FanDuel NBA Picks – December 22nd

Fading LeBron James on last night’s 5-game daily fantasy basketball slate proved to be the winning strategy. Going balanced was also a smart choice. Unfortunately, some of my calls didn’t pan out, with OG Anunoby being the biggest gaffe.

The rest of my picks were largely strong. Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry both topped 41 fantasy points, Dario Saric (52!) was a smashing success and Tyreke Evans (43) was the fine pivot off of DeMar DeRozan I hoped he’d be.

Justin Holiday (25) was plenty fine for his cheap price, too, while Serge Ibaka (29) could have been worse. He was certainly better than Zinger (0-11 from the field!).

In the end, I wasn’t on Michael Beasley (32 actual points) and I pivoted off of DMR (62!). Denzel Valentine also randomly stepped up with a big game, while Rick Rubio (31) decided to not be awful after burning me the other night.

Hopefully you didn’t bite on Anunoby and used some of these other picks. I still had teams hovering around 290, but ultimately didn’t cash in any GPPs. Hopefully you used some of these picks and had some better luck.

I get to try again on Friday, where DFS gamers are greeted with a nice 9-game daily fantasy basketball slate. There is a lot to like for tonight, so let’s dive in and see what my favorite combination of studs and value picks looks like:

Note: There are once again a slew of injuries to keep tabs on. That opens the door to elite value, but it also means you’ll have to keep tabs on the status of a lot of players. Utilizing FanDuel’s Late Swap contests is a great way to take advantage of these situations.

PG: Tyler Johnson – Miami Heat ($6k)

TJ’s price has come up after a couple of solid outings, but with Goran Dragic out yet again tonight, I can see why FD has upped the tag here. Johnson is not always a consistent performer, but he’s again looking at a huge role and will be at home against a suspect Dallas defense (22nd vs PGs).

Johnson isn’t just a scorer, which is why he feels pretty safe. That’s what he’s known for, but he’s picked it up with his peripherals and feels like a lock across the board on this slate.

PG: Lonzo Ball – Los Angeles Lakers ($7.4k)

Don’t look now, but the versatile Lakers rookie point guard is killing it. Ball has handed in stout peripherals all year long, but he’s matured as a scorer and currently has a streak of four straight games with 13+ actual points.

Lonzo can’t always be trusted as a scorer, but he’s got an up tempo date with the Dubs at the Oracle Arena and just dropped a sick 16-6-6-2-1 line on them two games ago. Provided he’s dialed in like he has been, he could be in for another stat-stuffing affair.

SG: Eric Gordon – Houston Rockets ($5.4k)

Most will flock to James Harden (and for good reason), but with Chris Paul going down yet again with a knee issue, Eric Gordon is the guy to target. Gordon enters the starting lineup against one of his former teams in the Clippers and he could be looking at the same volume that made him a stud earlier in the year.

The beauty here is Gordon is a great price, so he doesn’t even need to crush to work out for you tonight. There are a ton of studs on this slate, so I don’t love the idea of forcing Harden in here. Gordon feels like the more appropriate play and saves you a ton of salary.

SG: Jrue Holiday – New Orleans Pelicans ($7.8k)

It seems like everyone focuses on Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in New Orleans, which often has people forgetting just how good Jrue Holiday can be. He’s still logging a ton of minutes and has a big scoring role for the Pels. That’s seen him top 33+ fantasy points in each of his last five contests, while he’s exploded for 49+ three times during that span.

Holiday is still offering value even at nearly $8k and looks like a fine pivot away from Bradley Beal tonight. It’s possible he makes James Harden less of a necessity, as well. Facing a poor Magic defense (28th vs. SGs), Holiday has too much upside for me to pass up tonight.

SF: Josh Richardson – Miami Heat ($6k)

I originally wanted Mario Hezonja here with both Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon unlikely to play tonight. He’s still someone to consider, but I feel J-Rich is a little more stable and his current tear is tough to deny. With Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside and James Johnson all out, Miami remains extremely under-manned.

That hands Richardson a huge role and he’s still too cheap for the ceiling he’s providing. Even if he has a down game, he feels like a lock to approach 30+ fantasy points at the moment. It only helps that he’s at home against a shaky Mavs defense that ranks just 23rd against small forwards.

SF: Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors ($11.5k)

I see the upside with a lot of studs on this slate, but KD is still the one I covet. I’m hoping his 38-fantasy point dud against Memphis and a slew of viable studs on this slate lowers his ownership. Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the same position and should at least split ownership, which is very interesting consider Durant faces a Lakers team he just put up 71 fantasy points against.

PF: Jordan Mickey – Miami Heat ($4.2k)

Using three Miami players feels scary, but this is a team down to 9 players in their rotation. Mickey is one of them and he’s safely logged 23+ minutes in each of his last four games. He’s a bench guy that isn’t likely to explode in this setting, but he’s at home, gets decent run and faces a weak Dallas defense that ranks just 20th against power forwards.

Dallas does run a lot of small ball, which could be a problem here, but I think simply out of necessity Mickey is going to get a lot of run at the four and five spot in this one. He’s displayed double-double upside, so I like the value here.

PF: Kyle Kuzma – Los Angeles Lakers ($6.8k)

Kuzma’s price has spiked after a 38-point explosion against the Rockets, but he’s been great lately and it’s certainly fair. I still think he can provide value, as he’s establishing himself as a reliable scorer and can also help out on the boards. Provided he doesn’t have to deal with Draymond Green tonight, I love him at a pretty weak PF spot tonight.

Anthony Davis is the only guy I really am considering spending up for at the position. He’s a lock for 50 fantasy points, but I’m not sure that’s a move you need to make to compete in GPPs on such a star-studded slate.

C: Marcin Gortat – Washington Wizards ($4.5k)

With John Wall back, Gortat is just too cheap. He’s got a great matchup against a bad Nets defense (25th against centers) and he still has a solid role (27+ minutes in 3 of last 4 games). I like a lot of centers tonight, but this is also a fantastic spot to pay down at. Gortat can spare you as easily as any other shaky play, but he also brings double-double upside to the table.

In what should be a tight, fast-paced matchup, I like Gortat as one of the best dollar for dollar bargains on this entire slate.

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