What’s up guys. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings NBA picks for December 18th, 2017. Saturday night’s slate is a full slate with 12 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.
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SF/PF: Kevin Durant: (11,500) With so much value on the table tonight, I think paying up Durant’s massive upside is a wise move. PF Draymond Green returned in their last game, but PG Steph Curry (ankle) was still out, and Durant came out and showed us that his down game on Wednesday night vs The Grizzlies (38 DK points) was just a small speed bump, with him pouring 65.25 DK points on The Lakers last night. He is now averaging 63 DK points in his last seven games, even when you include his showing vs The Grizzlies. His rates stayed high last night with Green back, seeing a team high 30.5% usage rate and a 28% assist percentage, producing an elite 1.69 DK points per minute.
Curry will be out again, so Durant will run this offense once again, and should score 60+ DK points vs an average Nuggets defense. (-0.2 opponent +/-) The Dubs are 8.5 point home favorites, but with all the injuries they have been dealing with lately, most of their games been staying close enough that Durant still plays heavy minutes. With Thunder PG Russell Westbrook in a tougher matchup vs The Jazz, Durant, in my opinion, is the stud you should be building around on Saturday night.
PF/C: Brandan Wright: (3,000) With Grizzlies starting center Marc Gasol doubtful to play tonight with a hip injury, Wright instantly becomes an excellent value play. He is the player who should start at center and his size will be needed to matchup with Clippers’ center Deandre Jordan. There isn’t any full games without Gasol to fall back on this season, but in the time he has played without Gasol this year, he is scoring 0.96 DK points per minute.
His playing time probably won’t be too high, but he should log at least 25 minutes, which is more than enough time for him to easily give us six to seven times value in this very nice matchup that rates as a very high opponent +/- of 5.46 points for starting centers. Simply put, Wright is too good of value to pass up on tonight.
PG/SG: Shabazz Napier: (5,100) He didn’t start last, but he was the main beneficiary of PG Damian Lillard (hamstring) being out last night, scoring 33 DK points in a season high 37 minutes. You could say this score was inflated because of a blowout, but I think he would have played 30+ minutes no matter the outcome of the game. He started the second half, and if Blazers’ Head Coach Terry Stotts was smart he would start Napier and push Evan Turner to the three spot, but even if he still comes off the bench, I am expecting Napier to play starter like minutes tonight vs The Lakers.
As we all know this is a terrific matchup to attack, as The Lakers play at the fastest pace in The NBA, and struggle at defending PGs. (4.49 opponent +/-) He posted a 20.8% usage rate last night and scored 0.9 DK points per minute. I expect a similar rate with Lillard out again and in 30-35 minutes, Napier should return five times value, with 30-35 DK point upside. The chance he may remain a bench player may scare some people off him, but I think no matter what, Napier is a strong mid tier target that is viable in all formats.
SG/SF: Wayne Ellington: (3,900) After SG Dion Waiters went down last night with an ankle injury (played nine minutes total), Ellington was forced into a large role, playing 39 minutes in the win over The Mavs. He saw a 22.7% usage rate in this game and produced 28 points to go along with three rebounds, while shooting 8/12 from beyond the arc. (35.75 DK points) We don’t have official word yet, but I don’t think Waiters plays tonight, which would put Ellington in the starting five for this Heat team that is already without PG Goran Dragic (elbow), center Hassan Whiteside (knee), PF James Johnson (ankle), and presumably SF Justice Winslow (knee) who has now missed five straight games.
When you think about these five players are the five most important for this Heat team and with them out of the picture, Ellington has seen a 3.2% usage rate bump and is scoring 24 DK points per 36 minutes this season. Around 36 minutes is what he should have to log tonight and I am expecting at least 20 DK points from him, with nice upside if he gets hot from downtown, which isn’t out of the question vs this Pelicans defense that has allowed the 5th most three pointers made per game this season. (3.42 opponent +/-)
Also Consider: Evan Turner, C.J. McCollum (both him and Turner should bounce back tonight and are still viable even though both their prices went up), Al Farouq-Aminu, John Henson (bump up if Dwight Howard is out for The Hornets), Tyler Johnson (33.25 DK points in 39 minutes last night, should play a lot again tonight with Waiters now hurt), Frank Kaminsky (would be a nice value if Howard is out. He would have to play 30+ and produce value, with him scoring 31 DK points per 36 minutes with Zeller and Howard off the court this year), Michael Carter-Williams (would start and would enter value conversation if Kemba is out), Jeremy Lamb (2.8% usage increase with Zeller, Howard, and Walker off the court), Nicholas Batum (he has been bad lately, but if both Howard and Walker would be out, all rates would naturally rise), Kelly Olynyk (the GPP upside will always be there until Johnson or Whiteside return), Josh Richardson (42.5 DK points after Waiters left last night), Tyreke Evans (44.75 per 36 minutes with Conley and Gasol off the court this year. He will lead this team in usage and his ceiling is extremely high), Wilson Chandler (over 35 minutes in three straight games), Derek Favors, and Julius Randle.