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Scouting The NBA DFS - Saturday, December 17

We break down tonight's 6-game slate of NBA action so that you can cash in DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel

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Plays of the Day

Value: Brandon Jennings immediately becomes a must-play if Derrick Rose misses tonight’s game, and he is still worth a look as a GPP option if Rose tries to play through his back tightness. Jennings is averaging 5.2 APG and 20.8 DK PPG while playing just 23.2 MPG on the season and he's averaging 12.4 points and 8 assists per 36 minutes, so he has plenty of appeal in a potential shootout in Denver.

Fade: There’s nothing wrong with using LeBron James in cash games if you can afford him, but the Cavs (-15.5) are heavily favored at home against a fading young Lakers team and that means we could see LBJ move at half speed on his way to a somewhat underwhelming line in an easy win.

Games to Target

  1. Denver Nuggets (-3.5) hosting New York Knicks (Over/Under = 216)
  2. Golden State Warriors (-13.5) hosting Portland Blazers (Over/Under = 232)

Point Guards

Two Studs

Damian Lillard (POR) @ GSW DK:$9,100/FD:$9,700

While he comes with plenty of risk in a potential blowout spot at Oracle Arena, there's no denying that Lillard has the most upside of any PG on the board this Saturday. The Blazers superstar is coming off a 40-point, 10-assist performance in a shootout loss (132-120) at Denver and we could see a similar type of track meet against a Warriors team that ranks third in pace and first in PPG (117.3) this season. Lillard managed to score 31 points in a 23-point loss to the Dubs earlier this year and 38 points in a 25-point loss at Oracle towards the end of last season, so he's still dangerous in a blowout loss. He also notably dropped a 51-7-6 line to lead the Blazers to a blowout win over Golden State right after the ASB last year, and he can certainly torch Steph Curry and a Warriors squad that coughs up an above average 42.45 FPPG to opposing PGs this season.

Brandon Jennings (NYK) @ DEN DK:$5,500/FD:$5,000

It sounds like Carmelo Anthony will return to action tonight for the Knicks, but Derrick Rose is "unsure" of his status, and if we know anything about the former MVP, we can expect him to use caution and sit out another game if he feels like anything is wrong. Jennings immediately becomes a virtual must-play if Rose sits, and he is still worth a look as a GPP option if Rose tries to play through his back tightness. Jennings is averaging 5.2 APG and 20.8 DK PPG while playing just 23.2 MPG on the season and he's averaging 12.4 points and 8 assists per 36 minutes, so he has plenty of appeal if this game turns into a shootout as projected.

Potential Value

D’Angelo Russell ($5300/$5800) is worth a look in tournament formats as he works his way back from a knee injury. Patrick Beverley ($5200/$5400) is more of a cash game play.

Longshot

Ricky Rubio ($5000/$5600) draws a tough individual matchup against Beverley, but he has a lot of upside as a mid-tier option in a potential shootout with Houston.

Shooting Guards

Two Studs

James Harden (HOU) @ MIN DK:$11,600/FD:$11,800

Despite blowout concerns (and blowout results) in each of his last two appearances, Harden produced a triple double and met or exceeded value in home games against the Kings and Pelicans. Now he goes on the road, where he’s actually averaging more APG (12.1) this season and should be forced to play more minutes with the Rockets (-4.5) barely favored in Minnesota. The Wolves are ranked 29th in defensive rating and opponents FG shooting (.479%) on the season, so Harden should have no trouble getting to the rim or finding open shooters after the Rockets set another NBA record with 24 made three-pointers last night. He averaged 30 PPG and 10.3 APG over 3 meetings with Minnesota last year and the Wolves simply don’t have the necessary personnel to slow down the MVP candidate.

Gary Harris (NYK) @ DEN DK:$4,700/FD:$4,800

Far from limited in his first game back after a several week absence, Harris carried the Nuggets to victory with 18 points on 7-of-11 FG shooting over 32 minutes of playing time. He's managed to shake off the rust very quickly and should draw consideration in all formats at this modest price tag against a weak Knicks defense. New York allows the ninth-most FPPG (39.27) and fourth-most PPG (24.15) to opposing SGs this season, while Harris has produced 53% of his FPs via actual points over six appearances this season.

Potential Value

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($4600/$5500) is very much under priced on DK and he’s worth a look alongside Harris in cash games on that DFS site.

Longshot

J.R. Smith ($3800/$4000) might actually be more productive with LeBron and Kyrie Irving drawing the defense into the paint tonight. Justin Holiday ($3600/$3900) will be worth a look if Melo can’t play tonight for the Knicks.

Small Forwards

Two Studs

Kevin Durant (GSW) vs. POR: DK:$9,400/FD:$9,900

The Blazers and Warriors are two of the best and fastest-paced offensive teams in the NBA, so this is certainly a contest to target in DFS contests and Durant remains cheap enough to fit into DK lineups in any format. He draws a plus matchup against the Blazers revolving door rotation at SF, as Portland coughs up the fourth-most PPG (21) and an above average 39.11 FPPG to opposing SFs this season. Despite the consistently easy wins at Oracle Arena, Durant is averaging 26.7 PPG and 51.3 DK PPG over 12 appearances at home this season and he could see more minutes than usual if this game remains close.

