Saturday Night NBA DFS features the perfect slate size. It’s not too big or too small, and with a couple of screens we can watch them all. Let’s dig into some research and make some picks. Kick back and enjoy the seven-game main slate that starts at 7 p.m. ET.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mavericks PG Luka Doncic (quad) has been ruled out tonight vs. the Bulls.
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks at Chicago Bulls, $12,700 — The Holy Trinity in NBA DFS is Minutes, Usage and FPPM. An elite DFS option must get minutes, be active and actually do something with the usage and minutes. Even in tough matchups, players that check these three boxes must be considered. Doncic scored 63.5 DKFP against one of the best defenses on Friday night. He’ll face another quality defense on Saturday night, but this is a paced-up spot. The Bulls present an appealing matchup with a 103 in Pace (6th). Doncic has been an elite source of fantasy points scoring 1.6 FPPM this season, and over the last five contests his FPPM has increased to 1.9 DKFP per minute.
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors, $8,800 — His minutes projection is through the roof, now he just has to do something with the minutes (35 projected minutes). That should not be a problem because Brown has been on a tear, but it actually was a problem on Thursday when the Celtics annihilated the Suns due to uber-efficient play. It’s unlikely that the Celtics replicate that performance and run the Warriors out of the gym. Brown should play a ton in a high-paced game — the Warriors play at the fastest pace in the NBA (105.3).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jazz PG Mike Conley (rest), PG Jordan Clarkson (hip), SF Simone Fontecchio (ankle) and PF Lauri Markkanen (illness) have been ruled out tonight vs. the Nuggets.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets, $3,100 — Even with Mike Conley on the court, NAW is getting work — 24.5 DKFP on Friday. Collin Sexton is out on Saturday and Mike Conley will be limited, if he plays at all on a back-to-back. There hasn’t been enough time for Alexander-Walker’s salary to increase. The injuries and schedule line up perfectly for this punt du jour. NAW has scored 31.75 and 24.5 DKFP in his last two games. The one DKFP per minute player should easily exceed value when he gets 25-30 minutes of run vs. the Nuggets (top-10 pace).
Christian Braun, Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz, $3,000 — Following Denver’s loss to the Mavs on Wednesday, Coach Mike Malone said he had to find minutes for Braun. On Friday, Braun’s court time jumped to 20 minutes and the Nuggets beat the Trail Blazers 121-120. Braun only came away with 13.75 DKFP, but he made 3-of-4 FGs, grabbed five rebounds and added a block. This might be too early or just right. Keep your eye on the Nuggets’ first-round pick (2022).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Cavaliers PG/SG Donovan Mitchell (leg) and PF/C Kevin Love (back) have been ruled out tonight vs. the Thunder.
Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers vs Oklahoma City Thunder, $4,400 — If Donovan Mitchell sits, then jam LeVert in. On Friday, Mitchell sat and LeVert logged 37 minutes. He started and scored 38.5 DKFP. With the back-to-back and Mitchell’s sudden absence, DraftKings has not had time to adjust LeVert’s salary. A boost is coming because the 38.5 DKFP may just be the tip of the iceberg. LeVert didn’t play particularly well on Friday. He shot 9-for-21 from the field and only made two of his seven attempted threes. Those numbers could easily improve, especially against the Thunder.
Draymond Green, Golden Stat Warriors vs. Boston Celtics, $6,200 — This pick is a trip down Narrative Street. Let’s take a quick stroll down Memory Lane. Does everyone remember last season’s NBA Finals? Green sat on Thursday, but he made it clear he was suiting up vs. the Celtics on Saturday. Given how contentious last year’s Finals were, he may need a suit of Armor. This is a boom-or-bust spot for Draymond, but his price is low and Al Horford is still out.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Nets SF/PF Kevin Durant (knee) has been ruled out tonight vs. the Pacers.
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets at Indiana Pacers, $11,000 — On tonight’s slate, he ranks in the top tier for projected minutes (37 projected minutes). Durant also ranks among the best in the Association in terms of fantasy production with 1.4 FPPM. Durant has one of the largest usage rates on the slate at 31.8%. Everyone loves volume, but it doesn’t matter if the shots don’t fall — his shots fall (66.2% True Shooting). The Nets are facing one of the worst defenses in the league in the Pacers (111 defensive efficiency). The matchup is even more favorable from the pace perspective. The Pacers play at the fourth-fastest pace in the NBA (103.2).
