As the NBA prepares to take a rest for Christmas Eve on Friday, Thursday’s schedule is jam-packed. One matchup features a battle between two Western Conference teams when the Los Angeles Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs. This game is also the featured Showdown contest on DraftKings, so let’s discuss how things might play out for both sides.
LeBron James ($19,200 Captain’s Pick): James has scored at least 31 points in back-to-back games, boosting his season average to 26.4 points per game. James’ increased production the last two games has coincided with the absence of Anthony Davis (knee), who is going to miss at least four weeks. With both of these teams ranked inside the top-seven in the league in pace of play, James could produce another stellar stat line.
Dejounte Murray ($17,700 Captain’s Pick): Murray is establishing himself as a premier fantasy option. He’s doing it all for the rebuilding Spurs, averaging 18.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game. After a brief four game stretch in which he went into a shooting slump, he’s shot 22-for-39 from the field over the last two games. His ability to contribute across the board makes him an ideal option for the Captain’s spot.
Derrick White ($8,400): White’s usage rate is actually down this season at 20.4 percent, which is two percentage points lower than last season. His playing time has increased to 31 minutes per game, which has helped him remain a productive player. He’s also been more of a facilitator, averaging a career-high 5.0 assists per game. While his reduced usage rate doesn’t make him someone to consider as a Captain’s Pick, his significant role on the Spurs still makes him appealing for a utility spot.
Carmelo Anthony ($5,400): With Davis out, the Lakers are going to need someone else to step up and help take some of the scoring pressure off of James. Anthony scored 21 points two games ago against the Bulls, but then he followed that up with just seven points against the Suns on Tuesday. Don’t read too much into that muted performance, though, given that he was ejected after playing only 16 minutes. He’s averaging 2.4 three-pointers per game and the Spurs have allowed the fourth-highest three-point shooting percentage in the league, so Anthony could provide value.
Editor’s Note: Lakers SF Trevor Ariza has entered the league’s health and safety protocols.
Trevor Ariza ($3,000): If you want to roll with both James and Murray in your lineup, Ariza is a viable punt play to help balance out your budget. He’s missed most of the season with an injury, finally making his debut Sunday versus the Bulls. He logged 15 minutes in that game, then followed that up by playing 21 minutes against the Suns, scoring 21.8 DKFP in that matchup.
Keldon Johnson ($7,000): Johnson is actually on a bit of a hot streak, averaging 18.3 points and 8.5 rebounds across the last four games. He did take advantage of some favorable matchups with two of his four games coming against the two worst teams in the league in terms of defensive rating. Johnson provides very little in the way of assists and defensive stats, so if he can’t keep up his increased production with points and rebounds, it will be tough for him to provide value.
The Lakers have lost three straight games as they deal with Davis’ absence and an outbreak of COVID-19. They have played the Spurs twice already this season, emerging victorious from both matchups. The Lakers have also been a better team at home, posting a 10-8 record there, compared to a 6-8 mark on the road. This game could be close, but look for James to help lead the Lakers to break their losing streak.
Final Score: Lakers 110, Spurs 105
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mbarner51) 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.
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