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The Deep Dive: NBA DFS Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Today | Nikola Jokic 10/25

Adam Scherer

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The NBA Deep Dive is our most in-depth NBA DFS article, offering analysis of some of the top picks and optimal strategy for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups on the slate today. Used in conjunction with Awesemo’s NBA DFS projections, ownership projections and Boom/Bust tool, it should help you to improve the quality of your lineups. With news breaking throughout the day and the NBA injury reports being released, the best place to find all of today’s starters is our Awesemo NBA Starting Lineups page.

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The Deep Dive: NBA DFS Picks & Optimal Lineup Strategy

Guard

James Harden ($9,500 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel) headlines the guard positions as he faces the Washington Wizards. Washington has a new coaching staff and no longer has Russell Westbrook, so it is likely they do not play at the same fast pace that they played at last season. Still, they are unlikely to be a slow team and they also are not likely to be particularly good on the defensive end. Harden has not quite looked like himself this season with only 1.26 DraftKings points per minute through his first few games. He has a healthy 28.5% usage rate and a 38.1% assist rate, however, and his effective field goal percentage this season is almost seven points lower than last season, so his production should increase going forward. That said, there is some reason for concern that he has only gotten to the free throw line a combined nine times over his first three games this season as he averaged 7.3 field goal attempts per game last season. He has only averaged 1.3 fewer drives per game this season than last season, so my assumption is that it is partly a sample size issue and that more free throws are coming, but it is also likely that he loses some free throw attempts as a result of the NBA’s rule change that was essentially created to cause Harden to lose free throw attempts.

Damian Lillard ($9,300 DraftKings/$10,100 FanDuel) is $1,000 less expensive tonight than he was on Saturday night, and he is $800 less expensive than he was on opening night. Lillard is one of the more interesting DFS options when it comes to price dynamics. He is normally priced for his ceiling and still gets ownership because of the name value and upside. Occasionally his salary falls more in line with his median projection, as it has on DraftKings tonight. When this happens, there is very little risk in rostering him and there is still massive upside. His ownership also typically does not increase by enough to offset the benefits of the cheaper salary. For example, he is currently projected for about 12% ownership on DraftKings. Lillard has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute with a 31.1% usage rate and 34.1% assist rate since the start of last season and he is likely to play about 38 minutes if tonight’s game against the Clippers is competitive.

Malcolm Brogdon ($7,900 DraftKings/$8,300 FanDuel) and the rest of the Pacers are in a tough spot tonight as they face the Bucks. The Pacers are on the final leg of a three-in-four and the first two games both went to overtime. Brogdon played 44 minutes in the first game against Washington and then 41.2 minutes the next night against Miami. While there is risk for a letdown performance from Indiana tonight, there is also substantial upside given how many minutes Brogdon has been playing to open the season. He played 40.3 minutes in regulation in the Pacers’ first game followed by about 39 and 36 minutes in regulation in the next two games. Brogdon has produced 1.12 DraftKings points per minute in 46 games played alongside Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner over the last two seasons and tonight’s game is likely to be high scoring as long as the Pacers still have their legs under them.

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LaMelo Ball ($7,800 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) will get to play another game without Terry Rozier as the Hornets take on the Boston Celtics. Ball has attempted 23 and 18 field goals in his two games without Rozier this season compared to 12 in the game that Rozier plays. While Ball will not only attempt 12 field goals per game in games with Rozier this season, there is more usage available when Rozier is sidelined because he does not have a high usage replacement that picks up more minutes. Overall, Ball has produced 1.26 DraftKings points per minute over his first 34 NBA starts.

C.J. McCollum ($7,500 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) does not get as much attention as Lillard, but he is another high upside DFS option from the Blazers’ backcourt. McCollum has averaged 1.16 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.7% usage rate and 22% assist rate in 45 games played alongside Lillard since the start of last season. One particularly important piece of information to note with McCollum is whether or not his minutes are being staggered with Lillard’s. Through his first two games as head coach, Chauncey Billups has primarily staggered their minutes which is very good news for McCollum’s DFS production.

