Sunday, Feb. 16 is our last shot at NBA DFS until Thursday. If you are looking for an escape this holiday weekend, then we’ve got you covered. In addition to this article, check out Awesemo’s All-Star Game projections, which will be posted Sunday afternoon.
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We have the All-Star Game, the crown jewel of the NBA festivities this weekend, tipping off on Sunday night at 8 p.m. EST. This will be the 69th time this game has been held and the third time it has been hosted by Chicago. Under the current format, the two teams are drafted by captains. For the second straight year, that designation has been bestowed to both LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Starters: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard
Reserves: Devin Booker, Nikola Jokic, Chris Paul, Domantas Sabonis, Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum, Russell Westbrook
Injured: Damian Lillard (replaced by Devin Booker)
Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker, Trae Young
Reserves: Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Rudy Gobert, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell
There is a new format this year which is intended to spice things up a bit. Each of the first three quarters will be scored as individual games. Each team has designated a charity which will receive $100,000 for each quarter that their team wins. After three quarters have been played, the scores will all be added together. A target score will be calculated by adding 24 points (in honor of Kobe Bryant) to the leading team’s score. The first team to reach that target score will win with $500,000 being donated to that team’s designated charity.
Prior Box Scores
2019: Team LeBron 178 – Team Giannis 164 click here
2018: Team LeBron 148 – Team Stephen 145 click here
2017: West 192 – East 182 click here
2016: West 196 – East 173 click here
2015: West 163 – East 158 click here
Narrative Connections to Chicago
Anthony Davis was born and raised in Chicago and finished up high school at Perspectives Charter before heading to the University of Kentucky. Jimmy Butler was drafted by the Bulls with the 30th selection in the 2011 NBA Draft. He spent six seasons in Chicago before moving on to Minnesota.
Betting Angles and Odds
MVP odds have captains Giannis Antetokounmpo +450, LeBron James +500 and hometown hero Anthony Davis +550 as the most likely to win the MVP (per PointsBet).
The game has a 303.0 over/under with Team LeBron favored by six as of Saturday morning (per Pinnacle).
Premium Subscribers click here for All-Star player projections these will be live later this afternoon.
We know that not a lot of defense is played in these exhibitions unless the game is close in the last few minutes. Most of the players do not want to make each other look bad nor do they want to expend the extra energy or risk injury. While they are likely to be a little more effective than Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge, it probably will not be by much.
The starters and particularly the captains tend to play the most minutes. Reserves and bigs tend to draw the short straw. Keep in mind that last year Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki received honorary roster slots and played 10:27 and 3:59 respectively.
Blocks are limited and steals tend to be a byproduct of errant passes:
2019: Seven blocks, 17 steals
2018: Eight blocks, 20 steals
2017: Two blocks, 32 steals
2016: Two blocks, 31 steals
2015: Two blocks, 32 steals
Only three times in the last five years has a team shot less than 50% from the field. During this stretch, there have been 14 double-doubles and one triple-double (Kevin Durant 21-10-10 in 2017, though technically, James Harden got there as well with 12-7-12 and 10 turnovers). Players seem to be just as likely to get there with rebounds or assists.
First-timers often get the short shrift on minutes, but Trae Young and Luka Doncic are starters. They are joined by fellow newbies Bam Adebayo, Rudy Gobert, Brandon Ingram, Domantas Sabonis, Pascal Siakam and Jayson Tatum.
Team LeBron NBA DFS Picks
LeBron James – This is his third go-around as the captain and his 16th All-Star Game appearance. We know what we are getting here.
Anthony Davis – Gets the hometown nod and has a nice inside-out game that should serve him well in his seventh All-Star Game.
Luka Donic – A busy man this weekend, having played in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday. He should show out well in his All-Star debut with his range, distribution skills and the fact he is one of the league leaders in drives per game.
James Harden – No stranger to this event with this year marking his eighth time in the midseason classic. The last five times as a starter, he has taken 13, 13, nine, 12 and 12 3-point attempts.
Kawhi Leonard – Just his third appearance in the last six years, the reigning NBA Finals MVP comes with some concern. Last year as a starter, he played just 18:33, which was the fewest of all 10 starters by nearly two minutes. In 2017 as a starter, he played only 14:47, which was almost five minutes fewer than the other starters. Last year, he still managed 19 points, five rebounds and two assists on 7-for-14 from the field with 11 3-point attempts. Still, it may be worth letting others assume this risk if you are only making a couple of lineups.
Devin Booker – Will be making his All-Star debut as a replacement for Damian Lillard. The real question will be minutes for the current 10th-leading scorer at 26.4 points per game.
