Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top NBA Targets, Values for December 19

On June 11, 1997, Michael Jordan famously played against the Utah Jazz in what would become known as the “Flu Game.” Jordan was terribly ill, but it didn’t stop him from from scoring 38 points on 13-of-27 shooting in a two-point win. Today, this fantasy basketball owner is creating his own “Flu Article” due to similar symptoms.

Goofiness aside, let’s dive into tonight’s fantasy basketball slate, which has 12 games. The highest point total on DraftKings Sportsbook is in Sacramento, where the Kings-Thunder game has a 235 over/under. The Bucks-Pelicans game in Milwaukee is also expected to be high scoring, with a 233.5 over/under. The Wizards, Nets, Cavaliers and Pacers are playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Notable players whose statuses will need to be monitored during the day include Kyle Lowry (thigh), Mike Conley (hamstring), Tim Hardaway Jr. (heel), Serge Ibaka (knee), Bogdan Bogdanovic (foot), Jordan Clarkson (back), Pascal Siakim (back), Jaylen Brown (hand) and Fred VanVleet (back).

For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app, as NBA news, injury reports and betting lines can change throughout the day. Value can also unexpectedly open up due to late lineup changes, making it important to stay up to the minute with the DK Live app until lineups lock.

Let’s take a look at some plays fantasy owners can consider using on DraftKings.

POINT GUARD

Stud

Russell Westbrook, OKC at SAC, $11,000 — There are a bunch of stud, high-priced players in strong matchups today, and Westbrook is one of them. Westbrook faces a Kings team that plays very fast and is worse than average defensively. The Kings rank poorly in shot quality metrics, allowing the sixth-most wide-open shots and fourth-most wide-open 3s based on the league’s player tracking system, which measures the closest defender to the shooter, so Westbrook and his teammates are candidates to receive open looks both on Westbrook’s shots and off Westbrook’s passes. The Kings rank in the bottom third in pace-adjusted team defense and have allowed the third-most points to opponents on the back of the second-fastest pace in the league. They also rank as the sixth-worst rebounding team and have allowed the third-most rebounds to opponents. Westbrook is averaging 61 DKFP in two prior meetings vs the Kings this year.

Other Options — Stephen Curry ($9,500), Kyrie Irving ($9,100)

Value

Fred VanVleet, TOR vs. IND, $4,900 — VanVleet is expected to play despite appearing on the injury report. If Lowry is out again, VanVleet will be a candidate to start in his place. VanVleet is averaging 32 minutes in starts this season — up from 23 minutes in games off the bench — and he’ll be a candidate for a boost in volume if in the starting lineup. His opponent, the Pacers, are excellent defensively but are playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Tyus Jones, MIN vs. DET, $3,600 — Starting point guard Jeff Teague has been ruled out, making Jones a candidate for an increased workload. Jones played 24 minutes with Teague out of the lineup Monday, scoring 34 DKFP after creating a strong 16 potential assists, with teammates making 10 of them.

Other Options — Derrick Rose ($6,700)


SHOOTING GUARD

Stud

James Harden, HOU vs. WAS, $11,400 — Harden has a strong matchup against a Wizards team that is allowing the second-most points to opponents and plays fast, ranking seventh in pace. Washington is also the worst defensive rebounding team in the league, which could create extra possessions for the Rockets on offense. Washington has the third-worst pace-adjusted team defense and has been worse than average at allowing baskets at the rim. The addition of Trevor Ariza should help the Wizards’ perimeter defense to some degree, but Harden remains in an excellent spot, especially with the Wizards playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Harden scored a monstrous 89 DKFP in his previous meeting with the Wizards this year.

Other Options — Jrue Holiday ($8,600)

Value

Kris Dunn, CHI vs. BKN, $6,300 — Dunn faces a Nets team flying into Chicago on the second night of a back-to-back after a tough win over the Lakers, so their legs could be heavy defensively. The Nets have a bottom-third team defense both in terms of points allowed and pace-adjusted defense, and their guards are poor defensively. Dunn is in line for boosted usage in the offense with Zach LaVine (ankle) out. Dunn’s usage rate is a solid 27 percent in minutes with LaVine off the court this season.

