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, fantasy point 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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NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | April 29
Afternoon Update: I went in and updated the players already discussed below (in the main body of the article) for the Kyrie Irving (out) and Luka Doncic (doubtful) news, but didn’t add the players who have now become viable options as a result of them being out or expected out. Here is how it should impact Brooklyn and Dallas:
Nets — Kevin Durant was already a top option on the slate, but now it’s not even debatable. Fade Durant at your own risk. Steve Nash ran an eight-man rotation last game with an already depleted roster that will be missing Bruce Brown again tonight. They’ll get Alize Johnson back, but could still run only eight players again. Mike James has surprisingly received 21 minutes in two of the three games he’s played for the Nets, and has been a relatively strong offensive presence. He and Tyler Johnson should each see plenty of burn tonight, but good luck guessing which one of them will be most productive from a fantasy standpoint. They’re both getting nearly identical ownership projections on both FanDuel and DraftKings. Landry Shamet gets a nice upgrade along with Jeff Green and Joe Harris. The three of them become perfectly fine secondary value options but none should be considered top priorities even with Irving out.
Mavericks — If Doncic sits, and it’s looking like he will, Kristaps Porzingis becomes an absolutely killer play on FanDuel and a very reasonable one on DraftKings. Jalen Brunson would also become the top overall value option on the night at $4,500 on DraftKings and $4,700 on FanDuel. That said, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Trey Burke go overlooked as a result, which could make him a fantasy contrarian value option across the board. Rick Carlisle is one of the most unpredictable coaches in basketball when it comes to filling minutes voided by his starters, so taking some shots on guys like Burke might be a smart play. Tim Hardaway Jr. also benefits greatly from Doncic’s expected absence, and Josh Richardson becomes a noteworthy secondary option behind his aforementioned teammates. I don’t have to list out individual rates for you to know that everyone sees pretty dramatic improvements with Doncic off the floor.
Stephen Curry (DraftKings: $10,300; FanDuel: $9,600) has been red hot over the last month, averaging 1.56 DraftKings points per minute on 36.4% usage and 22.6% assists. His assist rate has taken a hit thanks to insane usage, mostly poor shooting from the rest of the Warriors and Draymond Green handling the bulk of facilitating, but he’s made up for that with a league-high 6.4 3-pointers per game on 13.5 attempts. This is especially helpful on DraftKings where the 3-point bonus comes into play.
It’s hard to not love Curry against the Timberwolves, who play at the league’s fourth-fastest pace and rank 28th in defensive rating on the season. The Warriors are only 3.5-point road favorites in a game with a 234.5 total, so hopefully we’ll get a competitive affair after Golden State was embarrassed by Dallas on their home court just two days back.
Malcolm Brogdon (DraftKings: $9,000; FanDuel: $8,500) is nothing more than a low-owned tournament option tonight, but he’s at least worth mentioning with Domantas Sabonis sidelined. Brogdon has played 331 minutes without Sabonis (and Victor Oladipo) this season, producing a stellar 1.41 DraftKings points per minute on 29.2% usage and 31% assists. Those numbers don’t look much different across 162 minutes with Caris LeVert on and Sabonis off, either.
Brooklyn owns the seventh-worst defensive rating and plays at a top-10 pace on the season. They’ll also be without Irving tonight, which should keep this game more competitive. It’ll be a little easier to get to Brogdon on FanDuel where he’s $8,500.
Lonzo Ball (DraftKings: $6,800; FanDuel: $6,700) is coming off a monster 65.5-DraftKings-point triple-double in Denver last night, and remains reasonably priced for tonight’s meeting with Oklahoma City. Close games have seen Ball playing between 36 and 38 minutes lately and he’s averaging 1.06 DraftKings points per minute on the season, and while the Pelicans are nine-point favorites against the Thunder, there’s no point in trying to predict which games are going to be blowouts right now.
Over Ball’s last three games where his minutes have trended up significantly, he’s leading the Pelicans in touches (82.7) by a wide margin, potential assists (10) and is third in rebound chances with 9.3 per game. He’s going to remain a strong mid-range NBA DFS pick so long as the playing time remains consistent.
