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Scouting The NBA DFS - Thursday, December 29

We have a 6-game slate of NBA action tonight and there are plenty of opportunities to cash in DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel

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Plays of the Day

Value: Nerlens Noel has been openly upset with his lack of playing time behind Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid recently, and this is his chance to prove his worth with Embiid resting. The Sixers should want to showcase Noel a bit before moving him at some point over the next couple of months and he’s worth a look as a longshot even if he comes off the bench tonight. The Jazz (-13) could always run away with this game as well, opening up more opportunities for the Sixers reserves and a talented player in Noel.

Fade: Russell Westbrook is obviously a great play regardless of the matchup, but this seems like a night to fade him with Memphis on tap and the rest of this 6-game slate featuring some balanced upper-tier options.

Games to Target

  1. Phoenix Suns (+8.5) hosting Toronto Raptors (Over/Under = 220)
  2. Cleveland Cavs (-6) hosting Boston Celtics (Over/Under = 215.5)

Point Guards

Two Studs

Kyrie Irving (CLE) vs. BOS DK:$7,600/FD:$8,300

Kyrie and Isaiah Thomas ($7700/$8200) are essentially equally priced on both main DFS sites and I wouldn’t mind throwing both into some lineups with the hopes that the Celtics and Cavs play an instant classic. Even if this game is only moderately competitive, the point guards on both sides should be quite productive against each other, as neither is a great defender. The Celtics are improving defensively but are still coughing up an above average 22.88 PPG to opposing PGs, while Irving burned them for 39 points and 10 assists over 2 appearances last season and he’s red hot right now. The public might be off him because he under performed with LeBron out on Monday and he missed practice with an illness, so he’s a great tournament play this Thursday.

Deron Williams (DAL) @ LAL DK:$5,900/FD:$6,400

Apologies if Deron burned you the other night with a dud despite the absence of Patrick Beverley for the Rockets. Yet that makes him another intriguing bounce back candidate with a fantastic matchup on this short slate. The Lakers are clearly vulnerable with the 29th defensive rating in the league and they’re giving up the most APG (9.69) to opposing PGs this season, playing right into what D-Will does best. Forgive him for a slip-up when the Mavericks were overmatched against Houston, but tonight Dallas (+2.5) is expected to compete for four quarters against a team that loves to get up and down the floor.

Potential Value

Shelvin Mack ($4400/$4000) fits the theme of bounce back efforts tonight after he somehow under performed over 33 minutes against the Lakers two nights ago.

Longshot

If Goran Dragic sounds unlikely to play for Miami, Tyler Johnson ($5400/$5600) should definitely draw consideration while Andrew Harrison ($4800/$3900) would be a great option if Mike Conley can’t return for Memphis.

Shooting Guards

Two Studs

DeMar DeRozan (TOR) @ PHO DK:$8,300/FD:$8,400

I’m not usually an advocate of playing DeRozan because of his lack of peripheral stats, but he seems to be in a great spot tonight and could serve as the foundation to balanced Westbrook-Free lineups. The Suns are a prime matchup for any team because they play at the second-fastest pace in the NBA and allow the second-most PPG (114.2) this season, and they’re particularly vulnerable against teams with excellent backcourts. Both DeRozan and Kyle Lowry ($8500/$8700) make for intriguing tournament plays against a Suns team that coughs up the second-most PPG (24.74) to opposing PGs and third-most PPG (25.52) to opposing SGs this year. DDR is always cash game viable and he could blowup against an inexperienced group of wing defenders tonight.

Tony Allen (MEM) vs. OKC DK:$5,000/FD:$4,600

Facing the Westbrook-Train and the inevitable turnovers that opposing defenders pile up in that position makes The Grindfather a quality option tonight. He’s coming off one of his most productive games in a while with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals against a Celtics squad that plays a similar style with Isaiah Thomas dominating the ball like Westbrook. Allen might spend significant time as Westy’s primary defender, or he might be playing help defense, but Memphis (-2) seems capable of forcing the Thunder’s superstars into bad spots while grinding for a win.

Potential Value

Jordan Richardson ($5000/$4400) would likely start again and benefit greatly if Dragic can’t play for Miami.

Longshot

Devin Booker ($6300/$6100) should come right back and DDR and Lowry tonight while potentially carrying the Suns in a shootout.

