Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 12/25/17 Christmas Day!
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Merry Christmas! After a day void of NBA and full of NFL, we get 5 very solid games to dissect. With 4 of the 5 games sitting over a 210 O/U total and all of them with a -5 spread or less, every game is squarely in play. We'll kick it off with one of the more boring games in the T-Wolves @ Lakers. A short-handed Lakers squad is going to struggle here and Jeff Teague is finally showing some of the consistency that we've come to know and love with him. He's been getting the heavy Tom Thibodeau minutes for a while now, but has bounced around from being bad to injured. He's now getting utilized properly as a guy who can do it all from the guard spot. He's bounced around form 20-40, but sits around that 30 mark as a season baseline. The match-up with the Lakers on paper is useless as Lonzo Ball will miss the game. The Lakers are going to be moving pieces all over the place and the worst defender of all will be on Teague over Wiggins/Butler. Teague is extremely safe for 25 fantasy points with the upside for much more. He's a tough guy to trust this year, but it'll be tough for him to flop here. He's my favorite point per dollar PG on the slate and a guy I'll have everywhere.
John Wall at $8k? After seeing 30+ minutes in 3 straight close games? Yes, please. This match-up is going to be a fun one as both of these teams are true contenders in the East behind Lebron. They have a long history and John Wall has done a lot of damage to the Celtics. They now sport Kyrie Irving at PG, who's a horrible defender. Brad Stevens has worked his magic with this defense, but Kyrie still struggles a bit and has no chance of staying with John Wall to the rim. Once he gets there, it'll be the lackluster defense of Al Horford or Aron Baynes that meets him. He looks completely healthy and just hasn't hit his stride yet. This huge high-profile Christmas-day game may very well be the one where he plays 35+ minutes and solidifies himself as "back". At $8k, he needs you 40-45. I think he's a lock to get there if the game stays close and Vegas thinks so. THere's a lot of different ways to go at PG, but an under-priced John Wall is a big game is something you don't want to ignore.
If you're able to pay all the way up, you most certainly can. Russell Westbrook is always going to be in play when on any slate and a fast-paced, close match-up with a WC fie is certainly no exception. He'll come out and dominate a rockets squad missing their big man and defensive PG. Clint Capela is a huge presence at the rim and Westbrook would get a bump up if he's ruled out. He's typically sitting around 60 FP give or take a few, but has huge upside. It'll be James Harden and Eric Gordon manning the guard spots, which might just get ugly. There's a lot of ways to pay up on this slate, but nobody will knock you for doing it OKC with Russ. His price is lower than that of Harden, Durant, and Lebron, and will probably be lesser owned too. He's a great option in all formats, but you'll have to fade some cheaper guys who are in good spots.
Jordan Clarkson FD - $4000 DK - $4700
Opponent - MIN
Proj Pts FD - 24.96 DK - 25.85
Josh Hart FD - $3800 DK - $3700
Opponent - MIN
Proj Pts FD - 19.08 DK - 19.15
As of now, Lonzo Ball is out and Brandon Ingram is questionable. These 2 guys are already squarely in play with Ball out, but jump up like crazy if Ingram joins. With Lonzo out, there will be 35-40 minutes and a whole lot of ball-handling responsibility up for grabs. Jordan Clarkson is originally a PG and the guy I think gets the reigns here. If I had to make a guess, I would go for 33-38 minutes with a usage over 18%. He's not afraid to shoot the ball and is actually a very solid passer as well. The T-Wolves rank 17th against PG's in the league and can be taken advantage of on the inside. At under $5k on both sites, he's easily one of my favorite plays on the entire slate. Josh Hart will also see 20-25 at a minimum, but would be locked in over 35 if Ingram is ruled out. The Timberwolves have a lot of good individual defenders, but don't cover anyone that well. They play faster than they should and KAT is a pitiful rim protector. Keep an eye out on Twitter for news and adjust accordingly. If both Ball and Ingram are eventually ruled out, these are 2 of the better value options at any position and shouldn't be overlooked in any format.
