Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 4/18/16 Opening Round
Game 1 of each series is in the books! A few blowouts, a few upsets, and a lot of what we expected. Let's break down game two for the four series going today. In case it isn't obvious, a lot of these picks will remind you of Saturday's picks - but there will be some changes! Keep your pens moving - this will be on the test.
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Indiana Pacers at Toronto Raptors
The Pacers "upset" Toronto in game one, but frankly, it looked pretty sustainable to me. They got a little lucky from three (going 11-21), but were pretty cold from two, and even dealt with a little Ian Mahinmi foul trouble. Now it doesn't matter a ton for our fantasy purposes who will win the series, but on a day that features two other series that did contain blowouts, it's worth noting that this is the game most likely to see starters hit their projected minutes totals.
It's also worth noting that this is easily the slowest game on the slate. It has the lowest over/under on this small three game slate by far, and as Doug wrote when he previewed the series last Friday - these are two defensively minded teams. 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.
Paul George - FD 9000 DK 8700
Opponent - TOR
FD Proj. Pts - 42.29 DK Proj. Pts - 44.89
As we predicted, PG13 played his biggest minutes in ages in game 1, and did so admirably. With Demarre Carroll clearly not physically ready to chase him around, Toronto was left with a mismatched crew of guys either too small or too slow to cover him. George stuffed the sheet, going for 33/4/6/4/2, and it sure looks like he'll terrorize the Raps all series.
Kyle Lowry - FD 8200 DK 7400
Opponent - IND
FD Proj. Pts - 41.97 DK Proj. Pts - 44.42
The nice thing about a close game one is that the teams tipped their hand as far as what their plans are for player minutes. And with Lowry, it's clear that Toronto isn't going to die with him on the bench. He played 41 minutes in game 1, and while he was pretty awful from a fantasy perspective, there's reason for optimism. Indiana plays good defense, but you can't count on him for 3-13 shooting and 6 turnovers in each game this series. This is a great way to grab him on the relative cheap (on DK in particular) when everyone and their mother will be doing other things at PG today. I wouldn't trust him for double-ups in case there's more to this bad game than variance, but don't be shocked if he puts up a monster.
Jonas Valanciunas - FD 6100 DK 5500
Opponent - IND
FD Proj. Pts - 31.87 DK Proj. Pts - 32.42
I hate to brag, but, that's mostly because bragging isn't socially acceptable. In this case, I guess, I'm just bragging about an algorithm that happened to pick Valancunias as the top center play of the day in game 1. He only played 21 minutes, which sucked, but he went 12/19 in those 21 minutes, which most certainly did not suck. The Pacers couldn't rebound with him, and some unlucky foul trouble stopped this from being an historic rebounding night. He'll be more of a chalk play here, but we're still buyers of course.
Patrick Patterson - FD 3800 DK 3200
Opponent - IND
FD Proj. Pts - 17.71 DK Proj. Pts - 19.52
Power forward is weird, and Patterson is cheap. He put up an easy 5x points per dollar in game 1, and it looks for all the world like he'll keep playing 28-30 minutes on a basically minimum salary. Great guy to eye-ball if you are desperate to save up today.
Also considered: DeMar DeRozan, for safety purposes. After Harden laid an egg in round one, I'm feeling pretty gun-shy there. DeRozan shot 19 times, and while he was bad, he will get his at some point.
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors
Game 1 was one of the great embarrassments of all time, and I could very easily write "we didn't learn anything we didn't already know in game 1), except for the part where Steph left the game early with a tweaked ankle. This is the great "what-if" of this slate. If Curry sits, Shaun Livingston becomes an insta-play, as does Draymond Green and Klay Thompson (thanks to the extra usage). If he plays, everything is totally up in the air. I'll say that, generally, Steph's injury makes everyone else in this game more attractive - the Houston guys because the game should be closer, and his teammates because he should turn some of the load over to them.
Draymond Green - FD 8900 DK 8900
Opponent - HOU
FD Proj. Pts - 39.02 DK Proj. Pts - 41.47
I like him coming and going in this one - if Steph sits, the Warriors will basically run the offense through Draymond, and he'll be a must play for me in every format. If Steph does play (which our projections are assuming he will), the Warriors will still be showing a lot of Draymond to guard Steph's ankle. Remember, Green put up a 10/11/16 against the Rockets on New Year's Eve, so a huge game is absolutely in play for him any time these two teams get together.