Kyle Kuzma, Washington Wizards vs. Los Angeles Clippers, $8,400 — Bradley Beal is out, so Kuzma gets a bump in usage. He scored 46.75 DKFP on Friday, but that was with Kristaps Porzingis ($9,300) on the floor. The Wizards center was questionable on Friday and is questionable again on Saturday. It’s possible that he could sit on the back-to-back. If that’s the case, Kuzma leads the team with a 32.1% usage rate when Beal and Porzingis are off the floor.
Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers vs Oklahoma City Thunder, $4,100 — If Donovan Mitchell plays, then it’s safe to abandon this play. However, Osman also benefits if Kevin Love is again out. LeVert is the preferred play, but he cannot be considered if Mitchell plays. Osman can work with Mitchell playing, as he can absorb some of Love’s front court minutes. Osman is streaky, but hot or cold, he takes shots and he could take a lot of shots vs. the Thunder — second-fastest pace of play.
Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards vs. Los Angeles Clippers, $3,500 — A significant minutes increase is expected tonight, if the rotations shape up as expected. Minutes and usage rates receive a lot of attention in DFS, but don’t overlook his True Shooting Percentage (71.9% True Shooting). For the most part this pick comes down to one thing — will Kristaps Porzingis play on Saturday night?
Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards vs. Los Angeles Clippers, $4,700 — So goes Beal, so goes Avdija. Even with Beal playing, Avdija has been a decent player, but he has little fantasy relevancy in that situation. With Beal out again, Avdija is relevant again. For all intents and purposes, Beal has missed the last three games. In those games, Avdija has scored 24.5, 33.25 and 32.25 DKFP. He played 39 and 40 minutes in his last two starts.
Kyle Anderson, Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers, $5,000 — Same song, second verse. Last Saturday, Jaylen Nowell ($4,800) and Kyle Anderson were premier value options. They aren’t as cheap but they’re still intriguing plays on Saturday’s seven-game slate. Nowell has more upside but is volatile due to his dependency on shots falling. Anderson lacks the upside of Nowell, but his minutes are secure and earns stats across all categories. Since Karl-Anthony Towns went down, Anderson has stepped up. He’s scored 6x, 7.8x, 7x, 2.4x (only 22 minutes vs. Pacers) and 10.3x. The big hit was on Friday night, when he scored 47.25 DKFP against the Jazz. Don’t expect that to continue. Anderson made seven free throws and earned 12 assists, each well above his season average.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz, $11,500 — When it comes to court time, few players will receive more minutes tonight (33 projected minutes). One of the best DFS NBA metrics is points per minute (FPPM), and he’s near the top of the slate in that metric — 1.8 FPPM. He may not always fire up shot after shot, but the shots that he takes fall resulting in a superior True Shooting% (69.4%). The Nuggets have a soft matchup against a poor defensive team in the Jazz (111.4 defensive efficiency — 25th) and an appealing 101.1 in Pace (10th). The Jazz could be even weaker on Saturday night with the possibility of Lauri Markkanen, Mike Conley and Collin Sexton all being out.
Blake Griffin, Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors, $4,000 — With Al Horford out due to the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols, it’s been Blake Griffin season. The Celtics are on pace to be the great offense in history. That is not hyperbole that is fact. The stats are clear. No matter who is inserted into the starting lineup, that player produces. Griffin scored 27.5 DKFP in 32 minutes on Monday (9.2x) and 25.25 DKFP in 22 minutes on Wednesday (7.2x in the Phoenix blowout). With another 25 minutes in a paced-up spot, Griffin should easily clear 7x on Saturday.
Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets, $4,000 — Thanks for joining me for another Saturday extravaganza article. We close the way we always close — with a Walker Kessler hit. If Lauri Markkanen is out again, then Kessler is very appealing. The extra minutes help a ton. However, even with Lauri Markkanen playing, Kessler deserves more minutes. He likely will not reach 10x or 13x like he did earlier this week (those were games that Lauri Markkanen played) because the matchup with Jokic is not very appealing. However, Kessler won’t always be on the court during the same rotations as Jokic, and Kessler’s valuable blocks do not have to come against Jokic. He’s allowed to block forwards and guards, too.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) 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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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.