After yesterday Christmas Day’s slate, we get a full nine-game slate for Saturday night. DraftKings has posted some huge contests in the lobby for this large schedule of games, most specifically the NBA $500K Saturday Fadeaway which is a $15 entry that pays out $100K to first place. Below are some of my favorites at each position on DraftKings.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC @ CHA, $8,300
With the departures of Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder and Danilo Gallinari this offseason, the door opened for Gilgeous-Alexander to become a fantasy stud for the Thunder. When these three players were off the floor last season, the promising 22-year-old’s usage rate jumped to a team-high 32.1%.
He will almost certainly lead this new look Thunder team in usage this season and Gilgeous-Alexander will open his 2020-21 season tonight against the Hornets, who ranked 24th in defensive efficiency a year ago. His price is elevated, but that may just depress his ownership in GPPs.
Other Options: Damian Lillard ($9,500), D’Angelo Russell ($7,700)
Dejounte Murray, SA vs. TOR, $6,400
Murray showed us his upside in Wednesday’s season opener against the Grizzlies, recording 45 DKFP across 30.4 minutes in the win. He was only one assist shy of the DraftKings’ 1.5 DKFP point bonus, and with Derrick White (toe) sidelined and expected to remain out for the next few weeks, we should continue to see a heavy dose of Murray for the Spurs.
His matchup for Saturday doesn’t rate well against the Raptors (second in defensive efficiency), but Murray is just too cheap at $6,400. Including his showing against the Grizzlies this past Wednesday, the Spurs’ guard is averaging 32.8 DKFP per game across his past 10, which would be right over five-times value at his current salary.
Other Options: Markelle Fultz ($6,000), Darius Garland ($5,600)
James Harden, HOU @ POR, $10,900
Harden has finished his self-isolation and is cleared to play in Saturday’s matchup vs the Blazers. But, the Rockets will be without the services of Eric Gordon, DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore, Mason Jones, Kenyon Martin Jr. and John Wall due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. Houston will only have nine players available and Harden will be asked to handle an enormous workload in his first start of the season.
Harden ranked third in usage rate last year (36.5%) and he should approach 40% Saturday night. The 31-year-old’s usage rate reached 40% in 21 contests last season and Harden produced 60.8 DKFP per game on those occasions. Portland was the third-worst defense in terms of efficiency a year ago and Harden should expose them for at least 60 DKFP on Saturday.
Other Options: CJ McCollum ($7,800), Fred VanVleet ($7,300)
Sterling Brown, HOU @ POR, $3,200
Starter or not, Brown will play big minutes for the Rockets tonight with the team severely lacking ball-handlers after Harden. When he was with the Bucks last season, Brown averaged 0.82 DKFP per minute. If we take a deeper dive into his 2019-20 campaign, in the five contests he received 25 minutes or more, Brown produced 21.8 DKFP per game.
The Blazers just allowed the Jazz to score 120 points on Wednesday, and Brown should easily outproduce his near bare minimum price tag in this friendly matchup.
Other Options: Lonnie Walker IV ($4,700), George Hill ($3,400)
Gordon Hayward, CHA vs. OKC $7,300
In his first action as a Charlotte Hornet, Hayward was extremely effective with 46 DKFP against the Cavs. In 36 minutes, the former Celtic tallied 28 points, his highest scoring total in 25 games. He looked far more confident than he did during his time in the NBA bubble this past summer with Boston, and while the Hornets may not be a playoff team this season, Hayward should bounce back in a big way statistically with an expanded role in Charlotte.
Going against the Cavs on Wednesday, the 30-year-old posted a 26% usage rate. He saw a usage rate of 25% or higher nine times last year and was awesome with the extra opportunities, scoring 41.9 DKFP per game. It’s obviously early, but Hayward appears to bring much better upside this season and he has to be considered at only $7,300.
