been sidelined this season, as will be the case tonight. In seven games played without Brown and with Kemba Walker, Tatum has averaged 1.41 DraftKings points per minute and 37 minutes per game. He has a 32.1 percent usage rate in those games. Tonight’s matchup with the Bulls isn’t particularly appealing as they are 25th in pace and 11th in defensive rating over the last month, but Tatum is one of the most talented players in the NBA and will most likely see increased opportunities tonight against Chicago.

Julius Randle ($10,100 DraftKings/$9,700 FanDuel) is similar to Tatum in that he doesn’t project as a great value at his salary but he is likely to be one of the top scorers — Awesemo NBA DFS projections have him for 46.65 points — on the slate and salary doesn’t matter all that much on this slate because of the number of very inexpensive options available. Randle has averaged 1.38 DraftKings points per minute and 39.1 minutes per game in eight games alongside Rose without Burks this season. Overall, he has averaged 1.30 DraftKings points per minute and 37.3 minutes per game in 65 games played.

Zion Williamson ($9,900 DraftKings/$9,600 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against the Sixers but he will be playing without Ingram which increases his ceiling. Williamson has averaged 1.43 DraftKings points per minute with a 34.3 percent usage rate, 12.3 percent rebounding rate and 24.3 percent assist rate in 766 minutes without Ingram on the floor this season. By comparison, he has averaged 1.23 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.8 percent usage rate, 11.7 percent rebounding rate and 15.9 percent assist rate in 1,259 minutes alongside Ingram. Part of the difference in production can likely be attributed to the fact that Williamson and Ingram have their minutes staggered so a portion of his minutes without Ingram are against opponent’s bench units. Still, we can see that his ceiling is higher without Ingram available. The matchup is extremely difficult, however, as the Sixers have been one of the most efficient defenses in the league this season and have allowed the fourth fewest points in the paint over the last month. Williamson leads the NBA with 14.3 field goal attempts per game inside five feet of the basket. Antetokounmpo is next with 9.7, so you can see how it can be a problem if Williamson is unable to score around the rim. Essentially, Williamson has an extremely high ceiling but is also a risky NBA DFS pick because of the brutal matchup.

Tobias Harris ($7,000 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) is another Sixers’ player who is available at a relatively inexpensive salary due to their recent blowouts. Harris has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute and 33.4 minutes per game in 34 games played alongside Embiid and Simmons this season.

P.J. Washington ($7,000 DraftKings/$6,600 FanDuel) will be difficult to prioritize given the alternatives, but he is likely to play a lot of minutes tonight in a favorable matchup against Orlando. Orlando is 27th in defensive rating over the last month and, since trading Nikola Vucevic to Chicago, they have allowed the fifth most rebounds per game. Washington played 33.4 minutes last night and missed his final rotation due to garbage time. It is likely that Washington plays 36 to 38 minutes tonight if this game is competitive. He has averaged 1.03 DraftKings points per minute and 31.9 minutes per game in 17 games played without Hayward this season. It is likely that he exceeds his average playing time tonight, however, as the Hornets are also missing Miles Bridges, Graham and Cody Martin.

Marvin Bagley ($5,900 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) followed up Tuesday’s dud against Oklahoma City with a strong performance against the Pacers on Wednesday. Bagley has played 34, 31 and 35 minutes in his last three games and we can expect him to play about 34 minutes again tonight if Harrison Barnes is out. If Barnes plays, it is likely to take a few minutes away from Bagley but he would probably still play about 30 minutes. For the season, Bagley has produced 1.03 DraftKings points per minute.

Kenyon Martin Jr. ($4,700 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) played 44.4 minutes on Wednesday and, unlikely many of Houston’s other value options, he is actually a productive fantasy producer. He isn’t as inexpensive as those other options either, of course, but he’s the top value in the Awesemo NBA DFS projections tonight. Martin is capable of playing multiple positions, which makes it easy for him to find minutes regardless of exactly which players are active for the Rockets. It will improve his outlook if at least one of Olynyk or Wood sits, but he is a viable option even if they both play. For the season, Martin has averaged 0.84 DraftKings points per minute.

Paul Millsap ($3,400 DraftKings/$4,100 FanDuel) found his way back into Denver’s rotation as he replaced the injured P.J. Dozier in the Nuggets’ starting lineup. Millsap played 24.3 minutes against the Knicks and I think that it is likely we see a similar rotation tonight against Utah. It is worth noting that Mike Malone could choose to start a smaller lineup against the Jazz than he did against the Nuggets but, for now, I am assuming that Millsap remains in the starting lineup but is not in the closing lineup. Millsap has averaged 0.92 DraftKings points per minute in 35 starts this season and, if he plays about 24 minutes tonight, he projects as a strong point-per-dollar value even in a difficult matchup. JaMychal Green is a natural leverage play against Millsap since he probably gets more minutes than we expect if Millsap gets fewer minutes than we expect, but there are so many strong options on this 10-game slate that I wouldn’t invest much in Green outside of the largest field GPPs.

James Johnson ($3,300 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) is expected to see increased playing time tonight with Ingram sidelined. Josh Hart is also out and Steven Adams is doubtful, so there are plenty of frontcourt minutes available for Johnson. Johnson was in the closing lineup against Golden State on Tuesday and, while that probably isn’t the most likely scenario, it does show that he has a higher ceiling than his median projection may suggest. On average, I expect 24 to 26 minutes from Johnson but he has the potential for more if he plays well. Since joining the Pelicans, Johnson has averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute and 24.3 minutes per game in 16 games played.

Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Marvin Bagley, Kenyon Martin Jr., Paul Millsap (if starting), James Johnson

Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Washington, Kenyon Martin Jr., Moritz Wagner, James Johnson

Center

Nikola Jokic ($10,800 DraftKings/$11,200 FanDuel) has a tough matchup on paper as the Jazz are 2nd in defensive rating and 15th in pace over the last month. There are a couple of reasons that I think Jokic is a more appealing play than most players against Utah, however. First, he is close to matchup proof. He does everything at such a high level that it is difficult for a team to stop him from producing fantasy points. He isn’t reliant on scoring at the rim so Rudy Gobert’s rim protection is less of a concern and he is an elite passer so it is difficult for teams to scheme to take him out of games since it leads to wide open 3-pointers or layups for his teammates. In five matchups against Gobert since the start of last season, Jokic has averaged 1.72 DraftKings points per minute. He has produced at least 70 DraftKings points in three of those five games and hasn’t scored less than 54.5. I don’t want to put too much weight into the individual matchup, but it reinforces the point that Jokic is essentially matchup proof. The second reason I think Jokic is a bit more appealing than it would appear on the surface is the setup of the slate. There is an abundance of value, so it is easy to roster expensive players, but there also aren’t any games that are expected to be competitive shootouts. The highest total on the slate is 233 points (relatively low for recent slates) and it has a 16.5 point spread. Every other game is between 217 and 227 points. While the 217.5 point total in Jokic’s game is one of the lowest on the slate, it also has a four point spread. There is a good chance this game goes down to the wire and we get a full 35 or 36 minutes from Jokic. Since Jamal Murray’s injury, Jokic has averaged 1.75 DraftKings points per minute in 18 games played.

Joel Embiid ($10,700 DraftKings/$9,600 FanDuel) is questionable tonight against the Pelicans. If he is able to play, he is a great option — especially on FanDuel where he is much less expensive than Jokic. Embiid has averaged 1.55 DraftKings points per minute and 31.5 minutes per game in 34 games played alongside Simmons and Harris this season. He should be able to dominate a Steven Adams-less Pelicans’ frontcourt.

Nikola Vucevic ($10,400 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) is another center who is much more favorably priced on FanDuel than he is on DraftKings. Vucevic played 30.7 minutes last night and lost a couple of minutes to garbage time. It is somewhat concerning that he would have only played about 33 minutes if the game had gone down to the wire since we have seen him play 36 or 37 minutes in competitive games recently, but even 34 minutes of Vucevic would be appealing at $9,000 on FanDuel. Vucevic has averaged 1.47 DraftKings points per minute in 11 games alongside Zach LaVine this season.

Bam Adebayo ($9,300 DraftKings/$8,300 FanDuel) faces the Timberwolves, who have allowed the most points per 100 possessions over the last month while playing at the league’s sixth-fastest pace. Adebayo is able to contribute in a variety of ways which should allow him to take advantage of the Timberwolves’ weak defense and he could also play a couple minutes more than normal tonight as the Heat would probably like him to be on the floor for all of Karl-Anthony Towns minutes. Adebayo has averaged 1.25 DraftKings points per minute in 44 games with Butler active this season and 1.31 DraftKings points per minute in 15 games without Butler.

Kelly Olynyk ($8,000 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) is questionable tonight after playing 39.5 minutes on Wednesday. There are a lot of moving parts for Houston right now, but Olynyk will offer a high ceiling if he is able to play. Exactly how much of a priority he is depends on who else is able to play for Houston. The ideal situation for Olynyk is that he is active and Wood is inactive. Olynyk has averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute in 22 games with Houston this season. In 140 minutes without Wood, Porter or Wall on the floor, Olynyk has averaged 1.28 DraftKings points per minute with a 24.7 percent usage rate, 13.1 percent rebounding rate and 38.8 percent assist rate.

Mohamed Bamba ($6,100 DraftKings/$6,900 FanDuel) has played excellent basketball lately and he will start again tonight with Carter sidelined. Bamba has averaged 1.33 DraftKings points per minute in 20 games since Vucevic was traded. He played 30.8 minutes against the Celtics on Wednesday, including about five minutes in the fourth quarter of a 30 point game. Barring foul trouble or injuries, we can expect at least 30 minutes from Bamba tonight which makes him one of the best options on the slate.

Willy Hernangomez ($5,000 DraftKings/$4,900 FanDuel) will most likely start in place of Steven Adams tonight. Hernangomez has started six games for the Pelicans this season. In those games, he has averaged 1.10 DraftKings points per minute and 26.3 minutes per game. He doesn’t stand out as much on tonight’s slate as he would on most slates, but he still offers a high ceiling for his salary. If Embiid is ruled out, his matchup looks better since he would be less likely to get in foul trouble (and wouldn’t have to deal with Embiid’s defense either).

Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Kelly Olynyk (Q), Mo Bamba

Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba


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Adam "ShipMyMoney" Scherer has been playing and analyzing DFS full-time since quitting law school in 2016. He has qualified for the 2016 FanDuel MLB Playboy Championship, the 2016 DraftKings Fantasy Baseball World Championship (3x) and the 2019 DraftKings Fantasy Basketball World Championship. You can find him on Twitter at @ShipMyMoneyDFS or by emailing [email protected].

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