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Scouting The NBA DFS - Christmas Edition

Unwrap a breakdown of the 5-game slate of NBA action this Christmas to cash in on DFS contest on DraftKings and FanDuel

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Plays of the Day

Value: Kyle O'Quinn makes for a sneaky value play on DK this Christmas. The stout power forward has a body type that gives the Celtics trouble, as they rank 29th in total rebounding and just struggled to stop the uninspiring combination of Enes Kanter and Domantas Sabonis for the Thunder on Friday. O'Quinn, meanwhile, returned from a mild ankle injury to destroy his former team with 14 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocks over 24 minutes against the Magic and he could be asked to step up more with Kristaps Porzingis playing a somewhat limited role while he deals with a nagging knee injury.

Fade: Jimmy Butler really struggled to score and defend Kawhi Leonard in a matchup with the Spurs a couple of weeks ago and the Bulls are slumping in general, which raises the risk of a blowout at San Antonio this Christmas.

Games to Target

  1. Cleveland Cavs (+1.5) hosting Golden State Warriors (Over/Under = 223.5)
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder (-5) hosting Minnesota Wolves (Over/Under = 209.5)

Point Guards

Two Studs

Russell Westbrook (OKC) vs. MIN DK:$12,500/FD:$12,600

Westbrook is always tough to fit into DK lineups at this price tag, but he’s a tiny bit cheaper than he was on Friday night when he dropped his third consecutive 40-plus point game with a triple double to boot. He flashed a dangerously low floor when the Thunder couldn’t remain competitive in tough matchups at the Blazers and Jazz last week, but since then his team has figured out how to play without Victor Oladipo (wrist) while Westy remains ultra-focused on carrying the squad. This Christmas, he’ll face a Wolves team that is ranked 26th in defensive rating and coughs up the seventh-most PPG (23.59) to opposing PGs and he should roast Ricky Rubio while meeting little resistance at the rim.

Isaiah Thomas (BOS) @ NYK DK:$8,100/FD:$8,400

The NBA's leader in fourth-quarter scoring should be able to put the Knicks away late after the Celtics presumably wind up in yet another close game. Neither of these teams is blowing the doors off of anyone, but they're both competitive, and that's why we have a "Pick 'Em" line on the first game of the Holiday slate. Thomas has been on fire while leading the Celtics to a 4-1 record since returning from injury, averaging 31 PPG on incredible 51.6% FG shooting and "The Little Guy" should destroy the porous backcourt defense of Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings on Christmas Day.

Potential Value

Ricky Rubio ($5900/$5800) has been damn steady lately for the Wolves and he could become the latest in a line of talented PGs to put up good numbers opposite an exhausted Westbrook.


The biggest question of this slate is whether Chris Paul (hamstring) will play, and if you guess right that he’ll sit thenRaymond Felton ($3500/$3500) would emerge as a solid punt play and Austin Rivers ($4400/$4400) would gain a lot of upside.

Shooting Guards

Two Studs

Zach LaVine (MIN) @ OKC DK:$6,400/FD:$6,500

The obvious play at SG and a great pairing with Westbrook is LaVine after he put up 40 points and 55 DK points (50.2 FD points) in a plus matchup against the Kings on Friday. Perhaps some DFSers will be scared off LaVine because he only produced four points and 11 DK points in a dismal outing against the Thunder earlier this year, but he’s been playing fantastic ball lately and HC Tom Thibodeau has rewarded him by playing LaVine 40.2 MPG over his last 5 appearances. The Thunder defense has taken a big step back, perhaps in part due to the absence of Oladipo, as OKC is allowing 109.3 PPG over 6 appearances with him on the shelf. The Wolves are going to put up points in a fast-paced game and LaVine is on a scoring tear.

Jamal Crawford (LAC) vs. LAL DK:$4,000/FD:$4,300

If Chris Paul (hamstring) is unable to return to the Clippers lineup tonight, Crawford would become a great play, and with lineups locking so early in the day, it makes sense to take a chance on a couple of the Clippers guards. Unlike Rivers or Felton, Crawford should still be a pretty safe play if Paul is active, because his role is secure as the leader of the Clips second unit. The veteran dropped 26 points with 6 dimes on a season-high 34.7% Usage Rate in a narrow loss to the Mavericks on Friday and he won't be asked to fire away as often if CP3 plays on Sunday, but the Clippers (-5.5) are fully capable of demolishing the young Lakers and that would open up more opportunities for Crawford and the rest of the second unit.

Potential Value

Iman Shumpert ($4100/$3900) should be a safe play with J.R. Smith out and the Cavs checking in as underdogs at home against the high-powered Warriors.


Manu Ginobili ($3400/$3800) is working off four full days of rest and he could be very productive in limited minutes against the Bulls.