Kyle Lowry (DraftKings: $7,100; FanDuel: $6,400) is a price play tonight, weighing in at a discounted price point on DraftKings and especially FanDuel. He has averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute producer on the season and 1.03 DraftKings points per minute in the minutes he’s logged alongside Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. Lowry is also averaging nearly 35 minutes per game on the season and will easily see 37 minutes tonight if the Raptors keep things close in Denver. With Toronto fighting for a spot in the play-in round, there’s no reason to believe Nick Nurse doesn’t run his starters for huge minutes again.
Facundo Campazzo (DraftKings: $4,600; FanDuel: $4,600) has been getting plenty of burn in the Nuggets starting lineup with Jamal Murray and Monte Morris sidelined. He hasn’t been a high usage player, but Campazzo’s last three games have been wildly impressive from a facilitating stand point (13.7 potential assists per game) and he’s also second in touches — albeit a distant second — behind Nikola Jokic over that span. This is important because it shows Campazzo isn’t just standing around while the rest of his team puts in work. Campazzo has actually been involved in the offense, so there’s no reason we shouldn’t once again be considering him at a mid-$4,000 price point on both FanDuel and DraftKings.
Killian Hayes (DraftKings: $4,400; FanDuel: $3,900) has been flat-out bad in his rookie campaign, but he should see another 30-plus minutes tonight with Cory Joseph and Dennis Smith ruled out. It’s also encouraging to see that across 161 minutes with Jerami Grant, Joseph, Mason Plumlee, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin off the floor this season, Hayes’ per-minute fantasy production jumps to 0.99 with a 21% usage rate and 36% assist rate. Dwane Casey is resting enough players to make Hayes a very strong value option who will be one of Detroit’s primary ball handlers alongside Josh Jackson.
Honorable Mention: Ty Jerome
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Andrew Wiggins (DraftKings: $7,000; FanDuel: $6,700) is never fun to roster, but it’s hard to ignore him in a mouthwatering matchup against his former team. Minnesota is a bottom three defense and plays at the league’s fourth-fastest pace. This game also boasts the second-highest total on tonight’s six-game slate. Wiggins is averaging a respectable 0.97 DraftKings points per minute on the season, and should serve as the Warriors’ second offensive option behind Curry tonight. He’s a more appealing play at $6,700 on FanDuel, but it’s worth pointing out that fading chalk Wiggins (who is garnering about 15% popularity in the Awesemo NBA DFS ownerhsip projections) rarely works against you. He has one 50-DraftKings points game this season, and while 40 DraftKings points is a realistic target, it’s likely not going to kill you if you don’t have Wiggins, either.
D’Angelo Russell (DraftKings: $6,700; FanDuel: $6,900) is averaging 30 minutes per game over his last four outings, and is producing a stellar 1.28 DraftKings points per minute since returning to the rotation in early April. Over that span, Russell is sporting a 30% usage rate and 34% assist rate off the bench, where he’s played 45% of his minutes with Karl-Anthony Towns off the floor and 49% without Edwards. Coming off the bench has benefited Russell and that shouldn’t be ignored, so long as he continues to see around 30 minutes each night.
The Warriors are the second-fastest paced team in basketball, and while they played quality defense for the most part, their offense hasn’t been efficient enough to put teams away. Keep playing Russell until his salary begins to reflect his production and upside.
Josh Jackson (DraftKings: $5,800; FanDuel: $5,600) has been pretty productive on nights where Dwane Casey decides to rest half of his roster. In situations like tonight (that’s an easier way to say when everyone is out instead of listing a thousand players), Jackson is averaging 1.15 DraftKings points per minute on team-high 30.8% usage. He should get another 30-plus minutes tonight against a Mavericks team that should be without Luka Doncic (doubtful). That’s enough to really like him as an NBA DFS pick at a sub-$6,000 price point across the board.
Michael Porter (DraftKings: $8,300; FanDuel: $8,000) has churned out 43-plus DraftKings points in five of eight games since Murray’s season ended, and is averaging 41 DraftKings points per game in 14 games played without Murray this season. His price is getting steep, but Porter is shooting lights out right now and has played 36-plus minutes in four straight starts. He’s second on the Nuggets in per-minute production with Murray off the floor this season (1.14), along with usage (23.9%), and is rebounding at a strong 13.7% clip on the year. Porter doesn’t contribute anything in the way of assists, but he’s averaging north of 1.5 stocks per game and will continue to be the clear second option behind Jokic.
