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, 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.
Be sure to catch the Awesemo NBA Daily Fantasy Strategy Show every morning on our Awesemo YouTube Channel to find the best NBA DFS picks 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 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.
Note: We changed the format of the article to try and make it a little bit easier to digest. 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 | March 3
Luka Doncic ($10,900 DraftKings/$10,600 FanDuel) is questionable for tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. If he is able to play, he stands out as a strong option- as he pretty much always does. The Thunder have actually played well defensively recently, posting the third best defensive rating in the league over the last month. They rank in the middle of the pack in pace so this isn’t as favorable a matchup as you may initially think. Still, Doncic plays such a huge role in the Dallas offense that he is typically able to post big stat lines regardless of matchup. In 19 games played alongside Kristaps Porzingis this season, Doncic has averaged 1.67 DraftKings points per minute. Even if we assume he produces at a slightly lower rate because of the matchup, he will grade out as one of the best plays on the NBA DFS slate.
Update: Doncic is now listed as doubtful, so ignore everything above this note.
Jalen Brunson ($5,300 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) started and played 37.5 minutes against the Bulls on Jan. 3, which is the only game he has played without Doncic this season. Since the start of last season, Brunson has started 12 games without Doncic. He has averaged 27.9 minutes per game and 1.06 DraftKings points per minute. Eight of those starts came with Porzingis active. Brunson averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute and 30.4 minutes per game in those starts. Trey Burke has a path to more minutes now with Doncic out as well. He is minimum salary so there is some appeal since he has the potential to 10x his salary if he gets enough minutes, but we should keep in mind that his floor is still extremely low. He only played about 17 minutes in the game that Doncic missed earlier this season and he has barely been in the rotation lately.
Damian Lillard ($10,600 DraftKings/$10,100 FanDuel) is priced appropriately for his increased role without C.J. McCollum, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a strong play. He has one of the highest ceilings on the slate as he takes on the Golden State Warriors in a game with a 233.5 point total. The Warriors have been the fourth-most efficient defense over the last month but they also have played at the second-fastest pace so the increased possessions should offset the likely inefficiencies. In his 19 games played without McCollum this season, Lillard has averaged 1.49 DraftKings points per minute with a 35.1 percent usage rate and 43.9 percent assist rate.
Stephen Curry ($9,900 DraftKings/$9,900 FanDuel) has averaged 34.6 minutes per game over the last month and we should get a nice back-and-forth tonight between him and Lillard. I think there is a good chance that James Wiseman returns to Golden State’s starting lineup tonight after starting the second half of their most recent game and playing a total of 25.2 minutes. If he starts, it is a slight downgrade for Curry as he has averaged 1.52 DraftKings points per minute with a 32.8 percent usage rate without Wiseman on the floor this season compared to 1.31 DraftKings points per minute with a 27.6 percent usage rate alongside Wiseman. Curry is a high-upside NBA DFS pick option either way, but Wiseman playing in Golden State’s starting lineup will have an effect on his projection, so keep an eye out for it.
Trae Young ($9,600 DraftKings/$9,200 FanDuel) is going to be difficult to prioritize on this slate because of the presence of Curry, Lillard and, maybe Doncic. That said, he’s too good not to at least mention. His matchup against Orlando is mediocre as the Magic are 18th in defensive rating and 12th in pace over the last month. Young also only played 33.4 minutes last night which is slightly concerning since it was his first game since Lloyd Pierce’s firing. It is obviously too early to draw any conclusions, but I would feel a lot better if we saw tighter rotations from Atlanta under their new coach last night. Young has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute with a 33.1 percent usage rate and 43.1 percent assist rate so he has a massive ceiling, but I expect that I will have trouble fitting him into lineups outside of the largest field tournaments. He is more favorably priced on FanDuel than DraftKings.
LaMelo Ball ($9,200 DraftKings/$8,600 FanDuel) has been one of the most popular DFS plays recently but Gordon Hayward is probable tonight. While Hayward’s return is unlikely to have a negative impact on Ball’s playing time, it does add a high usage player into the starting lineup at a time where Ball’s salary is quickly rising. Tonight’s matchup against the Timberwolves is favorable as Minnesota is fifth in pace and 21st in defensive rating over the last month. Ball has averaged 1.19 DraftKings points per minute and 34 minutes per game in 11 starts alongside Hayward this season compared to 1.48 DraftKings points per minute and 36.5 minutes per game in his three starts without Hayward. He has a 26.4 percent usage rate and 36.3 percent assist rate in the games without Hayward compared to a 25.6 percent usage rate and 27.1 percent assist rate in the games with Hayward active. Ball still has the ability to exceed his elevated salary, but we have a ton of strong point guard NBA DFS pick options tonight so I don’t see him being a priority for me with Hayward expected back in the lineup.
