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.
The Deep Dive: NBA DFS Picks & Optimal Lineup Strategy
Note: Damian Lillard is unlikely to play tonight. C.J. McCollum has averaged 1.09 DraftKings points per minute without Lillard on the floor this season and 1.14 DraftKings points per minute in five games without Lillard since the start of last season. Anfernee Simons has averaged 26.3 minutes per game and 0.94 DraftKings points per minute in those games. He played 27.6 minutes in the one game he played alongside McCollum without Lillard this season.
Stephen Curry ($11,400 DraftKings/$10,800 FanDuel) faces the Phoenix Suns in a game between two of the fastest teams in the league. Phoenix ranks fourth in pace so far this season while the Warriors are fifth, so there should be plenty of possessions in this game. Curry has averaged 1.51 DraftKings points and 1.44 FanDuel points per minute this season.
James Harden ($11,300 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel) looks like a stronger option on FanDuel than on DraftKings because he is $800 less expensive than Curry. Harden has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points and 1.29 FanDuel points per minute this season with a 26.6% usage rate and 39.7% assist rate. He has been a little more productive over his last 10 games with 1.39 DraftKings and 1.34 FanDuel points per minute thanks to a bump to a 27.5% usage rate.
Alec Burks ($5,600 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) is the starting point guard for the Knicks going forward as Kemba Walker has been removed from the rotation. This is obviously a net positive for Burks, but it remains to be seen exactly what the rotation looks like for the Knicks. Burks should serve as the back-up to Evan Fournier or R.J. Barrett, in addition to starting at point guard, which would allow him to play 32-plus minutes in most games. The alternative is that the Knicks continue to use a 10-man rotation and Burks splits 48 minutes with Derrick Rose. Burks has averaged 0.96 DraftKings point per minute this season, so there is still value at his price tag as long as he is going to play some minutes alongside Rose.
Tyus Jones ($5,200 DraftKings/$4,600 FanDuel) started for the injured Ja Morant last game and played 23.8 minutes. The Grizzlies beat the Kings by 27 points, however, so Jones was not needed in the fourth quarter. Based on his first half rotation, it appears likely that Jones will play about 30 minutes in competitive games. There is a chance that De’Anthony Melton steals minutes in games where Melton is playing well, but Jones should get around 30 minutes most nights. Jones has averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute this season and he has averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute in nine starts alongside Dillon Brooks since the beginning of last season. He has averaged 28.5 minutes per game in those starts.
Derrick Rose ($4,300 DraftKings/$4,600 FanDuel) is questionable tonight. If he plays, he projects as a strong point-per-dollar value who offers plenty of upside. Walker’s removal from the rotation could be a benefit for Rose, as long as the Knicks cut down to a nine-man rotation. Whereas Rose and Walker were splitting 48 minutes and never playing alongside each other, there could be situations where Rose and Burks are both in the closing lineup. Rose has averaged 1.04 DraftKings points per minute this season and is priced for his average of 22.9 minutes per game. There is a good chance that he averages at least a couple of more minutes per game going forward.
Kevin Durant ($11,100 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) is difficult to prioritize because of Harden’s presence. He still has one of the highest projections on the slate, however, so he is certainly a viable option. Durant has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute this season and has averaged 35.6 minutes per game.
Anthony Davis ($10,600 DraftKings/$10,300 FanDuel) is similar to Durant in that he plays with too many stars to truly be a priority, but he is also a little bit less expensive, and he is facing the Sacramento Kings, who are ninth in pace and 26th in defensive rating this season. Davis has averaged 1.36 DraftKings and 1.42 FanDuel points per minute in 10 games played alongside Russell Westbrook and LeBron James this season.
LeBron James ($10,400 DraftKings/$10,600 FanDuel) has been the second most productive Lakers’ star this season with 1.27 DraftKings points and 1.23 FanDuel points per minute in the 10 games all three stars have been active. He has not been quite as productive as Davis, but he will always be involved offensively, and he offers guard and forward eligibility on DraftKings.
Gary Trent, Jr. ($5,400 DraftKings/$5,900 FanDuel) is questionable for tonight’s game against Memphis after missing the Raptors’ last game. If he plays, Trent projects as a strong mid-range value. He has averaged 34.4 minutes per game and 0.85 DraftKings points per minute this season. If he misses the game, Svi Mykhailiuk will most likely replace him in the starting lineup after playing 37.9 minutes in his start against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
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Richaun Holmes ($6,200 DraftKings/$6,700 FanDuel) missed the last couple of games but he is not on tonight’s injury report. He has been a strong DFS option this season, averaging 1.11 DraftKings points per minute and typically playing 28 to 30 minutes in competitive games where he is able to avoid foul trouble. There should also be plenty of possessions in tonight’s game as the Lakers are second in pace and the Kings are ninth this season.
LaMarcus Aldridge ($5,700 DraftKings/$6,100 FanDuel) has replaced Blake Griffin as the Nets’ starting center and he has been a strong per-minute fantasy option this season. Aldridge has averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute overall this season and 1.12 DraftKings points per minute alongside Harden and Durant, so the move to the starting lineups should not decrease his production. In his two starts, Aldridge has averaged 28.2 minutes per game. He has also averaged 28.8 minutes per game over his last five games, with less than 28 minutes in only one of those games.
Isaiah Stewart ($4,600 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) is a volatile option at a cheap price point tonight. He is more valuable on FanDuel because he has power forward eligibility in addition to being listed as a center. Stewart has averaged 0.85 DraftKings points per minute this season and has a path to 30-32 minutes if he is able to avoid foul trouble. The risk with rostering Stewart, in addition to the potential for foul trouble and the fact that he plays for a horrible Pistons team, is that Detroit is facing the Blazers. Portland has willingly gone small to close games frequently this season. Detroit used a small closing lineup in their last game against the Lakers, so there is no guarantee that tonight’s game does not end with a frontcourt of Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey.
Precious Achiuwa ($4,400 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) started and played 36.5 minutes against Boston on Sunday. The Raptors will be without OG Anunoby and Khem Birch again tonight, so there should be plenty of minutes available for Achiuwa. He has averaged 0.88 DraftKings points per minute overall this season and 0.87 DraftKings points per minute in 14 starts. It is worth noting that he has only averaged 0.68 DraftKings points per minute in three starts alongside Pascal Siakam, however. Achiuwa has a 14.8% usage rate, 11.1% rebounding rate and 7.5% assist rate in those games compared to a 20.1% usage rate, 19.7% rebounding rate and 8.6% assist rate in 11 starts without Siakam. While Achiuwa’s production should decrease somewhat with Siakam active, it is also likely a case of a small sample size. In 117 minutes alongside Siakam this season, Achiuwa has a 15.3% usage rate, 15.1% rebounding rate and 10.4% assist rate while averaging 0.88 DraftKings points per minute.
Fellow Awesemo NBA writer Terry McBride has a full breakdown of the best Raptors players who are showing up in the lineup optimizer today. Check out his NBA DFS Picks & Optimal Lineup Plays tonight.
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