This Saturday Night, the NBA DFS slate is bigger than usual. But don’t worry, the last game locks at 9 p.m. ET. DraftKings is not going to mess with your New Year’s Eve plans. Let’s dig into some research and make some picks now, so we can kick back and enjoy the holiday and the eight-game main slate that starts at 7 p.m. ET.
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs, $12,100 — The guy scored 110 fantasy points and said he wanted a beer afterwards. How can you not love this guy? That was Tuesday. On Thursday, he scored 81 DKFP in a paced-up game — they’re all paced-up games for the super slow Mavs — against Houston’s weak defense. It was his third game in the last four with 80 or more fantasy points. On Saturday, Doncic should hit 80 again vs. the up-tempo Spurs.
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks at Houston Rockets, $5,700 — The Knicks are in a great spot on Saturday night. Houston has the third-worst defense in the NBA. Quickley has been hot. He’s started the last two games. He played 51 minutes on Tuesday and scored 42.75 DKFP behind a 17.9% usage rate. He followed that game with 43 minutes on Thursday. His usage rate jumped to 30.4% and that resulted in 59.25 DKFP. He should be able to replicate those numbers in a soft matchup on Saturday.
Tre Mann, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Philadelphia 76ers, $3,600 — In the last two games, Mann has played 23 and 28 minutes off the bench. With the second unit in the last four games, he has carried usage rates of 26.6%, 26.2%, 21.1% and 33%. In three of his last four games, he has fantasy scores of 22.5 DKFP (7.5x), 25.75 DKFP (8x) and 24.25 DKFP (7.6x).
Rodney McGruder, Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves, $3,000 — The Pistons are running a very thin rotation due to players being suspended and injured. McGruder didn’t see much of a boost on Friday, but this is a back-to-back and the Pistons are six-point dogs. He’s a punt to keep on your radar in a paced-up spot.
Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls, $4,300 — If Cedi Osman is out, then LeVert should see a usage rate increase with the second unit. If Darius Garland is out, he could rotate onto the floor sooner and pick up extra minutes. If Evan Mobley is out, then Kevin Love could start, and leave all of the second-unit work to LeVert. There are a lot of moving pieces here. LeVert has been very efficient but on normal nights his role is limited. The handcuffs could come off tonight. Also, he has guard and forward flexibility.
Julius Randle, New York Knicks at Houston Rockets, $10,100 — RJ Barrett (out) and Jalen Brunson (questionable) have missed the last two games. Even if Brunson suits up, it doesn’t matter. This is Randle’s team. The Knicks have lost five in a row, but it’s not because of Randle. Over the last 13 games, he’s averaging a 6x return each night. His salary has increased $2,500 over that span. But as his salary increases, so does his production. He’s scored over 58 DKFP in each of his last four games, and he had his biggest game of the season (69.75 DKFP) in his last game. This price is a bargain for a usage rate north of 30% and 40 minutes of run.
Naz Reid, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Detroit Pistons, $4,700 — Rudy Gobert was out on Friday and Reid once again took over the front court responsibilities. He scored 31.25 DKFP in 30 minutes. In the last five games where Reid has played at least 25 minutes, he’s returned values of 11.1x, 5x, 8.1x, 5.6x and 6.4x. He should easily hit 6x on Saturday vs. a depleted Detroit defense that wasn’t much of a defense before. C Luka Garza ($3,000) might be worth a look as a punt. He played 18 minutes of Friday and scored 20.75 DKFP.
Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves, $4,000 — It’s a paced-up game and the Pistons have limited bodies available. Bey will get a ton of minutes and he’s cheap. On Friday, he moved into the starting lineup but his role didn’t decrease. He just didn’t play well — 22 DKFP in 31 minutes. In the two games prior, he scored 50 and 27 DKFP. Shot volume is not the concern. It’s whether the shots fall, so Bey is likely a GPP only play.
Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Detroit Pistons, $5,200 — The Pistons rank 11th in pace of play and the Timberwolves rank No. 2. Not only do both of these teams play up-tempo basketball, but the Pistons play no defense (29th in Defensive Efficiency Rating). Last night, was a bad game but it was a tough matchup against the Bucks. In the seven games prior, McDaniels averaged 30.4 DKFP with an average return of 6.6x.
Nic Claxton, Brooklyn Nets at Charlotte Hornets, $6,200 — The Hornets surrender the most fantasy points per game to opposing centers. They play at a top-10 pace and have the 23rd ranked defense. Claxton is playing 25 to 30 minutes a night. He’s scored over 30 DKFP in seven of the last 10. He’s cleared 40 DKFP three times and two have come in his last three games. He underperformed on Dec. 26 but that was a tough fantasy matchup with Cleveland.
Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves, $5,400 — Karl-Anthony Towns is still out and Ruby Gobert (illness) will be out on Saturday night. Duren was already becoming the second coming of Ben Wallace in Detroit. He does not need an easy matchup to grab 20 boards, but in this up-tempo, soft matchup in the front court on Saturday, he could pull down 30 rebounds.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls, $4,200 — Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Cedi Osman are questionable. If any are out or are limited, then Love could pick up more work on Saturday. Love has been an incredibly efficient fantasy producer this season (1.1 FPPM). The problem is that he plays less than 20 minutes per game for a slow team. This suppresses his salary. Every once in awhile, due to injuries, Love has to increase his workload. On those occasions, he’s grossly underpriced.
Mark Williams, Charlotte Hornet vs. Brooklyn Nets, $3,500 — Despite being a backup center, Williams scored 45.25 DKFP off the bench in 21 minutes in his last game. That was with C Nick Richards ($3,300) available. On Dec. 27, he scored 15.5 DKFP in 18 minutes, and in the game before that, 22 DKFP in 16 minutes. Is the 15th pick out of Duke in the 2022 NBA Draft finally getting his chance?
Jaylin Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Philadelphia 76ers, $3,500 — With Aleksej Pokusevski out, Williams got the start on Thursday. He didn’t make a shot, but he played 24 minutes and got 10 rebounds. In the game before that, he scored 17.5 DKFP in 15 minutes. If he can be a point-per-minute producer, he will easily return value in 25 minutes. Be careful, the Thunder’s rotations are unpredictable and this is a difficult frontcourt matchup.
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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.