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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Targets, Values for December 16

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

Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Saturday Night NBA DFS features a full-size slate this weekend. It’s a big one and you’re going to need a lot of screens. Let’s dig into some research and make some picks, as we gear up for the nine-game main slate that starts at 7 p.m. ET.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $150K Fadeaway [$50K to 1st]


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Guard

Studs

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers, $12,100 — The stars are out tonight. Several of the best players in the NBA — and the best DFS NBA players — are available on the Saturday night Dec. 16 DraftKings slate. Doncic is delivering as usual. He might not be the No. 1 candidate for MVP like years past, but he’s in the conversation. He’s scored over 59 DKFP in seven straight games with a high of 93 DKFP on Dec. 2. In the four before that, he scored 60, 56, 64 and 46 DKFP. Dallas and Portland both play at an above-average pace. Doncic’s floor seems to be a safe 60 DKFP and 80 isn’t out of reach.

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers, $10,100 — The losses are piling up for the Hawks. They’ve lost 11 of their last 16 games and are currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. How does this impact fantasy basketball? The Hawks are a fast-paced team that doesn’t play defense. They always lose. This means they are always trailing. The Hawks cannot slow down. It’s always catch-up mode. It’s always Trae Young’s burden to dig out of holes and claw the team back into contention. Pressure is mounting as the Hawks sink in the standings. Young carries one of the largest usage rates and minutes-per-game loads in the NBA. As the season progresses, each game means more. Young will have to do more. Case in point, Young scored 63.75 DKFP across 36 minutes with a 43.7% usage rate in the Hawks’ Friday night win over the Raptors.

Coby White, Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat, $7,700 — A Chicago-Miami matchup is not anyone’s pick for the DFS NBA matchup of the night. Neither team plays at a fast pace, and both are competent defensively. The environment is not great for DraftKings fantasy points. This is a huge slate with much better environments for fantasy. Although the situation isn’t great, White is emerging as a star. The situation wasn’t great when these same two teams played on Thursday night. That didn’t stop White from scoring 56.75 DKFP. In fact, nothing seems to be stopping him on his current run. He’s scored at least 39 DKFP in seven straight games and over 35 DFKP in 10 of the last 12 games.

Value

Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat, $5,400 — It’s a big slate. It’s a loaded slate. The customary three picks for the guard position is four in the Saturday Dec. 16 Weekend NBA DFS Article. It’s strange to target the Bulls-Heat game on a full slate. Get over it. There are injuries. Both teams are thin. Zach LaVine is out and Alex Caruso ($5,100) is questionable after leaving Thursday’s game early and not returning. In that situation, against the very same team, Dosunmu scored 45 DKFP across 35 minutes with only a 17% usage rate. On the other bench, the Heat are thin and will not offer much resistance. Tyler Herro is still out and Bam Adebayo will join him on the bench.


Forward

Studs

Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings, $8,400 — Guard and center are the obvious places to spend up on DraftKings on Saturday night. Markkanen should carry low ownership. Utah’s star could be the key to a tournament takedown. His game log isn’t great, and he’s coming off an injury. The reason Markkanen stands out is the situation. The Jazz will be without Jordan Clarkson, John Collins and Keyonte George. Someone needs to step up. That someone will step into a good situation. The Kings play at a fast pace and the Jazz play poor defense with their stars available. With a thin roster, the Jazz will be running and chasing all night. If they can keep it respectable, then Markkanen will have a big night. If they cant (+9 dogs), then the scrubs are in play.

Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks, $6,000 — There is a fine line between stud and value. On a normal night, LeVert would be considered a value pick based on his price. The Saturday Dec. 16 slate is loaded with high-priced options. Extreme savings is needed. LeVert isn’t a punt. He’s not that cheap, but he has upside and is safe. Even as the value picks proliferate throughout the day, the early morning favorite should remain at the top of the board. LeVert’s 46.25-DKFP outburst in the Cavs’ last game is not an outlier. The Cavs will again be without Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. Someone has to pick up the slack. On Thursday, it was LeVert. Furthermore, this is a pace-up game and the Hawks are terrible defensively.

Value

Peyton Watson, Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City, $4,000 — The Weekend NBA DFS Article is published in the wee hours of the morning. The fantasy basketball value picks change throughout the day. Sometimes the picks are static. Sometimes the picks are replaced by better bargains, but the initial recommendation serves as an opportunity to relegate a rookie to future rosters or at least the DFS radar. Aaron Gordon ($6,500) and Jamal Murray ($7,300) will likely play on Saturday night. The Thunder are good, but the Nuggets are unbeatable at home. The stars won’t likely play full minutes. This opens the door to future of the Nuggets. Their 2022 first-round pick, Christian Braun ($4,200), scored 22 DKFP in 24 minutes in their last game — he also posterized a defender. Watson, Denver’s 2023 first-round pick, scored 38.75 DKP in 24 minutes of action on Thursday night.


Center

Studs

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City, $11,900 — Just stick to the numbers. Jokic leads the NBA with 1.9 FPPM (fantasy points per minute). His usage rate bounces between 30% and 40%, and he plays 33 minutes per game. Jokic has scored over 55 DKFP in 11 straight games with a high of 84 DKFP and over 66 DKFP in over half of those contests. This matchup should inflate his numbers. The Thunder play at a top-5 pace. The game should be relatively competitive (Nuggets -5). Also, the Nuggets have been limiting their other stars while completely unleashing the Joker.

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers at Charlotte Hornets, $7,600 — The Hornets are starting a backup center. Not that it matters for Embiid. He’s scored over 60 DKFP in 12 of the last 14 contests with a high of 80 DKFP on Dec. 12 against Washington. That game is significant. Washington has the worst rated defense in the NBA. Charlotte is the second-worst — 117.5 Defensive Efficiency Rating.

Value

Naz Reid, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Indiana Pacers, $5,500 — This might not be the day to save at center. The elite options can absolutely wreck the scoreboard. Paying down will create a differentiated lineup. This could work in a tournament. It could also be a disaster. It’s essentially betting that both big men bust. Reid has returned value in six of the last seven games — 7.4x, 7.1x, 6.1x, 5.2x, 5.6x and 7.9x. The Pacers present a pace-up spot for the backup big man.

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.