Chris Duarte ($5,400 DraftKings/$5,600 FanDuel) is appropriately priced tonight after bouncing from $3,300 to $6,900 back to $3,900 on DraftKings in his first three games. Duarte is playing huge minutes for Indiana, and he has been relatively productive . Through his first three games, he has played 32.7, 40.3 and about 36.5 minutes in regulation. He has a 21% usage rate and has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute. Duarte does not do any one thing well enough to prevent him from having the occasional dud, but he is also more involved in the offense than most players in his price range.

Devonte’ Graham ($5,400 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) played 35.4 minutes in a competitive game against the Timberwolves on Saturday and he will face them again tonight. Minnesota played at a top five pace last season, and they have been the fastest team in the league this season. In his first three regular season games with New Orleans, Graham has averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute with a 22.2% usage rate and 21.3% assist rate in 31.1 minutes per game.

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George Hill ($3,500 DraftKings/$4,300 FanDuel) is likely to start again tonight in place of Jrue Holiday, who is doubtful. Hill started two games ago against the Heat, but he only played 21.4 minutes as the Bucks were absolutely annihilated and lost by 42 points. If tonight’s game is competitive, it is likely that Hill is on the floor for 26 to 28 minutes. While Hill was not on the Bucks last season, he was on the team from 2018 to 2020. Over that time, he has played a total of 451 minutes alongside Antetokounmpo and Middleton without any of Holiday, Eric Bledsoe or Brogdon on the floor. In that sample, Hill has produced 0.62 DraftKings points per minute with a 10.5% usage rate and 10.3% assist rate. He should play enough minutes to be a quality point-per-dollar option tonight, particularly on DraftKings.

Jeremy Lamb ($3,500 DraftKings/$3,700 FanDuel) has played about 24, 23 and 18 minutes in regulation in his first three games of the season. Lamb has averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute since the start of last season, so there is plenty of upside at his current salary if he plays about 24 minutes. His playing time is volatile as he could lose minutes to any combination of Justin Holiday, Torrey Craig and Oshae Brissett depending on game script and his individual performance, but that works the other way as well. If Lamb is performing at a high level, it is likely that he finds more playing time at the expense of someone in that trio.

Forward

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,400 DraftKings/$11,200 FanDuel) has been relatively disappointing over his last couple of games. He played just 22.8 minutes in Milwaukee’s blowout loss against Miami two games ago and then only played 30.4 minutes in their last game as he dealt with foul trouble early in the third quarter. However, if tonight’s game is competitive and he is able to avoid foul trouble, Antetokounmpo is likely to play 34 or 35 minutes. He is one of the best per-minute fantasy producers in the league with 1.61 DraftKings points per minute since the start of last season. He has averaged 1.72 DraftKings points per minute in 1,024 minutes without Holiday on the floor over that time as his usage rate and rebounding rate both increase.

Kevin Durant ($10,200 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) has had a much more productive start to the season than Harden, averaging 1.71 DraftKings points per minute with a 34.8% usage rate and 38.8% assist rate. Durant has also played 36 to 37 minutes in the two competitive games that Brooklyn has played. He has produced 1.59 DraftKings points per minute in 672 minutes without Irving on the floor since the start of last season.

Khris Middleton ($7,200 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) seems to frequently find ways to disappoint when he is popular, but he projects as a strong play yet again tonight with Jrue Holiday sidelined. Middleton has averaged 1.17 DraftKings points per minute without Holiday since the start of last season, and the Bucks should stagger his minutes so that he is on the floor for most of the minutes that Antetokounmpo is on the bench.

Michael Porter, Jr. ($6,000 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) has struggled out of the gate this season with only 0.72 DraftKings points per minute and about a 16% usage rate. He has averaged 1.05 DraftKings points per minute with a 21.9% usage rate in 2,310 minutes since the start of last season, however, so it is likely that he rebounds sooner than later, and his salary is about as low as it will ever be. Porter has produced 1 DraftKings point per minute in 1,135 minutes alongside Nikola Jokic without Jamal Murray since the start of last season and he is likely to play about 32 minutes tonight against Cleveland.

