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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Targets, Values for December 17

Pearce Dietrich gives his top studs and value plays at each position for Saturday’s fantasy basketball slate on DraftKings.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday Night NBA DFS features the perfect slate size. It’s not too big or too small, and with a couple of screens we can watch them all. Let’s dig into some research and make some picks. Kick back and enjoy the five-game main slate that starts at 8 p.m. ET.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $200K Fadeaway [$50K to 1st]

For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.



Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers, $12,500 — On Wednesday, the “Cavricks” and “Maveliers” battled in Dallas, and Dallas won by 15 points. On Saturday, the Cavs-Mavs battle looks a little different. Last Saturday, the Mavericks rested Doncic on the the second night of a back-to-back, this time that won’t likely be the case due to the number of injuries in the Mavericks’ lineup. Davis Bertans and Maxi Kleber were out on Friday, and Dwight Powell exited early and did not return. Doncic will likely play and carry the weight as always. The Cavs are also on the back-end of a back-to-back, so their elite defense may not be as sharp as usual.

Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Utah Jazz, $8,300 — Khris Middleton is out and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,300) is questionable. Although Holiday is probable to return from an illness and his minutes are unknown, this is a very appealing spot. Holiday could be in sole control of this offense against a team that ranks 20th in defensive efficiency rating. On a small slate, it’s hard to ignore Holiday at this price with his potential workload in a favorable matchup.

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets, $10,300 — The Trail Blazers were blown out last night. That means two things. Lillard should be fine on the back-to-back and Lillard should be angry. That’s bad news for the Rockets. The Blazers’ Texas tour continues on Saturday and this might be the best show on the southwest swing. The Rockets present a favorable matchup with a 112.9 Defensive Efficiency Rating (27th) and a positive 102.1 in Pace (10th).


Reggie Bullock, Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers, $3,500 — He didn’t do anything on Friday because he never does, but Saturday could be different. The Mavericks are dealing with multiple injuries in their rotation and are on the back-end of a back-to-back. On Friday, the Mavs stuck with an eight-man rotation before garbage time. Bullock was a part of that rotation with the second unit but elevated to the first unit in the third quarter when Dwight Powell left the game with an injury. This is when the Mavs put the game on ice and built a 20-point lead. Bullock scored three points, grabbed two boards and earned an assist during this portion of the contest. If he can replicate and extrapolate that substitute performance on Saturday, then he could be a value candidate.

Grayson Allen, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Utah Jazz, $4,300 — As an editor at DK Nation, my job is to watch the NBA news feed and react. I update the DKLive App and buzz your phone with breaking news, and I fire off news tweets. As a writer, I take the next step and decide what to do with this information. Friday 8 p.m. ET., Khris Middleton is out and Jrue Holiday is probable to return. I’m not interested. The workload will likely get spread across the lineup, but maybe Jrue is a consideration. 11:30 p.m. ET, Giannis Antetokounmpo pops up on the IR out of nowhere. Players aren’t listed in the middle of the night if a team is manipulating the Injury Report. It’s not likely that Giannis plays. This opens volume and value in Milwaukee. As of Saturday morning, the projection sites have not reacted. Bucks value is not boosted. Allen is one of those options. He combines a strong FG% and FT% for an elite True Shooting% (63.7%). Allen needs slightly more minutes and his shots too fall. He’s going to get more minutes on Saturday. He’ll also likely get more shots and rebound opportunities with the Bucks’ injury situation being what it is.



Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns, $10,000 — A rough translation of “Zion” is the citadel of ancient Jerusalem, and by citadel, “a fortress, typically on high ground.” That’s Zion Williamson, a tall fort. He’s healthy this season and he’s unstoppable. The Pelicans are in second place in the West. It’s almost Christmas. It’s time to start believing in New Orleans. Williamson has played over 40 minutes in two of the last three games. One of those 40-minute games was against Saturday’s opponent, the Suns. In that game he scored 50 DKFP. His price tag is egregious on a small slate. This is way too cheap for a player with his usage rate (32.7%) and the likelihood of more than 35 minutes of court time.