Kyle Lowry ($8,100 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) will need to do it all for the Raptors tonight against the Pistons. Toronto will be without Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and O.G. Anunoby (among others) so Lowry will need to play a huge role in the offense. He has only played two games without either of VanVleet and Siakam since the start of last season, but he had a 25.4 percent usage rate and 37.7 assist rate in those games. He has played a total of 183 minutes without either of them on the floor this season and has averaged 1.23 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.6 percent usage rate and 44.4 percent assist rate. Lowry will most likely play 35-plus minutes tonight as well, making him one of the top point guard options.
Dennis Schroder ($5,900 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) will also benefit from his team missing its two best players. Davis remains out for the Lakers, and LeBron James will join him on the sidelines tonight. Schroder has averaged 1.03 DraftKings points per minute with a 24.3 percent usage rate and 27.2 percent assist rate in 119 minutes played without either of Davis or James on the floor this season. He should be able to produce at an above-average rate against a Sacramento team that ranks 29th in defensive efficiency and sixth in pace over the last month.
De’Aaron Fox ($9,000 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) has seen his price increase on DraftKings but it remains relatively inexpensive on FanDuel. The Lakers’ defense is less imposing with both of James and Davis sidelined and Fox is in line for huge minutes for the Kings. Fox has averaged 36.7 minutes per game over the last month (13 games played) and 1.19 DraftKings points per minute this season.
Malcolm Brogdon ($7,900 DraftKings/$7,400 FanDuel) is another point guard who is viable on DraftKings but priced better on FanDuel. The Pacers take on the Cavaliers tonight. Cleveland only ranks 19th in pace over the last month but they have allowed the third-most points per 100 possessions. Brogdon has been somewhat disappointing from a DFS standpoint since the Victor Oladipo trade as he has only averaged 1.09 DraftKings points per minute in 23 games played this season without Oladipo despite a 27.6 percent usage rate and 26.7 percent assist rate. Still, that level of involvement in the offense gives Brogdon a high ceiling as does his average of 35 minutes per game. There is added upside for Brogdon tonight as well because Domantas Sabonis is listed as questionable. Brogdon has averaged 1.48 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.7 percent usage rate and 37.7 percent assist rate in 105 minutes played without either of Oladipo or Sabonis on the floor this season. In four complete games without Oladipo or Sabonis since the start of last season, Brogdon has averaged 1.22 DraftKings points per minute with a 29.9 percent usage rate and 32.2 percent assist rate. He is a reasonable option tonight if Sabonis plays, but he becomes comparable to Lowry if Sabonis is ruled out.
Michael Carter-Williams ($5,600 DraftKings/$4,800 FanDuel) has averaged 28.4 minutes per game and 0.86 DraftKings points per minute in seven starts alongside Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic this season. I think we are going to have plenty of strong value on this slate so Carter-Williams won’t stand out as a top NBA DFS pick, but he does offer some value as a secondary, lower-owned option — especially on FanDuel at only $4,800.
Latest NBA DFS Content
- 📽️ NBA Daily Fantasy Basketball Slate Starter Show: DraftKings & FanDuel | Friday, 4/23/21
- DraftKings Cheat Sheet: Late Slate NBA Picks for Daily Fantasy Lineups with Luka Doncic
- FanDuel Cheat Sheet: Late Slate NBA Picks for Daily Fantasy Lineups with Terry Rozier
- NBA Optimal Lineup Leaders & Leverage Picks: DraftKings & FanDuel with Dejounte Murray | Thursday, April 22
- The Deep Dive: NBA DFS Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel | Thursday, April 22
- Awesemo DFS on Youtube
Zach LaVine ($9,500 DraftKings/$9,800 FanDuel) gets a good matchup tonight as he takes on the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans ranks dead last in defensive rating over the last month, though they have played at a slower pace than earlier in the season and only rank 18th in that category over the last month. LaVine is always an appealing tournament option because his salary is high enough that he is difficult to prioritize over some of the other stars on the slate even though LaVine is a star in his own right. His projection will be a little bit lower than some of the other guards who aren’t much more expensive, but he still has one of the higher ceilings on the slate. He has averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute this season with a 32.6 percent usage rate and 21.4 percent assist rate in 36.4 minutes per game in 15 games played without Lauri Markkanen and with Wendell Carter. I think that most, if not all, of the point guards in this price range are better plays than LaVine in terms of average expectation, but that should drive LaVine’s ownership down. He also carries value because the shooting guard position is much weaker than the point guard position.
