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NBA Switch And Hedge: How Will LeBron Follow Up One Of The Biggest Dud Performances Of His Career?

Chris Spags



Awesemo brings you yesterday's optimal winning NBA DFS lineups for DraftKings, FanDuel & Yahoo daily fantasy basketball. 12/19/2021

It’s the biggest slate of the NBA season thus far with 10 games to choose from and now more than ever you’ve got to pare down guys with a fine toothed comb to have a shot. We’ve got one gigantic star’s injury to discuss with Russell Westbrook, some key returns to lineups like Taurean Prince and Tim Hardaway in a potential shooter’s dream matchup of New York at Atlanta, and LeBron coming off one of the worst games of his career from a fantasy perspective and possibly a real life one. It’s like an old episode of 24 minus the torture and threat of nuclear violence where it’s impossible to figure out who you can truly trust (Jack Bauer being often too trusting was a surprising situation given how often he was betrayed. I admire his willingness to love). Anyway there’s a ton of options to work through so I’ll do my best to help you figure out which guys we like and which guys seem likely to result in the clock hitting zero with nothing to show for it.

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Detroit Pistons (105.5 implied points) at Orlando Magic (103.5 implied points)

-The team totals represent a 4.6 point drop on the Pistons’ season average and a 1.7 point boost on the Magic’s in this game with an adjusted pace of 102.9, towards the bottom end of the slate

Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond both seem like strong matchups versus a weak rebounding Magic team whose internal defenders are experienced but not the strongest overall. Blake’s ownership currently looks to be much lower based on projections from Awesemo and I may have more interest in Blake given Drummond’s monster game versus a Whiteside-less Miami last time out likely drawing some point chasers

Langston Gallaway had a huge game versus the Heat as well and early season reports were that coach Dwane Casey wanted to see him seize more of a role. I don’t think he has yet though, but Reggie Bullock missing the game again could give him another crack at it

Reggie Jackson quietly had his best game of the year versus Miami, though the overtime was a boost to his prospects. I’m not terribly sold on him here but he’s always a play with some upside in matchups with poor defenders across from him, as is the case today

Nikola Vucevic has been the most disappointing part of the offense lately, though it’s worth noting he’s had games of 47.5 and 60.5 fantasy points versus these Pistons last year. I continue to be a Vucevic believer and will play a little of him today but it does make sense to limit exposure

Evan Fournier knocked down a big game winner versus Cleveland but his price is coming up and he’s currently questionable with an ankle injury. If he’s ruled out, it might be an actual good time to play Terrence Ross, a guy who keeps roping me in with his siren song every time out. Jonathan Isaac ruled out will open some minutes for Ross too so the Fournier status is a key one to watch

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-I’ve got no issue with Aaron Gordon but his price is starting to inch back upwards on DraftKings. If Fournier is ruled out, he would also get some more shots up and that could help him maintain his hot streak. Otherwise, I’m a little iffier on him. Ditto DJ Augustin


Oklahoma City (112 implied points) at Cleveland Cavaliers (106 implied points)

-The Thunder get a 1.2 point decrease on their season average without Russell Westbrook while Cleveland sees a worthless 0.5 point boost on their season average according to Las Vegas in this game with a middle of the pack adjusted pace of 104.3

Dennis Schroder should find his ownership on the rise throughout the day and I would still have very little issue playing him with Westbrook out. Both he and Paul George should be in for full run of the house with Russ sidelined versus a Cleveland team who’s at the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency and allows opponents to shoot 51% from the floor and 40% from three. George has posted a 34% usage rate with Westbrook off the floor while Schroder has had a 30.3% usage rate

Jerami Grant has been on a tear recently with over 30 minutes per game but his price trickling upwards in a game that should be down pace for these Thunder is not a lock spot for him even with a slight uptick in usage. I don’t mind playing him but I’d prefer to focus on the core guys

George Hill’s price is down after a 44 fantasy point game versus Orlando where he shot 10-for-12 from the floor. Chalk George Hill is not a place to be with him expected to have 23% ownership today but I get wanting to roll those dice

-Guess who picked up minutes with Sam Dekker sidelined for the Cavs during their last game? Larry Nance, the great per-minute guy who isn’t seeing the floor nearly enough? No, of course not…it was JR Smith, a guy who doesn’t even want to be on the team. No thanks on either guy with Dekker out a few weeks. If Nance gets the start, adjust accordingly but new coach Larry Drew seems to really hate Nance for some reason

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-It doesn’t seem like a stellar matchup for Tristan Thompson vs Steven Adams but with Thompson picking up 34 minutes a game as the only guy with a secure spot in the rotation, I get why one would want to go there


