Merry Christmas everyone! Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings NBA picks for the Christmas day five game slate. Be sure to follow all of the injury news, all the way up until the 12:00 PM 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: (11,000) DraftKings putting out their prices for The Christmas day slate early has The King standing out as an elite value. James was priced at $11.900 for his last game, but is only $11,000 for this NBA Finals rematch vs the defending champion Warriors. At $11,000 he needs 55 DK points to return value and in his last nine games he has scored at least 60 DK points and is actually averaging 65 DK points a game during this stretch.
Yes, The Warriors are a great defensive team, but they are currently an opponent +/- of 3.32 points for opposing starting SFs and we all know Lebron will be hyped up and ready to do his best to get a win in The Oracle. This game should stay close throughout (-5 GSW) and in close to 40 minutes, James should once again score 60+ DK points with 70 point upside if he can pick up a triple double, which would be his fourth one in his last six games. All four of the top studs are appealing plays, but if choosing one, I think James is the strongest target of this slate.
PG/SG: Jordan Clarkson: (4,700) Nothing is official, but with PG Lonzo Ball (shoulder) out, you have to think Lakers’ Head Coach Luke Walton goes to Jordan Clarkson as the starting PG on Christmas Day. There really isn’t any good explanation behind it, but they have always been tentative with Clarkson’s minutes, even when key guards are out, which makes this play somewhat risky, but a necessary risk given his extremely high ceiling, especially if he is the confirmed starter. Center Brooke Lopez (ankle) will also being missing this game and in 386 minutes Clarkson has played without these two starters this season, he is seeing a 2.8% usage bump, a 6% assist percentage increase, and is producing 1.06 DK points per minute. If he was the starter, I would expect 30+ minutes, but even if he comes off the bench he should see 25-30 minutes vs a Wolves defense that has allowed the 8th most DK points to PGs, is the 7th worst rated in efficiency, that is currently rating as 2.36 opponent +/-.
Who knows why, but his price has dropped at the perfect time, as he is currently only $4,700 on DraftKings, which is a large $900 price drop from just last week. At this price tag, he only needs 23.5 DK points to meet value, which is something he should easily do, starter or not, with him scoring 38.26 DK points per 36 minutes without Lopez and Ball. Additionally, I think there is a good chance he plays, but SF Brandon Ingram is also questionable with a quad injury that held him out of The Lakers last game. If you add Ingram to the group of Lakers’ starters who are sitting, there would be an even bigger void of usage and minutes to fill. This rotation would become very tight and I don’t really think there would be a way of keeping Clarkson out as a starter if this situation unfolds. In the time he has played with these three starters off the court, Clarkson is seeing his rates expand even more, with a 5.7% usage increase and an 8.0% assist percentage increase. To wrap this all up, Clarkson is a strong value to target even if he isn’t the starter with Ingram active, but would become a must play if Ingram was forced to also sit this one out.
SG: Eric Gordon: (5,600) Gordon got the start Friday with PG Chris Paul (leg) out and he was excellent with the expanded role, scoring 38 DK points in a very high 40 minutes. In this game he posted a 26.8% usage rate and in the 14 full games he has played without Paul this season, he is averaging a 28.3% usage rate and 32 DK points. He will start again in Monday’s road matchup vs The Thunder. We can’t expect him to play 40 minutes again, but he should log 35+, with this game only have a spread of 3.5 points in favor of Houston.
He is averaging 0.93 DK points in all the games with Paul sitting this year and with a tentative projection of 35 minutes, Gordon should top 30 DK points in this solid matchup vs OKC. (1.7 opponent +/-) He will be popular, but regardless of ownership levels, Gordon is a value play that should be considered in all formats for this five game slate.
SG/SF: Trevor Ariza: (5,000) His 22 DK point game on Friday night wasn’t the greatest showing, but he still logged 42.4 minutes, with The Rockets playing a much tighter rotation without CP3. Starting center Clint Caplea may return for them, but this shouldn’t effect Ariza’s playing time, and he should have approach 40 minutes again on Christmas Day. His usage doesn’t budge without Paul, this is purely off him being underpriced for the minutes I am expecting.
As I just touched on with Gordon, this game has a tight spread of only 3.5 points and with very high minutes again, Ariza has a great chance of exceeding five times value at his very reasonable price tag. In the 13 full games he has suited up for without Paul, he is averaging 24.1 DK points, and I think we see 25-30 DK points in this plus matchup vs The Thunder, who are currently an opponent +/- 2.68 points. He is another Rocket player who is just too cheap and I will be using him in both cash games and GPPs.
Also Consider: Josh Hart (in play either way, but is a better play if he is starting, and would see an even bigger boost if Ingram is also out), Julius Randle (better GPP play, but is averaging 35.3 DK points over his last two games and this matchup vs The Wolves is great at a 6.12 opponent +/-. He would also see a usage increase if Ingram sat), Kyle Kuzma (in play no matter what, but like all The Lakers, he would see an even bigger role if Ingram is out), Ryan Anderson (better if Capela is out again, but the other Rockets are safer values either way), P.J. Tucker, Steve Adams, Richaun Holmes (only if Embiid is out), Dario Saric (better if Embiid is out), Brandon Ingram (if he is active), Al Horford, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Jerryd Bayless (if J.J. Redick is out).