Aleksej Pokuseveski, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies, $3,900 — Here is your warning: Keep your eye on the NBA Feed tonight at 8 p.m. ET lock. The Thunder run different starting rotations every night, especially in the front court. For up-to-the-minute news, download the DK Live app and follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive. On Friday, Poku got the start. This followed a game where he played eight minutes, so buyer beware. Jeremiah-Robinson Earl is out. Darius Bazley was out with an illness on Friday. Kenrich Williams is still out. There are plenty of minutes available in the Thunder’s lineup. Unfortunately, it’s the Thunder and only SGA and Josh Giddey received more than 30 minutes in Friday’s close loss to the Timberwolves. Poku only played 24 minutes last night, but he scored 24 DKFP. On Saturday, the matchup is tougher vs. the Grizzlies, but the pace is even faster. One last note, if PF/C Darius Bazley ($3,500) is 100% cleared of his illness, he should be on the DFS value radar.

Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Dallas Mavericks, $3,200 — Kevin Love doesn’t play both nights of a back-to-back. This will open up usage within the Cavs’ second unit. There are two players that stand to inherit this workload: Osman and SG/SF Caris Levert ($5,000). Being that this isn’t a great game for fantasy, the cheaper of the two seems like the more fitting option. This is not a straight punt. Osman will be facing a depleted and short Mavs rotation that is on the second night of a back-to-back. Also, the Mavs may choose to run a smaller lineup with their limited options, and this could lead to 25 minutes or more for Osman. As is always the case, Osman is shot dependent and his scoring floor is bottomless.

Eugene Omoruyi, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies, $3,000 — Not only are the Thunder running thin in their front court, but they also lost SF Lu Dort ($5,100) in the third quarter on Friday night. Omoruyi replaced Dort and provided a spark. The Thunder closed a 10-point deficit and took the lead before ultimately losing by two points. Omoruyi finished the night with 27.75 DKFP in 21 minutes. There are two scenarios that could work on Saturday. The Thunder aren’t terrible and Omoruyi gets 25 to 30 minutes in an up-tempo game. This results in the $3K player easily reaching value. Another scenario is that the Thunder get blown out, and Omoruyi reaches value in garbage time with the Thunder having limited bodies available.



Christian Wood, Dallas Mavericks at Cleveland Cavaliers, $6,300 — The front court is all his on Saturday night. This is a terrible matchup against one of the best defenses in the NBA, but the back-to-back for the Cavs softens it up a little. Regardless of the matchup, Wood exploded in his suddenly expanded role on Friday night — 52.5 DKFP (32 points and 12 rebounds). Usage hasn’t been a problem this season. His lack of minutes have held back his DFS potential. That won’t likely be the case on Saturday with the Mavs running thin in the front court. Dorian Finney-Smith ($3,700), the Notorious DFS best known for disappointing, is a cheap option worth considering for the sadists.


Jock Landale, Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans, $3,900 — Deandre Ayton is out again on Saturday. On Thursday, Landale did not start, but off the bench he outplayed starter C Bismack Biyombo ($3,800). Landale recorded a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds) in 27 minutes of action in the Suns 111-95 win over the Clippers. Get ready for another chalky night of big man value plays.

Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz at Milwaukee Bucks, $5,000 — It’s Jazz-urday and that means the weekend extravaganza article must cover Walker Kessler. The rookie’s salary has risen $2,000 in the last two weeks. There is a reason for that increase. He’s finally getting minutes and he’s doing more than just blocking and rebounding. Kessler has added scoring to his arsenal. Kessler has reached double figures in five of his last seven games. With the possibility of the Bucks missing several key components on Saturday, Kessler could end up in a very favorable matchup that will go overlooked because of the other value options available.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $200K Fadeaway [$50K to 1st]

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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.