NBA Picks: Top Fantasy Basketball Targets, Values for January 18

Friday’s fantasy basketball slate has seven games. The biggest point totals on DraftKings Sportsbook are in Los Angeles for Clippers-Warriors (241.5 points) and in Portland for Trail Blazers-Pelicans (233.5 points).

DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) is making his season debut for the Warriors and will be in the starting lineup, although the Warriors have yet to say whether or not they will limit his minutes significantly.

For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, including Cousins’ minute load, 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 and late injury news, 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

Damian Lillard, POR vs. NO, $8,600 — Lillard has an appealing matchup vs. a Pelicans team that plays fast, is poor defensively, and has allowed poor shot quality from the outside. The Pelicans rank fifth in pace, creating extra possessions for fantasy scoring, and combine their fast pace with poor pace-adjusted team defense, which has them allowing the fourth-most points to opponents per game and seventh-most assists to opponents.

The Pelicans also have poor shot-quality metrics from deep, allowing the most wide-open 3-pointers per game based on the league’s player tracking system, which measures the closest defender to the shooter. Lillard is shooting a strong 46 percent on wide-open 3s this season. The extra space around the 3-point line could help Lillard sink more triples.

Other Options — Stephen Curry ($10,000)

Value

CJ McCollum, POR vs. NO, $6,300 — Lillard’s teammate, the PG/SG-eligible McCollum, has a good matchup for similar reasons. McCollum hasn’t been quite as good as Lillard at sinking wide-open 3s, but he still is shooting just under 40 percent on wide-open 3-pointers, better than his season average of 34 percent on all 3-pointers. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, Blazers-Pelicans has the slate’s second highest total points on DK Sportsbook.

Other Options — Alec Burks ($4,800), Patrick Beverley ($3,900)


SHOOTING GUARD

Stud

Donovan Mitchell, UTA vs. CLE, $8,900 — Since being moved over to point guard four games ago due to a depleted Jazz backcourt, Mitchell has increased his facilitating, creating 13 potential assists per game over those four games, six more than the seven potential assists he created per game in previous games this season as the shooting guard. Mitchell also has increased his passing significantly, making 52 passes per game since being moved to PG, up from 30 passes per game previously. The different role has boosted Mitchell’s fantasy value significantly; he is averaging 49 DKFP since being moved to PG, a big boost from his season average of 35 DKFP.

The Jazz face a foul Cavs defense in Salt Lake City on Friday. Cleveland not only has what has been easily the league’s worst possession-adjusted team defense, the Cavaliers have one of the worst possession-adjusted team defenses in recent memory. Cleveland’s slow pace makes that play down in terms of points allowed per game rather than per possession, but it still allows the eighth-most points to opponents and ninth-most assists to opponents.

Cleveland also is poor at defending the basket, allowing the third-most field goals within five feet of the basket, including allowing opponents to shoot a league-worst 66 percent in that zone. The risk in the matchup is a blowout capping the minutes of Utah’s starters, as the Jazz are huge 15-point favorites at home on DK Sportsbook. However, for as long as Mitchell is on the court, he’ll be in position to face a very soft defense.

Other Options — Jrue Holiday ($8,000)

Value

Lou Williams, LAC vs. GS, $6,700 — The Clippers-Warriors game has a slate-high 241.5 total points on DK Sportsbook, and Williams will be in position to take advantage of that with his team-leading 30 percent usage rate as the second unit’s primary scorer. The Warriors have allowed more points to opponents per game than average, and Williams is averaging 40 DKFP in two previous games vs. the Warriors this season.

Other Options — Klay Thompson ($6,600), Rodney Hood ($4,300)


SMALL FORWARD

Stud

Kevin Durant, GS at LAC, $10,100 — Durant has a good matchup against the Clippers, who play quickly and are poor defensively. The Clippers rank eighth in pace, making the game a candidate to feature a solid amount of possessions, and combine their fast play with bottom-third pace-adjusted team defense, which has them allowing the sixth-most points to opponents. Durant lit up the Clippers in his most recent game against them on Dec. 23, scoring 68 DKFP in 38 minutes. The downside is DeMarcus Cousins’ return to the lineup might reduce Durant’s volume in the offense Friday.

The Warriors-Clippers’ total points of 241.5 on DK Sportsbook is explosive, and for exposure on the other side of the court, Tobias Harris ($7,100) leads Clippers’ starters with a 23 percent usage rate.

Other Options — DeMar DeRozan ($7,800)

Value

Joe Ingles, UTA vs. CLE, $5,800 — In addition to the aforementioned Mitchell, Ingles also has taken on more of a facilitating role with the Jazz thin at point guard, creating about 12 potential assists per game since Mitchell slid over to PG, up from nine per game previously. Ingles will be in good position to score and assist against a terrible Cavs defense tonight, although his minutes could be limited late if the game turns into a blowout with the Jazz 15-point favorites.

Other Options — Aaron Gordon ($6,400), Royce O’Neale ($4,300)


POWER FORWARD

Stud

Anthony Davis, NO at POR, $11,700 — Davis’ 62 DKFP average leads all players on Friday’s slate by a comfortable margin, and he is the top stud on the slate. Davis has been on a tear lately, averaging 71 DKFP over his past five. Portland is strong on the glass, ranking second best by the percentage of missed shots they rebound, but their team defense is mediocre by points allowed.

Other Options — Blake Griffin ($8,700), LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,600)

Value

DeMarcus Cousins, GS at LAC, $5,500 — Cousins, who is PF/C-eligible, is making his season debut coming off an Achilles tear. Staying up to the minute with the DK Live app will be especially important for Cousins, as it’s unclear how many minutes he will play. The more limited Cousins is with his minutes, the less appealing fantasy play he becomes.

Cousins is also a risk for reasons beyond a potential minute restriction, as it’s unclear how rusty he’ll be after missing so much time, especially due to an Achillies injury, which is a rough injury. It’s also not clear what type of role Cousins will have in the Warriors’ offense with so many other great players who need touches.

However, Cousins will start, and if he isn’t significantly limited, he costs only $5,500 against a Clippers team that has been poor defensively and poor around the basket. The Clippers have allowed the seventh-most field goals per game within five feet of the basket, the zone Cousins took most of his shots in last season. The Clippers also have allowed the sixth-most points to opponents. Cousins had a strong 22.6 player efficiency rating prior to his injury last season and possesses upside if given an acceptable minute load. DK Live will have you covered once word comes out about his minutes.

Other Options — Jae Crowder ($4,700)


CENTER

Stud

Nikola Vucevic, ORL vs. BKN, $9,400 — Vucevic’s 27 percent usage rate leads the Magic by a comfortable margin, and he’ll be in good position as the focal point of the Magic offense to take advantage of a Nets team that has struggled vs. centers. The Nets also rank in the bottom third in team defense and rank as a mediocre rebounding team.

Other Options — Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,700), Rudy Gobert ($8,800), Andre Drummond ($8,400)

Value

Ante Zizic, CLE at UTA, $3,700 — Tristan Thompson (foot) is listed as out for Friday’s game in Salt Lake City, leaving the Cavs down all three of their top bigs in Thompson, Kevin Love (foot) and Larry Nance Jr. (knee). Zizic will be a candidate to be thrust into an expanded role Friday, especially in a matchup against a big Jazz frontcourt that starts Rudy Gobert at center.

Zizic has played 20 or more minutes in three of his past four and has scored 32 DKFP in two of his past three. He has a solid 19.1 player efficiency rating in 567 career minutes.

Other Options — Hassan Whiteside ($6,500)


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.

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