James Harden ($11,000 PG DraftKings/$11,200 FanDuel) has been fantastic for the Nets. He has averaged 1.58 DraftKings points per minute and 37.5 minutes per game in 10 games played alongside Kyrie Irving and without Kevin Durant this season. He has averaged close to a triple-double in those games with 25.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game. This is also his first meeting with the Rockets since being traded if you’re someone who likes narratives. I personally don’t care much about the narrative but I do care that the Rockets are fourth in pace and 20th in defensive rating over the last month.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,800 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) will face a Dallas squad that is likely to be without Doncic tonight. The Mavericks have been awful defensively recently, posting the fourth-worst defensive rating over the last month. Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 35.1 minutes per game in nine games played over the last month and he has averaged 1.23 DraftKings points per minute with a team-leading 27.6 percent usage rate and 31.7 percent assist rate this season.
Eric Bledsoe ($5,300 DraftKings/$5,400 FanDuel) has been relatively disappointing from a DFS perspective this season because he isn’t able to showcase his ability to contribute fantasy points in every category since he isn’t in the top three scoring options, assist options or rebounding options in the Pelicans’ starting lineup. His playing time has also been inconsistent, which has made him even more difficult to roster. He has now played at least 33 minutes in four straight games, however, and played 37.5 minutes against Utah in the Pelicans’ most recent game. There is obviously still some risk here, but his salary hasn’t increased to account for his recent playing time and tonight’s matchup against the Bulls isn’t a bad spot to look to Bledsoe.
Terence Davis ($3,400 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) will most likely need to take on an expanded role tonight with the Raptors missing three starters. Toronto’s rotations in situations where one or two starters are out can be inconsistent at times, but they are also without Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn tonight. Their options will be limited and it is difficult to see how Davis doesn’t end up playing at least 24 minutes. He has averaged 0.86 DraftKings points per minute with a 20 percent usage rate this season and he should see more minutes if he is playing well.
Brandon Ingram ($8,400 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) is typically a difficult player to roster because we can look to Zion Williamson at a slightly more expensive price tag. That is the case to some extent tonight as well, but the small forward position is weak so Ingram stands out as one of the top projected options. He has averaged 1.16 DraftKings points per minute this season and, while he has only averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute over the last two weeks, his 28 percent usage rate and 18.2 percent assist rate over that time aren’t far off his season averages. Ingram leads the team with 35.6 minutes per game over the last month as well.
Gordon Hayward ($7,300 DraftKings/$7,100 FanDuel) is probable for the Hornets tonight. He has averaged 33 minutes per game over the last month and, unless I hear otherwise, I am assuming that he won’t be limited tonight. Hayward has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute with a 24.5 percent usage rate and 16.9 percent assist rate this season. In 545 minutes alongside Ball, he has averaged 1.07 DraftKings points per minute with a 24.7 percent usage rate and 17.1 percent assist rate so I don’t think we should expect Hayward’s production to decrease with Ball in the starting lineup.
Norman Powell ($6,700 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel) will need to take on a bigger role tonight with the Raptors short-handed. Powell has averaged 33.1 minutes per game in 21 starts this season and it is likely that he plays a couple more minutes tonight. He has played a total of 111 minutes alongside Lowry without VanVleet or Siakam on the floor this season and he has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute with a 23.5 percent usage rate and 14.5 percent assist rate over that time.
Tim Hardaway Jr. ($4,800 DraftKings/$4,300 SG FanDuel) should benefit from Doncic’s presumed absence as the Mavericks will need another scorer on the floor. Hardaway started and played 33.1 minutes in the game that Doncic missed earlier this season, but Porzingis was also out of that game. In 10 games played without Doncic and with Porzingis since last season, Hardaway has averaged 0.96 DraftKings points per minute and 32.5 minutes per game. Even if we project 28 to 30 minutes from Hardaway tonight, that makes him project as a strong value NBA DFS pick.
Talen Horton-Tucker ($3,400 DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel) has been a productive DFS option this season when he has gotten the minutes. His playing time has been the issue, but he should be in line for more minutes tonight with LeBron joining Anthony Davis on the sidelines. Horton-Tucker played 19 minutes last night with James active and we could see him pick up several more minutes tonight. He has averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute overall this season and 1.14 DraftKings points per minute without either of James or Davis on the floor (182 minutes).
