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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Lineup Strategy for Mavericks vs. Suns Showdown on December 23

Garion Thorne gives his top NBA lineup advice for Wednesday’s fantasy basketball Showdown contest on DraftKings between the Mavericks and Suns, which starts at 10:30 p.m. ET.

While we got our first look at the two big favorites in the Western Conference on Tuesday, the real fun begins tonight with a loaded 13-game NBA slate. Still, if that seems a little overwhelming, the great people at DraftKings have given us some more palatable options, namely a Showdown contest between two of the West’s up and coming squads in the Mavericks and the Suns.

Who should you be putting into your lineups for what should be a high-scoring tilt? Let’s break it all down.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $100K Fadeaway [$25K to 1st] (DAL vs PHO)

Big Trey Payday

Opt-in and if a player hits a 3-pointer in the last minute of the fourth quarter in tonight’s Milwaukee vs. Boston game or tonight’s Dallas vs. Phoenix game, you get an entry to an exclusive $100K contest on 12/29! See the DraftKings Big Trey Payday page for more details!


Captain’s Picks

Luka Doncic ($17,400 CP) - We’re going with the straight chalk to start things off, but it’s sort of hard not too. There’s a reason that the 21-year-old already has nine nicknames under his heading at Basketball Reference: He’s really, really, really good. Despite only shooting 31.6% from 3-point range in 2019-20, Doncic finished his sophomore season with a very reputable .585 true shooting rate, especially when you consider it was also attached to a massive 36.8% usage rate. Doncic also wound up averaging a staggering 1.71 DKFP per minute played in the regular season, a figure that even managed to jump slightly in the opportunities he had to play with Kristaps Porzingis (knee) sidelined. I wouldn’t expect Doncic’s role to change much in his third year; in fact, it might somehow get larger.

Deandre Ayton ($13,500 CP) - Last season was already so segmented that things almost start to lose their meaning when you try and break it down further, but in the case of Ayton — who’s career is all about unexpected hurdles — I’ll make an exception. The former first-overall pick really seemed to be figuring things out following his return from a 25-game suspension, with Ayton averaging 19.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks across the 27 contests he appeared in from the beginning of January to the March lockdown. If the big man can start making that kind of production his new normal in 2020-21, the sky is the limit. Not to mention, Ayton will now be the recipient of passes in the pick-and-roll from from one of the best to ever do it in Chris Paul ($8,400). I’d look for the veteran point guard to elevate Ayton’s DFS value, while slightly cutting into Devin Booker’s ($10,400).

FLEX Plays

Josh Richardson ($6,400) - While you’d probably have to give Tim Hardaway Jr. ($7,600) the inside track to being the No. 2 scoring option on Dallas with Porzingis injured, I’m having a hard time distinguishing Hardaway’s ceiling from Richardson’s. Both are credible 3-point shooters, both will be asked to make plays as a secondary ball-handler and both will probably finish the season with a usage rate a tick above 20.0%. Maybe Hardaway Jr. is the better pure scorer, yet it’s Richardson that has vastly better steal and block rates for his career as a whole. To be perfectly blunt, it’s a wash. So why is Richardson priced over $1,000 cheaper than his teammate?

Jae Crowder ($6,200) - Speaking of teammates with very similar fantasy profiles, I can see some owners having a difficult time choosing between Crowder and Mikal Bridges ($6,800) on this evening’s slate. Again, I’ll go with the less expensive of the two assets, yet this is a decision that’s about more than salary. Dario Saric (quad) will not be available for this matchup with the Mavericks and that opens up a lot of minutes at power forward — a position where the Suns don’t appear to have a lot of depth. This should translate into some extra playing time for Crowder, who logged over half of his minutes in 2019-20 at the four.

Josh Green ($1,200) - It’s preseason, so take it all with a grain of salt, but Green happened to lead the Mavericks’ bench in minutes in the team’s final two tune-up contests last week. Does that guarantee that the rookie will have a role in tonight’s proceedings? Not necessarily. However, Rick Carlisle has stated that Green is “way beyond his years” when it comes to understanding the NBA game, and the 20-year-old clearly fits into the classic 3-pointers and defense archetype at the wing. Dallas also isn’t exactly flush with depth on its roster, so I could see Green logging around 15 minutes of action. At this price, that’s more than enough time to make an impact.

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


Devin Booker ($10,400) - This isn’t a knock on Booker in a vacuum, but as I stated above, I just want to get a sense of how this new backcourt is going to work before I invest $10K. I mean, it’s not like we haven’t seen playing next to a classic point guard effect Booker’s upside in the recent past. Prior to the bubble last season, the Kentucky product averaged 1.32 DKFP per minute played without Ricky Rubio on the court compared to just 1.14 DKFP per minute with him on it. That gap might continue to widen with Paul carrying a career 23.9% usage rate, dwarfing Rubio’s mark of 19.5%. Obviously, Booker could simply drop 40 points and render this all pointless, but I’ll take that chance.


Considering the Mavericks’ struggles to play defense last season — they finished with a NBA-worst 115.9 defensive rating — I probably feel more confident betting the total of this game than I do taking a specific side. That said, with Kristaps Porzingis watching from the bench in a suit, give me the home team that’s champing at the bit to break in its new “Big 3” in front of the world.

Final Score: Phoenix 121, Dallas 116

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $100K Fadeaway [$25K to 1st] (DAL vs PHO)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) 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 I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.

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