Franz Wagner ($4,400 DraftKings/$4,100 FanDuel) played 38.6 minutes in Orlando’s win over the Knicks last night and he has now averaged 34.5 minutes per game through his first three games. His per-minute production has not been great with only 0.70 DraftKings points per minute and a 15.1% usage rate, but there are not many players in his price range that project for 34-plus minutes.

Bruce Brown ($3,500 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) is a risky option since he has not been a regular member of the Nets’ early season rotations, but he played 27.2 minutes off the bench yesterday with Blake Griffin sidelined. Griffin is back tonight, but LaMarcus Aldridge will be held out for rest. It is possible that James Johnson, Nicolas Claxton and Griffin pick up the bulk of Aldridge’s minutes, but it is also possible that Brown plays a big role off the bench again. He has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute since the start of last season, so he offers significant upside if he picks up 25-plus minutes again tonight. Pay close attention to his ownership because he is a volatile option that will look like a strong GPP play at low ownership and a strong fade at high ownership.

Center

Nikola Jokic ($11,000 DraftKings/$11,100 FanDuel) has averaged 1.72 DraftKings points per minute through his first 68 minutes this season and 1.65 DraftKings points per minute without Murray on the floor since the start of last season. He has a 34.1% usage rate and 38.2% assist rate over the 1,538 minutes that he has played without Murray. Jokic is likely to play about 34 minutes tonight if the game is competitive.

Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,700 DraftKings/$10,900 FanDuel) is more appealing on DraftKings than FanDuel since he offers a substantial discount from Jokic. He has averaged 1.43 DraftKings points per minute with a 29.7% usage rate, 17.1% rebounding rate and 21.2% assist rate since the start of last season. Towns should play 34-plus minutes tonight. Do not be alarmed by his 28.6 minutes in a competitive game against the Pelicans in his last game as he fouled out with about six and a half minutes left in the game.

Jonas Valanciunas ($7,900 DraftKings/$6,600 FanDuel) is a strong GPP option on DraftKings and a top overall play on FanDuel. There is a tendency to expect Valanciunas to play 28 to 30 minutes based on his time in Toronto and Memphis, but that has not been the case with the Pelicans this season. He played 29.6 minutes in his first game of the season and was subbed out with about four and a half minutes to go in garbage time. Then, he played 33.2 minutes against the Bulls and was removed for the final four and a half minutes of garbage time. He followed that up with 35.9 minutes in New Orleans’ first competitive game of the season. Valanciunas should play 34 minutes tonight, and he has continued to produce at a high level with 1.18 DraftKings points per minute this season.

Robert Williams ($6,100 DraftKings/$7,100 FanDuel) has been disappointing on a per-minute basis with only 0.84 DraftKings points per minute this season. He has just a 10.5% rebounding rate compared to a 20% rebounding rate in 791 minutes alongside Jayson Tatum last season and he has a 9.1% usage rate compared to a 16% usage rate alongside Tatum last season. Williams averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute with Tatum on the floor last year. He trails Al Horford, Tatum and Jaylen Brown in rebound chances per game this season, so there is reason to be concerned about his production. On the positive side, he has averaged 30.3 minutes per game in regulation this season.

Nicolas Claxton ($3,600 DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel) has averaged 0.72 DraftKings points per minute and 19.7 minutes per game this season. LaMarcus Aldridge has been his primary back-up, however, so it is possible that Claxton plays more minutes tonight at close to minimum salary. He averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute last season and offers substantial upside with minimal risk given his price tag. It is worth noting that the Nets have plenty of different rotations that they can use, however, so there is a decent chance that Claxton will not pick up that many additional minutes.


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Check out our NBA fantasy rankings today for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA daily projections. View our Yahoo! ownership projections, our DraftKings ownership projections and our FanDuel NBA ownership. We also have DraftKings rankings, FanDuel NBA ownership rankings and Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Our NBA DFS projections tonight are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more NBA DFS advice for today and the best NBA DFS picks?

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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