Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 4/16/16 Opening Round
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Indiana Pacers at Toronto Raptors
The Pacers come into Toronto a little beat up but there's a chance the four days off for most of their guys gets them back to about 100%. Toronto on the other hand was able to rest a bunch of their key guys down the stretch and should be firing on all cylinders coming into this series.
This first game (and the series in general) projects to be much lower scoring than any other matchup. The opening over/under at 195 is about ten points lower than the next lowest matchup. It makes sense. Indiana comes in as the third best team in defensive efficiency this season. Meanwhile Toronto was 11th and played at the second slowest pace in the league this year. It's going to be a grind it out series for sure. The Raptors are favorites to win, but not as much as a typical 2-7 matchup.
Paul George - FD 8800 DK 8400
Opponent - TOR
FD Proj. Pts - 42.24 DK Proj. Pts - 44.84
It stands to reason that we'll see big minutes out of PG13 in this series. He's played limited run leading into the playoffs as he nursed some ailments. But dude should be good to go in this one. I suspect you see most of the offense run through him and the Pacers will need it. My only concern with him is that among the guys in his price range, he can pull disappearing acts from time-to-time and the Raptors defense is tough.
Kyle Lowry - FD 8500 DK 7200
Opponent - IND
FD Proj. Pts - 40.04 DK Proj. Pts - 42.37
He's more of a DraftKings play for me where he's coming in significantly cheaper than FanDuel. The Raptors have shown a willingness to run him major minutes and I think you'll see that again in this series. Lowry is a bargain on DK and considering how tight the pricing is for the playoffs, he's creeping to must play status over there.
Jonas Valanciunas - FD 6000 DK 5200
Opponent - IND
FD Proj. Pts - 30.44 DK Proj. Pts - 30.95
Remember that our top plays are based on price. Jonas could be on the court for long stretches because though Ian Mahinmi is decent, he isn't an offensive dynamo. Jonas' big issue is defense, but it'll be tough to overexpose him here. Plus center is incredibly weak on this first slate of games.
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors
Well the Warriors did it and frankly, they made setting the record for wins in a season seem pretty easy. I know they made it by one with a couple of hiccups down the stretch. But this team was just so dominant all season long. Now they'll play host to the Rockets who had, well, issues. Houston won their last three but it was against the Kings, Lakers and T-Wolves. Not exactly running through a buzzsaw. They'll rely a ton on Harden who I suspect plays well over 40 minutes a game in this series. Other than that? Houston can't hang with this squad. At least not over a series.
Stephen Curry - FD 11200 DK 10600
Opponent - HOU
FD Proj. Pts - 50.12 DK Proj. Pts - 54.14
Duh. He's Steph and I don't need to go into a ton of reasoning about why he's in consideration for your lineups. Honestly, it's almost easier to make the case against. The Warriors are big favorites in this matchup and series. They still might blow teams out and get buzzed off minutes. I like Steph a lot, but think that in the same price tier that Westbrook is a little safer.
James Harden - FD 10800 DK 10800
Opponent - GSW
FD Proj. Pts - 55.45 DK Proj. Pts - 58.42
The aforementioned Beard is a top DFS play if for no other reason than he projects for the most minutes of anyone going today. This isn't to say other players don't see similar run, but he's the only guy with a regular season track record of major court time. He's a scoring machine and Houston will be forced with trying to keep pace with the Warriors.
Trevor Ariza - FD 6200 DK 5700
Opponent - GSW
FD Proj. Pts - 30.05 DK Proj. Pts - 33.45
He falls into the same minutes category as Harden. Ariza will go over 40 easy in this one as I can't see any scenario in which the Rockets don't need him on the court a ton. For that almost alone he's worth heavy consideration. He's DraftKings price especially solid. The worry with Ariza is if the three ball isn't falling it's tough for him to completely hit value.
Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
One of the more intriguing first round match-ups, and in my opinion, one of the games with the least blowout potential today. If safety is your thing, at least. It also creates space for some interesting daily fantasy basketball plays. The Celtics played the 3rd fastest PACE in the league this season, and have allowed top 10 fantasy point totals to both power forwards and centers (and they're 11th against small forwards). They're a black hole for guards, though, featuring the devastating Avery Bradley and the underrated Marcus Smart.
The Hawks, meanwhile, played the league's 8th fastest PACE, but only allowed better than league average fantasy totals to opposing centers. Let's dive in.
Paul Millsap - FD 8900 DK 8300
Opponent - BOS
FD Proj. Pts - 43.98 DK Proj. Pts - 45.86
Millsap is the top over all points per dollar guy at power forward today if our projection system is to be believed, and at this price tag, that likely means he'll show up in all of our optimal lineups. He destroyed the Celtics for 33/16/3/2/5 on April 9th, and it'd be shocking if he weren't a chalk play in every format until his price rises dramatically. And even then!
