What’s up everyone. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings NBA picks for February 9th, 2018. 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
SF/PF: LeBron James: (12,100) The price tag is correct, but LeBron is an extremely difficult player to fade on Friday night. Tonight, The Cavs will only have ten healthy players available, with none of their newly acquired players expected to be with the team. This means not only will they be without starting PF Kevin Love (hand) due to injury, but they will also be without starting PG Isaiah Thomas, PG Derick Rose, SG Dwayne Wade, SF Jae Crowder, SF Iman Shumpert, and PF Channing Frye, who were all dealt away before Thursday’s trade deadline. The Cavs understand they will be very shorthanded tonight and they have already announced their starting five for this evening, with Jose Calderon at PG, J.R. Smith at SG, Osman at SF, LeBron at PF, and Tristan Thompson at the five. James is going to have to do everything he possibly he can with this unit and his already very high rates should reach a new level tonight. It is a very small sample size of 34 minutes, but in those minutes with all of those Cavs off the court, James is scoring 65.2 DK points per 36 minutes, which is a large 17.8 DK point increase.
There has been four full games that he has played without Thomas, Wade, and Rose, and in those contests, he averaged 58 DK PPG. Also, after four straight down games for LeBron’s standards, he finally shined like The King once again on Wednesday night, posting a triple double of 80.5 DK points in the win over The Wolves. Plus, he will be taking on a weak Hawks defense (4.06 opponent +/-), that he is averaging 60 DK points against in three games this season. Finally, this game has a tight spread of only 1.5 points and we all know this Cavs defense will have its flaws tonight, which should help this game be a very high scoring event. (214.5 O/U game total) There is logic to fading him in GPPs, just because he will be a very chalky option (21-25% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs), but for cash games, LeBron is the player that makes the most sense to build around, with so much value available.
SG/SF: Cedi Osman: (3,000) The wings are where were most of the minutes have opened up after the trades for The Cavs and with LeBron sliding down a spot and playing mostly front court minutes with Frye and Love out of the picture, Osman should have to play 30+ minutes as a starter. He isn’t the most productive fantasy player (0.7 DK PPM), but he was solid on Wednesday night with a bigger role of the bench, scoring 16 DK points in 21 minutes in the big overtime win over The Wolves. This was the seventh time this season he has played 15 or more minutes in a game and it in those games he is averaging a serviceable 13.3 DK PPG, when you consider his bare minimum price. Also, when you say he scores 0.7 DK PPM this season, this isn’t factoring in any of the upticks in his rates he should see with all those players gone from the team. We don’t have enough data with him on the floor this season, with all these others players off, to guess his rates, but all of them should naturally rise. Combine that with much higher minutes in a starting role, along with this being a nice matchup vs The Hawks (3.89 opponent +/-), and Osman is worth a gamble at his $3,000 salary.
Quickly, I want to touch on the remaining wing players for The Cavs, as they are all viable plays at their cheap prices. Smith should have to play a ton and the usage growth makes him one of the best targets here, same goes for Korver off the bench, who is a better value at a cheaper salary, but his game of just shooting threes limits his upside. Calderon should have to approach 30 minutes and even though his ceiling is low, $3,200 is a very nice price for a starting PG in this plus matchup vs The Hawks. (4.73 opponent +/-) Lastly, the one who may get lost in the shuffle here, because he isn’t starting is Jeff Green. By far, Green is the best athlete here and his usage and minutes should also grow in this situation. We are talking about Jeff Green here, so he can always let us down, but I think he is the one who possesses the most upside.
PG/SG: Zach LaVine: (6,100) LaVine has been excellent over these last three games, scoring 36.5 DK PPG, while leading the team with a 31.7% usage rate, and a 21.1% assist percentage. He looks like he is fully back from the knee injury and in these past two starts, he has logged 31 minutes in each game. PG Kris Dunn is still out and without a timetable for a return with the head injury, which will keep LaVine’s rates and minutes high for the foreseeable future. Tonight, he will be on his home floor, taking on his former team The Wolves. I don’t think LaVine is a person who holds any grudges, but I am sure he is looking forward to doing everything he can to help his team get a win tonight.
The matchup is also in his favor, as The Wolves are the 5th worst rated defense in the league this season, currently rating as 2.94 opponent +/-. He is averaging 1.29 DK PPM in these past three games and with 30+ minutes, LaVine should score 30-35 DK points, with upside in this plus matchup. Currently, he is one of the better values, when it comes to Vegas props, with a Vegas implied DK score of 30 points, which is right around where he needs to score to meet five times value. There really isn’t anyway to explain it, but his price has dropped $500 since his 36.75 DK point game vs The Kings on Monday night. He is a great bargain at $6,100 and is viable in all formats on Friday night.
C: Hassan Whiteside: (7,400) Wednesday night, Whiteside played great vs The Rockets, scoring 16 points, along with 17 rebounds, and one assist. (39.75 DK points) He played 33 minutes in this game and this was a very positive sign, as this was the first time he had played over 30 minutes in six games. The unpredictability in his playing time always make him a better GPP play and tonight he is an elite option in that format, going against The Bucks, who have allowed the 7th most DK points to centers this season and are a high current opponent +/- of 5.9 points.
Whiteside has already bullied this defense twice this season, averaging 48 DK PPG. At this price of $7,400, he needs to score 37 DK points to reach value. In the last six games he has faced an opponent +/- of 5.0 points or more, he is averaging 44.7 DK PPG. I can’t bring myself to attack him in cash games, but at this price and in this matchup, Whiteside is one of the best tournament targets of this nine game slate, with his low expected ownership of 2-4% in GPPs. (via Fantasy Labs)
Also Consider: Jose Calderon (above), J.R. Smith (above), Kyle Korver (above), Jeff Green (above), Tristan Thompson (28.25 DK points in 29 minutes last game. He should have to approach 30 minutes again tonight and his rates should be higher. The matchup is also strong vs The Hawks, who are a 4.71 opponent +/-), Jamal Murray (solid pace bump vs The Rockets), Blae Griffin (revenge factor is big here and this matchup is a 4.52 current opponent +/-), Donovan Mitchell (GPP play only after how bad he has been these last two games, but he is averaging 33.8 DK PPG in the 15 Hood has missed this season. Hood was traded to The Cavs yesterday), Kyrie Irving (yesterday I touched on how Kyrie was just simply underpriced at $7,900 and he came out and scored 46.25 DK points in the win over The Wizards. His price hasn’t moved at all and this will only be the third time he is priced under $8,000 this year, but the problem is they wanted to limit his minutes last night and if this game didn’t go to OT, I don’t know if he would have played 33 minutes, so this is something to watch to see if they make any comments about a restriction before the game tonight. If he has no limitations he is a fine play once again) Terry Rozier (this is just pure speculation, but if they rest Irving with them coming off an OT game this being the second night of a back to back, Rozier would join the starting lineup with Marcus Smart still out. The matchup isn’t great vs The Pacers, but Rozier would instantly become a strong mid-tier target if Irving was out. He averaged 41.6 DK PPG in the three games Kyrie just missed), Will Barton (over 30 DK points in three straight games and is playing The Rockets who are a 4.24 opponent +/-), Dennis Schroder (34.5 DK PPG vs The Cavs this season. The matchup rates a 4.41 opponent +/- and it could be even better, considering how shorthanded The Cavs are), Iman Shumpert (if he is available for The Kings and Fox is out. He would most likely have to start as the only player who really has experience as a PG on this roster, with Frank Mason out and George Hill traded to The Cavs), and Rudy Gobert. (33.4 DK PPG over last four and could see a usage bump with Hood gone)