This Saturday Night’s NBA DFS slate is smaller than usual. It’s so small that DFS players can flip on a couple of screens and watch every pick in action. Let’s dig into some research and make some picks, so we can kick back and enjoy the three-game main slate that starts at 8 p.m. ET.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets, $10,600 — With everyone off on Thanksgiving, nearly every team was in action on Friday night. The result is a small Saturday slate. Regardless of slate size, SGA is an elite pick every night this season. He’s taken a major step forward from great player to superstar. The Thunder’s leader has scored over 50 DKFP ten times this season (including last night). His usage rate is 32.2% in 35.7 minutes per game, resulting in 1.2 FPPM. The Rockets have the third-worst defense and play at the 11th fastest pace.
Tre Jones, San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers, $6,000 — The Spurs faced a brutal schedule heading into the week of Thanksgiving (five road games last week). It’s better this week but not by much. Saturday night’s contest is the back-end of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights. Their one day off was Thanksgiving and that might have been too much of a day off. All of that is to say — Pop will be sitting players Saturday. Will it be in the front court, back court or both? Jones struggled last week while key players rested but not for lack of trying. His usage increased to over 23% but he couldn’t make any shots. The Thanksgiving break seems to have helped Tre. His shots were falling on Friday night and his 32 DKFP were the second-most on the team. Fantasy points should be in steady supply again on Saturday with the Lakers playing at the second-fast fastest pace in the NBA and the Spurs ranking sixth.
Malik Beasley, Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns, $5,700 — One game is just one game. Large sample sizes matter. Beasley scored 17 DKFP against the Clippers on Monday. That happens when a player shoots 2-for-11 from the field (2-for-10 on 3PA). In the six games prior, Beasley averaged 33 DKFP. In just 21 minutes on Friday — fingers crossed, the Jazz were saving him for Saturday — Beasley scored 28.25 DKFP (5.8x). The emergence of Anthony Edwards in Minnesota made Beasley disposable. He lived in the shadows last season. Now, he’s getting another opportunity to showcase the talent he displayed earlier in his career. The Jazz roster is a Frankenstein's Monster. Talent disregarded by other teams has been sewn together in Utah. So far, they’ve made it work. On Wednesday, Beasley bounced back and scored 55.25 DKFP. That was good for 11.5x. In the seven games before Wednesday, Beasley returned a value of 7x or greater five times with three above 8.5x.
Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz, $7,100 — A career breakout is happening but is it sustainable? Based on minutes, yes. Bridges is averaging 36.5 MPG. Based on usage rate (15.6%), it remains in question. However, usage isn’t really the story. Bridges has not significantly increased his usage during the absence of Chris Paul. The key to Bridges emergence has been efficiency and normal growth. His rebounds, assists and blocks are up a tick in his fifth season. The increase that stands out the most is his 3-point shooting. It jumped from 36.9% last season to 47.4%. Adding to the intrigue is that he’s shooting fewer threes this season. In the last seven games, Bridges has DKFP scores of 43.5, 34, 32.5, 46 and 59.75. Last night was a dud, but there is reason to be optimistic. His threes were falling, but nothing else was. Missing shots is never a good thing, but the fact that Bridges is taking shots bodes well for Saturday’s small slate. His usage rate increased beyond its normal position in the mid-teensto 22.2%.
Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers, $4,300 — One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Spurs’ brutal schedule has been Sochan. He’s scored over 20 DKFP in seven of the last eight games with his best performance coming last night — 41.25 DKFP vs. the Lakers. Over the last two weeks, he’s playing north of 25 MPG and has a usage rate around 20%. His usage rate and minutes might not jump off of the page, but the Spurs play at the eighth-fastest pace in the NBA. A 20% usage rate with 25 MPG for the Spurs is different than with the Cavaliers. Also, those numbers could increase moving forward based on Popovich’s opinion of Sochan. The Spurs Head Coach told reporter Tom Orsborn, “He is just a darn good player, very versatile on both ends, so we are trying to give him an opportunity to do some things offensively.”
KJ Martin Jr., Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, $4,300 — The Thunder present an elite DFS matchup and should be targeted on every slate, especially a three-game slate. Their 110.6 Defensive Efficiency Rating ranks 22nd and their 104.1 Pace is the fourth-fastest in the Association. KJ Martin started his second game in the last three on Friday, and he again scored in double-digits — fourth in a row. In the last 10 games, he’s fourth on the team in scoring despite playing significantly fewer minutes than the three players above him. Martin is starting to see extended run. He is primed to explode. Friday night’s team-leading performance — 44.25 DKFP — was just a glimpse of things to come.
Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs, $11,000 — If, and this is a big if, Davis plays, then he might be the best play on the slate. Rostering Davis will require watching the daily Lakers injury report. For up-to-the-minute news, download the DK Live app and follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive. LeBron James (adductor) was out for over a week, and the schedule doesn’t get any lighter moving forward. He played on Friday but was very rusty for the first three quarters. This is the second night of a back-to-back and the middle of a stretch of three games in four nights. That means Davis’ status — and James’ — will be uncertain. Davis scored 84 DKFP vs. Phoenix on Tuesday, and he dropped 64 DKFP on San Antonio last Saturday. The Lakers blew a 20-point lead to San Antonio on Friday, but when the game was on the line, Davis responded with a team-leading 57.75 DKFP.
Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets, $5,200 — The Pogo Stick may not be developing physically but he’s developing as an NBA player. Pokusevski started to come into his own at the end of last season, and now he’s the Thunder’s starting power forward. Before injuring his ankle, Poku was regularly scoring in the mid teens and grabbing just under double-digit rebounds per game. Until he puts on muscle, his points in the paint and rebound numbers won’t improve much. However, he can still contribute in the modern NBA based on his length and mobility. This season, Pokusevski is shooting better than 40% from the 3-point line after shooting below 30% in his first two seasons. His blocks per game have tripled. These stats may not help the Thunder win more, but they have quietly made Pokusevski a decent DFS target and absolutely a player to watch on a small slate. Making Pokusevski even more viable is the fact that the Rockets allow the most DKFP to opposing power forwards.
Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns, $3,400 — The rookie big man out of UNC is an intriguing DFS play. After four hyper efficient games, Kessler put together three disappointing stat sheets. That’s easy to do if the court time is not there — Kessler played 12 minutes Nov. 21 and 11 minutes on Nov. 19. The minutes should scare everyone away, but Kessler’s unique abilities have allowed him to return 6x value or more with just 15 minutes of work. For those not scared away, imagine what Kessler could do if he received 20 minutes of run. This is the second night of a road back-to-back. Kessler’s fresh, young legs should get 20 minutes of work on Saturday. In 21 minutes of action on Friday, he scored 19 DKFP (5.8x) with a 7.9% usage rate. Also, Kessler is hitting value and not scoring. The easiest stat to improve is scoring. His secondary and tertiary stats provide a solid floor — eight blocks in his last 42 minutes of work. One of these night when he scores, he will be the play of the day.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.