DeAndre’ Bembry is a likely candidate to join the Raptors’ starting lineup tonight. He has averaged 26.6 minutes per game in four starts this season and I think that is the low end of his playing time range if he starts tonight with VanVleet, Anunoby and Siakam out. Bembry has averaged 0.62 DraftKings points per minute in his four starts this season but he has averaged 0.85 DraftKings points per minute without VanVleet or Siakam on the floor and 0.77 DraftKings points per minute in 27 career starts.
Domantas Sabonis is questionable for tonight’s game against the Cavaliers. If he is able to play, he is in a good matchup against one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Sabonis has averaged 1.30 DraftKings points per minute and 36 minutes per game in 23 games played without Oladipo and with Brogdon this season.
Zion Williamson ($9,100 DraftKings/$8,900 FanDuel) has been even more productive lately as his assist numbers have increased. Williamson has averaged about 2 more potential assists per 36 minutes over the last month than he had prior and, while that time frame is arbitrary, it points to some growth in his game. Williamson has never had an issue scoring the ball and any amount of peripheral stats he can add will just increase his floor and ceiling. Williamson averaged 1.18 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.5 percent usage rate and 12 percent assist rate from the start of the season until Feb. 1. Since then, he has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute with a 30.5 percent usage rate and 21.9 percent assist rate. Again, this time frame is arbitrary and it could definitely just be noise. I do think it’s important, however, to pay attention to potential growth from young players as a season progresses, especially when that growth is backed up by underlying stats.
Kristaps Porzingis ($8,200 DraftKings/$7,900 FanDuel) has played 10 games without Doncic since the start of last season. He has averaged 1.57 DraftKings points per minute with a 29.9 percent usage rate and 17.8 percent rebounding rate in 33.7 minutes per game. For comparison, he has averaged 1.25 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.8 percent usage rate and 14.9 percent rebounding rate in 66 games played alongside Doncic over that time. He is clearly not priced for his increased role with Doncic sidelined.
Kyle Kuzma ($5,800 DraftKings/$5,700 FanDuel) has averaged 0.93 DraftKings points per minute with a 20.7 percent usage rate and 15.2 percent rebounding rate in 176 minutes played without either of LeBron or Davis on the floor this season. He missed last night’s game after being listed as probable earlier in the day and I haven’t seen an update on his status for tonight’s game. Assuming that he is able to play, he should be in line for increased playing time with James and Davis out. If he misses this game, there are even more minutes available for Horton-Tucker.
John Collins ($6,900 DraftKings/$7,700 FanDuel) played 26.9 minutes and didn’t close in his first game since Lloyd Pierce’s firing. His playing time has been inconsistent all season long, but that has helped keep his salary low- especially on DraftKings. The main reason that I’m mentioning him is that Clint Capela is questionable tonight. If Capela sits, it benefits Collins. Collins has averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute with an 11.4 percent rebounding rate alongside Capela this season compared to 1.20 DraftKings points per minute with a 16.4 percent rebounding rate when Capela isn’t on the floor. If Capela sits tonight, Collins would most likely play some minutes alongside a center which would hurt his rebounding rate but I expect he would get more minutes at center than he would if Capela plays.
P.J. Washington ($6,700 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) had an awful game last time out after producing what may end up being the best DFS performance of his career two games ago. Hayward is expected back tonight but Cody Zeller is still questionable. If Zeller sits, Washington remains a strong option- especially on FanDuel at only $5,800. Washington has been much more productive as a center than a power forward this season and if Zeller is out that would open up a lot more minutes at center. Washington has averaged 1.12 DraftKings points per minute in 16 games without Zeller this season compared to 0.82 DraftKings points per minute with Zeller active.
Markieff Morris ($3,700 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel) played 33.7 minutes last night against the Suns. We may not get that many minutes tonight but, with Davis and James out, we should at least get 26 to 28 minutes from Morris with the potential for more. He has averaged 0.74 DraftKings points per minute in 116 minutes played without James or Davis on the floor this season.
Joel Embiid ($10,400 DraftKings/$10,400 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz. That is enough to keep him from being the top option at a deep center position, but it shouldn’t take him off your radar. Embiid has been one of the best DFS producers this season with 1.61 DraftKings points per minute in 25 games played with Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris active. Embiid has averaged 32.9 minutes per game in those games with a 33.5 percent usage rate, 19.2 percent rebounding rate and 16.4 percent assist rate.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,000 DraftKings/$9,700 FanDuel) gets a more favorable matchup than Embiid as he takes on the Charlotte Hornets. Minnesota will once again be without D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley, so the offense will need to run through Towns even more than it normally does. Towns has averaged 1.42 DraftKings points per minute overall this season and 1.41 DraftKings points per minute in 133 minutes without Russell or Beasley on the floor. His usage rate without them on the floor is 32.5 percent compared to 28.3 percent overall, so I think that we will see his per-minute production increase as the sample size grows.