James Harden FD - $12000 DK - $11100
Opponent - OKC
Proj Pts FD - 56.48 DK - 60.49
Eric Gordon FD - $5600 DK - $5600
Opponent - OKC
Proj Pts FD - 29.53 DK - 31.44
Chris Paul is currently doubtful and all things are pointing towards him being out. In turn, James Harden and Eric Gordon will take most of the minutes at both PG and SG. Harden sees a 3% usage increase with CP3 and will be taking most of the ball-handling responsibility. He's playing 35+ minutes a night and has found a way to put up 51 real-life points in back to back games. As for Gordon, he'll slide into that 2 spot for most of the game and play close to 35-40 minutes. The Thunder have some strong perimeter defenders in Andre Roberson and Paul Goerge, but rank 12th against 3-point efficiency and have given up plenty of big games to players far worse than Harden. Westbrook vs Harden is going to be a very fun game to watch and I wouldn't be surprised to see either get over 70 fantasy points. They're each seeing a 22%+ usage when on the court and are as safe as can be for 50 fantasy points. It's obviously tough, but this game should be close to a 220 total and will remain competitive throughout. Both Gordon and Harden are elite plays in all formats and shooting guard is a spot you will need to be right at. I don't think either of these guys will end up hurting you.
LeBron James FD - $12000 DK - $11000
Opponent - GS
Proj Pts FD - 58.24 DK - 60.95
Kevin Durant FD - $12100 DK - $10500
Opponent - CLE
Proj Pts FD - 57.11 DK - 57.51
There is no wrong answer here. At all. Priced similarly on both sites, LeBron and Durant are going to dictate a lot with this slate. I think LeBron is clearly higher owned, but I don't think either get below 35%. They shouldn't, either. Both of these guys are going to be playing up for this game and covering each other for the entire game. LeBron is obviously a much better defender than Durant, but KD has dropped 40 on his numerous times. These are 2 of the actual match-up roof guys in the league and can go for 80 fantasy points at any time. In this rivalry game, we know both of these guys are going to be out there for 40 minutes with the ball almost every possession. For the Warriors, Durant is seeing a lot more shots with Curry out and Draymond banged up. The Cavs aren't dealing with any injuries, but just have a bad team surrounding LeBron until IT2 gets back. He's playing a ton of PG and having arguably his best fantasy season ever. Both of these guys are going to hit 55 fantasy points and could get to 80 if it stays close. I'll have a bit more LeBron, but will have a lot more than the field on both.
Jimmy Butler FD - $8700 DK - $8400
Opponent - LAL
Proj Pts FD - 39.91 DK - 39.49
Small forward is a spot to pay up at. Maybe we get some more news and value opens up, but as of now, the best value is coming elsewhere and ignoring any of these 3 guys above is an opportunity cost worth debating. There was a little worry that Jimmy Butler was going to be hushed by the number of options on this team, but it's not the case. He's the clear top option and where the ball is going when it matters. He's getting the prime Tom Thibodeau with 35+ minutes on a nightly basis. The T-Wolves face off with a Lakers squad that is either going to be extremely short-handed or banged up. Brandon Ingram is a fine defender, but the Lakers are dead last in basketball against opposing SF's. Butler is going to dice this Lakers squad into pieces and I don't see him under 45 fantasy points. With a 216 O/U and just a -5 spread, it's expected to be close and high-scoring. Butler is an elite play in all formats and a perfectly fine pivot if you can't fit both of the above studs. His price is fair on both sites and Butler is a viable option across the board.