Small Forwards

Two Studs

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

Even if you’re using Kyrie, you should really think twice before fading LeBron against his old adversary in the Celtics. Like a bull when they see red, King James thrives against The Green Team with averages of 27.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 6.5 APG in his career against Boston. He’s extremely well rested and at home against a team that is eyeing Cleveland’s number one spot, so what else can you say? The King will defend his crown.

Gordon Hayward (UTA) vs. PHI: DK:$8,100/FD:$7,800

Hayward is the counter-argument to not paying up for LeBron tonight, but you can probably fit both into lineups that don’t include Westbrook. He’s caught fire for the Jazz since their blowout loss at Golden State with averages of 27.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 3.8 APG over his last 3 appearances. Tonight Hayward should lead Utah against a hapless Sixers team that coughs up the tenth-most FPPG (38.66) to opposing SFS this season. He’s in position to follow up on Tuesday’s huge line with another big game as long as Philly (+13) keeps it relatively close.

Potential Value

Luol Deng ($5500/$5100) is no longer a bargain, but he’s meeting value with consistency for the Lakers.

Longshot

Marcus Smart ($4500/$4900 as PG on FD) is one of the Celtics who might exceed value if Boston can truly pull off an upset in Cleveland.

Power Forwards

Two Studs

Julius Randle (LAL) vs. DAL: DK:$6,500/FD:$6,600

The Lakers PF can keep your lineup on pace to hit a big projection without costing you too much salary. Randle is playing great ball right now and his role is much more secure with Larry Nance Jr. (knee) inactive. The Kentucky product is averaging 15.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 5.5 APG over his last 5 appearances and he just came through in consecutive brutal matchups against the Clippers and Jazz. Now he’ll face a Mavericks team that ranks 23rd in defensive rating and really struggles to contain talented bigs, especially when Dirk Nowitzki plays any kind of meaning minutes. Randle’s much more reliable at home, where he’s averaging 15.4 PPG on the season, so you can use him in any format tonight.

Amir Johnson (BOS) @ CLE: DK:$4,000/FD:$4,100

Johnson isn’t necessarily cash game viable at this point, but he’s cheap enough to consider in tournaments as a great source of salary relief. Amir has met or exceeded value in 4 consecutive appearances and he’s still only slightly above the minimum for good reason, because HC Brad Stevens could pull the rug out from under him at any point after giving up 24.8 MPG during that span. The Celtics struggle to rebound and face one of the toughest rebounding teams in the defending champion Cavs tonight, so that should convince Stevens to keep the wiry Johnson on the floor for his physical presence.

Potential Value

Ersan Ilyasova ($4900/$5500) has been steady regardless, but he’s much more appealing to use when Joel Embiid (rest) is expected to sit.

Longshot

Zach Randolph ($5200/$5600) might power through against the Thunder’s stout front court and serve as an intriguing pivot off Marc Gasol in the event that Mike Conley (toe) miss another game.

Centers

Two Studs

Hassan Whiteside (MIA) @ CHA: DK:$8,600/FD:$8,900

Neither of our recommended options at center are particularly safe in today’s breakdown, but both have tremendous upside. Whiteside is almost always the big man with the most upside when he plays and he follows the theme of stars bouncing back tonight after he got whooped by Steven Adams and the Thunder frontcourt on Tuesday. Goran Dragic (back) is a legitimate game-time decision and Whiteside is sporting a significant 26.2% Usage Rate and averaging 1.17 FPs per minute with Dragic off the floor this season. The Hornets are weak down low and cough up the sixth-most FPPG (48.82) to opposing centers, so Mr. Whiteside has bigtime double double potential and should be worth the money if the Heat are missing their other star.

Nerlens Noel (PHI) @ UTA: DK:$3,700/FD:$4,600 as PF

Now there’s a chance that this play could blow up in your face, but going heavy on exposure to Noel at that price tag on DK could pay serious dividens as well. He’s been openly upset with his lack of playing time behind Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid recently, and this is his chance to prove his worth with Embiid resting. The Sixers should want to showcase Noel a bit before moving him at some point over the next couple of months and he’s worth a look as a longshot even if he comes off the bench tonight. The Jazz (-13) could always run away with this game as well, opening up more opportunities for the Sixers reserves and a talented player in Noel.

Potential Value

Enes Kanter ($5100/$5400 as PF on FD) continues to exceed value as more of a preferred offensive option with Victor Oladipo (wrist) inactive.

Longshot

Marc Gasol ($7900/$8300) draws a tough matchup on paper, but the gifted passer will probably play a much bigger role as a facilitator if Mike Conley remains out.


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