With an off-day on Christmas Eve and just five games on Christmas, nearly the entire league is in action tonight, leaving plenty of matchups to breakdown. Here are the best and worst on Friday’s 14-game slate. Feel free to reach out on Twitter with any questions or comments: @julianedlow.
Defense vs. Position
Point Guard Matchups
BEST – Kyrie Irving ($7,800) vs. Brooklyn Nets – Brooklyn ranks dead last in the NBA at defending the PG position (allowing 62 DKFP) entering a matchup with a red-hot Kyrie. He’s been in favorable positions in his last three games, producing 54, 42.25 and 60 DKFP respectively. He’ll look to keep rolling in his best matchup yet.
WORST – Chris Paul ($9,400) vs. Dallas Mavericks – Paul has been very efficient in limited minutes his last two games, but left last night’s game against the Spurs with a hamstring strain. He’s listed as questionable, but doesn’t make for a strong play against Dallas. The Mavs are the best team in the NBA against PGs (allowing 45.8 DKFP), and CP3 would already be playing through a hamstring issue.
Shooting Guard Matchups
BEST – Jimmy Butler ($8,400) vs. Charlotte Hornets – Butler will obviously see time at both SG and SF, and those are the Hornets’ two weakest positions on the defensive end. The Hornets have allowed a league-high 51 DKFP to SGs over their past five games, and rank in the bottom-5 teams at defending SF. I think Dwyane Wade also makes for a solid play if you want to try a cheaper option. (Wade is probable for tonight’s game with a migraine. Download the DK Live app for real time news and updates).
WORST – DeMar DeRozan ($7,300) vs. Utah Jazz – You can catch DeRozan’s price way down ($1,200 cheaper than last game), so I understand the temptation to draft him here. However, he had a horrible game his last time out vs. Brooklyn, barely topping 20 DKFP. Tonight he’ll face a Utah defense that ranks second in the NBA against SGs and has been the best in the league over its last five contests.
Small Forward Matchups
BEST – LeBron James ($10,100) vs. Brooklyn Nets – Kyrie and LeBron don’t have to both be in your lineup tonight, but you also shouldn’t be afraid to use the duo. The Nets are the second-worst team in the NBA at defending SFs, and LeBron has been cruising lately — topping 50 DKFP in seven of his last nine games.
WORST – Maurice Harkless ($4,400) vs. San Antonio Spurs – Harkless is affordable, and on the surface appears to be a good value play if you look at his last five games or so. The Spurs are the most difficult team for SFs to produce against, due to Kawhi Leonard’s defensive abilities. If you’re looking for a higher profile player, Kevin Durant has a difficult matchup against Detroit — another top-3 team against SFs.
Power Forward Matchups
BEST – LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,400) vs. Portland Trailblazers – Aldridge picked the right time to have a bad game. His 18 DKFP in just 23 minutes last night against the Clippers kept his salary even at $6,400 for tonight’s matchup with Portland. The Blazers struggle mightily defending PFs and have been allowing the most DKFP to the position all season. The cherry on top is that Pau Gasol will miss tonight’s game, so LMA should be extra active in his return to his old stomping grounds.
WORST – Ryan Anderson ($5,000) vs. Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies rank third in the NBA in defending the PF position, which leaves the inconsistent Anderson in a difficult spot to trust. He’s capable of exploding on any given night, as he did for 46 DKFP against Minnesota last week. But he’s also scored less than 20 DKFP in five of his last 10 games. On paper, Memphis should be one of the teams that limits Anderson’s production.
BEST – Hassan Whiteside ($8,900) vs. New Orleans Pelicans – There are some cheaper options with fantastic matchups tonight that I’ll address below, but New Orleans is still a bottom-3 team when it comes to defending centers this season (allowing 52 DKFP). Hassan struggled last night with the Lakers, but he has been producing overall. His rebounding always keeps his floor high too, which is a nice reassurance.
WORST – Mason Plumlee ($5,500) vs. San Antonio Spurs – Plumlee has had some monster games lately, but he faces a difficult matchup against the Spurs, even with Gasol out. San Antonio has plenty of size to throw out there and Plumlee has shown the tendency to be matchup sensitive.
Lineup Quick Hits
Superstar Worth Paying For
Anthony Davis ($10,600) – In an effort to stay away from Russell Westbrook in this section, I actually really like the spot Davis is in tonight. Miami really struggles defending centers, and although they do well against PF, they don’t have anyone with the size or athleticism to try and cover AD outside of Whiteside. With Miami on the second night of a back-to-back, Davis could go off in this one.
Save Big Bucks by Drafting
Quick Hits – With such a giant slate tonight, let me just rapid fire some cheap names in a strong matchup for you: Tyson Chandler v. PHI, Luol Deng @ ORL, Brandon Knight v. PHI, James Johnson @ NO, Joe Ingles v. TOR, Iman Shumpert v. BKN, Mo Speights v. DAL, Marcus Smart v. OKC, Thomas Robinson @ ORL, Tristan Thompson v. BKN. All of these guys have been decent lately, and their salaries are low enough to allow you to squeeze in some of those higher priced stars.
Next Man Up
Dewayne Dedmon ($3,700) – With Pau Gasol out, Dedmon will likely draw the start at center against Portland. He’s nothing special, but with the minutes and a reasonable matchup, he shouldn’t have any problem exceeding value, unless Pop decides to go in another direction.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) 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.