New York Knicks (111.8 implied points) at Atlanta Hawks (109.8 implied points)

-The Knicks get a 4.8 boost on their season total according to Vegas while the Hawks are flat with theirs in this matchup projected for the higher end of pace on this slate with an adjusted pace of 105.3

Tim Hardaway is not on the injury report and his return to the lineup will cut into a lot of the other guys you might like to see here. Hardaway will be chucking versus a team at a gigantic pace boost and he already owns one 51.5 point game versus the Hawks this year

Enes Kanter could easily get going again against the Hawks second unit but with Hardaway back, I would think he won’t get the runway he did last time versus the Bulls when he got 41 minutes of run including overtime. It’s a riskier play with his price up following that monster 23 point, 24 board effort

Noah Vonleh stayed out of foul trouble versus the Bulls in a revenge game and had his first nice effort in a while. His price is back up following that effort but this does seem like a decent spot for him if he can avoid foul trouble, no sure thing. Vonleh’s success or failure directly affects both Kanter and Mitchell Robinson so hedge accordingly if you do go Noah’s way

Taurean Prince is in while Kevin Huerter is out and I would have no problem playing Taurean at his price with him not even picking up a questionable tag in the morning. Prince has been disappointing this season but he’s one of the guys in the league most due for positive regression with high usage. Ironically enough, Huerter’s absence may also boost DeAndre Bembry enough to be useful after he disappointed as a popular play last night

-Prince’s return may actually help Trae Young a bit from a spacing perspective even though his time with the ball in his hands will go down a little. Young was a little less effective with the defense keyed in on him, a spot that allowed Jeremy Lin to come in and be more effective finding his shot

-I will not play Alex Len or Dewayne Dedmon until one is injured, I will not play Alex Len or Dewayne Dedmon until one is injured, I will not play Alex Len or Dewayne Dedmon until one is injured. I figure if I write that like Bart Simpson on a chalkboard I can maybe teach myself to stop making this mistake


San Antonio Spurs (107.8 implied points) at Miami Heat (109.8 implied points)

-The Spurs’ Vegas total is down 5.7 points on their season average while the Heat’s is down 3.6 points on theirs in a game that’s towards the lower end of pace with a 103.1 adjusted pace

DeMar DeRozan is the guy I like the most on this Spurs side with his ownership projected for just 5% after a quiet couple of games where he hasn’t rebounded or assisted as well as he did during his run of 60 fantasy point games. I do think he can get back on track and Miami hasn’t been as bad of a matchup as the totals seem. Rudy Gay being ruled out should provide a slight boost too

LaMarcus Aldridge is projected for far more ownership and while I don’t mind him either at his $7,900 DraftKings price, I would prefer DeRozan over him. Miami shouldn’t really have a strong matchup for Aldridge though, which is not the case for DeRozan, so that may give some reason to value Aldridge more along with the slight boost he would get from Pau Gasol ruled out

Marco Belinelli has averaged 1.04 points in 137 minutes without Gay this season and I do think he could be an under the radar beneficiary of Gay’s absence

Goran Dragic is questionable and his absence would put Josh Richardson back on my radar despite his price jumping. Richardson either scores more or distributes the ball better without Dragic and he’s shown some real glimpses of greatness in that role. Tyler Johnson would get a boost too if Dragic were out

Justise Winslow continues to excel despite a 36% field goal percentage and I’m comfortable jumping off the train here versus a slower paced team with less leaks defensively

Hassan Whiteside is supposed to back tonight and he had a really strong preseason effort versus these Spurs with 45 fantasy points in 23 minutes. I wouldn’t expect that but he could be a nice low owned play with the slower pace playing right into his hands


Denver Nuggets (104.3 implied points) at Memphis Grizzlies (101.3 implied points)

-The Vegas totals reflect a 7.6 point drop on Denver’s season average along with a 2.5 point drop on the Grizzlies in this game with the lowest adjusted pace on the slate at 99.7

-A super slow game seems like a thing that could be an asset for Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap after both guys receded to the background during Jamal Murray’s big day versus Boston. Jokic’s price is down a bit and while he does like to run, his halfcourt playmaking versus Marc Gasol could be the driver of the offense here

-I wouldn’t point chase Murray today and I think Gary Harris might be a nice play to get some usage back

Marc Gasol and Mike Conley would both interest me a little with their prices getting closer to normalcy after getting a bit out of control. The pace and Nuggets defense here is a concern though and it’s more of a regression to the mean play for these two after a couple of really bad games for both

Jaren Jackson had one of his best games in weeks versus the Warriors and I don’t hate him in this matchup if he can avoid foul trouble. That $4,900 price is really appealing on DraftKings though again the pace is a concern

