The Slate Starter is a daily first look at to get your daily fantasy basketball lineup-building process started before lock tonight. Each day, we will go through some of the best NBA DFS picks, top stacks and optimal lineup construction for DraftKings and FanDuel. Be sure to check Awesemo’s NBA Starting Lineupspage, as it will be updated throughout the day as the NBA injury reports are released and breaking news surfaces. Let’s dive into some of the key players on Sunday’s five-game slate.
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C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard was ruled out for this game last night with an abdominal injury and that means the Trail Blazers are going to be popular. That all starts with C.J. McCollum, and neither DraftKings or FanDuel priced him above $7,600. It’s a little bit odd to see McCollum only at 1.14 fantasy points without Lillard on the floor since last year, but he’s had some awful shooting nights in that span. His true shooting over that 231-minute sample size is just 48.7% and his career mark is 55.2%.
If you added up the field goal attempts from McCollum and Lillard in the isolation play type, it would be 6.8 attempts per game and that would lead the league. Of course, this isn’t a situation where you just combine stats and you get a neat number. It’s to illustrate the role that is open in the offense and with McCollum having a 31.8% usage rate, he will shoulder some of the responsibility. Denver is 22nd in points per possession allowed in isolation, and the salary does not match the upside potential.
It will be worth checking out the Boom/Bust Probability tool to see where he’ll stand as far as ownership and leverage, along with teammates Norman Powell and Anfernee Simons. The latter has the most minutes without Lillard since last year and has 0.97 fantasy points per minute to back up that sample.
Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets
The next player is in the same game and Nikola Jokic enters this slate with one of the highest ceilings of any player. It’s a testament to how wild NBA DFS can be that in the past two slates where Jokic has been active, he hasn’t been very popular. The Nuggets have been without Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray isn’t that close to returning to the lineup yet. That means that Jokic has been even more of a focal point in the Denver offense.
This season he’s at 2.11 fantasy points per minute without Porter Jr. and Murray while stretching the sample to the start of last season has it at 1.89. The usage is well over 33% regardless and Jusuf Nurkić is going to struggle to guard him. Since Nov. 6th when Porter Jr. was injured, Jokic has 104.3 touches per game and the next closest player is LaMelo Ball at 98.8. In that time span, Jokic has run 10.7 post-ups per game and the Trail Blazers are 24th in points allowed and 29th in points per possession defending that play type. The field has let Jokic go lower-rostered lately but that trend should stop tonight.
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LaMarcus Aldridge, C, Brooklyn Nets
It’s been a fairly profitable strategy to go after the Oklahoma City Thunder with big men close to the paint because the Thunder are 28th in points allowed in the paint and 30th in rebounds allowed in the paint. LaMarcus Aldridge hasn’t played a ton of minutes per game, but he’s been very efficient with a 23.1% usage and 1.15 fantasy points per minute. Nic Claxton is still out with illness and Paul Millsap has been ruled out. That leaves Aldridge and Blake Griffin as the two that play the traditional center role and Aldridge leads the entire league in points scored as the roll man in the pick-and-roll. That is a very poor matchup for the Thunder, who are 21st in points per possession defending that play type. The minutes won’t be crazy, but Aldridge can excel in a short amount of court time.
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View our DraftKings ownership projections, our FanDuel ownership projections and our Yahoo! ownership projections. Looking for more NBA DFS strategy and the top NBA DFS picks tonight? Our NBA DFS projections tonight are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. We also have FanDuel NBA rankings, Yahoo! rankings and DraftKings ownership rankings for today's slate. Check out our NBA fantasy rankings today for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own best DFS NBA projections.
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