How’s it going everyone. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings NBA picks for December 21st, 2017. Tonight we get a small tough slate with only five games to attack. 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.
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SF/PF: LeBron James: (11,900) James really has been unbelievable lately, averaging close to a triple double a game, while averaging 65.2 DK points a night over his past nine starts. His rates have been ridiculous during this time, leading his team in both usage and assist percentage, at 33.6 % and 50.8%, respectively, while also chipping in with a very solid 14.8% rebound percentage. He has been scoring an elite 1.56 DK points per minute and tonight he gets a positive matchup vs The Bulls, who are presenting a current opponent +/- of 1.95 points.
You could say that you should back off LeBron because The Cavs are 10.5 point home favorites, but this Bulls team is playing really well right now, winning seven straight games. Furthermore, if The Cavs do blow a squad out, it is very much because LeBron is dominating, and in the four games this month that The Cavs have been favored by ten more points, James is still crushing value, averaging 65 DK points a game. With really no other high end plays that I think are worth their price, King seems like an essential play for Thursday night’s small slate, regardless of his high ownership levels.
PF/C: Al Horford: (7,200) I have touched on it a couple times recently, but Horford remains underpriced tonight at only $7,200. Last night, it was rare to see, but he struggled with foul trouble vs Kelly Olynyk and The Heat, keeping him at only 26 minutes in the loss. This obviously hurt his fantasy production, but in the five prior games, he was averaging 39 DK points a night. With his minutes limited last night, Horford should resume his normal role this evening vs The Knicks. This Knicks frontcourt will be getting Kristaps Porzingis (knee) back, but Porzi is no elite defender and this is still a solid matchup for Horford. (2.1 opponent +/-)
Ever since joining The Celtics, Horford has had great success vs Porzingis and this Knicks team, averaging 38.42 DK points in his last three meetings with The Knicks, which includes a 40.3 DK point outing just back in October. In 30-35 minutes, I think we see Horford bounce back nicely and approach 40 DK points tonight in this matchup vs their division rivals. He a safe target that also presents upside which could possibly get lost in the shuffle after his down game last night.
PF/C: Derrick Favors: (5,300) Favors (concussion) returned from a two game absence last night, but his DK score was hurt significantly by a 28 blowout loss to The Thunder. (11.5 DK points) This game got out of hand early and Favors only logged 23 minutes in the loss. The Jazz are still underdogs tonight vs The Spurs, but they are at home, which should keep the game closer than last night and Favors should get back to his normal role with starting center Rudy Gobert still out with a knee injury. Even when you include last night’s disappointing effort, Favors is still averaging 33 DK points and 29.4 minutes in the 12 games he has played without Gobert this year. In these 12 starts, he has seen all his rates rise, with a 2.2% usage increase, a 3.4% assist percentage bump, and a 3.5% rebound percentage increase, helping him average a very solid 1.12 DK points per minute in these contests.
His minutes weren’t low because of an injury yesterday and with roughly 30 minutes, Favors should return five times value, with 30-35 DK point upside, in this solid matchup vs Pau Gasol and The Spurs. (1.85 opponent +/-) He has benefited from playing at home this season (3.8 DK point increase) and at only $5,300, which is a nice discount considering he was priced over $6,000 for most of the time Gobert missed earlier. Favors is one of the better values to utilize for this smaller five game slate.
PF/C: Richaun Holmes: (4,600) No, I really am not fond of Holmes’ new $4,600 price tag, but given the lack of cheap options for this slate, at the moment, he remains in play with starting center Joel Embiid expected to be out again with nagging back injury. He is averaging 1.02 DK points per minute this season and in the last three games without Embiid, he is averaging 26 DK points and 24 minutes off the bench. He isn’t going to start, but he will be the main center for The Sixers, and he should see around 25 minutes tonight vs The Raptors.
The matchup is average vs this Toronto (0.17 opponent +/-), but they will need his size to defend Raptors starting center Jonas Valancuinas. He lacks huge upside, but the opportunities will be there for him without Embiid, and I think he should be able to score 25+ DK points tonight, which would be a solid return, even though his price tag is elevated. It is early, so I don’t have official word on Embiid, but the reports are that he could miss these next two games, but they are expecting him to be back for Christmas Day. Once he is confirmed out, Holmes is a viable play in all formats on Thursday night. UPDATE: Embiid surprisingly is now listed as probable. This game starts at 7:00 PM EST so we will know official word before lock, but assuming Embiid is in, Holmes instantly becomes unplayable….Now Embiid has been ruled out.
Also Consider: Greg Monroe/Alex Len (I don’t understand what is going on with The Suns, but you have to think they sit Tyson Chandler tonight on the second night of a back to back. Does this mean Monroe will even play after being a DNP CD the last three games? Who knows. But if we get any word of the starter tonight before lock, that player needs to be considered. If Monroe was confirmed starting with Chandler resting, he would be a great value even in this tough spot vs The Grizzlies, as he is averaging 35 DK points and 29 minutes in his last two starts without Chandler), Donovan Mitchell (if he plays), Alec Burks (if Mitchell is out, 32.75 DK points last night with the rookie out, on a 29.5% usage rate), Rodney Hood (GPP play if Mitchell sits again. He sees the biggest usage bump without the rookie, but is the definition of a boom or bust play), J.J. Redick (if he plays, 26 DK points in the games with Embiid out this year), Jerryd Bayless/T.J. McConnell (if J.J. Redick is out), David Nwaba, Kris Dunn, Nikola Mirotic (the minutes are lower with Lauri back, but he is still scoring 40.1 DK points over his last two, keeping him in play for this smaller slate), Dario Saric (price a little high, but he is averaging 33.14 DK points in all the games without Embiid), Isaiah Canaan, T.J. Warren, OG Anunoby (in play if Miles is out), Jarrett Jack, and Robert Covington.