Other Options — Andrew Wiggins ($5,800)


SMALL FORWARD

Stud

Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL vs. NO, $11,100 — Antetokounmpo has a strong matchup against the Pelicans, who are weak defensively and have poor shot quality metrics. The Pelicans have allowed the second-most wide-open shots based on the league’s player tracking system, including the most wide-open 3s. The Pelicans rank seventh worst in pace-adjusted team defense, have allowed the fifth-most points to opponents and seventh-most assists to opponents. The Pelicans also have allowed the eighth-most field goals within five feet of the basket, the zone that Giannis takes most of his shots in. The Pelicans and Bucks are fourth and fifth in pace, respectively, so this matchup should be played fast and feature a lot of possessions for fantasy scoring.

Other Options — Kawhi Leonard ($9,200), Paul George ($8,900)

Value

Khris Middleton, MIL vs. NO, $6,500 — Middleton is in a good spot for reasons similar to Antetokounmpo. The Pelicans have poor shot quality metrics, allowing a lot of wide-open shots, and have a poor team defense. The game is also projected to be fast paced and have one of the highest scoring totals on Wednesday’s slate.

Other Options — Trevor Ariza ($4,500)


POWER FORWARD

Stud

Anthony Davis, NO at MIL, $11,600 — Julius Randle (ankle) and Nikola Mirotic (ankle) both are not expected to play, which makes Davis a candidate for heavy usage today. Davis has a monstrous 39 percent usage rate with both Randle and Mirotic off the court this season, up from his season average of 29 percent. The Bucks have strong pace-adjusted defensive numbers, but the fast pace of this game — the Bucks and Pelicans both rank in the top five in pace — makes Davis a candidate for extra volume due to more possessions in what is expected to be a high scoring affair. The game has a high over/under of 233.5 on DK Sportsbook.

Other Options — Blake Griffin ($9,600), Kevin Durant ($9,400)

Value

Mike Muscala, PHI vs. NY, $3,500 — Muscala is averaging 23 DKFP over his past nine games as the Sixers rely on him for floor spacing at power forward after the trade of Dario Saric. Muscala also has scored at least 20 DKFP in eight of his past nine games. The Sixers have a strong matchup against the Knicks, who have allowed the fourth-most points to opponents and rank as a below-average rebounding team.

Other Options — Larry Nance Jr. ($6,300)


CENTER

Stud

Joel Embiid, PHI vs. NY, $10,200 — Embiid has a strong matchup against a Knicks team that is poor defensively, especially on the inside. As mentioned above, the Knicks have allowed the fourth-most points to opponents and have allowed the fourth-most field goals within five feet of the basket, showcasing poor basket protection. The Knicks are also a below average rebounding team. Embiid scored 59 DKFP in his previous meeting vs. the Knicks this season on Nov. 28, and it came with Jimmy Butler also in the lineup.

Other Options — Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,700), Steven Adams ($7,000)

Value

Bobby Portis, CHI vs. BKN, $4,700 — As mentioned above, the Bulls face the Nets, who are playing on the second night of a back-to-back and rank in the bottom third in team defense. The Nets are also a below average rebounding team. Portis is a candidate to benefit from Zach LaVine’s absence, as he has a strong 30 percent usage rate in minutes with LaVine off the court this season. Portis’ price tag of $4,700 is the lowest it’s been all season.

Jahlil Okafor, NO at MIL, $3,000 — With the Pelicans thin in their frontcourt, Okafor is expected to get a boost in minutes Wednesday. With an expanded minute load, Okafor is a punt play option at the minimum price of $3,000, although fantasy owners can monitor his potential minutes load with the DK Live app. His career player efficiency rating of 15.9 is slightly better than average.

Other Options — Wendell Carter Jr. ($4,800)


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) 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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

Odds and lines subject to change. See website for actual odds.

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