Kyle Kuzma FD - $7500 DK - $7300
Opponent - MIN
Proj Pts FD - 37.51 DK - 38.25
Lonzo Ball? Who? Kyle Kuzma is going ballistic as a Lakers rookie and proving himself as the top dog. He already might be the best player on this team. Brandon Ingram certainly has something to say about that, but it's close. The lakers are going to be shorthanded tonight with Lonzo out and could be even more so if Brandon Ingram is out. The ball is going to be in the hands of Kuzma all night long and he has a match-up where he can do serious damage. Taj Gibson is the guy he'll originally match-up with, but I'm not sure the T-Wolves will let that happen very long. Kuzma is a monster on both the outside and inside, and Taj cannot get out of the paint comfortably. With that being said, Bjelica is the guy I would figure matches up best, but he's hurt. I don't know exactly who ends up covering him, but I can't find anyone I'd be scared of. Kuzma is on a roll as of late with a 30 point floor and has been around 50 far more often that you'd think. His price is getting up there, but for good reason. With the combo of added usage and a solid match-up, Kuzma should be in for another big game.
Taj Gibson FD - $5700 DK - $5800
Opponent - LAL
Proj Pts FD - 28.02 DK - 27.45
It's almost like Taj Gibson is in play every single night. No matter the match-up, he's getting at least 34 minutes and isn't expensive enough to worry about. He doesn't see the ball very often, but makes himself involved plenty. He is going to shoot 7-10 times a game and grab close to a double-double at the very least. This match-up against the Lakers is solid for Taj, who'll face off against some very weak interior defenders. Randle, Kuzma, and Nance Jr. are a bit undersized and will struggle against this bulky Wolves interior. There's nothing exciting about Taj Gibson and he might never hit 45 fantasy points again, but he's going to sit between 25-35 on most nights and this is a top end match-up. The price is under $6k on both FD and DK and he's a very safe guy to plug-in if you're needing to fill one of your last spots. I won't go searching for any Taj Gibson, but he may end up in 30-40% of my lineups by necessity.
Markieff Morris FD - $4300 DK - $4400
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 18.04 DK - 18.1
If you need a punt at PF and would like to play someone with some talent, Markieff Morris is a solid way to go. He's gotten himself up to 26 minutes in each of the last 2 games and may be on his way to back 30+. He's obviously a major piece of this team and he'll be in there with the starters for 35+ in the playoffs. As for tonight, I think it's safe to project 26-30 minutes and over 20 fantasy points. His price is extremely low on both sites and he really only needs about 20 to pay off in tourneys. The Celtics rank 22nd in the league against PF's and can be taken advantage of by a guy with size like Markieff. I know he's struggled as of late and he's not a guy that is on a hot streak, but his minutes are trending up and we know he's a very talented player. He's a guy I'll have plenty of in cash games and tournaments unless safer other value surfaces.
Jordan Bell FD - $4900 DK - $4900
Opponent - CLE
Proj Pts FD - 28.02 DK - 25.78
Even with Draymond Green playing, Jordan Bell went for 41 and 30 fantasy points. They were 2 better showings than he had with Draymond out, which is just weird for a guy who wasn't getting many minutes before Green starting getting injured. He's now a guy that's going to see 20+ minutes a night no matter what and may get to 30 when Green is out. He's questionable tonight and Bell is in play either way at the price. We just touched on Kevin Love and while he's tremendous on offense, he's a pitiful defender. Bell is far more athletic and this offense has proven trouble for Love plenty of times. He's not as strong of a play if Green is in, but makes sense in cash games as a filler. He should get you 20 fantasy points and has an upside that we probably haven't witnessed yet.
Kevin Love FD - $8000 DK - $7500
Opponent - GS
Proj Pts FD - 37.23 DK - 40.34
It's well noted the damage Kevin Love can do to this Warriors squad. He's the only reliable option LeBron has at this point and we know he's going to get the ball in this big game. We know Lebron likes to get Love the ball early and you will always see him with more shots than LBJ in the first 5-6 minutes of a game. If those shots go the right way, you're looking at 35 minutes and 45 fantasy points out of a guy that will probably end up as the difference maker. If those hook shots and 3's roll out in the 1st quarter, he could struggle. There's always some risk with a big man against the Warriors, but with Green questionable and Curry out, they aren't the same team. He's been between 35-40 on most nights and will need to get there at his price. If the game stays close, he has monstrous upside that can lead you to the top of a tournament. There are a few different ways to go at Center, but these 2 guys are phenomenal at their prices.