Welcome back guys. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings NBA picks for December 18th, 2017. Tonight we get a full slate with 11 games on tap. Be sure to follow all of the injury news tonight, all the way up until the 7:00PM EST lock, to see if any new injury news comes up. As always if any of these picks help you win or if you need any advice, let me know on Twitter. @Hunta512.
If you want help with NBA research for FanDuel and DraftKings check out the best fantasy tools out there at FantasyLabs.com
SF/PF: Kevin Durant: (11,800) With many key players out for The Warriors, Durant stepped up once again, dropping 36 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks in Thursday night’s win over The Mavs. (65.25 DK points) In this game, The Dubs were without PG Steph Curry (ankle), PF Draymond Green (shoulder), and starting center Zaza Pachulia (shoulder). Tonight, these three will be out again, along with PG Shaun Livingston, who has already been ruled out with a knee injury. Durant should again be the main ball handler for The Warriors and in the minutes he has logged without these four this year, he is seeing a team high 5.8% usage increase, a team high 14.8% assist percentage increase, and a solid 5.2% rebound percentage bump.
Furthermore, Durant will be in a dream matchup vs The Lakers, who play at the fastest pace in the league this season, and are a 4.06 opponent +/- for opposing starting SFs. On top of the massive role he will have and the gorgeous matchup, this game is expected to stay tight, with The Warriors only favored by six points. In roughly 35 minutes, KD should score 60-70 DK points, assuming this road game stays relatively close. The price tag is up, but Durant is still a very strong value play and is a building block for me on Monday night.
PF/C: Dario Saric: (5,800) Saric has been very consistent as of late, averaging 34.25 DK points over his last four games. Tonight, with starting center Joel Embiid being rested, Saric should continue this streak of smashing value at his affordable salary. In all the minutes he has played with Embiid (out), center Jahill Okafor (traded), guard Nik Stauskas (traded), and PF Trever Booker (ankle) off the floor, Saric has seen a 3.2% usage increase. This specific situation has yet to happen this year for a full game, but in the five full games he has played without Embiid, he is averaging 32.45 DK points and 31.2 minutes.
With newly acquired Booker also being sidelined, this Sixer frontcourt becomes pretty thin, and as a starter, Saric should play at least 35 minutes this evening, barring awful foul trouble, which is unlikely as he is only averaging 2.5 fouls per 36 minutes. I am expecting him to top 30 DK points for the fifth straight game in this positive matchup vs The Bulls. (1.82 opponent +/-) He is just too cheap at $5,800 and is a fine play for both cash games and GPPs tonight.
PF/C: Kelly Olynyk: (5,000) After starting PF James Johnson (ankle) went down six minutes into Saturday’s win over The Clippers, Olynyk took on a bigger role as The Heats’ primary big, scoring 33.25 DK points in 34 minutes. Johnson has already been confirmed out and starting center Hassan Whiteside will miss another game with his knee injury. SF Justice Winslow has missed a few games with a knee injury himself and traveled with the team for this road trip, but his status for tonight still remains uncertain. Either way, Olynyk should start at PF tonight and be the big man that leads this in team in playing time. Even if we act like Winslow is in, Olynyk’s rates should rise with the other two sidelined, as he is leading this team with a 3.5% usage increase, and is scoring a great 1.14 DK points per minute in the time he has seen without Johnson and Whiteside this season.
Kelly has always had foul trouble issues (5.3 per 36 minutes), but if he can manage to not foul himself out of this game, he should be asked to play 30-35 minutes in this terrific spot vs a terrible Hawks interior defense. So far this year this Hawks defense ranks as the third worst defense in efficiency, have allowed the sixth most total rebounds per game, and are currently presenting a very high opponent +/- of 6.19 points. At only $5,000, Olynyk is a player that shouldn’t be ignored on Monday night, with the very high ceiling he has with this Heat team so banged up. I didn’t mention it earlier in this post because I expect them to play, but on top of these three players, The Heat are also listing PG Goran Dragic and SG Dion Waiters as questionable with illnesses. If either of these players are also out, Olynyk’s rates would receive an even larger boost, further improving his fantasy stock.
PF/C: Ekpe Udoh: (3,700) Tonight, The Jazz won’t have Rudy Gobert (knee) and Derick Favors (concussion) once again. With both of these players out Saturday night, Udoh drew the start at center, and played very well vs The Cavs, filling up the stat sheet, with nine points, seven rebounds, six blocks, three assists, and three steals across 33 minutes. (40.25 DK points) Over these last two games, which is one full game without both big men, and one game with the two players only combining for 14 minutes total, Udoh is scoring an efficient 0.98 DK points per minute. He isn’t the youngest player, at 30 years old, but he hasn’t played since his six block performance on Saturday night and doesn’t have a game tomorrow, which should keep his minutes right around 30 again tonight.
He will be going against The Rockets, who have given up the tenth most DK points to opposing centers this season (1.27 opponent +/-) and may be without their starting center Clint Capela, who is questionable with a heel injury. The Vegas line is scary, with The Rockets favored by 11.5 points, but The Jazz have played pretty well in these past two games, beating The Celtics on their home floor, and keeping it close throughout vs The Cavs Saturday, which was also a road game. Sure, The Rockets are playing great basketball right now and may wipe the floor with this Jazz team, but at only $3,700, Udoh seems like a worthwhile risk, that has an awesome chance of crushing value once again.
Also Consider: Milos Teodosic (Clippers are going to be very thin tonight with Lou Williams (ankle) and Wesley Johnson (foot) both being confirmed out. The matchup isn’t the best vs The Spurs, but you have to expect Teodoisc to play more with them rolling out a much tighter rotation), Austin Rivers (is expected to return from his concussion and should lead The Clippers in usage with Williams out of the mix. The upside is huge for him, but the matchup and blowout concerns make any Clipper risky), Jawun Evans (should play close to 30 minutes, is definitely in play at his soft price), Yogi Ferrel (if DSJ is out again), Tyler Johnson (nice value if Dragic is out. Also in play if Waiters was out, but is better if he started for Dragic), Dion Waiters (if he plays and Dragic is out), Josh Richardson (if Dragic or Waiters were out, better if both missed this one or if he was the starter), Jordan Mickey (somewhat of a risky play, but 27 DK points in 27 minutes last game and he is only $3,200), Jordan Bell (27.5 DK points as a starter over these last two and Green and Zaza will be out again. Oh, and he is playing The Lakers who are 6.57 opponent +/-. He is one of the best values on the board), Omri Casspi (33.5 DK points over these past two games without Green and Pachulia), Patrick McCaw (GPP viable if he starts at PG), Richaun Holmes (won’t start for Embiid, but he is the better play over Amir Johnson), Donvan Mitchell, P.J. Tucker (if Capela is out. 30 DK points in 38 minutes last game as The Rockets played small with Capela out), Michael Beasley (if Porzi sits another one out, absolutely balled last game with him out, scoring 46.25 DK points in 38 minutes, leading them to a huge win over The Thunder. He would have to be considered again if Porzingis is out again, especially with Enes Kanter also currently hurting), Domantas Sabonis (if Myles Turner is out. He is averaging 32 DK points in the games Turner has sat this year), and David Nwaba.