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Scouting The NBA DFS - Thursday, December 22

We break down tonight's 5-game slate of NBA action and provide the best DFS plays to help you cash on DraftKings and FanDuel

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Plays of the Day

Value: Rodney McGruder (ankle) is questionable to suit up tonight and Dion Waiters (groin) still on the shelf, while Josh Richardson is playing heavy minutes as a combo guard for Miami. He played a whopping 44 minutes in the 2OT loss to the Magic the other night and is logging a full 8 more MPG (32.3) in Miami’s home games this season. Of course, a matchup against the Lakers 29th-ranked defense is a great matchup for an athletic guard and the fact that the Lakers play at the fourth-fastest pace in the NBA doesn’t hurt either.

Fade: Kevin Durant and the Warriors are simply steamrolling teams with the third-best defensive rating in December to go along with the best offense the NBA has seen in years. Facing the 7-20 Nets tonight should make for yet another blowout win, and that makes KD, Steph and any other Warriors starter a risky play.

Games to Target

  1. Indiana Pacers (+1.5) hosting Boston Celtics (Over/Under = 211)
  2. Miami Heat (-4) hosting Los Angeles Lakers (Over/Under = 209.5)

Point Guards

Two Studs

Isaiah Thomas (BOS) @ IND DK:$8,000/FD:$8,400

Chris Paul is a high-upside play worth consideration with Blake Griffin inactive, but you can’t really love his matchup against the Spurs tonight. Thomas, meanwhile, faces a weak Pacers defense that gives up the seventh-most PPG (106.2) and fourth-most 3PTM per game (10.3) in the NBA this year after he eviscerated the Grizzlies top-ranked defense for a career-high 44 points two nights ago. The self-described “killer” will look to lead the Celtics to another road win in Indiana tonight and he has a very solid floor with a 33.1% Usage Rate and 32.9% Assist Rate on the season. Indiana coughs up the sixth-most APG (9.07) and an above average 22.41 PPG to opposing PGs this season, so it’s hard to imagine IT struggling after his transcendent effort on Tuesday.

Jeff Teague (IND) vs. BOS DK:$7,100/FD:$7,700

On the other side of the ball, Thomas will have to guard one of the most consistent offensive performers over the past couple of weeks. Teague is averaging 17.7 PPG, 9.3 APG and 42.8 DK PPG while producing at least 40 FPs in 5 of his last 6 appearances. He’s been slightly more consistent at home this year, where he’s shooting 44.3% from the floor and he dropped 20 points in Boston earlier this year despite struggling with his shot (4-of-15 FG attempts). The fact that he attempted 12 free throws in that game indicates that Isaiah Thomas simply can’t keep Teague in front of him, and the Celtics don’t have the type of elite rim protection to keep him from scoring or getting back to the line with consistency tonight.

Potential Value

D’Angelo Russell ($5500/$5900) continues to ramp up for the Lakers and he could exceed value at this mid-tier price tag.

Longshot

Elfrid Payton ($5600/$5800) has been great on the road this season and he could put up numbers against the Knicks weak defense tonight. Austin Rivers ($4200/$4000) might be worth a look as a low-cost punt.

Shooting Guards

Two Studs

Avery Bradley (BOS) @ IND DK:$6,100/FD:$6,800

The list of SGs on this 5-game slate is enough to send most DFS players running the other way, but there is still money to be made if you can make the correct decisions. Bradley seems to have the highest floor of the uninspiring options on the board and he’s a viable correlation play if you’re going to use Thomas, Teague, or anyone else in a Celtics-Pacers game with a 210.5-point Over/Under and a one-point spread. Bradley is one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA (19.1% Defensive Rebounding Rate) and he’s sporting a career-best .569% True Shooting Percentage on the season. The problem has been usage since IT, Al Horford and Jae Crowder all returned to the Celtics lineup, which has capped his upside over recent appearances, but Bradley is a legitimate double double threat and he’ll put up numbers across the board if this game goes down to the wire as predicted.

Josh Richardson (MIA) vs. LAL DK:$4,800/FD:$4,200

If you don’t believe that any of the top SGs will put up big FPs tonight, then roll with a mid-tier value such as Richardson. The Heat’s crowded rotation on the wing should open up a bit with Rodney McGruder (ankle) questionable to suit up tonight and Dion Waiters (groin) still on the shelf, while Richardson is playing heavy minutes as a combo guard and a backup PG to Goran Dragic. He played a whopping 44 minutes in the 2OT loss to the Magic the other night and is logging a full 8 more MPG (32.3) in Miami’s home games this season. Of course, a matchup against the Lakers 29th-ranked defense is a great matchup for an athletic guard and the fact that the Purple and Gold play at the fourth-fastest pace in the NBA doesn’t hurt either.