Small Forwards

Two Studs

LeBron James (CLE) vs. GSW: DK:$10,300/FD:$10,100

This is a rare game for both Cleveland (+1.5) and Golden State in that neither team should be expected to run away on the scoreboard early, and that's been the biggest concern with playing James all season. With Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving back in the fold, the Cavs are fully capable of matching points with the Dubs and that's why this contest has the highest Over/Under (223.5 points) on the slate. Love and Irving found their gumption in the Finals last year, but let's be honest, they can fold under pressure while James is the rock who will likely lead Cleveland to a home win over their prospective challenger from the WCF. He’s owned Kevin Durant in the past and seems to be a better play than The Thin Man for a slight pay bump.

Luol Deng (LAL) vs. LAC: DK:$4,900/FD:$4,700

If you simple want a safe play to use alongside LeBron or Durant, or a cheap option at the other forward slot on DK tonight, consider Deng. The veteran has emerged as a rock solid DFS play with HC Luke Walton giving him 32-plus minutes in 8 of his last 9 appearances. Deng is averaging 13.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 28.5 DK PPG during that span and he’s met or exceeded value in 7 consecutive road games. Now he returns home to face a Clippers team that is missing its starting PF and he should be asked to slide over the 4 quite often with Larry Nance Jr. (knee) out indefinitely. Give Deng a look in cash games tonight.

Potential Value

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute ($3600/$3500) has exceeded value in 2-of-3 appearances with Griffin inactive, with the sole exception coming against the Spurs. The Lakers defense is obviously far inferior.


Nikola Mirotic ($3600/$4000 as PF on FD) is making the most of his second life in the Bulls rotation and he’s worth a look as a high-upside punt play on DK.

Power Forwards

Two Studs

Draymond Green (GSW) @ CLE: DK:$8,000/FD:$7,900

One of the Warriors three Splash Brothers will likely go off in this potential Finals preview, but Green should be the safest play in a Golden State uniform. He’s been racking up peripheral stats as per usual this year with averages of 10.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG and 7.4 APG on the season and that production has spiked with averages of 11.6 RPG and 9.2 APG despite playing just 33 MPG over his last 5 appearances. All starters should see a full slate of playing time in this heated rematch, and Green should resume out-muscling Kevin Love on the low block after he averaged 14.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG and 5.43 APG in last year’s NBA Finals.

Kyle O’Quinn (NYK) vs. BOS: DK:$4,200/FD:$5,500 as C

He's surprisingly expensive on FanDuel, but O'Quinn makes for a sneaky value play in any format on DK this Sunday. The stout power forward has the exact body type that would give the Celtics trouble, as they rank 29th in total rebounding and just struggled to stop the uninspiring combination of Enes Kanter and Domantas Sabonis for the Thunder on Friday. O'Quinn, meanwhile, returned from a mild ankle injury to destroy his former team with 14 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocks over 24 minutes against the Magic and he could be asked to step up more with Kristaps Porzingis playing a somewhat limited role while he deals with a nagging knee injury.

Potential Value

Amir Johnson ($3100/$3600) is a risky option, but he can offer a lot of salary relief with upside in a matchup against the Knicks today.


I likeJulius Randle ($5700/$6200) in any format against the Griffin-less Clippers tonight.


Two Studs

Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) @ OKC: DK:$8,300/FD:$9,100

KAT is significantly cheaper than usual on DK, presumably because the Thunder are the third-best rebounding team in the NBA, but what Steven Adams and Enes Kanter possess in girth, they lack in quickness. Towns roasted those two defenders for 33 points on 13-of-20 FG shooting before taking a seat in a blowout loss at OKC nearly two months ago, but the Wolves are playing much better ball at this point in the season and KAT is certainly rolling with averages of 24.4 PPG, 14.6 RPG and 51.7 DK PPG over his last 5 appearances. He has tremendous upside in a potential shootout and makes for a great pairing with Westbrook if you can afford both studs.

DeAndre Jordan (LAC) vs. LAL: DK:$7,400/FD:$7,300

He's as good a bet for a double double as anyone on the slate tonight and Jordan could see a serious boost if both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are out tonight. If CP3 plays, Jordan will likely receive more beautiful lob passes from the Point God and he'll still be asked to increase his rebounding with Blake inactive. DAJ is averaging 13 PPG and 14.7 RPG over his last 6 appearances and he's pulled down 17-plus boards in 3 out of his last 5 starts. Now he faces a Lakers squad that gives up the third-most FPPG (50.06) and ranks dead last in opponents FG shooting (.479%) while playing at the fourth-fastest pace in the NBA this season. All of those numbers bode well for the prospects of an elite rebounder and dominant finisher in the paint.

Potential Value

Tristan Thompson ($4900/$5000) put up a double double despite the return of Kevin Love on Friday and he faces a Warriors team that coughs up the sixth-most RPG (15.2) to opposing centers.


After resting on Friday, Pau Gasol ($6000/$6500) should be fired up to face his former team on Christmas.

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