As Thursday Night Football departs us on our time-bided, pre-weekend evenings, I foresee an uptick in participants within our NBA Daily Fantasy realm. And welcome if you are one of them!
If you’re at all new to this article, my friend and colleague Ryan McKee is trading off days with me EACH and EVERY week throughout the NBA season to give you our insight on picks and strategy for everything NBA DFS!
We also coincide the written content with Ryan’s new podcast on the SGP Network of podcasts, NBA Odds Pod, to bring you as much of a well-rounded base to not only gain knowledge for any given slate that you may not have had prior, but as well as an ongoing basis for where each of our mindsets are at within making our selections, and beginning to apply the same angle that works for you the readers.
We’ve got the best four-game slate of the season so far, featuring the number one seeds from the East and West squabbing it out when the Milwaukee Bucks host the Los Angeles Lakers. And [nearly] equally as intriguing is the evening headline matchup between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers which could easily be a look into a second-round playoff matchup.
Any way you look at it, best four-gamer in recent memory and I’m here ALL DAY for it. Let’s lace those lineups and LET IT RIDE!!!!
Donovan Mitchell, UTA ($8,000 DK/$8,600 FD)
With Mike Conley shelved for what essentially feels like forever (mild over-exaggeration), the Usage monster continues to shine at an immovable price point it seems, and Donovan Mitchell is once again a stellar Cash Game play with consistent GPP upside.
Mitchell is averaging a 33.1% Usage rate in Conley’s absence, which is pretty bonkers considering he’s not cut from the cloth of James Harden’s ilk and actually distributes the ball outside of shooting. This makes for a multi-faceted fantasy weapon at more than a fair enough price with all things considered.
The Atlanta Hawks are roughly the third-worst team in the league against the Point Guard position (when looking at all relevant categories against the position) and have the league’s fourth-worst Defensive Rating as a whole (114.4). Regardless of slate size, Donovan Mitchell draws a fantastic matchup in a Jazz offense that runs predominantly through him.
Lou Williams, LAC ($5,900 DK/$5,500 FD)
This could be a twelve-game slate and I would be saying the same exact thing here: Who in the hell was in charge of pricing today?! In clearly a festive holiday spirit, someone pushed the “JOY” button on both sites when it came to the fantasy financials in this instance, as Lou Williams’ pricing is about as egregious as it gets on this slate.
In this marquee matchup between two of the flagship teams out West in the Clippers and Rockets, Williams’ cost is evident of his minutes being babied in his return to action two nights ago against the Phoenix Suns (23 minutes, which was down 25.1% from his average of 30.7 minutes per game).
But you know, if we’re going to look at it with that kind of scrutiny, then it would be dismissive if we didn’t address his Usage being up 32% from his season average of 27.5% (36.5% usage vs. PHX), which to me indicates that one of either: his minutes being scaled back up to normal soon, or his Usage will be more direct while his minutes are being monitored, or both.
Regardless of if you trust my hunch, this circumstance calls for a near must-play situation for Lou Williams strictly based on his pricing when factoring in his sheer productivity with the minutes he’s given.
Paul George, LAC ($8,500 DK/$9,100 FD)
In a matchup between the Rockets and Clippers featuring some interesting narratives of the NBA offseason (and the moving pieces therein), Paul George appears to be in an excellent position for fantasy production this evening and remains at a palatable price point considering his production and matchup.
When George shifts to the Shooting Guard position in any part of the rotation, he gains the additional leverage in this primetime playoff-pictorial, as the Houston Rockets surrender the second-most fantasy points per game with 62.33 DraftKings Fantasy Points allowed per game this season. Additionally, the Rockets rank in the bottom three teams in the league against Small Forwards over the past 30 days.
This is a paced-up spot for George as well, with Houston running at the second-fastest pace in the league (104.42). On a short slate, Paul George provides a mutual amount of financial flexibility along with a ceiling only matched by a handful of players on this four-game Thursday.
LeBron James, LAL ($10,000 DK/$10,300 FD)
Another stud option priced down for the sake of holiday cheer apparently (or simply from his bad fantasy outing against the Pacers), LeBron James finds himself in a challenging matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks. However, I believe this is the kind of game where we find James rise to the occasion of the spotlight in this NBA Finals forecast.
With both the Bucks and Lakers coming off unexpected losses (to the Mavs and Pacers, respectively), this game has all the making for a potential barn-burner that comes down-to-the-wire and potentially providing overtime production as a bonus (though we never want to count on such a thing). Despite a disappointing fantasy performance against the Pacers, LeBron’s previous four games with Anthony Davis on the court are highlighted by a 61.81 DKFP average along with a 35.62% Usage rate.
Should Davis return to the lineup, this takes some pressure off of LeBron and I see no reason why he couldn’t achieve numbers more along the lines of his recent production prior to the Indiana letdown outing. LeBron James is a player I will be over the field on if possible, no questions asked.
(I will also be getting over the field on Anthony Davis as well if he plays.)
Rudy Gobert, UTA ($7,800 DK/$7,800 FD)
Noticing a theme of financial-friendly pricing? As am I. And with yet another gift in the salary department from both DraftKings and FanDuel, Rudy Gobert finds himself in practically a must-play situation on both sites.
No Mike Conley in the Utah rotation has meant a busload of Usage poured in the direction of Donovan Mitchell (mentioned earlier), but oddly enough Gobert’s usage has dropped ever-so-slightly while maintaining solid fantasy production (though never hitting his ceiling), which has meant a stagnated price at just outside the $8k range on both major sites.
With that being said, Gobert is treated to an Atlanta Hawks team who has allowed the third-most fantasy points per game all year (43.45 DKFP) and 13.2 rebounds per game to the position in the past 30 days. Considering he soaks up practically all of the minutes at Utah’s Center position, Rudy Gobert is a Cash Game “lock” (I hate the phrase) and every bit as much promise in GPP’s, although his ownership should be quite chalky.