Trevor Ariza (HOU) @ MIN: DK:$5,700/FD:$5,700

He’s not a player that you’re going to get tremendously excited about using, but Ariza remains one of the better cash game options out there. He produced 20 points while hitting 5-of-14 three-point attempts last night and he’ll continue to spot up while James Harden draws defensive help in what should be another high-scoring affair for the Rockets. Ariza is averaging season-best numbers at 14.3 PPG and 5.3 RPG while shooting 48.8% from the field on 0 days rest this season, so the B2B set shouldn’t be a concern. Minnesota coughs up the seventh-most PPG (20.91) to opposing SFs and ranks 21st in opponents 3PT shooting (.361%) this season, which certainly bodes well for a “Three-and-D” guy like Ariza.

Potential Value

Evan Turner ($4800/$4700) should see even more minutes than usual as a versatile player who can match up with the fast-paced Warriors. Luol Deng ($4600/$4300) continues to play big minutes for the Lakers and that gives him a good chance to meet value.

Longshot

I doubt many people will target Carmelo Anthony ($7600/$7800) as he looks to return from a one-game absence in a plus matchup tonight. Wilson Chandler ($6100/$6000) is also worth a look against his former team.

Power Forwards

Two Studs

Draymond Green (GSW) vs. POR: DK:$7,800/FD:$8,200

Maybe he’s the chalk play tonight, but Draymond is still worth a look in an uptempo contest that should provide ample opportunities for him to rebound and assist his way to another triple double. The Warriors emotional leader is averaging 11.7 PPG, 10 RPG, 7 APG and 3 STL/BLK per game over his last 3 appearances and now he faces a Blazers squad that gives up the most FPPG (48.0) this season. Portland lacks any sort of physicality down low, so Green should be able to bull his way to the rim and potentially create turnovers on the other end of the floor. He has a rare skill set that allows him to run the fast break as a PF and obviously playing with three of the best five shooters in the world makes it easy to rack up dimes.

Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) @ DEN: DK:$7,500/FD:$8,000

Porzingis is an excellent GPP play because he decisively flopped with just 13.75 DK points (12 FD points) on Thursday despite the absence of both Carmelo Anthony (shoulder) and Derrick Rose (back). Yet both of those high-usage players are in danger of missing a second consecutive game for the Knicks and that means Porzingis should get another chance to lead the Knicks with a big-time offensive performance. The Nuggets are an inferior defensive team when compared to the Warriors, as Denver ranks 25th in defensive rating and gives up the ninth-most PPG (21.05) to opposing PFs this season. The Unicorn averaged 13.5 PPG, 9 RPG, 2.5 APG and 2 BPG over 2 meetings with the Nuggets as a rookie and he's clearly taken a huge step forward in his second year.

Potential Value

Ryan Anderson ($4900/$5300) is starting to demonstrate some consistency as one of the Rockets sharpshooters.

Longshot

Kevin Love ($8000/$8400) might not be heavily owned because Draymond and Porzingis are such tempting plays, but he could out-score LeBron in a matchup against his hometown Lakers.

Centers

Two Studs

Nikola Jokic (DEN) vs. NYK: DK:$6,800/FD:$5,900 as PF

Hopefully most DFS players will look at the fact that Jokic produced just 13 points over 19 minutes in a 132-120 win over the Blazers on Thursday and choose to fade him on Saturday. The big man finally moved back into the SLU for Nuggets HC Mike Malone, but promptly got into foul trouble, thus limiting his upside in that shootout. He should bounce back against a weak Knicks interior defense that is giving up the sixth-most FPPG (49.07) to opposing centers this season and rotates two slow-footed big men in Kyle O'Quinn and Joakim Noah. Jokic is incredibly skilled and his ability to dish or score off the dribble gives him tremendous upside, as proven by the fact that he's averaging 1.15 FPs per minute this season.

Mason Plumlee (POR) @ GSW: DK:$5,800/FD:$6,300

You might not be willing to risk paying up for Lillard or C.J. McCollum in a potential blowout, but Plumlee remains a safe play as the Blazers rising star in the paint. He’s averaging 12.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.7 APG and 3.1 STL/BLK per game over his last 6 appearances and he should be able to meet value at the very least in a fast-paced matchup tonight. Golden State gives up the third-most RPG (15.65) to opposing centers simply by virtue of their blinding pace of play, and Plums put up 6 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists over just 21 minutes before he was benched in a blowout loss to the Warriors earlier this season. His floor is high enough to use in cash games and he has tremendous upside if Portland manages to compete for four quarters.

Potential Value

Kyle O’Quinn ($5300/$4900) is in a bounce back spot along with the rest of the Knicks starters tonight.

Longshot

Dwight Howard ($7000/$7600) draws a mouth-watering matchup against the Hornets soft defensive frontcourt, but you should keep exposure to the aging big man light on the second half of a B2B set.


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