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 Lineups page, as it will be updated throughout the day as the NBA injury reports are released and breaking news surfaces. Let’s dive into some players who stand out as key options on Thursday’s four-game slate.
Want to see how your lineup stacked up against yesterday’s winning NBA DFS lineups on DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo? Check out Awesemo’s Optimal Lineup Review, which uses Fantasy Cruncher Rewind to analyze the winning plays from the night before.
NBA DFS Picks & Optimal Lineup Construction | Jan. 6
Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
Thursday’s slate is on the smaller side, and there are not a ton of studs to choose from. However, Morant stands out as an exception. He has been fantastic over his past five games, scoring at least 48.25 DraftKings points in each of them. He has also increased his usage rate over that time frame, posting a mark of at least 34.4% in four of those games.
Morant is set up for more success on Thursday. He draws one of the best possible matchups vs. the Pistons, who rank 22nd in defensive efficiency and 10th in pace. The Grizzlies are currently implied for 116.25 points, which represents a sizable increase from their season average of 111.3.
The Grizzlies could also be without some of their top secondary scoring options. Desmond Bane is currently doubtful, while Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton are questionable.
Finally, Morant’s price tag dropped by $500 following his last contest. Overall, expect him to be near the top of our NBA Projections.
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Alec Burks, SG/SF, New York Knicks
Burks is another player whose price tag has come back to reality recently. He got as high as $7,800 on DraftKings, but he is down to just $5,900 vs. the Celtics.
Burks has also started to grab a healthy portion of minutes for the Knicks again. He racked up 35.6 minutes in their last game after being at 26.9 or in each of his previous five games. Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker remain out of the lineup, so Burks should be looking at another sizable workload vs. the Celtics. Burks has averaged 0.87 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he should be able to take advantage of that much playing time.
Bismack Biyombo, C, Phoenix Suns
How the Suns divide up their center minutes on Thursday will be one of the most important factors on the slate. Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee have officially cleared health and safety protocols, but both players will remain out of the lineup vs. the Clippers.
Jalen Smith has started the past three games at center for the Suns, and he has averaged a stout 1.24 DraftKings points per minute this season. However, he dealt with foul trouble and a head injury in his last game, which limited him to just 16.3 minutes.
That allowed Biyombo to grab a larger share of the minutes. He racked up nearly 29.4 minutes in just his second game for the team, and he responded with 38.0 DraftKings points.
Smith has the higher ceiling between the two players, but Biyombo is significantly cheaper. That means he does not need to do quite as much to pay off his price tag.
It will be interesting to see how both players grade out using the Awesemo Player Prop tool. Both players could provide some value as rebounders, with the Clippers ranking merely 27th in team rebound rate.
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We also have Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings, DraftKings rankings and FanDuel NBA rankings for today's slate. View our Yahoo! ownership, our FanDuel ownership and our DraftKings ownership. Our NBA daily fantasy projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more NBA DFS plays today and the top NBA DFS picks tonight? Check out our DFS basketball rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own best DFS NBA projections.
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