Potential Value

Lou Williams ($5600/$5800) is one of the safer SGs on the board even though he doesn’t play a ton of minutes for the Lakers. Courtney Lee ($3800/$3900) is worth a look as a true value.

Longshot

Nick Young ($4400/$4600) obviously has no conscience when it comes to firing away from the perimeter, which gives him upside in DFS.

Small Forwards

Two Studs

Kawhi Leonard (SA) @ LAC: DK:$7,800/FD:$8,000

The Warriors (-15) have become fade-able in every game in which they’re basically guaranteed to blow out the opposition, and the same might be said of the Spurs, but Kawhi and his teammates are only favored by 1.5 points tonight in Los Angeles. While the Clippers have good DvP numbers against opposing SFs, but Leonard is a matchup nightmare for all teams and he’s been a road warrior with averages of 24.6 PPG and 43.4 DK PPG away from San Antonio this season. While he put up weak numbers in a blowout loss to the Clippers back in early November, the Clips aren’t playing the same kind of great ball right now and Leonard put up solid averages against them last season while torturing the Clippers in the playoffs two years ago. He should do just fine as a cash game play with sneaky upside if this game also goes down to the wire.

Luol Deng (LAL) @ MIA: DK:$4,600/FD:$4,600

Who knows why Lakers HC Luke Walton took so long to give Deng steady run, but the veteran has become extremely reliable over the past couple weeks. He’s averaging 13.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 2.5 APG while playing 31.4 MPG over his last 6 appearances and logged 34 minutes in a narrow loss at Charlotte despite being listed as questionable with back soreness ahead of that contest. Now he’ll face a Heat team that is giving up the ninth-most PPG (20.07) to opposing SFs and he has a great chance to meet value.

Potential Value

Justise Winslow ($5100/$4700) has returned and is playing steady minutes for the Heat, which makes him worth a look in cash games against the Lakers.

Longshot

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($3700/$4100) is a gamble to consider if you believe he’ll soak up minutes in garbage time for the overmatched Nets.

Power Forwards

Two Studs

Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) vs. ORL: DK:$7,600/FD:$7,800

Despite the fact that Carmelo Anthony awoke and outscored Porzingis in a win over Indiana two nights ago, I would still consider The Unicorn a far superior option in all DFS formats. He managed to block three more shots in that contest and is tied for seventh with 51 swats on the season. He also is a more versatile offensive player than Melo and faces a Magic team that is far more vulnerable down low with the tenth-highest FG percentage allowed (.455%) to the opposition this year. Orlando gives up the third-most FPPG (50.14) to opposing centers and PorzinGod can slide over to the 5 whenever his coach needs to exploit a matchup.

LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS) @ LAC: DK:$6,400/FD:$6,500

This is more of a tournament play and a way to stack one of the prospective close games tonight, as LMA would have plenty of upside if the Spurs wind up beating the Clippers by a hair at Staples Center. He’s been well rested by his HC Gregg Popovich and it seems to have inspired good play with averages of 17.7 PPG, 8 RPG and 3.3 APG while shooting 43.9% from the floor over his last 3 appearances. The Clippers defense against opposing PFs should be markedly worse with Blake Griffin out and some combination of Maressee Speights, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass attempting to guard a lengthy scorer in Aldridge.

Potential Value

James Johnson ($4200/$4700 as SF on FD) is a solid value option with a somewhat scary floor but a great ceiling at this price tag. You can use Anthony Bennett ($3100/$3600) if you’re almost certain about a Warriors blowout win tonight.

Longshot

Kyle O’Quinn ($4000/$4500 as C on FD) returned to the Knicks rotation two nights ago and he’ll be motivated to burn his former team in the Magic tonight.

Centers

Stud

Hassan Whiteside (MIA) vs. LAL: DK:$9,200/FD:$9,300

Finally, a night all to himself without Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, or Marc Gasol to steal some of his ownership at center. Whiteside should be the most popular play on this 5-game slate for good reason, as his ceiling is far higher than any other center on the board and his matchup is fantastic to boot. The Lakers cough up the fourth-most FPPG (50.02) and seventh-most PPG (21.83) to opposing centers while giving up the fourth-most RPG (44.3) this year. Whiteside is leading the NBA at 14.8 RPG and he’s been scoring quite efficiently with an average of 21.8 PPG on 58.4% FG shooting over his last 5 appearances. It’s a simply choice at center tonight and you’ll probably regret it if you fade Mr. Whiteside.

Potential Value

Myles Turner ($6600/$6700) is a solid mid-tier option with some upside in a good matchup against the Celtics.

Longshot

I could see using Al Horford ($6800/$8000) for salary relief on DK, or simply as a way to differentiate from the masses tonight, but Whiteside clearly has more upside.


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