Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 3/31/16
Short(er)-Slate Thursday – my favorite night, for some odd reason. There are six games on tap, up from the usual 4 on the typical unofficial start of the weekend (for those of you still in school or young enough to have those). Regardless, it’s a small number of games. I think one of the reasons I like shorter slates is there are fewer opportunities to screw up. When you do, though, it has a much bigger impact. They’re not actually less risky, they just feel that way. Anyway… There’s no line on two of the six games, and only a couple with higher O/Us. You’d think it’d be a pretty tricky night for DFS picks, but several positions are pretty locked down (especially for cash games). As always, review these, and check back tomorrow…
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Shane Larkin - FD 3900 DK 4100
Opponent - CLE
FD Proj. Pts - 21.86 DK Proj. Pts - 22.99
Fair warning: this will not be pretty. Think train wreck – you know you should look away because it’s going to be ugly, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it. After blowing Tuesday’s game, I suspect LBJ will be back in the lineup and the Cavs will be motivated. Still, the Nets will be in the gym, someone has to man the point for them, and it’ll be Larkin. That means passing (maybe even assists), shooting (maybe some will go through the hoop), defending (could pick Kyrie’s pocket, who does have a propensity to play a little loose some nights), and generally the opportunity for fantasy production. That’s good in DFS. At his price, he has a very high floor and lots of upside (think 8x – just don’t count on it). Pretty nice play, especially on FD where you need 2 PGs and exactly 2 stand out.
Russell Westbrook - FD 10600 DK 10500
Opponent - LAC
FD Proj. Pts - 58.37 DK Proj. Pts - 60.22
I love it when I get to recommend Russ and it’s not just because he’s Russ. The DFSR system likes him for a 4.5x _floor_. At this salary, that, well, Russ-diculous. The Pace will be high, the Clips DvP on PGs is average, and the O/U is in the mid-210’s. Did I mention it’s Russ? On FD, save some cash on Larkin, spend it on Westbrook. On DK, just spend the money on Russ. He’s the top PP$ option at PG.
Elfrid Payton - FD 5900 DK 5900
Opponent - IND
FD Proj. Pts - 28.81 DK Proj. Pts - 29.32
Because we give you three picks a night. Seriously, the drop-off in projection from the other two guys is huge, but on most nights Elfrid would be a very solid play, priced in between Larkin and Westbrook. His salary is up 20% in a week, and even at here he’d have done no worse than 5x. The game log is pretty (not pretty good, just pretty). The matchup isn’t bad in terms of Pace or DvP. Honestly, I think you have to look at the lack of a line on the game, conclude the game’s not only hard for Vegas to predict, but also the good folks at DFSR, and so they’ve discounted him some. If I need the right salary for lineup construction, I won’t hesitate to plug him in, and he’s definitely on the tournament radar.
Consider Austin Rivers even though he stinks
James Harden - FD 10900 DK 10600
Opponent - CHI
FD Proj. Pts - 53.21 DK Proj. Pts - 55.97
If you haven’t thrown all your money elsewhere, the Beard is a pretty good place to do so. You are reading the numbers right (if you actually read them), he’s _projected_ for over 5x on DK. In this price tier, that’s nearly unheard of. The Bulls aren’t a particularly good or bad matchup – above-average in both Pace and DvP. The rotations are a little uncertain, but Harden’s touches really don’t depend on the opposing 5 guys. He cooled off a little last game, having previously put up a 6x, a 7x, and a 5.5x. You can definitely save in the front court, so Westbrook/Harden should be doable. And a lot of fun to watch (happily, back-to-back on TNT!).
C.J. McCollum - FD 6900 DK 6900
Opponent - BOS
FD Proj. Pts - 32.44 DK Proj. Pts - 34.37
McCollum is a scrappy overachiever, which is great, right? He’s just not very aesthetically pleasing. For DFS, who cares? The C’s play at breakneck speed and are just a little above average in DvP terms. The game is expected to be close and has the highest O/U at this stage. Lots of shots to go up, and we know McCollum will get his share. His price dipped a bit after a sub-par performance last time out, so this is also a bit of a buy-low opportunity. He’s a very nice mid-priced alternative for roster construction, or a fade of the top two options.
