Eight-game NBA slates never truly come down to a single decision, but there’s a difficult choice staring DraftKings users right in the face this evening. There are only two players priced above $10K on Saturday night: James Harden ($11,400) and Anthony Davis ($11,200). Both have scored more than 60.0 DKFP in each of their past four games, both carry massive offensive burdens for their respective teams, and the pair are squaring off with one another in New Orleans. Fun.
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Let’s dive into tonight’s top options.
Kemba Walker, CHA at WAS, $9,000 — Walker’s one of the streakiest shooters in the NBA and he’s been feeling it across his past four games. In that span, the All-Star has made 41 of his 78 field goal attempts (52.6 percent), averaging a robust 26.8 points. Walker’s also one of only 13 players seeing more than 80 touches per contest as we reach the end of December. He’s the vital cog within Charlotte’s system. Obviously, this isn’t all about Walker, though. The Wizards have been atrocious on the defensive end of the court all season long, surrendering 112.4 points per 100 possessions — the third-worst mark in the NBA. Washington ranks inside the bottom-five in opponent three-point shooting rate (36.9 percent) and assists allowed (25.5), too. They’re truly a point guard’s dream matchup.
Other Options — James Harden ($11,400)
Monte Morris, DEN at PHO, $4,600 — It’s been a season defined by injury for the Nuggets and in no way is that changing on Saturday night. Though Gary Harris’ ($5,500) status is still up in the air for this evening, Denver lost another player on Friday against San Antonio, with the red-hot Malik Beasley ($4,000) succumbing to a left ankle ailment. In any case, it’s just more minutes and more shots that can be allotted to Morris. The sophomore guard has seen his role expand significantly in December, as his usage rate has jumped to 20.0 percent and his scoring average to 12.9 points per game. In fact, before dropping only seven points versus the Spurs, Morris had put up double-digit points in nine straight contests — a stretch of success that equated out 28.7 DKFP per night. He should continue to thrive in a good matchup in Phoenix.
Other Options — Tomas Satoransky ($3,300)
Bradley Beal, WAS vs. CHA, $7,900 — It’s not quite the same smash-spot that Harden becomes when Chris Paul is inactive, but Beal is certainly unleashed when the Wizards are without the services of John Wall. Beal’s usage rate with Wall on the court? A respectable, but not overwhelming 25.2 percent. However, when Wall is sidelined, that figure bumps up to 31.2 percent. It’s not just his scoring that increases, either. Beal also becomes Washington’s main ball distributor. His 28.6 percent assist rate running the offense in the absence of Wall is a team-high and dwarfs his 17.6 percent mark when the Wizards’ All-Star duo are both playing. Those are some pretty high numbers for a man priced below $8K.
Other Options — Jamal Murray ($6,900)
Austin Rivers, HOU at NO, $3,800 — Houston’s offensive game plan without Paul around is pretty simple: any shot that Harden doesn’t attempt will be taken by either Clint Capela ($8,000) or Eric Gordon ($5,800). So, knowing that, how does one believe that the newly-acquired Rivers can have much of a DFS impact? Well, to keep things simple, he’s just seemingly always on the court. Though his usage rate is a lowly 12.2 percent in his pair of contests with the Rockets, Rivers has exceeded more than 30 minutes of run in each of those two games, eventually scoring 10 points in both performances. Considering tonight’s matchup between Houston and New Orleans has the highest implied game total on the slate, tertiary pieces like Rivers are very viable.
Other Options — Jeremy Lin ($3,800)
Kent Bazemore, ATL vs. CLE, $6,500 — As much as I’d like to start some weird narrative about Bazemore’s numbers getting better ever since he dropped Episode 1 of his “Winging It” podcast with Vince Carter ($3,400); the more logical reason for the veteran’s recent scoring increase has been opportunity. Back on Dec. 5 — a full 10 games ago — Bazemore moved back into Atlanta’s starting lineup following an injury to Taurean Prince. Since then, Bazemore is averaging 18.7 points and 36.0 DKFP per contest. Actually, in specifically his previous two games, Bazemore has posted a usage rate above 30.0 percent — the first two times that’s occurred in 2018-19. He’s hot, he’s the focal point for the Hawks’ offense, and he’s playing a Cleveland team that possesses the NBA’s worst defensive rating over their past 10 matchups. What could go wrong?