Nikola Vucevic ($10,300 DraftKings/$9,900 FanDuel) has gone a little bit overlooked this season because of guys like Embiid and Nikola Jokic, but he has been a DFS star in his own right. Vucevic leads the Magic with 34.6 minutes per game over the last month and he has averaged 1.59 DraftKings points per minute in 10 games played without Aaron Gordon and alongside Fournier this season. The pace of this game isn’t likely to be beneficial for fantasy purposes, but Vucevic could end up with a favorable matchup against a Capela-less frontcourt if he isn’t able to suit up for this game.
Chris Boucher ($6,400 DraftKings/$6,600 PF FanDuel) will most likely be asked to play increased minutes without Siakam tonight. Boucher started against Houston in Toronto’s last game and played 27.7 minutes without Siakam. Boucher has averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute overall this season and 1.22 DraftKings points per minute in 132 minutes alongside Lowry without Siakam or VanVleet on the floor.
Myles Turner ($6,000 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) has been a productive per-minute player this season as he has averaged 1.01 DraftKings points per minute. He loses usage alongside Brogdon and Sabonis, but he would most likely benefit if Sabonis misses this game. Turner has averaged 1.40 DraftKings points per minute in 253 minutes without Sabonis on the floor this season compared to 0.88 DraftKings points per minute alongside Sabonis. Turner’s rebounding rate increases from 9.7 percent alongside Sabonis to 16.3 percent without Sabonis on the floor. We would probably also see more playing time for Turner if Sabonis is out.
Montrezl Harrell ($5,500 DraftKings/$6,400 FanDuel) only played 18.5 minutes last night despite starting in place of Marc Gasol. He remains a risky option tonight since the Lakers can use small lineups, but he is underpriced for his upside- especially on DraftKings. Harrell has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute in 165 minutes without James or Davis on the floor this season and he has one of the best matchups possible against the Kings’ frontcourt. If Harrell sees 26-plus minutes tonight it is likely that he is one of the best values on the slate.
DeAndre Jordan ($5,700 DraftKings/$5,100 FanDuel) is another relatively inexpensive center that is primed for a big game thanks to the absence of teammates. Durant and Jeff Green are both out tonight, which should solidify playing time for Jordan. He played about 30.5 minutes in regulation against the Spurs on Monday and I expect similar playing time tonight against Houston. The only real concern for Jordan is that Nicolas Claxton ($3,300 DraftKings/$4,100 PF FanDuel) appears to be good and could eventually play Jordan off the floor. For now though, I think the most likely outcome is about a 30/18 minute split in Jordan’s favor.
Justin Patton ($4,000 DraftKings/$3,800 FanDuel) played about 26 minutes two games ago and followed it up with 31.6 minutes against Cleveland last game. I think that we see him approach 30 minutes again tonight against Brooklyn, but this slate is different because there is so much value. Patton has averaged 0.78 DraftKings points per minute in his five games this season and we will need him to significantly outperform that number if he is going to be a slate-winning value option given all of the alternatives tonight.
James Wiseman ($4,200 DraftKings/$4,500 FanDuel) is my preferred value option at center if I do need to pay all the way down. As mentioned earlier when discussing Steph Curry, Wiseman started the second half of Golden State’s last game and finished with 25.2 minutes played. I haven’t seen anything about the Warriors’ starting lineup tonight, but it seems like a matter of time before Wiseman rejoins it. He has averaged 1.10 DraftKings points per minute this season and offers a much higher ceiling than Patton with a similar amount of risk.
Looking for more DraftKings and FanDuel NBA DFS picks content? We have loads of NBA DFS picks articles, data, DraftKings and FanDuel NBA DFS picks cheat sheets and more on the Awesemo NBA home page. Just click HERE.
📽️ NBA Daily Fantasy Basketball Slate Starter Show: DraftKings & FanDuel | Friday, 4/23/21
NBA DFS Ownership Projections: Night Slate
NBA Betting: NBA Player Props Tool
Awesemo’s NBA DFS Rankings
NBA DFS Projections for DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo and FantasyDraft Daily Fantasy
NBA DFS Projections for No House Advantage | FREE
NBA DFS Boom/Bust Probability
DraftKings Cheat Sheet: Late Slate NBA Picks for Daily Fantasy Lineups with Luka Doncic