Nikola Jokic – Using last year’s debut of 13:11 minutes, six points and nine rebounds as a benchmark, it is hard to see Jokic cracking 15 minutes.
Chris Paul – Will be making his 10th showing and first since 2016. That year, he had 16 assists off the bench, building off the 15 he had in 2015. Best guess is that he will see 18-ish minutes with all of the ball handlers on this team. Topping 20 minutes will likely be directly correlated with Leonard’s time on the court.
Domantas Sabonis – Another first-timer, it would be a surprise to see much more than 12-14 minutes on a stacked Team LeBron.
Ben Simmons – This will be the second time in this exhibition for the Australian. Last year, he had a nice all-around showing in 16:35 with 10 points, six rebounds, seven assists and a steal. My guess is that he will see closer to 20 minutes this year.
Jayson Tatum – His newbie status and redundancy with LeBron, Davis, Leonard, and to a lesser extent Simmons and Doncic likely will keep his minutes in the upper-teens. He has a nice skill set for this game and is averaging 38.2% on 6.9 3-point attempts per game this season.
Russell Westbrook – In 2017, he dropped 41 points in 19:42, sinking 16 of 26 shots. We know he will be playing at warp speed, but everything hinges on putting the biscuit in the basket for him to be a fantasy difference maker.
Team Giannis Antetokounmpo NBA DFS Picks
Giannis Antetkounmpo – The reigning 2019 MVP last played on Feb. 8 before taking time off to welcome his son into the world. The team is named after him and he has the #BabyNarrative, so what else do we need?
Joel Embiid – Joining in the fun for the third time in his young career. This is also his third time as a starter, so it makes sense to expect something between his 23:11 and 20:05 of the last two games. A double-double is definitely within his range of outcomes.
Pascal Siakam – Making his first appearance in this game and is starting to boot. Out of the shadow cast by Leonard, the Cameroonian has made the move to the next level. He is 15th in the league, scoring 23.5 points per game along with a 36.2% conversion rate on 5.8 attempts per game from behind the arc.
Kemba Walker – Will be in the starting lineup for the second consecutive year and making his fourth overall showing in this exhibition. Considering the limited pool of facilitators on Team Giannis, he should see north of 22 minutes for the first time in his All-Star Game career.
Trae Young – Another first-time participant who is starting on Sunday, this game is well suited for Young’s style. The sophomore is third in the league with 29.7 points per game, fifth with 9.4 3-point attempts and second with 9.2 assists. Team Giannis is going to need a lot from him to keep pace with Team LeBron.
Bam Adebayo – Joining in on the fun for the first time in his career. The third-year big is posting career highs across the board and is 10th in the league with 10.4 rebounds per game. Playing time could be an issue when this game draws to a close as he lacks outside shooting touch.
Rudy Gobert – This is the first time he is in this game. However, as we have seen with the more traditional centers, his minutes will likely be in the 10-12 range on Sunday.
Brandon Ingram – Has not played since Feb. 6 while dealing with an ankle injury. This is his first All-Star appearance, so I do think he will take the court, but he could be in the 10-12 minute range as the Pelicans are battling for a playoff berth in the Western Conference and need him healthy.
What can we expect from Wildcard Jimmy Butler?
Jimmy Butler – The last time we saw/didn’t see Butler in this event was two years ago when he decided to not get off the bench. Chicago has a long history with the veteran swing man, so it will be interesting to see what kind of a reception he gets.
Kyle Lowry – A veteran of these games, making his sixth appearance in 14 seasons. Team Giannis needs distributors and Lowry will be content to fill that role. In four of his last five All-Star Games, the Raptor has taken double-digit field goal attempts. His assist totals have been three, 11, zero, 10 and eight, which may not be as consistent as expected.
Khris Middleton – In this game for the second time and this is also his second showing on Team Giannis. Last year, he was 6-for-10 from deep, totaling 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. He should see 20-22 minutes and is a nice core option.
Donovan Mitchell – Also making his debut in this event. We know he can handle the ball in a pinch and is a good scorer and outside shooter. This season, he is 14th in the league with 24.3 points per game and he is converting his 6.7 3-point attempts at a 36.3% rate.
This is a fun event and there is a little bit of an edge if you have read this far. For those of you wondering, Fast Eddie Fear will be anchoring a special episode of Live Before Lock shows on YouTube, Twitch and Periscope beginning at 6:45 p.m. EST tonight for all of the up-to-date information.
As always, you can reach out to me in Awesemo.com premium Slack or on Twitter @EMacDFS if you have any NBA DFS questions about DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo or FantasyDraft.