Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 12/23/18

It's a legitimately massive day of NBA basketball today in advance of Monday's day off. We have a number of superstars going today, a few huge totals, and interestingly, a sea of games that are totally meaningless. Let's get to it.

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Point guard

Point guard is really tricky today, actually. It might lend itself more to a longer discussion rather than any specific picks, because there are a few things to look at here.

Let's give you a few tiers to look at.

De'Aaron FoxDe'Aaron Fox FD - $8200 DK - $7700
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 40.66 DK - 40.51
Kris DunnKris Dunn FD - $7500 DK - $7200
Opponent - CLE
Proj Pts FD - 37.07 DK - 37.96
Kyrie IrvingKyrie Irving FD - $9400 DK - $9000
Opponent - CHA
Proj Pts FD - 45.68 DK - 46.35
The expensive guys who you may or may not be able to prioritize. They are all in very similar situations here. All three have great match-ups, and while all three are candidates to lose their minutes in games that get out of hand (for various reasons, depending on which team you are looking at), but that should be less of a concern here. Irving's a 7 point favorite, but the other two are in games with 1 point spreads. The Cleveland/Chicago game has one of the lower totals on the slate, but Dunn has paid 5x points per dollar on these prices in each of the three games that he played his full run of minutes since returning from injury. Fox has been on a tear recently, and he'll get a Pels team that has allowed the third most fantasy points per game to opposing PGs this season. This issue is not that you don't have solid options at point guard today, it's that these guys are all pretty much the same. I suppose I'd recommend Hield and Dunn here, but I don't feel any sense of conviction.

Tyler JohnsonTyler Johnson FD - $4200 DK - $5300
Opponent - ORL
Proj Pts FD - 22.32 DK - 22.47
Collin SextonCollin Sexton FD - $4700 DK - $4800
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 28.53 DK - 30.1
Ryan ArcidiaconoRyan Arcidiacono FD - $3900 DK - $3800
Opponent - CLE
Proj Pts FD - 23.31 DK - 23.75
The cheap and speculative guys. Tyler Johnson is playing minutes, but he isn't starting, and you have to worry about him randomly not getting the minutes if rotations don't break his way. Arcidiacano looks to be in line for 33+ minutes, but the Bulls are nuts and he could lose minutes if Harrison is hot. Sexton should have more opportunity with Hood and Nwaba out, but he doesn't directly fill those roles, and Delly has eaten into his minute share unfortunately. You could honestly throw Collison and Augustin in this group as well. I can't say I love these guys on DraftKings, but given that you can toss a score on FanDuel they could be worth the speculation.

Also considered: Steph Curry, but given that he's a 10.5 point favorite and has a worse DvP match-up than the other three guys, I think I'd prefer not to go all in on him here.

Shooting Guard

Alec BurksAlec Burks FD - $4700 DK - $4400
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 30.23 DK - 30.84
Jordan ClarksonJordan Clarkson FD - $5400 DK - $5900
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 31.36 DK - 32.71
With Hood already ruled out and Nwaba doubtful, Cleveland is all of a sudden in a position where it's hard to even assign them a full game's worth of minutes. It's hard to know exactly what the plan is based on what we saw from the Toronto game, but I think we can make the reasonable assumption that Clarkson and Burks are a big part of the plan. You also have to love that they're facing another bad team in Chicago, here, so you should be able to count on these guys playing 30+ minutes. Clarkson was excellent on these prices against Toronto in 32 minutes, and while Burks was somewhat uninspiring on his 29 minutes, you have to believe that the flashes we saw earlier this season could bring home the bacon here. Cleveland stack, boys! Christmas has come early.

Buddy HieldBuddy Hield FD - $6900 DK - $6700
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 34.3 DK - 36.21
Hield has been a man possessed in his last two games as the Kings have sorted through some injury woes and lineup turmoil. He topped all starters with 38 minutes against Memphis, and played out of his mind to try and keep the Kings in the game with OKC. He'll have a super-plus match-up with the Pelicans, who currently pair a top 4 PACE with a bottom 5 defensive efficiency. In the last four games that Hield has played 30+ minutes he's shot 21 or more times in each of them. Hield is priced like the guy who has shot 16 times a game this season. In a game with a 1 point spread and the slate's highest total, Hield is just an elite play.

Also considered: Justin Holiday, though I prefer the Cavs guys more. Still, I think Holiday plays 35 minutes in what ought to be a close game, and he should have a high floor as an across-the-board contributor.

Small forward

Gordon HaywardGordon Hayward FD - $6000 DK - $5300
Opponent - CHA
Proj Pts FD - 31.77 DK - 32.09
I can't be the only one who noticed that Hayward played 35 minutes last game, right? It didn't work out for the Celtics (or Hayward owners) this time around, but I'm ready to write off a one game sample of Hayward contributing so poorly on a per-minute basis. With how cautious the C's have been with their well-paid small forward, I have to take this as a sign that he's good to go for a full run of minutes. And if he's healthy, he should be something like a fantasy point per minute player, making him a tremendous value at this price tag in virtually any match-up. Charlotte has been a top 10 match-up for opposing small forwards this season anyway, so the match-up is no concern here.

