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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Lineup Strategy for Clippers vs. Nuggets Showdown on December 25

Garion Thorne gives his top NBA lineup advice for Friday’s fantasy basketball Showdown contest on DraftKings between the Clippers and Nuggets, which starts at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Usually, following a devastating playoff loss, players would get months and months to stew on the defeat over the course of a full NBA offseason. The Clippers didn’t exactly get that opportunity as it pertained to blowing their 3-1 series over the Nuggets this past September, yet I still think you’ll have a Los Angeles squad that’s happy to have a chance to make some amends on Christmas.

It’s the nightcap of a jam-packed five-game holiday slate. Let’s break down everything you’ll need to know about it to play a few Showdown lineups.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $400K Holiday Showdown Special [$100K to 1st] (LAC vs DEN)



Big Trey Payday

Opt-in and if a player hits a 3-pointer in the last minute of the fourth quarter in tonight’s New Orleans vs. Miami game or tonight’s Golden State vs. Milwaukee game or tonight’s Dallas vs. Los Angeles game or Los Angeles vs. Denver game, you get an entry to an exclusive $100K contest on 12/30! See the DraftKings Big Trey Payday page for more details!


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Captain’s Picks

Nikola Jokic ($15,900 CP) - Jokic will surely be popular in this spot, but it’s hard to argue that the All-Star has the highest ceiling of an asset on this slate. I mean, just take a look at Denver’s opening contest against Sacramento. The statistics are a little skewed with the matchup going into overtime, yet no amount of qualifying is needed when you’re able to produce a triple-double of 29 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists. Jokic actually finished the night with a whopping 129 touches — 25 more than any other player through the first two days of the season. It’s not like this is a sudden shift in the Nuggets’ team identity, either, as Jokic led the league in average touches per game in 2019-20 (93.5). He also led all his teammates in per game averages for points, rebounds and assists, all while maintaining a team-high 26.2% usage rate. How could you use someone else?

Paul George ($13,800 CP) - Allow to to say right off the top that I don’t think George will be able to post an 86.1% effective field goal rate each and every game, but it’s difficult to not be enticed by the veteran’s 33-point performance against the Lakers on Tuesday. More over, when breaking down how Ty Lue distributed the minutes in that 116-109 victory, it’s difficult to put any Clippers asset at 1.5x value if their name is George or Kawhi Leonard ($10,200). Los Angeles’ new head coach basically used a nine-man rotation, with his two superstars the only players to log in excess of 30 minutes on opening night. Whether that’s a reflection of condensed training camp or specific script remains to be seen; however, if that duo is going to dominate usage and be the only Clippers with set-in-stone roles, it’s not really possible to look anywhere else in this spot. Just give me the cheaper option of the two.


Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball Millionaire lineups here: NBA $2.5M Holiday Basketball Millionaire [$1M to 1st]


FLEX Plays

Michael Porter Jr. ($7,400) - A big part of the reason Porter Jr. was such an inconsistent fantasy asset in his rookie season was a lack of role clarity. Mike Malone would use the talented wing on certain nights, but not on others, seemingly with little reason aside from Porter’s obvious defensive flaws. Well, after losing Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Malik Beasley over the course of the past year, Denver is no longer a team with enough depth to pick and choose when Porter is deployed. Case and point, after logging at least 30 minutes only four times in 2019-20, the former lottery pick played 29.6 minutes against the Kings, scoring an impressive 24 points with a massive 26.5% usage rate. He’s definitely established in this rotation.

Ivica Zubac ($6,000) - It’s not yet clear how Lue plans on splitting the Clippers’ minutes at center, but it was Zubac that was on the court more often against the Lakers than his teammate Serge Ibaka ($6,200), scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds in his 26 minutes of action. At the very least, it showed Lue’s willingness to be flexible with his lineups, which is an important trait when we talk about a meeting with Jokic — someone who Zubac obviously matches up better with physically than the smaller Ibaka. Does that mean Zubac has a chance to start? Who knows? Either way, he’s the Los Angeles big I want a piece of on this slate.

Nic Batum ($4,600) - There were things to be encouraged by and things to fear from how Batum was used versus the Lakers. On the one hand, Batum was acting as the default point guard in the starting lineup, spending the game orchestrating the offense from above the break and finishing the contest with a team-high 24.2% assist rate and nine potential assists. Still, Batum is Batum and he also wound up with a 7.3% usage rate — easily the lowest mark of the nine men to play serious minutes on Tuesday. The thing to remember here is price. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a perfect DFS asset for less than $5K on any slate. Accept the role like Batum has and cross your fingers and hope he logs around 30 minutes for a second-straight matchup.


Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball Classic lineups here: NBA $2.5M Holiday Basketball Millionaire [$1M to 1st!]


Fades

Serge Ibaka ($6,200) - This just comes down to minutes and optimizing your lineup. If you’re going to play Zubac — and I think you should — that means you’re avoiding Ibaka; at least until Lue shows a willingness to go big and use the duo on the court simultaneously. There’s only 48 center minutes to go around and I truly believe that Zubac gives the Clippers the better chance at containing Jokic. Plus, Ibaka was limited to just 20 minutes on Tuesday and that’s a little concerning.


THE OUTCOME

This line has really started to move in Los Angeles’ direction and it’s not exactly a mystery as to why. Combine the revenge narrative with a commanding victory over the Lakers, and you’ve got yourself some momentum in the public eye. It doesn’t hurt that the Nuggets surrendered 111.7 points per 100 possessions to the lowly Kings, either. I do think Nikola Jokic does enough to keep this contest close, but I’ll side with the depth of the Clippers on Christmas.

Final Score: Los Angeles 111, Denver 104

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $400K Holiday Showdown Special [$100K to 1st] (LAC vs DEN)


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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.


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