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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Targets, Values for December 26

Matt LaMarca gives his top studs and value plays at each position for Monday’s fantasy basketball slate on DraftKings.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Following a marquee five-game slate on Christmas, the NBA is celebrating Boxing Day with a seven-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Let’s dive into some of my favorite plays at each position.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $333K Fadeaway [$100K to 1st]


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Guard

Studs

D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat ($7,400) – The day after Christmas always comes with a bit of a hangover, and that’s true in the NBA. Most of the league’s top superstars are in action on the 25th, so they get the night off on the 26th. That means the stud options aren’t quite as strong as they are on most slates.

However, Russell has played well for the Timberwolves recently, and he should continue to benefit from the absence of Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s increased his usage rate by 1.3% in 10 games without Towns this season, and he’s averaged just under 36 minutes per game in those contests. Russell has averaged 1.06 DKFP per minute over the past month, but his ceiling is significantly higher than that. He racked up 48.75 DKFP in his last contest thanks to 21 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, so he has plenty of upside at $7,400.

Mike Conley, Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs ($5,000) – It’s been a while since Conley has been considered a stud, and he’s not exactly priced like a stud at $5,000. Still, he stands out as one of the best options in the backcourt on Monday. The Jazz draw one of the best possible matchups vs. the Spurs, who rank eighth in pace and dead-last in defensive efficiency. Utah is currently implied for 120 points, which is the third-highest mark on the slate.

Conley hasn’t played particularly well following an extended injury absence, but he’s still averaged 0.91 DKFP per minute this season. He’s playing around 28 minutes per game at the moment, so that gives him appeal in a potential shootout.

Other Options – Anthony Edwards ($9,200), Zach LaVine ($7,600)

Value

Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls vs. Houston Rockets ($4,000) – The Bulls are currently playing without Alex Caruso, and the team opted for a very tight rotation in their last contest. They played just eight players, with Dosunmu finishing with 32.7 minutes. Dosunmu has averaged 26.5 minutes per game this season, so that represents a sizable increase in playing time.

Dosunmu has played at least 32.7 minutes in back-to-back games, and he’s exceeded salary-based expectations in both. That includes 27.75 DKFP in his last contest, and he has the potential for a similar effort vs. the Rockets. They rank just 28th in defensive efficiency this season, so it’s a phenomenal matchup.

Other Options – Collin Sexton ($4,800), Goran Dragic ($3,200)


Forward

Studs

Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers at Detroit Pistons ($9,000) – The Clippers are another team with an excellent matchup on this slate. Detroit ranks 29th in defensive efficiency, and the Clippers will also be playing without Kawhi Leonard. He’s been ruled out due to injury management, so the rest of the roster should see a boost on Monday.

George stands out as one of the biggest beneficiaries. He’s seen a team-high 2.5% usage bump in games without Leonard this season, resulting in an average of 43.13 DKFP per game. George also has an average salary of more than $9,600 in those contests, so he’s a bit cheaper than usual at $9,000. Given the matchup, there’s plenty of merit to paying up for George on a slate without a ton of star power.

Lauri Markkanen, Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs ($8,300) – Markkanen has had a phenomenal first season in Utah. The former No. 7 overall pick has had a slow start to his career, but the change of scenery has helped him unlock some of his natural ability. He’s averaged 22.8 points through his first 32 games, which puts him on pace to shatter last year’s average of 14.8. Markkanen has also averaged 1.19 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he racked up 51.75 DKFP over 35.8 minutes two games ago. Ultimately, he has plenty of upside at his current price tag in a juicy matchup vs. the Spurs.

Other Options – DeMar DeRozan ($8,400), Keldon Johnson ($7,300)

Value

Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls ($5,300) – Smith was the No. 3 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and he has quietly started to make an impact. He’s increased his production to 0.88 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he erupted for 45.5 DKFP in his last outing. Smith has also increased his usage rate to 21.9% across his past five games after averaging a 17.3% usage rate in his first 26 contests. If he can maintain his elevated usage, he has the potential for even better fantasy numbers moving forward.

Smith would also benefit if Eric Gordon is ultimately ruled out. He’s currently questionable with a thumb injury, and Smith has increased his usage rate by +2.3% in games without Gordon this season.

Other Options – Patrick Williams ($4,600), Jeremy Sochan ($4,500)


Center

Stud

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls vs. Houston Rockets ($7,500) – The Bulls should be a very popular option on Monday, and Vucevic might be their top target. The talented big man has often been the third wheel in Chicago’s “big three,” taking a backseat to DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. However, Vucevic has still been an excellent source of value recently, exceeding salary-based expectations in seven of his past nine games. That includes each of his past four contests, and Vucevic has scored at least 43.5 DKFP in three of them.

That makes him simply too cheap at $7,500 for a matchup vs. the Rockets. Houston has been surprisingly good against opposing big men this season, but Vucevic’s ability to stretch the floor makes him a tough matchup for any opponent.

Other Options – Rudy Gobert ($7,000), Jusuf Nurkic ($6,200)

Value

Andre Drummond, Chicago Bulls vs. Houston Rockets ($3,300) – Drummond is also in play for the Bulls at center. One of the most notable happenings from their shortened rotation was that Vucevic and Drummond played alongside each other for 11 minutes in their last contest. That allowed him to crack the 20-minute threshold for the first time since November 13.

The prospect of Drummond getting a few additional minutes at just $3,300 makes him really enticing. He’s historically been an elite per-minute producer, and he’s averaged 1.26 DKFP per minute this season. That’s the top mark among Monday’s centers, making Drummond one of the best pure values of the day.

Other Options – Jarred Vanderbilt ($5,500), Jalen Smith ($4,100)

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $333K Fadeaway [$100K to 1st]


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) 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.