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

Friday’s fantasy basketball slate has 10 NBA games. The biggest favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook are the Raptors, who are 12.5-point favorites over the Cavs in Toronto. The highest point total is in Los Angeles, where the Lakers-Pelicans game has a 234.5 over/under. The Knicks-Hawks game in New York is also expected to be high scoring, with a 230 over/under.

Notable players whose statuses will need to be monitored during the day include Anthony Davis (illness), Mike Conley (hamstring), Julius Randle (ankle), Nikola Mirotic (ankle), Brandon Ingram (ankle), Rajon Rondo (hand), Marcus Morris (knee), Serge Ibaka (knee), Bogdan Bogdanovic (foot) and JaVale McGee (illness).

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 also unexpectedly can 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

Kyrie Irving, BOS vs. MIL, $8,700 — Irving has seen a boost in usage lately for a banged up Celtics team, posting a heavy 35 percent usage rate over his past four games, up from 29 percent previously. Part of the increased usage is due to the absence of Al Horford (knee), as Irving’s usage rate with Horford off the court this year is about four percentage points higher than when Horford is on the court with him.

The Celtics face the Bucks, who have strong pace-adjusted defensive numbers but play fast, ranking fifth in pace. The Bucks’ shot quality metrics also aren’t as strong as their point prevention, as they have allowed the most wide-open shots — including the most wide-open 3s — based on the league’s player tracking system, which measures the closest defender to the shooter. In Irving’s previous game vs. the Bucks, he scored 50 DKFP in 33 minutes on 10-of-20 from the field and 6-of-12 from 3.

Other Options — Kemba Walker ($8,600)

Value

Emmanuel Mudiay, NY vs. ATL, $6,200 — Mudiay has a strong matchup against the Hawks, who are poor defensively and play very fast. The Hawks are the fifth-worst pace-adjusted team defense, and their league-leading pace has them allowing points to opponents and assists to opponents at the highest clip in the league. The Hawks also have poor shot-quality metrics, allowing the third-most wide-open shots and fourth-most wide-open 3-pointers based on the league’s player tracking system. Mudiay has been hot lately, averaging 39 DKFP over his past five. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, the game’s point total of 230 is second highest on the slate.

Other Options — Trae Young ($6,300)


SHOOTING GUARD

Stud

Jrue Holiday, NO at LAL, $9,000 — Anthony Davis, Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic are all on the injury report, which could propel Holiday into expanded usage in the offense if all three are unable to play. The Pelicans and Lakers are third and fourth in pace, so this game is a good candidate to be played fast with a lot of possessions. The game is also expected to be the highest scoring game on the slate, as both the Lakers and Pelicans rank in the bottom third in points allowed to opponents. Monitor the statuses of Davis and Randle on the DK Live app.

Other Options — Victor Oladipo ($8,100), Tim Hardaway Jr. ($7,400)

Value

Fred VanVleet, TOR vs. CLE, $5,500 — Kyle Lowry (thigh) is not expected to play Friday, making VanVleet a candidate to make another start for the Raptors. VanVleet is averaging 32 minutes in starts this year — up from 23 minutes off the bench — and faces a Cavs team that has the worst pace-adjusted team defense in the league. VanVleet is averaging 30 DKFP over his past four starts.

Other Options — Andrew Wiggins ($5,800)


SMALL FORWARD

Stud

LeBron James, LAL vs. NO, $10,900 — James faces a Pelicans team that is poor defensively and plays fast. The Pelicans and Lakers are third and fourth in pace, making the game a good candidate for a lot of possessions for fantasy scoring. The Pelicans have allowed the fifth-most points to opponents, seventh-most assists to opponents and rank as the seventh-worst pace-adjusted team defense. The Pelicans also rank poorly by shot-quality metrics, allowing the second-most wide-open shots and second-most wide-open 3s based on the league’s player tracking system, which measures the closest defender to the shooter. The game also has the highest point total on DK Sportsbook, so it is expected to be high scoring.

EDITOR’S NOTE: James is a game-time decision for tonight vs. the Pelicans.

Other Options — Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000)

Value

Justin Jackson, SAC vs. MEM, $3,500 — The Kings could be thin at wing, as both Bogdan Bogdanovic (foot) and Iman Shumpert (hip) missed last game and are questionable to play today. That resulted in Jackson starting and playing 37 minutes — tied for his season-high — while scoring 23 DKFP. If Shumpert and Bogdanovic are out again, Jackson is in line for an expanded minute load.

Other Options — Aaron Gordon ($6,700)


POWER FORWARD

Stud

Kawhi Leonard, TOR vs. CLE, $9,500 — Leonard faces a soft Cavs defense, which, as mentioned above, is the worst defensive team in the league by pace-adjusted metrics, although Cleveland’s slow pace has that number play down for fantasy. Leonard is averaging 49 DKFP in two previous matchups vs. the Cavs while scoring 55 DKFP in his most recent game against them. With Lowry (thigh) also not expected to play, Leonard is a candidate for a tick up in usage. The risk is the Raptors are big home favorites, so Leonard could have his minutes cut in a blowout.

Other Options — Julius Randle ($7,500)

Value

Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM at SAC, $5,800 — Jackson has a strong matchup against the Kings, who are weak defensively, weak on the glass and play very fast. The Kings are the fifth-worst rebounding team, have a bottom-third pace-adjusted team defense and have allowed the third-most points to opponents with the second-most rebounds to opponents due to their fast play increasing possessions. Jackson has performed very well in two previous matchups against the Kings, averaging 39 DKFP while scoring 46 DKFP in his most recent game against them.

Other Options — Larry Nance Jr. ($6,700)


CENTER

Stud

Anthony Davis, NO at LAL, $11,700 — Davis is listed as questionable to play due to an illness, but if he’s healthy enough to play, he has potential to be an explosive fantasy play in this matchup, especially if Randle and Mirotic are both out. Davis’ usage rate is a heavy 38 percent with both Randle and Mirotic off the court, so Davis would be in line for extreme volume if both remain out.

As mentioned above, the game’s 234.5 over/under is the highest on DK Sportsbook, so it is expected to be high scoring. The Lakers and Pelicans are also third and fourth in pace, respectively, making the matchup a good candidate to have a lot of possessions. There’s also the Lakers/LeBron factor for fantasy owners who enjoy narratives; Davis recently changed agents to Rich Paul, who also represents LeBron.

Other Options — Andre Drummond ($8,900), Nikola Vucevic ($9,200)

Value

Domantas Sabonis, IND at BKN, $6,600 — The Nets have struggled against centers this season and rank in the bottom third in team rebounding and team defense. The Nets also rank in the bottom third in points in the paint allowed to opponents, the zone Sabonis takes most of his shots in.

Robert Williams, BOS vs. MIL, $3,800 — The Celtics are thin in their frontcourt with both Aron Baynes (hand) and Al Horford (knee) out, making Williams a candidate for a boosted role Friday. Williams played 24 minutes in the Celtics’ most recent game and scored 31 DKFP. Daniel Theis ($4,000) is another candidate to benefit.

Other Options — Tyson Chandler ($3,800)


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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