James Harden - FD 10300 DK 10500
Opponent - GSW
FD Proj. Pts - 49.37 DK Proj. Pts - 52.2
Will I go back to the proverbial well here, after Harden was a complete pile of garbage in game 1? I'm not sure if I have much of an other choice, given that this is a three game slate. Harden WILL play 40+ minutes if the game is even remotely close, and he did put up two nice games against the Warriors earlier this season (including a 37 point outburst). He also might just be completely dead on his feet after a ridiculous run of minutes late in the season. Either way, I'm reluctantly a buyer - though I can definitely picture pairing KD and Russ and going a little cheaper at SG today.
Trevor Ariza - FD 6200 DK 5700
Opponent - GSW
FD Proj. Pts - 30.05 DK Proj. Pts - 33.45
Corey Brewer - FD 3500 DK 2700
Opponent - GSW
FD Proj. Pts - 20.12 DK Proj. Pts - 21.28
Brewer was the only Rocket to pay value in game 1, drawing a relatively surprising start and playing 28 minutes. He's still a bargain basement guy, and I'd guess game 1 was his floor if he's going to play this many minutes. As for Ariza, he paid 4.5x points per dollar in spite of playing 5 fewer minutes than we projected him for, and he'll need to be a part of any small ball lineups the Rockets try to counter with today. If you're looking for safety from this game, these are the two guys I'd feel best about (even if the game does get out of hand once again).
Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder
Another series that I simply don't know what to do with. With Barea out and Deron Williams questionable, it looks like we might only get to enjoy this one for four games. Interestingly, though, this has actually just opened up more value for us. It's simple - the Mavericks will have ~65 minutes and lots of shots and dribbles to redistribute, and the prices as yet haven't corrected for them.
Russell Westbrook - FD 10500 DK 10700
Opponent - DAL
FD Proj. Pts - 53.77 DK Proj. Pts - 55.73
Kevin Durant - FD 10300 DK 10100
Opponent - DAL
FD Proj. Pts - 50 DK Proj. Pts - 52.88
Neither Westbrook nor Durant paid their daily fantasy basketball value in game 1, and yet they will be in all of my lineups today. Why? Well, a few reasons. I don't fully trust either of the other big money options (Curry, Harden), and I mind taking guys on the good end of the blowout a lot less than taking guys on the bad end. Which is to say - if the Thunder blow the Mavericks out, here, it'll very likely be because these two soul-crush them. In any case, I'd venture that the Thunder aren't nearly as big a favorite to win this one in three quarters as Golden State is, and for that reason, I'm rolling with their stars.
Raymond Felton - FD 4700 DK 4000
Opponent - OKC
FD Proj. Pts - 28.11 DK Proj. Pts - 30.03
And this is where things get interesting. Are we fully digesting the fact that Raymond Felton could play 38-40 minutes as the starting point guard here? Felton has been very effective in the role when pressed this season, and the Mavs will almost certainly be running Felton's version of a slash and kick all game long. If Matthews and Nowitzki are hitting their shots, Felton could be in for a monster game here - even on a 20% higher price. I'll play him everywhere if Deron Williams sits, and in most places regardless.
Dirk Nowitzki - FD 7200 DK 6200
Opponent - OKC
FD Proj. Pts - 33.53 DK Proj. Pts - 35.4
Wesley Matthews - FD 5000 DK 4400
Opponent - OKC
FD Proj. Pts - 26.96 DK Proj. Pts - 30.6
I'm not wildly enthusiastic about either after an obviously uninspiring game 1, but there IS opportunity opening up here, and I should really write about it. Dirk was actually pretty effective in the 25 minutes he spent on the court in game 1, going 7/15 and putting up 18 points. He ran bad in terms of rebounding (securing only 4), and minutes (since the Mavs got toasted), and a closer game should make him a much higher floor play. As for Matthews, he did shoot 10 times in just 29 minutes, and he should play closer to 40 in this one. Mock me if you will, but I think he's got a very solid floor with some upside here.
The cheaper, very strong considerations: Devin Harris and Enes Kanter. Kanter was was phenomenal off the bench in game one, putting up 31 fantasy points in just 24 minutes against Dallas' relatively weak front court. I suspect he'll be the chalk cash game play at center for most people today.
Harris is more of a speculative upside play, and it's based on Deron Williams sitting. If Williams does sit, though, Harris could play 30 minutes and spend 10 of those running the point. That's a lot of run for a minimum priced player, and I won't be shocked if he's in winning big tournament lineups today.
So yeah, basketball season! And we've got some goodies you can take with you. At the end of the post, we have our NBA eBook that you really ought to check out before setting even a single daily fantasy NBA lineup. It's free, below.