Jae Crowder - FD 5800 DK 5600
Opponent - ATL
FD Proj. Pts - 29.07 DK Proj. Pts - 30.66
Crowder was the Celtics' second leading scorer in the aforementioned game on April 9th, and he scored 30 fantasy points in spite of the Celtics getting generally run out of the gym. Crowder can be an up and down fantasy player, but he should be relied upon quite a bit more in the playoffs unless the C's need Evan Turner's offensive infusion. Given Crowder's success in their last meeting, I think he'll at least get a chance to put up the same fantasy totals he did in their last meeting.
Kyle Korver - FD 3500 DK 3000
Opponent - BOS
FD Proj. Pts - 19.03 DK Proj. Pts - 22
I can't see you right now but I know you're looking at me like I'm crazy. I'm not. Korver is on here because he's about as close as you can get to a punt play on this slate. He's the minimum on DraftKings and FanDuel, and I'd guess that it's nearly a lock that Avery Bradley will be shadowing Jeff Teague. That means Korver will draw Isaiah Thomas, and be the Hawks' primary perimeter weapon here. I guess you can't call it "safe," but there's upside here to be sure, and the floor might be higher than you think given the minutes Korver should play.
Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder
This one has the potential to be incredibly lopsided. The Mavs have been burning the candle at both ends trying to squeak into the playoffs, and the Thunder have been resting their stars for better than a week. The Mavs have serious injury concerns, the Thunder are healthy. The Mavs have a bunch of old, tired dudes, and the Thunder's stars are at the peak of their powers with something to prove. Definitely blowout potential here, but if there is, it just mean's OKC's stars have gotten theirs.
Russell Westbrook - FD 10700 DK 10700
Opponent - DAL
FD Proj. Pts - 53.77 DK Proj. Pts - 55.73
Just a terrific big money play today. The Mavericks were a little tougher than league average against opposing point guards this season, but that's not accounting for the fact that Deron Williams is seriously banged up and that Wes Matthews has been playing absurd minutes to try and keep the Mavs' playoff hopes alive. Westbrook, meanwhile, has gotten a ton of rest in the last few weeks of the season. I think we see his highest minutes total in a month, and the huge fantasy performance we've come to expect.
Dirk Nowitzki - FD 7200 DK 6200
Opponent - OKC
FD Proj. Pts - 33.53 DK Proj. Pts - 35.4
Nowitzki only played the Thunder 3 times this season, and his performances were a mixed bag. He was dominant in his most recent performance (33 and 6) but was generally awful in the other two. He's also looking pretty tired out there right now. This feels a lot less safe than I'd like for cash game purposes, but I think he has considerable upside given that he's easily the Mavs' best offensive option at the moment.
Wesley Matthews - FD 5000 DK 4400
Opponent - OKC
FD Proj. Pts - 26.96 DK Proj. Pts - 30.6
We've been mocked more for selecting Matthews than any other player this season, and possibly for good reason. Casual players tend not to understand that not every basketball player will put out the same, consistent production from game to game. Like Korver above, Matthews is highly dependent upon his match-up. But this just creates a price opportunity. He's put up several 30+ fantasy point games recently, and contributed plenty of duds as well. So what will this series hold? Well, shooting guard is one of the Thunder's worst defensive positions - they've allowed the 7th most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards this season - and they've got some good defenders at PG, SF, and PF. I think Matthews has a higher floor than most think, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him shut down either.
Enes Kanter - FD 4500 DK 5300
Opponent - DAL
FD Proj. Pts - 21.13 DK Proj. Pts - 21.72
One of the great round 1 fantasy questions - what are the Thunder planning to do with Enes Kanter? He's put up simply eye popping points per minute numbers this season, but he will also play 18 minutes a game occasionally. The biggest thing he's got going for him, in my opinion, is the center problems in Dallas right now. The Zaza is looking pretty run down, and while Salah Mejri does some interesting things to protect the rim, he should struggle against Kanter's refined post game. I'm prepared for anything here as well (and will likely seek safety elsewhere), but don't be surprised if he goes off here.
The KD problem: Listed, I love Durant in this game. He could literally destroy Justin Anderson, or whoever has to guard him. It's just that you can't spend up at every position given the relative lack of punts, and I sort of have my heart set on Westbrook and Harden. There's also more cheap value at SF (thanks to Justin Anderson, actually) than PG as well. That means KD will be on the shelves for my 50/50 purposes, though I'm prepared to change this opinion after game 1 for sure.
An interesting play: Justin Anderson is showing up in a lot of our optimal lineups for this opening slate, and while he's been somewhat hit or miss, it makes sense. The Mavs were playing for keeps down the stretch, and Anderson inherited a lot of the minutes that Chandler Parsons left behind. He could disappear in this one for sure, but he's cheap, and should play 30 minutes. I'll likely be playing him.
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- Russell Westbrook: (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)