Strongly consider Jamal Crawford with the rest of the Clipper backcourt resting
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Jordan Hamilton - FD 3600 DK 3400
Opponent - DEN
FD Proj. Pts - 19.42 DK Proj. Pts - 20.3
Another value pick, this one essentially a punt. Hamilton has played two games, played an average of 22 minutes, and registered an average of 20 fantasy points. It seems like the Pelicans had someone stick Voodoo pins in their entire roster, so there’s no reason to expect him not to play similar minutes again. Accordingly, he’ll get some touches. He showed last game he’s versatile enough to get his fantasy points in a variety of ways, so even if he only gets a handful of shots, he should be (more than) good. I won’t waste your time with game analysis. With so many options to spend elsewhere, take these savings and go on a shopping spree.
LeBron James - FD 10100 DK 9800
Opponent - BKN
FD Proj. Pts - 50.9 DK Proj. Pts - 52.88
Looking for spending options? As mentioned above, LBJ should be back and angry. That’s a scary combination. His price has gone up on DK and FD, yet he remains underpriced (on DK especially). He’s had a pretty hot stretch the last few times out, so if he sees the minutes, the floor looks quite solid. On the upside, we’re looking at 6x+. Blowout risk is of course in play here, but otherwise the matchup is irrelevant. I haven’t done the math, but I’m pretty sure Russ/Harden/LBJ is legitimately doable on both sites Thursday. If not now, when?
Aaron Gordon - FD 5700 DK 5500
Opponent - IND
FD Proj. Pts - 28.74 DK Proj. Pts - 29.74
Like James had said before last game, Aaron's lines were unnaturally depressed because of blowouts and random Ersan-related pieces. Had him going as a fantastic play into last game but again the blowout reared its ugly head (on the Magic side) and he saw limited run. Even so, dude put up a 20/4 in only 27 minutes and was looking dominant in short stretches. The Magic are playing well right now with Elfrid Payton running an offense that gets guys like Gordon into advantageous situations. I love him tonight at a weaker position and the idea that he'll see minutes in the low 30's.
Kevin Love - FD 6800 DK 7100
Opponent - BKN
FD Proj. Pts - 34.96 DK Proj. Pts - 37.54
Power forward is a terrible position and I don't feel great about this play simply because I don't think there's a ton of upside on it. For a 50/50 I think Love can hit his mark, though if there's any semblance of a blowout then it gets a little dicey. With Lebron back I don't think he sees any extra looks, but the Cavs have made explicit attempts to work him into the offense early which can help set a line. The price won't kill you, but I'm far from calling him a lock. It's more a play out of necessity.
Strongly consider Thad Young if you think he plays 36+ minutes
Alexis Ajinca - FD 3900 DK 3700
Opponent - DEN
FD Proj. Pts - 21.44 DK Proj. Pts - 21.8
If you can believe anything about the Pelicans at this point, and at this point nothing can be believe about the Pelicans, then you think Ajinca will play decent minutes tonight. Hell, he ran close to thirty against the vaunted Spurs last night right? He's a lock right? No, this is Alvin Gentry we are talking about and my man can lay carnage to even the thinnest of rosters when given the opportunity. Now, at even a moderate minute projection Ajinca is going to show up just about everywhere in lineups. Our system will have trouble factoring in Gentry-cide. But at these prices against a weak Denver front court I think the risk is worth it.
Ian Mahinmi - FD 5200 DK 5200
Opponent - ORL
FD Proj. Pts - 26.76 DK Proj. Pts - 27.21
The Magic are working with a makeshift frontcourt featuring the likes of Dedmon, Nicholson, Smith and a couple of other folks who are generally undersized. Not to say Vucevic is some kind of defensive stalwart, but the Magic can get worked inside. Mahinmi is in and around 30 minutes a game though the "in" and "around" piece does make difference for him. If you think he's in the 29 range then I'd say stay away. But 34? Getting close to a must play in terms of safety. It's tough to know this going in, but splitting it down the middle at 32 has him as a safer look at C.
Pau Gasol - FD 8500 DK 7300
Opponent - HOU
FD Proj. Pts - 40.73 DK Proj. Pts - 41.4
He was a turnover machine against the Pacers the other night and still managed to hit value and exceed it on DraftKings. I'm really only recommending him over there as the price is so much lower and has him darn near a must play considering the price point. It's rare to see this kind of salary disparity between the two sites, but Pau represents a natural hedge.
Strongly consider Cole Aldrich with DeAndre out
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