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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Targets, Values for December 21

Garion Thorne gives his top studs and value plays at each position for Tuesday’s fantasy basketball slate on DraftKings.

As has become the new normal in the NBA, what was once a six-game featured slate on DraftKings for this evening is now five. Still, despite all the absences due to the league’s health and safety protocols, this remains a star-studded night of basketball action.

Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know to set a few lineups.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $250K Fadeaway [$50K to 1st]

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LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns, $11,100 - You really have to commend the soon-to-be 37-year-old’s ability to adapt. When Russell Westbrook ($10,400) is sidelined, James becomes the Lakers’ lead guard and facilitates the offense. When Anthony Davis (knee) goes down, James is an interior force, as we saw in Sunday’s contest against the Bulls. It was James’ first start since the news of Davis’ extended absence, and he immediately went out and registered 63.5 DKFP and grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds. For the season as a whole, the King is averaging 1.44 DKFP per minute with Davis off the court.


Kemba Walker, New York Knicks vs. Detroit Pistons, $5,400 - The big thing to watch here as we get closer to tip-off is the health of Derrick Rose ($7,200; ankle). Rose missed Saturday’s loss to Boston, along with RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes and Kevin Knox — all of whom remain in the league’s health and safety protocols. That opened the door for Walker to see his first action since November, and he delivered. Operating with a team-high 30.5% usage rate, the veteran collected 29 points and 43.0 DKFP. If Rose sits once again, Walker should have another huge role, this time against a team that sits 22nd in defensive rating (110.1).



Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $7,400 - While some of Brunson’s viability comes down to the status of Kristaps Porzingis ($9,000; toe), the guard has simply been a solid DFS option when filling in for Luka Doncic (ankle), averaging 38.9 DKFP per start so far in 2021-22. That being said, Brunson has a 28.5% usage with both All-Stars off the court and Dallas would essentially be running an eight-man rotation if Porzingis sits out. That could mean upwards of 40 minutes for Brunson on Tuesday night.


Malik Beasley, Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks, $4,800 - Beasley has not shot the ball particularly well since being inserted into the starting five — he’s just 7-for-25 from three in his last two games — but with Anthony Edwards (health protocols) and Patrick Beverley (health protocols) still out, I’ll go back to the well with Minnesota’s wing. Despite the efficiency issues, Beasley logged at least 30 minutes in both his starts and he’s averaging a respectable 0.94 DKFP per minute. If his shot actually begins falling tonight, he could be looking at 7x or 8x value.

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Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Portland Trail Blazers, $8,900 - The Pelicans have this slate’s second-highest implied team total. The reason for that is two-fold. First, they’re going up against a Portland squad that owns the Western Conference’s second-worst defensive rating (112.3). Second, Ingram is on absolute fire right now. In his eight starts in December, the former lottery pick is averaging 27.3 points, 5.9 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game in 37.8 minutes with a .588 true shooting rate. That’s equated to 1.24 DKFP per minute logged and five contests with over 50.0 DKFP. Ingram’s ceiling on Tuesday is incredibly high.


Max Strus, Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers, $4,700 - Where do the Heat keep finding these guys? Strus has been on everyone’s radar for a couple seasons now, but he’s officially broken out in Miami’s past two contests. With Jimmy Butler (tailbone) and Caleb Martin (health protocols) unavailable, Strus has averaged 28.0 points and 6.0 made three-pointers going back to last Friday, all while logging at least 33 minutes in both games. Well, for tonight’s matchup with the Pacers, suddenly P.J. Tucker (leg) is sidelined, too. You’d have to imagine Strus’ role will only increase, though keep an eye on whether Tyler Herro ($7,000; quad) is suiting up.



Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat, $10,600 - With no Bam Adebayo (thumb), Markieff Morris (neck) and Tucker, the Heat are remarkably thin in the frontcourt. That should translate into a huge game in the paint for Sabonis. The big man had his 13-game double-digit rebound streak snapped when the Pacers last took the court against the Pistons, but Sabonis only needed to log 31.2 minutes in that win. In a competitive script, Sabonis’ floor is basically a double-double, which also tends to make him one of the safest assets on every slate.


Editor’s Note: Lakers SF Talen Horton-Tucker (health protocols) and C Dwight Howard (health protocols) will be available to play tonight vs. the Suns.

Carmelo Anthony, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns, $4,600 - Not that Anthony doesn’t usually have the green light, but with Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker (health protocols) and pretty much the Lakers’ entire bench ruled out, the veteran has free reign on the court. In Sunday’s loss to Chicago, Anthony played 29.7 minutes, dropped 21 points with a 27.6% usage rate and finished the contest with 38.75 DKFP. The Suns are a stout defensive opponent, yet Anthony with that kind of volume is always going to be enticing.



Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers, $8,200 - Speaking of that game against the Bulls, the shorthanded Lakers were forced to have the husk of DeAndre Jordan ($3,800) out on the court for 20.6 minutes, as he’s the only thing even close to resembling a center left on this decimated roster. That’s just not going to fly in a matchup with Ayton. This is a man who just put up a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double on Sunday in a mere 23.7 minutes of playing time. Really, that’s the lone concern I have with Ayton in this spot: Does the game stay competitive enough for him to reach his ceiling?


DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns, $3,800 - Well... He played 20.6 minutes in that loss! It’s entertaining to poke fun at the Lakers’ current size predicament, but Jordan was a capable DFS asset on Sunday, clearing 6x value with 19.25 DKFP. You’d have to assume that Los Angeles at least starts this game trying to match Jordan’s minutes to Ayton’s, which should lead to a similar role for the veteran. Elsewhere, keep an eye on Dwight Powell ($3,200) if Porzingis ends up sitting for the Mavericks.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $250K Fadeaway [$50K to 1st]

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and customer (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 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.

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