Happy New Year’s Eve! DraftKings is ringing in 2021 with a five-game main NBA slate starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. Let’s dive in to some of the top plays, strategies, and injuries to monitor heading into lineup lock on DraftKings.
Worth Paying Up For: De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets ($7,800)
The game between the Kings and the Rockets stands out as easily the best on today’s slate. The total points currently sits at 231 on DraftKings Sportsbook, and no other game on this slate has a total above 221.5. Fox has scored at least 40.0 DKFP in three of his first four games this season and seems perfectly suited for an up-tempo matchup. He’s historically exceeded salary-based expectations by +2.00 DKFP in 45 career games with a total of at least 230 points.
Best Bang For Your Buck: George Hill, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans ($4,700)
Hill is simply too cheap given his current role for the Thunder. He’s played at least 24 minutes in each of his first two games, and he’s finished with at least 29.75 DKFP in both contests. Hill did miss the Thunder’s last contest, but he’s been removed from the injury report vs. the Pelicans.
I like the idea of paying up for Fox at the position and looking to stack that game, and Hill stands out as an excellent value target. Playing both together is certainly a viable strategy, especially since Hill also has shooting guard eligibility. Michael Carter-Williams ($3,600) is another potential source of savings at the position, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,100) should be a slightly more contrarian pivot off Fox in large tournaments. He’s going to carry a massive workload for the Thunder this season and has scored at least 39.75 DKFP in each of his first three games.
Worth Paying Up For: James Harden, Houston Rockets vs. Sacramento Kings ($11,000)
Harden is the top stud target on today’s slate by a wide margin. He’s averaged a stout 1.65 DKFP per minute this season, and he should continue to carry a massive workload even with John Wall ($7,100) and DeMarcus Cousins ($5,000) back in the lineup. The Rockets are currently implied for a slate-high 118.25 points, and Harden has historically averaged 59.92 DKFP in games with a comparable mark.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers @ Orlando Magic ($3,700)
The SG position is pretty brutal outside of Harden, particularly when you get to the “value” options. Hill stands out as the best choice, but Green is another potential option at just $3,700. He doesn’t offer a ton of ceiling, but he has played at least 28 minutes in two of his past three games. That should be enough playing time for him to pay off a minimal salary.
Just do yourself a favor and lock in Harden. He’s going to be the highest-owned player on the slate, but none of today’s players can match his upside. Add in the fact that shooting guard is a wasteland and it becomes an easy decision. If you do want to go in a different direction, Donovan Mitchell ($7,600) is an interesting pivot. He’s struggled to start the season, but his salary has dropped by $800. This could be a nice buy-low opportunity.
Worth Paying Up For: Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans @ Oklahoma City Thunder ($8,000)
Ingram won the Most Improved Player award last season, and he appears poised for another leap this season. He’s on pace for a new career-high in usage, and he’s contributing way more in the peripheral categories. His assist rate currently sits at 35.6%, which would shatter his previous career-high of 19.3%, and he’s also averaging a career-best 7.0 rebounds per game. If he can continue to produce in those categories, Ingram has a chance to be a fantasy superstar this season.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets ($5,400)
It’s never fun to roster Barnes, but it typically works out well in the long run. He’s scored at least 30.25 DKFP in three of his first four games this season, and the lone exception was a game where he played just 28.9 minutes. He’s a relatively cheap way to get exposure to the best game of the day.
Ingram stands out as one of the best plays of the day, so I’m trying to pair him with Harden and Fox. Locking in those three players leaves you with just over $4,600 per player for your remaining roster spots, which is very doable. Barnes and Royce O’Neale ($3,800) are great choices to fill out your lineup, with O’Neale playing at least 34 minutes in back-to-back games.
Worth Paying Up For: Julius Randle, New York Knicks @ Toronto Raptors ($8,800)
It’s impossible to ignore what Randle has done to start the season. He’s finished with at least 61.0 DKFP in back-to-back games, and he’s coming off a triple-double in his last outing. Randle also played a ridiculous 44.1 minutes in his last contest, and the Knicks could lean on him heavily once again given their current injury situation.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Marvin Bagley, Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets ($5,300)
Bagley is another mid-range target for the Kings vs. the Rockets. He has gotten off to a slow start this season – particularly as a rebounder – but he has scored at least 25.0 DKFP in three of four games. Perhaps he can show some improvement on the glass vs. the Rockets, who rank dead last in team rebound rate to start the season.
The Knicks are going to be a bit healthier today than they were in their last game, so the offense may not need to flow through Randle quite as much as it did vs. the Cavaliers. That makes him low on the list of priority stud targets, particularly at an elevated price tag. I’d rather go with someone like Bagley, who has immense upside at his current salary. OG Anunoby ($5,800) also stands out at a similar price point.
Worth Paying Up For: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns ($7,500)
Gobert isn’t the most expensive center on the slate, but he’s the best pure value at the position. He’s scored at least 41.5 DKFP in all three games this season, yet his salary has remained pretty stagnant. He’s in a solid spot tonight vs. the Suns, who rank just 23rd in team rebound rate.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Richaun Holmes, Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets ($5,200)
Another position, another Kings value. Holmes has started to solidify himself as the top center in Sacramento. He’s coming off 32 minutes in his last game and responded with 36.25 DKFP. Holmes has always been an excellent producer on a per-minute basis, so he’s clearly underpriced if he’s going to continue to see that much playing time.
I like going with either Holmes or Bagley in this spot, but I certainly wouldn’t fault you for paying up for Gobert. That should give a different lineup construction than most, which is always appealing in tournaments. Zion Williamson ($7,900) is another excellent target after posting a poor performance in his last outing. His price has come down a bit, and he played at least 38 minutes in each of his two previous games.
Terrence Ross (hamstring)
James Ennis (hamstring, calf)
DaQuan Jeffries (ankle)
Mason Jones (ankle)
Kenyon Martin Jr. (health and safety protocols)
Ben McLemore (health and safety protocols)
Frank Ntilikina (knee)
Dennis Smith Jr. (quad)
Abdel Nader (concussion)
Jalen Smith (ankle)
Immanuel Quickley (hip)
Alec Burks (knee)
Joel Embiid (back)
Derrick Favors (knee)
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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 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.
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