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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Targets, Values for January 5

Garion Thorne gives his top studs and value plays at each position for Tuesday’s fantasy basketball slate on DraftKings, which starts at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

We continue on with the NBA’s truncated regular season this evening, as DraftKings offers a five-game slate full of intrigue. The big story? Tuesday will be the Nets’ first contest without Kevin Durant since the forward was placed in COVID quarantine by the league’s health and safety protocols.

How will that impact the DFS community? Let’s break it all down position-by-position.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $700K Shootaround [$150K to 1st]


For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.


POINT GUARD

Stud

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets vs. Utah Jazz, $9,300 - In a somewhat surprising twist, Steve Nash hasn’t really staggered the minutes of his two All-Stars so far this season, with Irving having only logged 37 possessions without the aforementioned Durant on the court in 2020-21. Still, in that small sample, the point guard has a 31.8% usage rate and is averaging 1.57 DKFP per minute. There’s no doubt he’ll be popular, but Irving feels like necessary chalk on this small slate.

Value

De’Anthony Melton, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Lakers, $3,600 - Melton sticks out like a sore thumb on this tiny slate, as an asset with a hilariously depressed salary and tons of upside. The issue? Well, the guard’s only appeared in one game due to the league’s health and safety protocols and he was a DNP-CD in Sunday’s loss to the Lakers — the first time Melton had been active since Dec. 23. I expect we’ll hear more pregame about the former second-round pick’s availability, yet even if we don’t, Melton’s a dirt cheap option playing for a team that’s desperate for some veteran minutes. I just don’t see how he rides the pine in back-to-back contests.


SHOOTING GUARD

Stud

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls at Portland Trail Blazers, $8,000 - The only thing you have to predict when it comes to determining LaVine’s viability is game script. In the three contests this season where Chicago’s lost by at least 20 points, LaVine has seen reduced minutes and he’s averaged 25.9 DKFP. In the four matchups the Bulls have managed to keep close, the former lottery pick is putting up 49.9 DKFP. Considering Portland owns the NBA’s third-worst defensive rating (115.7) and a net rating of -3.9 points per 100 possessions, tonight’s tilt should fall into the second category.

Value

Will Barton, Denver Nuggets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $5,700 - There’s no point of trying to flatter, Barton has simply been awful to begin 2020-21. He’s averaging his fewest amount of points per 36 minutes since his rookie campaign (13.6) and he’s shooting a ghastly 35.9% from the field. However, while his recent addition to the Nuggets’ starting lineup hasn’t really changed his fortune, I’m banking on a matchup-based bounce-back performance on Tuesday. Minnesota possesses the league’s worst defensive rating (116.8) and it amplifies that flaw by running at an above-average pace (102.1). No one on Denver should have an issue putting up numbers this evening.


SMALL FORWARD

Stud

DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers, $7,900 - This is a situation where I don’t really understand the price gap between DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard ($9,100). Though I think we can all agree that the latter is a far superior real-life player, DeRozan is actually averaging more DKFP per minute to begin 2020-21, producing 1.35 DKFP to Leonard’s mark of 1.30 DKFP. It’s not like Leonard has the vastly better matchup, either, as both the Spurs and the Clippers rank in the lower-half of the NBA in defensive rating. DeRozan’s value might take a slight hit if LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,200; knee) is able to return this evening, yet I wouldn’t worry too much about that.

Value

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Brooklyn Nets vs. Utah Jazz, $3,700 - TLC has started the past four games for the Nets and while the DFS returns haven’t been insane, he’s yet to log fewer than 20 minutes of action within this stretch of time. It’s also worth noting that Luwawu-Cabarrot’s best performance of 2020-21 came in the lone game Durant’s missed to this point in the season: A 116-111 loss to Memphis on Dec. 28. Yes, Irving was also inactive for that defeat, but TLC scored 21 points and 37.0 DKFP in nearly 40 minutes of work that evening. He’s certainly interesting with a price tag below $4K.


POWER FORWARD

Stud

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies, $9,500 - Your top-end options at power forward are pretty limited on this slate, which makes Davis — who has been underwhelming so far this season — viable out of sheer need. The All-Star has only managed to exceed 41.0 DKFP in two of his six games in 2020-21, yet he’s still producing 1.27 DKFP per minute and his price tag has never been lower. He’s not one of my main targets, but the idea of Davis as a variance play is always enticing, right?

Value

Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers, $6,500 - Where DeRozan’s viability isn’t entirely tied up in the presence of Aldridge, Johnson’s a bit of a different story. If we count the Pelicans game where Aldridge was clearly limited, Johnson’s managed to score at least 36.0 DKFP in three of the four contests where his veteran teammate has been dealing with injury. It’s a span that’s also seen Johnson maintain an impressive .688 true shooting percentage with a 24.7% usage rate. If we get early word on Aldridge’s status, Johnson could be a popular play.


CENTER

Stud

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $10,800 - I mean, how is it possible to fade Jokic with all that we’ve seen him do in 2020-21? The hulking center has four triple-doubles in his six starts this season, with Jokic only missing out on the other two by a single rebound each time. Yes, there is the risk that the All-Star logs limited minutes in a blowout setting; yet with the Nuggets sitting at 2-4, how likely is that possibility right now? It also might not even matter with Jokic averaging 1.68 DKFP per minute.

Value

Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls, $6,400 - Portland’s offense has been “stand around and watch Damian Lillard ($9,800) and C.J. McCollum ($8,400) shoot” to a crazy degree so far this season, and that’s led to some struggles for Nurkic. Heck, the big man has registered fewer than 10 points in his last three starts. Still, I expect this contest to be the highest-scoring on the slate and Nurkic is a well-rounded DFS asset, bringing both passing and rebounding upside. I’m willing to take another shot with the center at his lowest price point of 2020-21.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $700K Shootaround [$150K to 1st]


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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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.


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