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Friday Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Today | 10/29/21

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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 key players on Friday’s seven-game slate who have gotten off to slow starts this year.

NBA DFS Picks & Optimal Lineup Construction | Oct. 29

James Harden, G, Brooklyn Nets

Harden has previously been one of the best fantasy producers in the business, but his numbers are way down to start the year. He has averaged just 40.8 DraftKings points over his first five games, and he has scored below 40 in each of his past three.

There has been plenty of talk about Harden’s reduced number of free throws to start the year, and that has been a real issue. He has averaged just three free throws per game after averaging 7.3 last season. That number was routinely in the double-digits during his tenure with the Rockets, so he is getting to the line far less frequently this year.

Still, it seems a bit premature to sound the alarm bells just yet. His usage rate is roughly the same as it was last season, so this could just be an outlier stretch. I’m interested in buying low on him on Friday, particularly if he is going to carry reduced ownership.

Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers

Lillard has been even worse than Harden to start the year, averaging just 35.2 DraftKings points per game. That said, there are not nearly as many red flags with him. His two worst performances both came in blowouts where he finished with reduced minutes.

The big issue with Lillard is he just has not made any shots to start the year. He is shooting just 33.3% from the field and 17.1% from 3-point range, and Lillard is too talented not to turn things around eventually. Lillard is facing a Clippers squad that ranks ninth in pace to start the year.

Jusuf Nurkic, C, Portland Trail Blazers

Things have not been much better for Nurkic to start the year. He did put together a solid outing in his last contest, finishing with 35 DraftKings points over 23 minutes, but he has averaged just 31.4 DraftKings points per game.

The big issue for Nurkic has simply been a lack of playing time. Each of the Trail Blazers’ past three games has been decided by at least 20 points, so Nurkic has played 25 minutes or less in each. His best game of the year unsurprisingly came over 29 minutes on opening night. Nurkic has still averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he is a solid bet to return value as soon as he gets back to playing around 30 minutes.

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He could also be undervalued in the prop market on Friday, so make sure to utilize Awesemo’s Player Prop Tool before locking in any wagers.


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Our best NBA DFS projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. View our Yahoo! ownership, our DraftKings NBA ownership projections and our FanDuel ownership. Looking for more NBA DFS tools and the best NBA DFS picks today? We also have FanDuel ownership rankings, DraftKings ownership rankings and Yahoo! NBA rankings for today's slate. Check out our NBA DraftKings rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA projections FanDuel.
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