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

Pearce Dietrich gives his top lineup advice for the Christmas Day Showdown contest on DraftKings between the Mavericks and Jazz, which locks at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Another Christmas will have come and gone by the time the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz tip off. The kids are in bed, the NBA games have all wrapped up, but there is one last present to unwrap — a Showdown contest between the Mavs and Jazz. Christmas isn’t over yet, so let’s go though the picks and close out the night with some holiday cheer.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $300K Holiday Showdown Special [$100K to 1st] (DAL vs UTA)

Captain’s Picks

Donovan Mitchell ($17,100)

The NBA’s health and safety protocols have created an odd situation. With dwindling rosters, teams have been forced to look beyond the G League. Players that no one ever expected to return to the NBA are back and logging a lot of minutes. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield popping up in the new Spider-Man movie is less surprising than the players emerging from the cornfield in the NBA metaverse. With randos in every game, salary caps are almost meaningless with the multitude of cheap options available each night. That means this is a time to pay up at the Captain’s spot.

Gobert has a higher floor (15 points and 15 rebounds) but a hard ceiling (20 points and 20 rebounds). Mitchell has a slightly lower floor because he does not pad his stats in the peripherals, but his ceiling is higher because he is the team’s leading scorer. He leads the team with a 33% usage rate that has been as a high as 44% in a game earlier this season. This is a marquee matchup on Christmas night and the first Christmas game for Mitchell since becoming an All-Star. The Jazz and their star player have flown under the radar for the last couple years, and this could be the day that Mitchell decides to show the world what they have been missing.

It won’t be hard for Mitchell to score in a matchup against the short-handed Mavs. He’ll likely be guarded by a very poor defender in Frank Ntilikina (108.0 defensive efficiency rating when a 20 minute per game player) or Jalen Brunson and his -2.19 Defensive Real-Plus Minus in 2020-21 (78th in the defensive PG rankings).

Rudy Gobert ($15,900)

A 20/20 (points and rebounds) is in play every night for Gobert. This might come as a surprise to some, but Utah has the best offense in basketball (115.0 offensive efficiency rating) and less surprising, the sixth-best defense (104.2 defensive efficiency rating). Having a big man that routinely grabs 15 boards and scores 15 points — frequently flirting with 20/20s — is a large part of this team’s 10.4 Net Rating (the Jazz trail the league-leading Warriors by a tenth of a point).

While most receive their presents on Christmas morning, Gobert will be given a gift on Christmas night. That gift is a matchup with the Dallas Mavericks. Although they play slow (third-slowest pace), they do not offer much resistance in the frontcourt, allowing the sixth-most DKFP to opposing centers per game. That’s quite an accomplishment given how slow they play. Dwight Powell ($2,600) had a DRPM of -0.38 last season (41st among centers) and he barely plays more than 20 minutes. Without any healthy backups, the Mavs have been forced to play small a lot this season. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 58.5 DKFP against the Mavs on Dec. 21 and DeMarcus Cousins scored 42 DKFP in 28 minutes on Dec. 23. Gobert is going to eat this frontcourt alive.

UTIL Plays

Frank Ntilikina ($2,800)

This game opened at -4.5 in favor of the Jazz, but by Friday morning it swung to -12 on the DraftKings Sportsbook. The thought was that maybe Luka Doncic would clear the NBA’s health and safety protocols. That seems very unlikely from the Sportsbook’s perspective. This appears to be a “Frankie Smokes” game. He’s drawn the start in the last two games and played 32 and 37 minutes. He’s been terrible in both games, but Ntilikina lacks self awareness and in his second start, he shot even more (5-16 FG, 2-10 3Pt) and led the team in usage rate (25%) despite his poor performance in his first start (2-7 FG). That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. It’s doubtful that he’s going to turtle up on Christmas night. Frankie Smokes will continue to fire it up.

Marquese Chriss ($1,600)

In 13 minutes on Thursday night, Chriss scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds, but he also earned six fouls. No one fouls out in full games, but this is Marquese Chriss and there is a reason that he is on a 10-day contract. In his first two seasons — when he was more than a fringe player — Chriss was near the top of the league in fouls per game despite averaging around 20 minutes per game. It’s very possible that he goes full Grinch and fouls out in the first half on Christmas, but if he manages to stay out of foul trouble, he will provide exponential value. Even if he does foul out, and he likely will against the Jazz, his usage rate was 42.9% on Thursday, so 20 minutes could be enough for Chriss to work.

Jalen Brunson ($9,000)

His salary is too high, but price does not matter during the Omicron Era. It’s completely acceptable to overspend on a player that will likely lead his team in usage rate. Since joining the starting rotation on Dec. 12, Brunson has led the Mavs with a 23.8% usage rate. That’s not a lot of volume, but this is a showdown slate and he’s averaged 39 mpg over his last four games. It’s not going to be pretty or efficient, but he’s going to be on the court all game long and he’ll eventually get there.


Jordan Clarkson ($9,900 CP; $6,600)

With few marquee names — there’s a Marquese but not many marquees — and salary to burn, Clarkson might garner some attention. Regardless of the circumstance, Clarkson is still the same player that he has always been. He is shot dependent and does very little else for DFS players in the other statistical categories. Over his last three games, Clarkson has scored 23 DKFP or fewer. Not only is his shooting percentage down over that span (32%), but he’s barely shooting (11 FGA per game). It might be more prudent to leave money on the table than to throw him on your roster because he’s a familiar face during uncertain times.

The Outcome

The Mavericks are an above-average team when they’re healthy, but they are far from healthy. Losing an MVP candidate hurts a little. The Jazz are not hurting, they are hurting their opponents, even on Christmas. It’s a lump of coal for the Mavs and a hula hoop for the Jazz.

Final Score: Jazz 118, Mavericks 100

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA $300K Holiday Showdown Special [$100K to 1st] (DAL vs UTA)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) 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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