Shelvin Mack has been a nice value play recently but with his price creeping upwards in a down pace game, the margins are getting very narrow for him hitting value


Chicago Bulls (109.8 implied points) at New Orleans Pelicans (119.8 implied points)

-The Bulls get a 1.8 point boost on their season average from Vegas while the Pelicans get a 1.2 point boost on theirs

-Zach LaVine has been the guy to own recently and his 34.1% usage rate for the year is among the highest in the league. I worry a bit about the rising price Jrue Holiday defense on the other side, something that could make Jabari Parker or Cam Payne a little more interesting, but LaVine will shoot regardless and he’s overcome tough individual matchups several times this year

Wendell Carter looks like another good play with his price up but still not as high as the opportunity could be for him in this higher paced matchup. The Pelicans limit rebounds reasonably well given the speed they play with but Carter could end up getting more shots if LaVine has tough sledding

Elfrid Payton is questionable and reportedly more likely to return on Saturday vs the Suns but if he plays this is a picture perfect spot for him. If he sits, Jrue Holiday will feast on the Bulls backcourt defensively and offensively and I wouldn’t even mind his rising price

-This is Nikola Mirotic’s first game versus the Bulls since his departure and I have no problem playing the revenge narrative here given Jabari Parker defense on the other side. His usage rate is creeping back down as Anthony Davis’s elbow returns to full health, though

-Davis looks like an elite play here versus the Bulls and seeing him put up 20 shots last game was encouraging after he’s looked reticent on offense since hurting his elbow. This is an 80-point upside AD day which could be interesting given some disappointing performances by stud players lately

Julius Randle off the bench is in another decent spot with the Bulls likely to play with enough pace for him to steamroll their second unit. This Bulls team is hideous defensively thus far this year in almost every category so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of value to go around for the Pels


Philadelphia 76ers (107.3 implied points) at Indiana Pacers (109.3 implied points)

-The 76ers’ total represents a 4.3 point decrease on their season average while the Pacers get a 2.7 point boost on theirs in a game with an adjusted pace of 103.3

-The Sixers will find some tough defensive matchups with this Pacers team allowing just 43.7% shooting from the floor and 102.3 points per game. Joel Embiid seems like the one most likely to not have a natural defensive counter in Indiana’s starting group. His price is really high but he could be a decent pivot off of a much higher owned Anthony Davis on DraftKings

Robert Covington’s questionable tag turning into a missed game would likely be a benefit to rebounding and usage for Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, and Dario Saric but if he plays, I wouldn’t love much on the wing. Simmons is playable but I wouldn’t be dying for his price on a slate this size in a slower paced matchup. Redick could be interesting with him projected for far less ownership than Saric is currently

Victor Oladipo would be the guy to want here with his usage up and the Sixers playing with significantly more pace than the Pacers have. Oladipo’s price coming up seems like it will drop his ownership a bit with him projected for under 10% currently by Awesemo and that could be a nice spot with the game likely to stay close

Domantas Sabonis seems like he could be the better matchup for the Sixers here but Myles Turner will get the first crack again. Sabonis is tough to play with his price on the rise but I can’t see Myles Turner doing anything near enough to stop Joel Embiid


Dallas Mavericks (103.3 implied points) at Utah Jazz (112.3 implied points)

-Dallas’s Vegas total represents an 8.3 point drop on their season total while Utah gets a 2.3 point boost on theirs in a game with a lower tier 102.8 adjusted pace

Dennis Smith got back on track versus Washington and distributed the ball more effectively than he has recently, an encouraging sign with Luka Doncic taking on most of the playmaking. Smith was better vs the Jazz than Doncic in their game earlier this season but both guys seem like interesting plays at reasonable prices despite the iffy team total

DeAndre Jordan had his last really good game versus Rudy Gobert but his role seems to have changed a bit with Harrison Barnes back in the lineup. It’s not crazy to think Jordan excels in the matchup again but it’s not a situation I’d want to bank on. Ditto Barnes, whose value in his big game yesterday was greatly aided by rebounding versus a Wizards team who’s porous on the glass

Donovan Mitchell is expected to return to the lineup and that bumps Ricky Rubio back down the usage pecking order enough to be off him. Mitchell coming off an injury could be an interesting play though with Dallas allowing teams to shoot 43.3% from three and 49.3% from the floor, perfect for a scoring dependent guy like Mtichell

Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder are both getting a comparable amount of shots up and one of those guys having a game that exceeds value seems likely from what I can tell. Ingles dislocated a finger vs the Raptors on Monday night so I might lightly favor Crowder but it’s close