Kevin DurantKevin Durant FD - $9700 DK - $9400
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 49.06 DK - 49.93
You're basically in a position where you can pick between Durant and Paul George in your "pay up at small forward" slot, and it's looking awfully close. Durant has averaged more fantasy points per game on the season, but a lot of that came with Curry and Draymond were sidelined. George has been the better player recently, but he's got an underratedly tough match-up here. The T-Wolves' season long stats against small forwards don't look great, but they obviously don't account for the arrival of Robert Covington. The Clippers, meanwhile, have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to opposing small forwards this season. You'll have to keep an eye on this to make sure the Warriors are playing everyone on the second half of a back to back, but if they are, I'll give the green light to Durant for sure.

Trevor ArizaTrevor Ariza FD - $6000 DK - $5600
Opponent - IND
Proj Pts FD - 30.61 DK - 30.49
Ariza has been a terror since coming to Washington, particularly on the defensive end. Prior to Saturday night's game he had 13 steals in 3 starts, and he's looking every bit the defensive stopper he was when he was making a name for himself in this league. The Wizards haven't been able to keep him off the court, and he's averaging 43 fantasy points a game. I'm writing this before Saturday's game is over, but at this point Ariza just looks like a price and opportunity mismatch. Indiana is a tough-ish match-up, but I'm not sure the Wizards feel like they have any other options here.

Also considered: Cedi Osman, for the same reasons that we like Burks and Clarkson. He shouldn't be as direct a beneficiary, and he can disappear out there, but he's cheap and enables good spending elsewhere. I'll also consider Jaron Blossomgame, particularly if he winds up getting the start.

Power forward

Anthony DavisAnthony Davis FD - $12500 DK - $11500
Opponent - SAC
Proj Pts FD - 66.96 DK - 65.94
Hey, we finally get some safe payoffs to go with all of our punts. Davis was just a 10% cash game start on FanDuel on Friday, but that was only because his status was unknown as of lineup lock time. Assuming he doesn't have a belly ache, Davis is in a great spot to be the highest owned big money player on the slate. The feisty Kings have been better than most people thought this year, but they're still very weak down low. They've allowed the 7th most fantasy points to opposing power forwards this season, but that doesn't tell the story about how poorly they're equipped to deal with Davis. The Pelicans' superstar has been the most consistent big money player on the season, boasting the safest coefficient of variation of any player that's more than $10,000. You just take Davis and take the savings elsewhere.

Blake GriffinBlake Griffin FD - $9100 DK - $9400
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 46.48 DK - 48.46
While we're here, I'd like to just go ahead and pay up twice. We played Griffin in our "exclude Davis" lineups on FanDuel on Friday, and didn't get a whole lot out of him. Still, the plan is very obviously to play Griffin 36 minutes in close games, and his averages work out that he's a fine DFS play at these prices in league average matchups. The Hawks are certainly several cuts better than that. They've played the league's very fastest pace with the 4th worst defensive efficiency, and I'm getting all hot and bothered picturing Blake blowing these guys up in transition. There is some blowout risk here, and I'd prioritize Davis over Griffin, but I really wouldn't mind playing both.

Draymond GreenDraymond Green FD - $6700 DK - $6400
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 36.76 DK - 36
Green's DFS career has been a wild ride. In a few years he's gone from an unknown punt to a $10k superstar and now he's landed squarely in-between. But hey, his recent game log suggests that he's a solid play on these prices. He's paid a hair under 5x points per dollar in every game since he's been back, and that's in spite of his minutes being all over the place thanks to odd game scripts. Like we've nodded to earlier, a blowout is well within the range of possibility here, but the upside if Green manages to get his minutes are very interesting. The Clippers have been the fifth most generous team to opposing power forwards this season on the basis of fantasy points per game allowed, and I really like Dray Dray here.


Deandre AytonDeandre Ayton FD - $7400 DK - $7300
Opponent - BKN
Proj Pts FD - 39.05 DK - 40.47
As of this writing, Ayton has put up 14 and 11 at halftime against the Wizards. The promising Suns youngster is really coming into his own right now, and you can bet your bottom dollar that a lot of people will be investing in him for their cash games in the best possible match-up. The brilliant thing here is that Phoenix is playing one of the few teams that won't be an overwhelming favorite against them, and Ayton should be a favorite to play his minutes. If he does, he'll be dramatically underpriced against the team that perennially gives up the most fantasy points to opposing centers.

Andre DrummondAndre Drummond FD - $9400 DK - $9200
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 50.61 DK - 50.28
I kind of like Drummond for the same reasons I like Ayton, but think he's basically a slightly worse version of him. He's obviously a better play on an absolute basis, but I think he carries a little bit more risk. He can lose his minutes more quickly due to foul trouble or blowouts, and hasn't been carrying this price recently. Still, he's been putting up 15+ boards on the regular, and has as much upside as any center in the game. The match-up here is great - the combination of Len and Dedmon are just an athletic mismatch for a physical freak of Drummond's caliber, and the 50 fantasy points he dropped against them earlier this season looks like the floor here.

Keep an eye on the Javale McGee situation. Zubac got the spot start for him on Friday and positively went off for 16/11/2/2 and 40+ fantasy points. He'd be a great play even in a tough match-up with Memphis if he were to start again.


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