Other Options — DeMar DeRozan ($8,500)
Mikal Bridges, PHO vs. DEN, $3,900 — He doesn’t have the highest ceiling in the world, but Bridges has become a crucial part of the Suns’ rotation going back to the beginning of December. Though the rookie was inserted into the starting lineup in mid-November, his role has increased in major ways since the calendar turned. In the 14 games within the month, Bridges is averaging 32.6 minutes, 9.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per contests. Again, nothing breathtaking, but certainly numbers that present a higher floor than most players priced below $4K. He’s also been especially viable in Phoenix’s past seven matchups. In that span, Bridges is putting up 25.0 DKFP — a figure that would be good for over 6x value this evening.
Anthony Davis, NO vs. HOU, $11,200 — Like I mentioned off the top, unless you go to the extreme end of a “Stars & Scrubs” build, you won’t be able to afford both Harden and Davis on this slate. I’m putting my allegiances with the big man. It’s hard to argue that point of view. In his last four games, Davis is averaging 34.0 points, 18.0 rebounds and a massive 69.9 DKFP. Also, even with an elite-level usage rate and leading the NBA in minutes played per night, the All-Star only turns the ball over 2.2 times per contest. Think about how rare that combination is. In fact, among the 10 players scoring more than 35 points per 100 possessions so far this season, only Davis and Kawhi Leonard are turning the ball over on fewer than three of those possessions. Plus, if you need more reason to love this spot, Houston owns the Western Conference’s lowest defensive rebounding rate and it’s highest opponent shooting percentage in the restricted area. Davis is going to eat.
Other Options — John Collins ($7,700)
Luke Kornet, NY at UTA, $4,200 — Why not? It’s already been announced that Kornet will get his second start of the season this evening in Utah and it’s hard to blame David Fizdale for going back to the well. Kornet dropped 23 points with five assists and three rebounds on Thursday night, playing 34 minutes for the Knicks. Still, a few things to consider. One, Tim Hardaway Jr. ($6,600) was inactive for that matchup with Milwaukee and will be back on the court this evening. Two, it’s unlikely that Kornet will shoot 63.6 percent from beyond the arc in back-to-back contests. However, to be honest, I’m more concerned with how many threes the sophomore attempted. While 11 triples in a game might seem like a lot, Kornet’s averaging 10.1 per 36 minutes for the year. It’s also probably the best way to attack teams like the Bucks and Jazz, who are allowing the fewest and third-fewest made field goals in the restricted area in 2018-19.
Other Options — Thomas Bryant ($3,900)
Nikola Jokic, DEN at PHO, $9,500 — This probably won’t come as a shock, but Phoenix has proven to be easily exploitable in the paint. Not only do the Suns own the fourth-lowest rebounding rate in the league (47.3 percent), but they’ve surrendered the most made field goals in the restricted area on a per game basis (21.5). I could reference any number of centers going off in these pristine circumstances, but why stray too far from the man himself? Back in Denver’s second game of 2018-19, Jokic scored a season-high 82.5 DKFP – dropping 35 points with 12 rebounds and 11 assists. I doubt he re-creates that line this evening, but all he needs is 65 percent of that to hit value.
Other Options — Jusuf Nurkic ($7,200)
Derrick Favors, UTA vs. NY, $4,900 — New York has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing power forwards and centers so far this season. The reason for this is two-fold. First, they don’t rebound very well. Only the Wizards possess a lower team rebounding rate than Knicks in the Eastern Conference across the past 10 games and that trend won’t be getting any better with Kornet stealing Enes Kanter’s ($5,600) minutes. With Kanter off the floor through 36 contests, New York’s rebounding rate falls from a league-average 50.5 percent to an ugly 47.4 percent. The second rationale for big men producing versus the Knicks is defense. New York doesn’t defend well in general — they’ve allowed 115.2 points per 100 possessions in December — but they’ve been especially susceptible at the rim. The Knicks are surrendering 20.6 made field goals per night in the restricted area. That’s the most of any squad in the East. Favors has been inconsistent, but, with no Jae Crowder, he should find his footing in a fantastic matchup.
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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.