It’s Christmas Eve “Eve” and that means it is the last day for NBA DraftKings until the Christmas day slate!
This is going to be a hefty schedule with a monster 13 games on tap, which means a ton of news and notes to analyze. Before we get into news and notes, I want to take a second to have a quick look over the top three games to target based on Vegas over/under totals:
Sacramento at Indiana (Total: 212): This one looks like a great game to target studs. The Kings have no hope of slowing Paul George, and the same is true for the Pacers’ chances of stopping DeMarcus Cousins.
Utah at Golden State (Total: 208.5): The Warriors are a heavy favorite here, so tread lightly. The Jazz ventured into San Antonio – the only team remotely comparable to Golden State at this juncture – and were obliterated in a game that was truly never close. I would avoid investing wads of cash in this game, but you probably want a small piece of it.
Denver at Phoenix (Total: 207.5): ALL OF THE WILL BARTON. He is going to be a very chalky play tonight, as will Jameer Nelson. On the other side of things, Eric Bledsoe looms large, especially if the Suns continue to play him as the lone ball handler in the starting lineup.
Today’s news and notes:
- Carmelo Anthony (ankle) and Kyle O’Quinn (ankle) are questionable against Cleveland. Lance Thomas would be an interesting play should Anthony sit, but this game has blowout written all over it should that be the case.
- Mo Williams (finger) is questionable against the Knicks. With Kyrie Irving back, Mo Williams is pretty much off the DFS radar at this point anyways.
- Elfrid Payton (ankle) is likely to play tonight against the Rockets. It’s a good matchup for Payton despite drawing the tenacious Patrick Beverley’s defense.
- John Wall (rib) is expected to play against Memphis. The Wizards will continue to rely heavily on him with Bradley Beal sidelined and Otto Porter (thigh) likely out again tonight. Gary Neal could return – he went through shootaround – but this team is extraordinarily thin right now.
- Amir Johnson (foot) is out against the Hornets. Jared Sullinger (back) is probable, so this frontcourt goes back to being murky despite providing David Lee and Kelly Olynyk a chance to shine in their last game.
- Deron Williams (hamstring) is questionable tonight, but I would be surprised if he plays after describing a “pop” in his hamstring being the factor that sidelined him. Devin Harris (hamstring) could also sit this one out, pushing Raymond Felton into a ton of minutes once again.
- Shane Larkin (concussion) is likely to return tonight for the Nets. Jarrett Jack is a little more risky with his return.
- Damian Lillard (foot) is out. Don’t go running to Tim Frazier yet, as C.J. McCollum is likely to take over as the starting point guard.
- Tony Wroten (rest) is out tonight. Kendall Marshall will start against the Bucks.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) is probable tonight against the 76ers. He is a solid play if you feel like you can trust Jason Kidd’s rotations.
- Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) are out once again. Jameer Nelson and Will Barton are the guys to target in their absence.
- Julius Randle (ankle) is a game-time decision. Larry Nance Jr. could see an uptick in minutes, as could Brandon Bass, should the rookie miss much time.
Make sure to check the news up until tip:
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
Eric Bledsoe, SG, PHX ($8,300): Bledsoe plays like a $10k player when he is firing on all cylinders, and tonight he gets to take on a Denver squad that just played last night. With the recent changes in the Suns’ lineup – mainly removing Brandon Knight – Bledsoe’s ball-handling duties should increase along with his production.
Nikola Vucevic, C, ORL ($7,300): The Rockets are a fantastic matchup for centers, and Vucevic still finds himself a bit underpriced for his floor and upside. This game has a high over/under total, and the Rockets pace should push the tempo up here as well.
More studs to consider: James Harden, SG, HOU ($10,600) – Paul George, SF, IND ($8,900) – DeMarcus Cousins, PF, SAC ($10,000)
BARGAINS – Complementary Players and Punt Plays
Mike Conley, PG, MEM ($6,300): Conley has been a steady play as of late, and now gets to take on a battered Wizards team that cannot defend. At this price point you can probably pencil in 25 DraftKings points with modest upside, which truly is a good bargain.
Jrue Holiday, PG, NO ($5,600): I always cringe a bit when recommending Holiday because his minutes limit isn’t ideal for DFS. Still, he has been hyper-productive in his limited time, and the Trail Blazers are awful at defending opposing point guards.
C.J. McCollum, SG, POR ($6,900): If I knew he was fully healthy, McCollum would be the number-one play on my board tonight. I will be using some of him, but until I know that his workload will be full and the injury won’t linger, I can’t give him a complete endorsement.
Will Barton, SG, DEN ($6,800): Barton has been on fire recently, and now gets one of the best matchups possible for opposing shooting guards. With the Nuggets injuries mounting, there is little reason to shy away from him tonight.
Kelly Oubre, SF, WAS ($3,700): Oubre is the only value that jumps off the page to me, and even he has his obvious drawbacks. If you need him, he is the punt option, but as of right now I would recommend taking a balanced lineup approach.
Trevor Ariza, SF, HOU ($5,700): Ariza is a steady option at small forward, and you pretty much know what you are getting with him from night-to-night. If you want to save some money at power forward without giving up too much stability, he isn’t a bad option.
Thaddeus Young, PF, BKN ($6,800): Young gets one of the better matchups, as the Mavericks have struggled to contain frontcourt players as of late. He has been down after a hot start to the year, but he is still a key cog for the Nets, and should produce in this spot.
Paul Millsap, PF, ATL ($7,800): Millsap is the rock of the power forward position, and I am recommending him as a dependable option if you can afford him. His floor is incredibly high, even against a Detroit defense that has been solid against opposing power forwards.
Frank Kaminsky, C, CHA ($4,000): If you want to punt center, consider Kaminsky, who has been up around 20 DK points per game lately. I don’t love his upside, but the Boston frontcourt is exploitable.
LOTTERY TICKETS – 5 Tournaments Options
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, MIL ($6,400): I love Carter-Williams tonight, but he is a notoriously risky player, so his price tag rules him out for cash games tonight. A revenge game against the 76ers could result in a huge night from the former Rookie of the Year, though.
Tyreke Evans, SG, NO ($7,700): With two cheaper options at shooting guard with similar upside, Evans could go under-owned tonight. The Trail Blazers have struggled to corral opposing guards, so the matchup is there.
Gordon Hayward, SF, UTA ($7,200): If the Jazz have any hope of keeping this game close, it will likely be on the back of either Hayward or Derrick Favors. I prefer Hayward, because I don’t see him being rendered ineffective by the pace of this game.
John Henson, PF, MIL ($3,900): This is a dart, but Henson has been seeing 20 minutes per game lately. If that increases against a futile opponent in Philadelphia, he could rack up a massive stat line. I wouldn’t put him in your lineup if you are a single-entry tournament player, but he is worth a flier for multi-entry players.
Marcin Gortat, C, WAS ($6,700): Gortat would be a fantastic option if he didn’t have to face Marc Gasol tonight. For that reason, he is a tournament-only option.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
Cleveland Cavaliers: This game could be over very quickly, and with this team mixing in a bunch of vital pieces, it’s difficult to project where the value is here.