I’m dying inside from some sort of cold/flu situation but, much like Michael Jordan, I’ll try to bring my flu game best for today’s NBA DFS picks. We’ve got six games today with a few incredibly appealing NBA DFS spots as well as key absences for guys like Russell Westbrook, Paul George and possibly Ricky Rubio. I’ll discuss the ramifications of all those guys as well as the other situations you’ll come across today in the Jan. 14 NBA DFS Switch and Hedge.
Be sure to check out Emac’s Cash Building Blocks for more NBA DFS picks and analysis.
Also, watch today’s NBA Strategy Show with Josh Engleman and Adam Scherer.
Follow me and tweet me @chrisspags with any feedback or questions you have! Now let’s get to what I see so far for tonight’s slate.
Is James Harden an NBA DFS Lock With No Russell Westbrook?
Russell Westbrook will rest on the front half of a back-to-back in Houston’s visit to Memphis. Houston has a 121.8 implied total, a 2.6-point boost on their season scoring average, despite Westbrook’s absence. That means it may actually be worth paying for James Harden despite his massively elevated price on DraftKings. On FanDuel for $11,700, Harden looks like a “set it and forget it” play. At $13,000 on DraftKings, it’s a tougher proposition but one I’d still want more than the field’s 13% projected ownership. Harden averages 1.9 fantasy points per minute and 48% usage plus a 47% assist rate without Westbrook and the game should be fast-paced against Memphis’ weak 109.3 defensive rating.
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Clint Capela also gains some appeal given the matchup and his 1.2 fantasy points per minute in court time with Harden and without Westbrook. Ben McLemore will be a chalk value play now that he’s in the starting lineup with Westbrook out. He hasn’t been great on paper with 0.7 fantasy points per minute when playing alongside Harden with no Westbrook. I don’t mind him because he’s so cheap but I’d probably prefer the slightly more expensive P.J. Tucker with less ownership expected his way. There’s room for both, and maybe even Eric Gordon off the bench, to produce because of the stellar matchup.
Memphis’ side also should have some appeal with reasonable prices for guys like Jae Crowder and Jaren Jackson Jr. These guys, as well as Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks, will need to score more than their usual to hang in there against Houston. Crowder’s defensive ability would make me think he can earn more minutes today, though he may be a bit hurt with his hip issues as he played just 20 and 23 minutes in his last few games. Crowder was ruled a game-time decision as I wrote this article.
Kawhi Leonard Is Also Without His NBA DFS Running Mate
Kawhi Leonard averages 1.6 fantasy points per minute with 38% usage in court time without Paul George, who’ll be out again with hamstring issues. There’s risk of a blowout on a back-to-back in Cleveland after a night in Los Angeles. But Leonard stands a decent chance to be the initiator and a big beneficiary if Cleveland somehow keeps it close. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell also will see a decent boost without George at more reasonable prices. These guys, Patrick Beverley and to a lesser extent Ivica Zubac will all have a chance at success against Cleveland’s 113 defensive rating.
Another Day For Priced Up Trae
Trae Young is expected back in the lineup after he missed Atlanta’s last game and bombed against Washington before that. Phoenix plays with decent pace and a none-too-great 107.9 defensive efficiency rating so he should have a chance to get back on track here. The price point for him is still elevated in line with his hot run with nine of his last 11 games over 50.25 fantasy points. At under 15% projected ownership for Young, I’d want more than that. The same goes for John Collins who could also benefit from Alex Len being ruled out after he missed shootaround this morning. Collins at the five is a win for his fantasy prospects and the Hawks will also be without Bruno Fernando in the lineup today.
I’m still willing to ride with Kevin Huerter for some exposure even though he’s had a down few games. He’s lost some minutes to Cam Reddish and DeAndre’ Bembry lately so he’s the lowest priority for me of the three Hawks.
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Ricky Rubio is unlikely to play after he missed the team plane while awaiting the birth of his child. That would make Devin Booker a lot more appealing at his price tag. Booker averages 1.3 fantasy points per minute without Rubio and is much more likely to benefit from his absence than any of the other point guards. Elie Okobo isn’t an insane play if he were to pick up the start but he’s not going to see a gigantic benefit as a 0.8-fantasy-point-per-minute player with Booker on the court and Rubio off. His low price is the main reason I’d go there. Kelly Oubre looks a bit overpriced but he’ll see some additional time with the ball if Rubio is out. I’d lightly favor Deandre Ayton over him but both guys seem fine in this matchup if you can find a way to afford them.
Other NBA DFS Notes
- Utah at Brooklyn doesn’t seem like the most appealing situation to me. It’ll be a pace-up for Utah but they have some stiff prices on their side given Brooklyn’s serviceable 104.6 defensive rating. Kyrie Irving’s return will weaken that defense but I’m not sure if that’s enough to get me to Utah. And Irving’s return will also muddy everything for Brooklyn. Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Irving are all ball-dominant players who will cut into the others’ opportunity. I’d be most inclined for LeVert’s discount but I mostly just want to see how the pieces come together for a game or two. There may be upside in the slightly cheaper prices for Brooklyn today but I don’t trust any of them with Irving’s return.
- It wouldn’t surprise me to see Golden State stay competitive with Dallas in a home game with most of their core guys back in. D’Angelo Russell and Alec Burks appear to be decent values. Draymond Green is too even though his low usage never makes him a huge priority when the Warriors have a fully stocked lineup. I’d be more inclined for these guys paired with Luka Doncic as a pivot to James Harden if his ownership comes up. Doncic himself seems worth some exposure even though his price is also fairly insane. He has 75 and 78 fantasy points against Golden State in two games this year.
- The Knicks head to Milwaukee for a game with a 16-point spread favoring the home Bucks. If they have any chance to stay competitive with Marcus Morris out again, it likely starts with Julius Randle, R.J. Barrett and Elfrid Payton. Reggie Bullock is the best 3-point shooter in their rotation but Milwaukee will likely aim to take clean looks away from him while Randle and Barrett get looks with impunity. Similar to Golden State, it makes sense to take multiple Knicks if you play Giannis Antetokounmpo given the decent probability of destruction.