Friday nights were made for NBA DFS. The weekend always kicks off with a healthy slate full of fantasy basketball action at DraftKings. Let’s get the weekend started right and dig into the 10-game main slate that starts at 7 p.m. ET.
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers, $12,300 — Usage Rate, Minutes and Fantasy Points Per Minute (FPPM) — The Holy Trinity of NBA DFS — separate the elite from the exceptional, the Super-duper stars from the superstars. Unfortunately, there isn’t a discount when they’re bundled — there’s a surcharge. Doncic is a terror in real life and in fantasy, but he’s not always an optimal pick because of his inflated salary. The Mavericks are facing one of the worst defenses in the league in the Trail Blazers (111.2 defensive efficiency rating — 21st), but the Blazers pace is detrimental to fantasy production — 99.4 in Pace (25th).
De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons, $8,100 — Doncic is much more likely to reach his ceiling and his ceiling is higher than Fox’s on average. However, when Fox has a hot night, he’s the better pick for DFS lineups because he’s $4,000 cheaper. It’s not a debate. Sixty fantasy points for $8,100 is better than for $12,300. Fox struggled after returning from injury, but he’s healthy now. He scored 53.5 DKFP in 42 minutes in a challenging road win over the Raptors. His matchup on Friday is much more favorable. The Pistons have one of the worst defenses in the NBA (115 Def. Eff. Rating — 29th) and they play at an above-average Pace (12th).
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors at Philadelphia 76ers, $7,100 — Stephen Curry will be out for awhile. Andrew Wiggins is still out. Someone has to step up. At the very least, someone is going to inherit a very large workload. Jordan Poole ($8,200) has been better than Thompson this season, but that’s because of the dangerous game the Warriors are playing. Steve Kerr is punting the regular season. He’s resting his veterans regularly because the 82-game season is practically meaningless. The lengthy, second season — the playoffs — is all that matters. Thompson got the night off on Wednesday. He returns tonight to a different lineup with a different role. The matchup isn’t great but this is wonderful price for around 30 field goal attempts or more.
Donte DiVincenzo, Golden State Warriors at Philadelphia 76ers, $5,700 — Is there upside? The floor has been stable for DiVincenzo. With the Warriors’ commitment to resting their stars, DiVincenzo consistently receives notable minutes and just enough usage. He’s hit value in four of the last five games 6.4x, 8.1x, 4.5x, 9.3x and 7.1x. With Curry and Wiggins out, DiVincenzo should start, play at least 30 minutes and carry a usage rate around 20%.
Moses Moody, Golden State Warriors at Philadelphia 76ers, $3,900 — It’s unlikely that he replicates his hyper-efficient shooting performance from Wednesday, but he should earn more playing time on Friday night. When Steph Curry went out vs. the Pacers, Moody played nearly the entire fourth quarter in the back court. He’s a punt with guard and forward eligibility, and he’ll likely carry very low ownership.
Coby White, Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks, $3,600 — With Ayo Dosunmu ($3,500) out on Wednesday, White scored 20.5 DKFP against the Knicks. This is take two. Will Dosunmu return to the lineup? Even if so, White has been producing with Dosunmu available — 20.5 DKFP (Dosunmu out), 29.5 DKFP (Dosunmu left early) and 23 DKFP (Full Ayo).
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers, $4,300 — It seems like KCP has been around forever and it seems like he’s always been a bad play in DFS. That is the case on most nights, but Friday is slightly different. Minutes have never been a problem for KCP during his career, but he rarely does anything exceptional with those minutes. Over the last four games, he hasn’t really broken that trend but his salary sank to a position that he was fantasy relevant. He’s scored 23.5, 30.5 and 27.75 DKFP with an average usage rate of 15% (around his career average). His salary is still just low enough and he draws the right matchup on Friday for this value pick to work one more time — the Lakers play at the fourth-fastest pace.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets, $9,800 — On Friday’s slate, he ranks in the top tier for projected minutes (36 projected minutes). That’s part one. What does James do with the minutes? If you boil down fantasy basketball production into one statistic, then FPPM is that statistic and he is one of the league’s best producers — 1.4 FPPM. He is a usage rate monster with a usage rate of 31.7%. The Lakers are facing one of the worst defenses in the league in the Nuggets (113.2 defensive efficiency — 28th). At under $10K, James should be very popular tonight, barring any Lakers injury report shenanigans.