Other Options: DeMar DeRozan ($8,000), Buddy Hield ($7,100)
Patrick Williams, CHI vs. IND, $4,500
In his NBA debut, Williams drew the start at SF for the Bulls and led the team with 33 minutes, helping him to 27 DKFP against the Hawks. At a first glance, with the Bulls losing this contest by 20 points, one could believe that the rookie’s minutes total was inflated because of garbage time, but Williams actually logged 17.8 minutes in the first half of this contest.
This suggests that the 2020 fourth-overall pick is viewed as an important piece on this Bulls roster and could be in line for 30-35 minutes on a nightly basis. Including his results from the preseason, Williams supplies 0.78 DKFP per minute and while this matchup with the Pacers isn’t the greatest (sixth in defensive efficiency last season), the 19-year-old is underpriced for his expected volume.
Other Options: Danuel House Jr. ($4,700), Terrence Ross ($4,500)
Domantas Sabonis, IND @ CHI, $8,500
Sabonis was terrific in the Pacers’ opener Wednesday, amassing 58.25 DKFP in the 121-107 win over the Knicks. He led Indiana in playing time (36 minutes) and also in usage rate (30.3%). Sabonis averaged 46.4 DKFP in his final 10 games of the 2019-20 season and will be competing in a game with a 223.5 O/U on the DraftKings Sportsbook vs. the Bulls this evening.
Looking back at last year, Sabonis thrived in O/U game totals of at least 220 points, generating 43.8 DKFP per game. The Bulls have no answer for Sabonis defensively and another 50-plus DKFP outing is certainly possible for the Pacers’ big man.
Other Options: Pascal Siakam ($8,200), Larry Nance Jr. ($6,800) if Kevin Love (questionable, calf) is out
Al Horford, OKC @ CHA, $6,100
Horford is mispriced for his current role as the Thunder’s primary center. With Steven Adams now with the Pelicans and Nerlens Noel a Knick, Horford and Mike Muscala ($3,100) are the only true centers left on the Thunder roster. As the starter, Horford should garner over 30 minutes regularly, especially in this matchup vs. the Hornets that is expected to be competitive from start to finish (CHA -3 on the DraftKings Sportsbook).
In his past 10 games with 30-plus minutes, the 34-year-old is averaging 33.3 DKFP per game and this Hornets interior defense was extremely susceptible last season. They gave up the sixth-most points in the paint per game and Horford registered 32.25 DKFP in his one meeting with the club.
Other Options: P.J. Tucker ($5,200), Darius Bazley ($5,100)
Joel Embiid, PHI @ NY, $10,200
Embiid couldn’t be stopped in his first game of the new season, putting up 52 DKFP Wednesday against the Wizards. In his first start under new Sixers head coach Doc Rivers, Embiid led the team in minutes with 35.
As an elite fantasy producer (1.51 DKFP per minute last season), this was extremely encouraging to see after the Kansas product only played 29.5 minutes per game in 2019-20 with Brett Brown as Philadelphia’s head coach. Hopefully this a sign that Embiid will be on a looser leash going forward and if he obtains anything over 30 minutes Saturday vs. the Knicks, he should feast on a defense that was the eighth-worst unit in the NBA this past year. In a pair of matchups with New York last season, Embiid flourished with 53.6 DKFP per game.
Other Options: Andre Drummond ($9,200), Jusuf Nurkic ($7,000)
Christian Wood, HOU @ POR, $5,900
This is a laughable price tag for Wood with the Rockets so depleted. The former Detroit Piston will have to log at least 30 minutes and should see a high usage rate as the Rockets’ second-best offensive threat after Harden. In his lone game this preseason, Wood was outstanding vs. the Spurs, earning 49 DKFP in only 23.6 minutes.
He generated 1.16 DKFP per minute last year with the Pistons and supplied 43 DKFP per game when he played 30 minutes or more. The Blazers surrendered the fourth-most rebounds per game this past season and Wood is a must-play at his modest price tag.
Other Options: Mason Plumlee ($4,800), Bismack Biyombo ($3,600)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) 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.