Kevin Porter Jr. (DraftKings: $7,000; FanDuel: $5,600) was dreadful the other night, shooting 2-for-12 from the field across 35 minutes in a home loss to the Timberwolves. He’s only $5,600 on FanDuel, though, making this another spot we’ll likely have to attack. In 259 minutes playing alongside Christian Wood and without John Wall and Oladipo, Porter is averaging 1.11 DraftKings points per minute on 25.9% usage, 36.4% assists and 8.6% rebounding. Those are strong rates, especially given that Porter is likely going to see huge minutes with Houston having only nine healthy bodies tonight. It’s also very possible that Stephen Silas only runs an eight-man rotation, which protects Porter’s minutes from a blowout.
Porter is a far superior NBA DFS pick on FanDuel, where he’s not only much cheaper but also small forward eligible. That isn’t to say he’s unplayable on DraftKings, though, mostly due to all of the above-mentioned reasons that should give him huge minutes and plenty of usage tonight.
Kent Bazemore (DraftKings: $3,900; FanDuel: $5,300) should be locked into significant minutes tonight with Kelly Oubre and Damion Lee sidelined. Bazemore’s 0.88 DraftKings points per minute on the season actually isn’t that bad for a near minimum salary player, especially on a night where he’ll be facing one of the fastest paced teams and worst defenses in basketball. He’s also a quality defensive player who can get his hands into passing lanes and rack up some steals. Ultimately, we’re plugging Bazemore into lineups with the hope that he can fall into some peripheral stats and knock down his limited shot opportunities against an inferior Timberwolves team. Bazemore could see another 35 minutes tonight if the conditions are right.
Luguentz Dort (DraftKings: $6,500; FanDuel: $6,200) is worth considering as a low-owned tournament option tonight against the Pelicans. In 332 minutes with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Al Horford off the court this season Dort is sporting a 28.3% usage rate with 1.10 DraftKings points per minute produced. The Pelicans are averaging north of 100 possessions per 48 and rank 27th in defensive rating, so this is a particularly good matchup for Dort and the dreadful Thunder. Dort is far from a priority play, but at a low-to-mid-$6,000 price point he should at least be someone that’s given some GPP attention. He’s scored 24-plus points in four of his last five games with 41-plus DraftKings points in three of them.
Honorable Mention: Saddiq Bey
Giannis Antetokounmpo (DraftKings: $11,000; FanDuel: $11,200) averages 1.70 DraftKings points per minute this season. Need I say more? Fine. He also leads the Bucks in usage (33.7%), assist rate (28.6%) and rebound rate (18%). He’s the best fantasy producer on earth who should annihilate the Rockets tonight. The obvious concern here is this game gets out of control and Antetokounmpo sees his minutes limited, but there’s nothing to suggest he won’t impose his will upon anyone on Houston who attempts to step in his path. Now that Luka Doncic is doubtful, we’re looking at Antetokounmpo, Jokic and Curry as the three elite options on the table tonight — Karl-Anthony Towns works too if you want to include him in the conversation, but I’d definitely put him a tier below.
Kevin Durant (DraftKings: $8,500; FanDuel: $9,300) will be an ultra-chalky NBA DFS pick tonight, and for good reason. I was honestly a little bit hesitant to load up on him at his projected ownership before Irving was ruled out because his shot volume had been suspiciously erratic lately. But now that Irving joins James Harden on the sidelines, Durant should dominate.
Durant has only played 127 minutes without Harden, Irving and LeVert, but he’s averaging 1.58 DraftKings points per minute on 36.3% usage, 38.9% assists and 10.2% rebounding over that stretch. It’s a no-brainer, really; play Durant a lot tonight. He’s $8,500 on DraftKings, which is some of the best value we’ll get on any player all season long. $9,300 on FanDuel isn’t quite as insane, but it’s still way too cheap for Durant on a night where he’ll be the Nets’ first, second and third option against the shorthanded Pacers. He’s currently a top-5 player in the Awesemo NBA DFS projections tonight with almost a 55-point projection.
