Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 12/22/18
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Welcome to NBA Saturday! We have games scattered across the entire day, but have games to look at on the main slate. There is plenty of news to look for and we'll dive into a few different scenarios. Most of the news we're looking at is from Toronto. Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Serge Ibaka are likely out. Valunciunas is definitely out. If all four of those guys sit, there will be immense value on this Raptors team. The Sixers are a friendly match-up in general and this game will stay close, no matter who is active. Fred Vanvleet is one of the easiest plays on the entire slate and guaranteed to hit value if Lowry misses the game. He will play 30-35 minutes and has no problem being "the guy". He can put up 40 fantasy points again and nobody will blink an eye.
If you insist on paying up at point guard, the optimizer is a huge fan of John Wall. He's always a bit up and down, but definitely prefers playing at home and gets to face a faster pace Suns squad. We know he's going to play his 35 minutes as long as tit stays close and he'll have the ball in his hands all day long. His price is definitely up there, but that's because he'll typically play well in good match-ups. You'll have the funds to pay up tonight and it really just depends on who you want to pay for. Personally, I like spending down at point guard, but that's only because of the strong value. Let's get to another guy who you can easily rely on to reach value in all formats.
Johnson is still wildly cheap around the industry and is going to see 30+ minutes in this game assuming it stays close. He’s the primary ball handler for the Heat with Goran Dragic out and will see his usual usage rise 8-10%. The match-up against Eric Bledsoe and the Bucks is a solid one, but not great. Johnson is just way too cheap and productive for how many minutes he’ll play. If you need safe cash game value, look no further at point guard.
Delon Wright FD - $3900 DK - $4000
Opponent - PHI
Proj Pts FD - 23.86 DK - 23.81
As long as two of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard are out, Delon Wright should be 100% owned. He will play 30+ minutes and could easily get up to 40 fantasy points. He is always productive when on the court and this match-up won't hinder him. His price is beyond cheap on both sites as well, so you only really need 20-25 fantasy points in both cash games and tournaments. If you want to play the fade, you're going to be working an uphill battle. I'm not saying it's impossible in a tournament, but it's not the best way to go if you care about your money. Put Delon Wright and Fred Vanvleet in there if the Raptors crew is out. If they play, things are a lot more spotty and nobody is a must anymore.
With Chris Paul out, these two are going to be in play for the next few weeks. There prices will inevitably rise, so we should be taking advantage now before it's too late. The Spurs are nowhere near the bad match-up they used to be, now ranking 14th against shooting guards and 17th against point guards. With a 217 projected total and just a 5.5 point spread, there is nothing to worry about here outside of possibly ownership. Harden is also insanely expensive and there is a lot to spend up on tonight, so there's a decent opportunity cost. Eric Gordon on the other hand, is pretty cheap and is going to play 35 minutes in an average match-up. He's one of the safest cash game plays on the entire night.
Marshon or Dillon? Yikes. Should be fun to watch these two laughable organizations face off. These two guys are both playing well, but T.J. Warren has definitely taken a step up this season. He has a lot more direct intention towards scoring and seems to have caught up speed-wise to the NBA. He’s now putting up 30+ fantasy points every single night, which is saying something for a guy that had been pretty inconsistent. As for Bridges, he’s still getting 30+ minutes with Oubre Jr. around and he’s remained cheap. Bridges is talented and can put up 30 fantasy points on any given night. The Wizards love playing fast and the Suns have no problem matching. These two teams are also the 3rd and 4th worst defensive teams in terms of defensive efficiency, so scoring should be easy to come by for everyone involved.
Kevin Durant FD - $9500 DK - $9200
Opponent - DAL
Proj Pts FD - 47.17 DK - 48.15
Durant is one of the better ways to pay up on the slate. There’s not a ton of great value at the position and Durant should get you a safe 50 with the realistic opportunity to put up 60-70 if the game stays close. Harrison Barnes is typically a good defender, but do yourself a favor and go look how many times Durant has obliterated him. There’s being a good defender and there’s guarding Kevin Durant. Durant is going to stay under the radar and I doubt he ends up being over 20% owned. The optimizer loves him and I’ll have him scattered in tournaments across the board.
Harrison Barnes FD - $5900 DK - $5800
Opponent - GS
Proj Pts FD - 28.4 DK - 29.68
Now let’s look at the other side of things. Harris Barnes is sitting under $6k and has been showing signs of life. He’s definitely been up and down, but I’d predict he shows up against a Warriors team he always loves playing. Barnes has been over 30 minutes in every close game recently and has been shooting the ball more than ever. His peripherals have dropped in general, but you see what happens when they rise (40 vs DEN, 32 vs ATL). The Warriors play fast and don’t mind giving up 110 points to a Mavs team they know they can put 120 on. The scoring will have to be from somewhere and Barnes will be involved all game long. He’s too cheap to not consider, but I get it if you are rolling your eyes at the prospect.
Pascal Siakam FD - $7200 DK - $6000
Opponent - PHI
Proj Pts FD - 40.1 DK - 39.46
Serge Ibaka is expected to sit this one out, but Siakam is in play either way. He's played 34 and 37 minutes in each of the last two games and has backed it up with 36 and 41 fantasy points. He now gets a reasonable match-up against the Philadelphia 76ers, who rank 25th in the league against opposing power forwards. Siakam has more than turned a corner this season and they will rely on him if the core is out. He doesn't mind shooting 20+ times a game and has been chucking from beyond the arc a ton of late. His price is still very affordable and I don't see a scenario where I leave Siakam out of my cash games. Especially at such a barren position.
Draymond Green FD - $6600 DK - $6300
Opponent - DAL
Proj Pts FD - 34.73 DK - 34.13
Draymond Green is still too cheap, even though he's been a bit shaky as of late. With that being said, he's also extremely safe. He's been at 30 fantasy points in five straight games and we're now just waiting for him to get up to 40. The Mavericks are a perfect match-up for him to do just that. They play pretty fast and while they rank decently against power forwards, they've been trending downwards. Green is somehow under $7k still, so even if he doesn't get to 40 that's perfectly fine. If he happens to reach his full potential finally, you'll be far ahead of the field. Let's move on to some big men.
Joel Embiid FD - $10500 DK - $9600
Opponent - TOR
Proj Pts FD - 56.47 DK - 59.02
If you’re playing with the early game included, you have a tough decision between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic if you want to pay up. I personally stick with Embiid here, but Jokic is in just as good of a spot. Fortunately, we don’t have to make that decision on this slate. We just get to play Joel Embiid against the Raptors without Valanciunas. It’ll be Monroe and Siakam that will be covering Embiid, meaning he should put up 60 fantasy points as long as the game stays close. He’s my favorite way to pay up on the slate and I’m hoping he doesn’t go over that 25% owned mark. I’m prioritizing exposure to this game as I think the Raptors keep it close even without their core.
Deandre Ayton FD - $7400 DK - $7200
Opponent - WAS
Proj Pts FD - 34.8 DK - 36.4
If you can’t pay up at center, DeAndre Ayton is a great consolatin prize. Especially in this match-up. For a rookie, it’s more than impressive to see the 35+ fantasy points he’s delivering on a nightly basis, regardless of the match-up. He can both run the floor and turn his back to the basket, so no game script is out of his realm. He’s going to be a superstar in the league and I don’t mind getting exposure in game with a huge total and close spread. Ayton is going to see 30+ minutes and could put up 45+ fantasy points. I’ll do my best to pay for Embiid whenever I can, but settling for Ayton isn’t much of a settle in my book. Good luck tonight and feel free to comment down below with any questions or comments. Thanks!