We will get into the Slate Starter here in a second, but Friday is obviously the beginning of March Madness in the college basketball world. And if you want the best in college basketball betting advice and projections, look no further than Awesemo’s own Ben Rasa and Matt Gajewski. They’re putting together four consecutive livestreams at the Awesemo YouTube channel starting at 11 a.m. EST, talking all things NCAA tournament. Click here to tune in. Now let’s sink our teeth into this massive 10-game NBA slate and find a few NBA DFS picks to catapult you to the top on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Be sure to check out the Slate Starter podcast, featuring yours truly and Rynpak, to get the first look at the slate and make NBA DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel!
NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | March 19
The Three-Headed Point Guard Monster
I am going to throw a hypothetical out right off the bat, as this entire section is predicated on C.J. McCollum sitting. While he only played 21 minutes on Thursday, I don’t know why the Trail Blazers would risk pushing him on a back-to-back. I am guessing we’ll hear their plans for him sooner rather than later in the morning, so follow the Newzgod at the @AwesemoNBA Twitter handle to know exactly if/when that news breaks.
But assuming I have that right, there are three incredible point guard spend-up options on DraftKings for Friday:
Let’s start with James Harden, who single-handedly carried the Nets to victory versus the Pacers on Wednesday despite Kyrie Irving‘s last-second absence. Irving is expected to return Friday, but the fact remains that Harden’s floor/ceiling combo is otherworldly:
In his past 14 games, only twice has he finished under 50 DraftKings points, while he’s exceeded 60 fantasy points in 10 of them. That is astounding consistency and ceiling, making him a can’t-fade play for me on pretty much every slate until Kevin Durant returns. Sure, the matchup against the Magic could be better, as they held him to only 43.25 DraftKings points back on February 25th. But at only $11,000, Harden still feels discounted for the 30% usage and 44.6% assist rate he enjoys with Durant off the floor this season.
Next is Damian Lillard, who once again I’m throwing into the conversation only if McCollum sits. This Mavericks matchup should be a doozy, as both teams are bottom 10 in defensive efficiency. That is reflected in the healthy 234 total and should make the entire game a decent spot to target for fantasy output. In 1,049 minutes with McCollum off the floor this season, Lillard’s assist rate spikes up to 38.3% and his usage jumps to 34.5%, noticeable bumps from his season averages of 35.8% and 33.1%, respectively. The rebounding rate (6.8%) pales in comparison to Harden’s (13.8%), but the ceiling rivals anyone in the NBA, and his matchup is certainly superior to Harden’s.
Last up is Luka Doncic lining up opposite Lillard. Doncic toyed with the Clippers in back-to-back games earlier this week and now gets a superior matchup in the Blazers. Doncic is rounding into form after the break, having now eclipsed 57.5 DraftKings points in four of his past five. The discount down from the other two studs isn’t noticeable enough to matter, plus 5 stocks in his last outing isn’t something I’m banking on happening again. But there is no doubt he makes for another outstanding spend-up.
So where do we go in this spot? A lot of that will be dictated by ownership I don’t have yet, although I do get the feeling Doncic will be the public’s priority at this moment due to matchup and price. As much as I love rostering Doncic, I’m happy to prioritize the other two in my NBA DFS lineups should there be a disproportionate amount of ownership going away from the other two. But if you make me pick only one to lead the others in raw fantasy points, give me Harden in his current role just about every time.
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The Wounded Warriors
It feels like we get a super short-handed team on every slate nowadays, and Friday is no exception. Stephen Curry took a hard fall on his tailbone Wednesday and is now doubtful, along with Kelly Oubre, who walked away from that same game with a foot injury. To add insult to injury, James Wiseman and Eric Paschall will continue to be absent, as they remain in health-and-safety protocols.
That means your major talking-point team on this slate is undoubtedly the Warriors. The closest comp game I have to this situation was their punted game against the Suns on March 4. Curry, Oubre and Draymond Green were rested, and this was the result:
The Warriors were run out of the gym 120-98, but the thing I remember most was the industry losing its mind over the Warriors’ random starting lineup. It was the second half of a back-to-back, and players such as Brad Wanamaker and Kent Bazemore, who were expected to start and receive extensive run, didn’t do either. Obviously this time around we have Green to consider, but he won’t be called upon to score the ball, as that’s simply not his forte.
My guess is Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole will see the bulk of the usage. Because Curry and Oubre are such essential pieces to make this offense click, I’m predicting a much lower total than you’d expect (it’s not out yet, but my guess is somewhere around 210). But the fact remains that’s a ton of shots to be divvied up amongst the other Warriors, so each one is extremely underpriced for their newfound situations. Also, Memphis is 10th in the NBA in pace, so we’re not looking at a Knicks-esque sort of matchup.
The last bit I’ll add about this: I really hope we get zero clarity about that starting lineup before lock. I want the field to make assumptions and guesses on what it is, and I want Steve Kerr to flip it on its head. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say it’ll be Nico Mannion, Wiggins, Bazemore, Green and Kevon Looney, but I’m secretly hoping to be wrong. That’s because late swap would prove more vital than normal, and since it’s early in the night, I will certainly have the roster spots in my lineups to mix-and-match everyone appropriately.
Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups
- There are 20 teams to pick and choose from on Friday; I’m expecting a lot of news, and I’m expecting a lot of stars-and-scrubs builds.
- I was riding the Jimmy Butler train hard until Wednesday when I fortunately got off. It is ironic because he’s legitimately $1,100 more expensive on FanDuel ($10,600) than DraftKings ($9,500), yet almost all of my interest in taking shots on him is on FanDuel. That is because the position is trash on the top end, as Norman Powell is the closest-listed player to him at $7,800. It is a pay-up-to-be-contrarian spot for sure, but he’ll certainly project out for the most points at small forward, making him more than intriguing to me.
- Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards were other-worldly on Thursday. If you expect them to repeat that performance in their second consecutive outing against the Suns, then I have some oceanfront property out in Arizona I would like to sell you.
- Just play Devin Booker.
Looking for more NBA DFS picks content? We have loads of NBA DFS Picks articles, data, cheat sheets and more on the Awesemo NBA home page. Just click HERE.
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