Kristaps Porzingis (DraftKings: $8,700; FanDuel: $7,600) is churning out 1.39 DraftKings points per minute in 1,113 minutes with Luka Doncic off the floor since the start of last season. It can’t be overstated how big Doncic’s expected absence is tonight, especially for Porzingis who becomes the de facto number one option in Dallas. He should operate with 30-plus% usage and also benefits on the glass, as Doncic is one of the best rebounding non-bigs in basketball. Porzingis already made for a strong option at $7,600 on FanDuel, but now he’s firmly in play at $8,700 on DraftKings, too. It also won’t hurt to face a Pistons team that’s resting most of their key players and doesn’t have the personnel to contain Porzingis across 48 minutes.
Darius Bazley (DraftKings: $6,300; FanDuel: $6,800) is a fine mid-range power forward option given the minutes he’s been seeing of late. He’s averaging a respectable 0.95 DraftKings points per minute over his last 10 games with a surprising 25.5% usage rate and 11% rebound rate. Bazley is averaging nearly 34 minutes per game over that span, which has included more than a couple blowouts. This may not be supremely important, but it should benefit Bazley to have Willy Hernangomez and not Steven Adams starting at center for New Orleans tonight, too. Nearly a third of Bazley’s shot attempts have come from within three feet of the basket this season, and Hernangomez has never exactly been known for his rim-protecting abilities.
Isaiah Stewart (DraftKings: $6,000; FanDuel: $5,900) has been a very good fantasy replacement for Plumlee this season, averaging 1.25 DraftKings points per minute in the seven games he’s played without him. Stewart dropped back-to-back 50-DraftKings-point games in recent starts with Plumlee sidelined, and could easily get another 30-plus minutes tonight against Dallas. His power forward eligibility on FanDuel makes him a very interesting NBA DFS pick, but Stewart is viable at $6,000 on DraftKings too.
Nikola Jokic (DraftKings: $10,900; FanDuel: $10,900) isn’t far behind Antetokounmpo from a per-minute fantasy basis, producing an absurd 1.66 DraftKings points per minute on the year. Jokic hasn’t missed a single game and is now -400 to win the MVP despite getting very little shared respect from the NBA community. That is beside the point, though; Jokic boasts a 34% usage rate and 45.4% assist rate with Jamal Murray off the floor this season, and should continue to produce at an elite clip tonight against Toronto.
Jokic played 36 minutes last night but shouldn’t be limited so long as neither team pulls away early. The Nuggets continue to battle for playoff positioning in the hyper-competitive Western Conference, and Jokic is the only one who can guide them to the top.
Christian Wood (DraftKings: $8,200; FanDuel: $8,400) was dominant over his last two games, with 24 points and 18-plus rebounds in each. He’s in line to play huge minutes again tonight with the Rockets only having nine healthy players, and the possibility that Silas runs an even more condensed eight-man rotation. Wood won’t have a particularly easy matchup against the Bucks, but given the dearth of weapons around him, he’ll be forced into another big role on offense.
I wouldn’t consider Wood a priority tonight given the insane amount of high-priced players available to us, but he’s definitely still a viable center given the circumstances in Houston. Kelly Olynyk (DraftKings: $6,900; FanDuel: $8,100) is also worth considering on DraftKings where he’s sitting below $7,000. He’s averaging 1.16 DraftKings points per minute over his last 10 games, and is locked into big minutes in the starting lineup. The fact that Houston’s rotation will be so short today puts almost all of their everyday starters on the map.
Willy Hernangomez (DraftKings: $4,100; FanDuel: $4,900) is a skilled offensive big man who should always be on our radar when he’s in line for extended minutes. That will be the case again tonight with Adams out. Hernangomez played 31 minutes in his most recent spot start for Adams a few days back, and logged 24 minutes last night when Adams didn’t return after halftime. We can plug Hernangomez in for around 30 minutes again tonight, which certainly looks nice given his 1.09 DraftKings points per minute produced on the season. While his usage will take a significant hit as a starter, Hernangomez is still rebounding at an excellent 21.5% clip, and should have little trouble cleaning up on the offensive and defensive glass. He’s a top value option on DraftKings, but he’s going to be extremely popular (currently the No. 4 most-owned player in Awesemo’s NBA DFS ownership projections).
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