Julius Randle, New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls, $8,700 — His minutes projection is through the roof, now he just has to do something with the minutes (35 projected minutes). Usually he does. Randle is one of the rare players in the league that scores 1.2 FPPM. It’s not impossible for him to flirt with 7x tonight, and a 6x return seems perfectly reasonable. He has one of the highest usage rates on his team and on tonight’s slate at 27.3%. Although the Bulls present a detrimental matchup with a 109.2 Defensive Efficiency Rating (ninth), the game environment will be beneficial to Randle with the Bulls having a 102.7 in Pace (ninth). He didn’t seem to have any problems with the Bulls on Wednesday. He finished with 57.75 DKFP, but the night could have been even bigger. Randle scored 15 of his 31 points in the first quarter.
De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks at Charlotte Hornets, $4,700 — Clint Capela, Dejounte Murray and John Collins are out. There will be scoring, rebounding and assisting opportunities abound in the Hawks’ lineup. Hunter has been a relatively stable performer over the last month. He has scored over 21 DKFP in seven of those nine games, and over 25 in five with two north of 35 DKFP. On Wednesday, Hunter played 38 minutes and hit four three and nine free throws. That won’t likely happen again. His 38-DKFP explosion was a bit of an aberration, but he did fill the peripheral categories. A 7x return may not be in the cards, but 30 to 35 DKFP vs. the Hornets — 10th in pace and 25th in defense — is within the realm of possibilities.
Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons, $4,400 — The Pistons have the second-worst defense in the NBA and rank 12th in pace. The Kings rank seventh in Offensive Efficiency Rating and sixth in pace. The Kings do not have brand name appeal, but they provide sneaky fantasy value each night. Kevin Huerter ($5,800) is questionable tonight, and if Huerter misses for the second straight game, then value will open up. Malik Monk ($5,300) was the man on Wednesday, but Monk made five 3-pointers. Murray has underperformed in his last two games, but those were tough matchups (Philadelphia and Toronto). In the six games prior to the two duds, Murray averaged 27 DKFP in 28.3 MPG for an average return of 7x.
Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks, $4,000 — Javonte Green ($3,100) has fallen out of favor in Chicago, and Williams has returned to his role as starter and rotation regular. In the last three games, he has averaged 25.6 DKFP in 31.6 MPG for an average return of 6.9x.
Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $4,600 — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is out. He missed on Wednesday and only played 14 minutes on Monday. During those games, Williams played 31 and 38 minutes and scored 27 and 27.75 DKFP. The Timberwolves play at the third-fastest pace and the Thunder play at the fifth-fastest pace. Cheap minutes in an up-tempo game is a steal.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers, $11,900 — 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. Jokic’s phenomenal True Shooting Percentage (70.1%) helps him reach his lofty FPPM, but he also stuffs the peripheral categories every night. He is an elite passer and the big man has great presence inside and outside of the paint. The Lakers present a medial matchup with a 110.1 Def. Eff. Rating (13th), but their pace of play is the real attraction. This is a big paced-up spot for the Nuggets. The Lakers play at the fourth-fastest pace (104.6).
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers vs. Golden State Warriors, $11,500 — This is similar to the Jokic play. It’s the East Coast, early lock version. Embiid plays monster minutes (35.5 MPG) with a monster usage rate (37.4%). His FPPM is 1.6 but has been even higher over the last 10 games — 1.8 FPPM. Similar to Jokic’s situation, the 76ers are in a paced-up spot. The Warriors present a medial matchup with a 110.2 Def. Eff. Rating (14th) and a beneficial 105.5 in Pace (1st).
Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks at Charlotte Hornets, $4,700 — As mentioned above, the Hawks are without three key players. This means Okongwu will start against a weak Hornets defense that plays at an above-average tempo. There’s not too much to think about. Oknogwu has excelled in his recently expanded role — 28.25, 25 and 31.75 DKFP in the last three games.
Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons vs. Sacramento Kings, $4,400 — Marvin Bagley III ($4,800) left Wednesday’s game early. If he’s out, then there will be a lot more of Duren. With Bagley playing in the front court, Duren has been fine — 30.25, 26, 23.75 and 38.25 DKFP in his last four games. His most recent game was his best, and that was the game Bagley exited. Duren was cold from the field that night, but he hit 9.3x by grabbing 19 rebounds in 36 minutes — both were season highs. If Bagley is out, Duren will be one of the best values on the slate with 30 minutes in an up-tempo game.
Darius Bazley, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $3,500 — Quietly, Darius Bazley has put together a couple of good games. With JRE out, Bazley got the start on Wednesday night versus Miami. He played 30 minutes and scored 25.25 DKFP, and the Thunder nearly beat the Heat. He should get another start and 30 minutes in a much better game environment on Friday.
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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.