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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Targets, Values for December 18

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

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you’re chasing or just not a football fan, there is always a Sunday NBA DFS slate waiting for you. These slates are not very big, so the research process can be light. While everyone else dedicates their day to the NFL, we can get ahead by digging into the five-game evening slate that starts at 6 p.m. ET.

Delay the work week a few more hours. Get in on some NBA DFS action, and start by enjoying another colorful weekend edition of the NBA Targets.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $150K 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.



Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Washington Wizards, $7,200 — In the immortal words of John Wick, “Yeah, I think I’m back.” Who killed Russell Westbrook’s dog? The triple-double monster has been awakened. Westbrook has a triple-double in two of the last three games, and he’s scored over 53 DKFP in three of the last four. Anthony Davis is out on Sunday. That should mean a bump up in work for Westbrook. Last but not least, the Wizards are on the back-end of a back-to-back and could be short handed.

Krie Irving, Brooklyn Nets at Detroit Pistons, $8,600 — The Nets are winning and the controversies have vanished. Funny how that happens. There is still one unsettled controversy. Why is Kyrie so cheap? The uncancellable Kyrie is playing nearly 40 minutes per game during Brooklyn’s turnaround (winners of nine of 10) and he carries a 29% usage rate. Getting him for under $9K is a steal. Getting him at this price on a short slate, that’s a heist. All of this, against the weak defending, up-tempo Pistons is the crime of the century.


Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Denver Nuggets vs. Charlotte Hornets, $4,100 — The KCP pick cratered on Friday night. Who’s surprised? Unless you’re new to DFS, you know the mirage that is KCP. He always gets the minutes but never does much with them, so his salary deflates. Of late, his minuscule usage rate, around 15%, has worked with his heavy minutes. He flopped at LA, but in his last three games in mile-high Denver, where road teams struggle with the altitude, KCP has scored 23.5, 30.5 and 27.75 DKFP. The Hornets are coming to town and that means there will be a lot of green coming out of the Denver lineup. The Hornets are DFS darlings with a bottom-5 defense and top-10 pace. PG/SG Bones Hyland ($5,100) is a slightly more expensive option, but his ceiling is significantly higher when the erratic shooter actually makes shots.

Ty Jerome, Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors, $3,100 — Raise your hand if you’ve tried to punt with Ty Jerome this season? It probably didn’t work out. Jerome had another surprising performance on Friday, so he again has found his way back onto the radar. This time it might be more sustainable. When he starts, he gets minutes but his usage is non-existent. On Friday, the Warriors changed their rotation without Curry. Jerome played a key role for the Warriors’ second unit by contributing nine points, four rebounds and four assists in 18 minutes. It’s hard to project more than 20 minutes, but he did fire up a healthy 10 shots Friday.



LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Washington Wizards, $10,000 — Anthony Davis is out. That work will go somewhere. If the Lakers want to win, and their play over the last two weeks reveals that they still care, then James will bear the load on Sunday night. This is a winnable game at home vs. the short-handed Wizards that are playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors vs. Golden State Warriors, $7,400 — The only thing predictable about the Raptors is minutes. Barnes averages 34 MPG and carries a 21% usage rate, and that has roughly translated into one fantasy point per minute (FPPM). At his price, in a paced-up spot (the Warriors play at the fastest pace in the NBA) against a team without their best player that was already indifferent towards regular season games, Barnes could hit 50 DKFP on Sunday. Outside of two cold-shooting nights vs. Orlando, Barnes is averaging 43 DKFP per game over his last five games.


Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls at Minnesota Timberwolves, $3,900 — The good news is that his salary stalled out underneath for $4,000. The bad news is that this usually indicates a poor performance. After scoring 21 DKFP or more in four of the last five games, Williams disappointed with 16 DKFP on Friday. That wasn’t a huge drop off. He still played 40 minutes and had a 15.9% usage rate. He just missed out on some boards and assists. His salary more than likely stalled because on Friday’s slate there were several big-man value options, so no one played Williams.

Juancho Hernangomez, Toronto Raptors vs. Golden State Warriors, $3,600 — With Gary Trent Jr. out Friday, Hernangomez got the start and 41 minutes. That’s all he got. His 17.5 DKFP translates to 0.42 DKFP per minute. As a second-unit player, he only had a 0.68 FPPM to begin with. Trent is out again and Hernangomez will likely draw another start. Can his boost in minutes make up for the lost usage with the first team?



Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Charlotte Hornets, $12,000 — There is a contractual obligation to mention a big name player that drives SEO. The Joker meets that requirement. He’s not a bad play by any means. He can go off and there is enough value to fit him into your lineups on this slate. However, there is a ton of value at center. The utility spot seems to be destined for a second center. If anything, Jokic will be an under-owned superstar on a small slate. That’s very appealing in GPPs. Also, the matchup is fantastic. The Hornets have the fifth-worst defensive efficiency rating, and they play at the ninth-fastest pace.


Thomas Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Washington Wizards , $4,000 — When Anthony Davis is away, Thomas Bryant comes to play. He’s always been a solid contributor going back to his days with the Wizards. There is nothing flashy about Bryant. The big man grabs rebounds and makes high-probability shots. With Davis out, Bryant played nearly the entire second half in the Lakers 126-108 win over the Nuggets. In the second half alone, Bryant recorded 16 points, six rebounds, one assist and two steals.

Naz Reid, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Chicago Bulls, $4,600 — The YouTube DFS shows were all over this one on Friday night. They were also on Hawks C Onyeka Okongwu, but so was I and so were you, so let’s not point fingers, Spiderman. If Gobert is out again, fire up Reid. The matchup is less appealing and he’s $600 more expensive, but it’s a small slate. Reid doesn’t have to score 51.75 DKFP. Half of that won’t kill you in cash and 30 to 35 DKFP should be good enough for GPPs.

Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors, $5,500 — Google “availability heuristic.” I’ll save you the time. It’s a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples when evaluating a specific topic. It is inherently biased toward recently acquired information. The fear mongering media creates many unnecessary panics because of this phenomenon (read “Enlightenment Now” by Stephen Pinker). Kevin Looney scored 50.75 DKFP and nearly triple-doubled (14 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists) on Friday vs. Joel Embiid’s 76ers. Is Looney the future of Golden State sans Steph, or is the availability heuristic leading us down the path to the deposit window?

Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons vs. Brooklyn Nets, $4,800 — Marvin Bagley III ($4,400) did not sit on Friday, but that didn’t matter for Duren. In an Ordinary World, Duren would not be viable with the Bag man also logging minutes. However, Duren was hungry like the wolf and hit value for the fifth game in a row (8.9x, 7.6x, 6.6x, 9.3x and 8.5x). He’s starting and playing 30 minutes each night. He’s scoring, and with his rebounds, he looks like the second coming of Ben Wallace — 71 rebounds in the last five games.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $150K 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.