Rudy Gobert had a 56 fantasy point game versus Dallas recently and while he’s no lock to do that again, it’s a solid spot for him versus DeAndre at just 5% projected ownership


Toronto Raptors (120 implied points) at Sacramento Kings (112 implied points)

-The Vegas totals mean a 2.6 point boost for the Raptors’ season average and a 6.7 decrease on the Kings’ despite the game having the highest adjusted pace on the slate at 106.9

Kawhi Leonard is questionable to return to the lineup and his high usage role in this offense means he should be a consideration tonight. Sacramento has been a competitive team this year against mostly weak opponents and their ability to stay in the game could give Kawhi a higher ceiling than expected

-If Kawhi sits, Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam are pretty close to must play status for me with the Kings on the other side. Danny Green would be more appealing with Kawhi active given their stellar two-man game but Green is in consideration at his price

Serge Ibaka has shot 15 for 17 and 8 for 8 in his last two games and while that heater won’t last forever, at his price in this matchup he looks like a solid play whether Kawhi is in or not

Fred VanVleet would be a strong play if this game blows out and he’s a viable cheap play either way. Again the pace here is the thing and VanVleet should get enough shots up and rebounds and assists even in bench run to smash value

Bogdan Bogdanovic is questionable to return to the lineup and his status could affect a lot of the guys on this side, namely Buddy Hield. This isn’t a great spot for Hield either way with the defense on the other side and Bogdan breathing down his neck again for minutes would not be the best, though it’s entirely possible his role is more cemented this year than it was last

De’Aaron Fox’s price is down a bit and I have some interest in him as a result despite this matchup. Fox has been good and the defense at the wings should be so stout, particularly if Kawhi is active, that Fox pushing more offense may be necessary

Nemanca Bjelica could be a decent play here if the game stays close with almost no expected ownership. Bogdan’s return could also affect him a bit, and a blowout would result in much more Marvin Bagley, but Bjelica was smashing value just a few short games ago


Minnesota Timberwolves (116.3 implied points) at LA Lakers (121.3 implied points)

-Minnesota gets a 5.7 point boost on their average in their Vegas total while the Lakers get a 2.3 point boost on theirs in a game with a near the top of the slate 106.3 adjusted pace

-We saw this matchup just a few short weeks ago, the one game where Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns smashed value in concert this year (though it’s worth noting that was a game without Andrew Wiggins active). Butler is expected to play tonight and there’s nothing wrong with rostering him or Towns tonight, though I’d be less likely to expect them both to crush value with Wiggins and his 24.3% usage back in the game

Jeff Teague remains out and I’d have no problem playing Derrick Rose if he draws the start again. At a game of this pace, I’d be more inclined to play Rose with one of Butler or Towns if you want to stack it up

-It’s worth noting Taj Gibson is on a pretty decent roll and at his price it wouldn’t take much at pace for him to have some value and get you to some higher priced guys

LeBron James is coming off a hideous 31 fantasy point effort versus Toronto where he looked completely disinterested in a blowout. He put up 62 fantasy points vs Minnesota in their last matchup and I have no issue going back to him tonight even if I do prefer some of the other studs on the slate

Javale McGee stands to lose a few minutes with the addition of Tyson Chandler and at his price that’s probably enough to keep me off of him, particularly with Towns likely to stretch him away from the rim

-You can only play one of Lonzo Ball or Rajon Rondo and given the likely iffy Rose defense on the other side at starter, I think Lonzo can get enough going to hold Rondo at bay. If he falters, this could easily become a Rondo game though and that situation is a real kick in the nards if you roster the wrong guy

Kyle Kuzma has gotten more usage than Brandon Ingram lately and but one of these guys can get going today with all the pace and scoring expected. Ingram is so cold that playing the regression game could be smart here but on paper Kuzma does seem much more logical


Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags, tune into the Awesemo YouTube for me and Fast Eddie Fear live at 6PM Eastern, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow with more thoughts.

Chris Spags is the senior director of editorial strategy at and contributes to the site's NBA, NFL, and MLB coverage as a writer and host of video content. Chris's content background from sites like Guyism, Uproxx, and Barstool Sports allows him to bring a unique spin to the world of daily fantasy sports analysis. Chris writes regular columns with NBA and NFL analysis as well as his inimitable style and his 'Four Corners' videos for basketball, baseball, and football DFS are the primary short form content offering on Awesemo's YouTube channel. You can find him on almost any given night providing analysis right up to slate lock on Awesemo's flagship Live Before Lock livestreams or on Twitter @ChrisSpags. You can contact Chris by emailing [email protected].

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