What’s up everybody. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings NBA picks for December 22nd, 2017. Tonight we get a full slate with nine 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
PG/SG: James Harden: (11,500) The Rockets being 12 point home favorites is concerning, but I still think Harden must be considered tonight with guard Chris Paul (leg) and center Clint Capela (heel) both expected to be out. In all the minutes The Beard has played without CP3 and Capela this season, he is posting a 40.4% usage rate, which is a 4.1% bump from his usual number, and he is also seeing a large 7.1% assist percentage increase. Paul only played 25 minutes in their last game before exiting with the injury and after he left, Harden absolutely took over, pouring 51 points, nine assists, three rebounds, one steal, and one block on The Lakers. (71.25 DK points)
He was forced to play 43 minutes in this game, because it stayed tight throughout, and even though they are double digit favorites again, I think this game should be stay close enough that Harden should log 35+ minutes, which is plenty of time for him to dominate this Clipper team that is decimated by injuries. With PG Patrick Beverly (knee) gone for the year, they really have no one that has any chance of stopping Harden, and I am expecting 60+ DK points from him in this matchup that is currently rating as a 3.85 opponent +/-. Even though his price has adjusted for Paul being out, he remains a very strong value at $11,500, and is the best high end spend of Friday night.
SG/SF: Evan Turner: (3,800) Turner should instantly have a much bigger role in this offense with Blazers starting PG Damian Lillard sitting out with a hamstring injury. This season, in a large sample size of 256 minutes, Turner’s usage has increased 5.1% with Lillard off the court. He is scoring 24 DK points per 36 minutes with this higher rate, and 36 minutes is a fair projection for him tonight, as The Blazers should use a tighter rotation, and he is averaging 34.3 minutes over his last three games. This matchup vs The Nuggets is average (-0.52 opponent +/-), but this is a solid 1.6 possession increase for Turner, which is always a plus for Turner and his type of game.
His teammate, C.J. McCollum will also see a huge usage bump, as he leads this team with a 31.5% usage rate with Lillard off the court, which is a 5.9% bump from his season average. In the five games he played without Damien last year, he was excellent playing as the team’s main ball handler, averaging 45.4 DK points a game. Both players are significantly underpriced for this situation and I will be using both together in all formats tonight.
SF/PF: P.J. Tucker: (4,400) Even though he is still the starter, PF Ryan Anderson has taken a backseat, with Tucker averaging 35.7 minutes off the bench in these past three games, compared to Anderson, who is only logging 22.5 minutes a night. Playing at the four spots in small ball lineups, Tucker has been a very effective rebounder, posting a 15.6% rebound percentage during this time, which is the second highest rate on the team, only trailing starting center Clint Capela, who is listed as doubtful for tonight with a heel injury.
With both Paul and Capela out, The Rockets should play a tight rotation, with plenty of small lineups, which should keep Tucker’s minutes high again tonight. In these last three contests, he is scoring 0.7 DK points per minute, and with a projection of 35 minutes, Tucker should score 25+ DK points, with solid upside and he may manage a double double, depending how many steals he can pick up vs this Clippers team that has allowed the 5th most steals per game this season. (3.15 opponent +/-)
C: John Henson: (4,400) Henson’s matchup vs Dwight Howard and The Hornets isn’t ideal (-.063 opponent +/-), but he is simply too cheap for how productive of a fantasy player he is and how many minutes he has been playing. Over his last five starts he is averaging 26.6 DK points and 27 minutes, which is 0.97 DK points per minute.
If he can stay out of foul trouble, he should play around 30 minutes again and easily out produce this $4,400 price tag, which is actually a $100 decrease from his last game, which was a great 31 DK point showing vs The Cavs. He is the best overall center value of this nine game slate and is someone I will be using in both cash games and GPPs.
Also Consider: Trevor Ariza (48.75 DK points last game and is scoring 30 DK points per 36 minutes without Capela and Paul), Al-Farouq Aminu (at least 35 minutes in these last two games and is leading this team with a 7.9 DK point differential in the minutes he has played without Lillard, which is 38 DK points per 36 minutes), Eric Gordon (2.6 % usage bump with no CP3 and Capela and is scoring 32 DK points per 36 minutes), Elfird Payton, John Collins, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brandon Ingram, Nene, Jamal Murray (if Gary Harris out, 45 DK points with him out last game, on a 26.9% usage rate), Will Barton (if Harris is out), Tyler Johnson (Dragic is out again, he will start and has a nice matchup vs The Mavs), and Kelly Olynyk (revenge factor was obviously a part of 48.75 DK point explosion vs The Celtics on Wednesday, but he is still in play with The Heat remaining thin and this nice matchup vs The Mavs who are 2.65 opponent +/-). Shabazz Napier starting for Damien Lillard