Welcome back everyone. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings NBA picks for February 22nd, 2018. For the first slate back from The All-Star Break, we get a solid six 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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C: Dwight Howard: (8,400) After playing his best basketball of the season, Howard hit a slight speed bump, but he played well in his last two games before The All Star-Break, scoring 40.25 DK points vs The Raptors and then 46.25 DK points vs The Magic. With over a week of rest under his belt, Howard should be ready to play 30-35 minutes in this gorgeous matchup vs The Nets. They have given up the most DK points to centers this season, the most total rebounds per game, the most blocks per game, and are sitting at a very high opponent +/- of 7.26 points, which is the best matchup for any starting player tonight, based on opponent +/-. This is the first half of a back to back set for Howard and The Hornets, but so far this season, the big man has had no issues playing in the first game of a back to back, seeing a 0.58 DK +/- in these situations.
Lastly, he will be at home, which has been a huge positive for Howard this season, with him averaging 5.2 more DK points a game on his home floor, compared to when he is on the road. I am expecting a 40+ DK point performance out of him in this spot and Vegas completely agrees, with Howard currently having an implied DK score of 41.37 points based on his Vegas props. The $8,400 price tag is correct, but at this salary, he is still a nice value play, that also presents huge upside vs this soft defense.
PF/C: Cristiano Felicio: (3,000) The Bulls have decided that for the rest of the season, they will give their younger players more minutes, with SF Justin Holiday, PG Jerian Grant, and center Robin Lopez all expected to be out of the rotation or have much smaller roles off the bench for the foreseeable future. Their starting five for tonight and for “significant time”, will be, PG Kris Dunn, SG Zach LaVine, SF David Nwaba, PF Lauri Markkanen, and Felicio at center. Felicio isn’t the greatest basketball player in real life, but he is always a solid fantasy play when his minutes are decently high. Over the past two seasons he is averaging 0.73 DK PPM and as a starter, with Lopez out of the rotation or in a very small role, with PF Nikola Mirotic also gone (traded to NOLA), he should play 25+ minutes as they will need his size vs Sixers starting center Joel Embiid.
There if foul risk going against Embiid, but this matchup is solid right now (3.92 opponent +/-) and we are talking about a starting center here, for only $3,000. To meet value, he only has to score 15 DK points, which is easily possible. In fact, in the last game he played over 20 minutes, Felicio scored 24.75 DK points vs The Blazers just a few weeks ago. Without a doubt he will be a chalky play (17-20% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs), but at only $3,000 and with multiple position eligibility, Felicio is the best pure punt of this six game slate, that needs to be considered in all formats on Thursday night.
PG: Emmanuel Mudiay: (4,400) Yesterday, Knicks’ Head Coach Jeff Hornacek explained how the younger PGs will be seeing more playing time going forward. He didn’t fully say it out loud, but it sounds like either Mudiay or Frank Ntilikina will be starting over veteran PG Jarett Jack very soon. Also, at Tuesday night’s practice, Mudiay was playing PG with the starting five during the scrimmages and he was also doing some extra conditioning work with a strength coach after Wednesday’s practice, pointing to him being starting PG for Thursday night’s matchup vs The Magic. If he does indeed start, like I am expecting, Mudiay will be an excellent value in this awesome matchup. This season The Magic have allowed the fifth most DK points to PGs and are the fourth worst rated defense overall.
They are currently an opponent +/- of 6.08 points for starting PGs and in 25-30 minutes of work, which could be a modest projection depending on how Hornacek manages the second unit, Mudiay has an awesome chance of returning at least five times value, as he is averaging a nice 1.19 DK PPM in these first three games he has played as a member of The Knicks. Plus, his usage should be rather high with the starting five, with him seeing a 26.8% usage rate in the 68 minutes he has logged with PF Kristaps Porzingis (knee), SF Doug McDermott (traded), Willie Hernangomez (traded), center Joakim Noah (away from the team and ruled out for the rest of the season), Ron Baker (shoulder), and PG Ramon Sessions (waived) all off the floor. We should know who is starting for The Knicks before lock with this being the first game of the night to tip off and if he is confirmed the starter, Mudiay will be a primary play for me, that would still be worth a shot in GPPs if he still came off the bench.
SG/SF: David Nwaba: (3,500) Just like with Felicio, Nwaba instantly becomes a nice value tonight, as he is still priced as a reserve for The Bulls. I said above, Nwaba will start tonight at the three and he should be in line for close to 30 minutes of action, with Holiday and Grant moving to the bench. It is unclear if any of Lopez, Holiday, or Grant will see any playing time, but either way, even they play off the bench, starting Nwaba is a clear sign that they want him to develop and he should log starter like minutes no matter the outcome of the game. (PHI -7)
This new group of players that will be starting for The Bulls tonight have not played a single minute all together this season, but Nwaba is scoring a solid 0.82 DK PPM this season and even though this matchup isn’t the best vs The Sixers (1.76 opponent +/-), with roughly 30 minutes of wok as a starter, he should be able to get at least five times value tonight. There has been points this season they have had Nwaba start and in the last seven games he has seen 20 or minutes, he is averaging a serviceable 17 DK PPG. I am expecting 20+ DK points from him and he is also a fine punt play that is viable in all formats.
Also Consider: D’Angelo Russell: (34.5 DK PPG in his last three games before the break. With both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert still out, Russell should play close to 30 minutes off the bench and score around 30 DK points. Right now, he is the best value when it comes to Vegas props, with an implied DK score of 28.87 points), Allen Crabbe (has to come down to earth soon, but he is averaging 38 DK PPG in his last four. He has seen a 24% usage rate in these contests and the usage should stay up with this team remaining thin on the wings), Draymond Green (48.6 DK PPG in his last three starts and this matchup vs The Clippers is a solid opponent +/- of 3.8 points), Cameron Payne (is expected to play as the backup PG going forward, but this is his first game of the season, so there is certainly risk. He averaged 0.71 DK PPM last season and if he plays 20-25 minutes, he definitely has a shot of getting us five times value tonight), Enes Kanter (46.6 DK PPG in these last two with Porzi out. This is a nice spot vs The Magic, who have allowed the 9th most DK points to centers this season and should be easier matchup with Nikola Vucevic returning), Michael Beasley (31.9 DK PPG in the 11 that Porzi has missed this season and is averaging 36.6 DK PPG in his last four. He also has a Vegas prop implied score of 36.05 DK points), Lauri Markkanen (usage should rise playing alongside the low usage Felicio), Bobby Portis (should play more if Lopez is gone from the rotation, but he is better as a GPP play), Lou Williams (39.8 DK PPG in the three vs The Warriors this season and starting SG Avery Bradley is out which should mean slightly more minutes for Lou, but as always, there is a huge blowout risk with this game being played in The Oracle), Tobias Harris (should log close to 40 minutes with Avery out), and Zach LaVine. (Dunn will return, but is expected to be limited. With The Bulls opting to go young for the rest of the season and LaVine being part of their “core”, he should play close to 35 minutes tonight with over a week of rest in his corner. Also, with Holiday, Grant, Lopez, and Mirotic off the court this season, LaVine is averaging 38.4 DK points per 36 minutes)