FanDuel NBA Picks – January 3rd

My return to the daily fantasy basketball scene didn’t go quite as planned last night. Frank Ntilikina made sure of that, as the young Knicks point guard was apparently sick and turned in a sorry effort (4.9 fantasy points!). Nice job, NBA reporters.

Tyson Chandler (19) wasn’t great, either, while a Hawks stack didn’t meet expectations. Dennis Schroder, John Collins and Taurean Prince were strong plays in theory, but all failed to top even 28 fantasy points.

Blake Griffin was my stud and only posted 38 fantasy points (still admittedly solid enough), while my Phoenix plays (Devin Booker and T.J. Warren) were fantastic – both topping 40 fantasy points. Nicolas Batum was a solid try, as well, as he chipped in 30 fantasy points.

The worst part about last night is that Jusuf Nurkic was actually my first instinct at center and he notched 43 fantasy points. I can’t help but think what this FanDuel squad would have turned into if I’d paid up for him. Perhaps it would have had me paying down away from Blake (who failed to meet value) and pay up over Ntilikina.

Regardless, there were some solid picks from last night’s team. If you tried Griffin, Booker, Warren or Batum, you should have been fairly pleased.

Wednesday brings a whole new game to the table. DFS gamers get a massive 12-game slate to work with and the options feel endless. Right off the bat, there are a slew of injuries to consider when building out your roster. James Harden is probably the biggest, while Victor Oladipo, Jeff Teague and Nikola Vucevic also all remain out.

The pending statuses of Draymond Green, Lonzo Ball and Joel Embiid could also make things interesting.

That’s a lot to digest, but I’ve assembled my favorite FanDuel daily fantasy basketball picks for Wednesday night. Let’s dive in:

PG: Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors ($9.8k)

Russell Westbrook is firmly in play against the Lakers tonight, but he’s also over $12k and unless he chases 70+ fantasy points, I’m not sure he’ll be worth the hassle. I certainly will build a team or two with him and he’s a tough fade in cash games, but I really think I can get away with dropping down to guys like Curry and/or CP3 tonight.

Fading Russ and pivoting from a likely popular CP3 to Curry feels at least mildly contrarian. I understand Curry could still face a light minutes cap, but he logged 25 in his first game back and came back red hot (38 points). Expecting that again isn’t necessarily fair, but if his run is back to normal he should be a solid value among the elite options on this massive slate.

The best part is there’s a chance Curry could be contrarian, and that’s always something I like to take advantage of. It doesn’t hurt that Curry faces a weak Dallas defense that ranks 23rd versus the point guard position, either.

PG: Kyrie Irving – Boston Celtics ($9k)

You can try to force CP3 in this second spot – I wouldn’t blame you – but I love Kyrie Irving here. He put up 50 fantasy points the first time he faced the Cavs this year and something tells me the revenge factor is still alive and well. I don’t think I want to force the Cleveland side of this, but Irving gets you an elite value play in this contest; one he’ll certainly be up to play in.

Irving doesn’t necessarily live up to this hefty price tag all that often, which is precisely why I love him here. This inflated salary could drop some ownership and you could get an edge against the field with an amped up Irving. This is another fine pivot off of CP3 and/or Russ, too, and it saves some cash in the process.

SG: Brandon Paul – San Antonio Spurs ($3.5k)

I won’t be using CP3 tonight, but I do want some exposure to BP3. I probably need him to be in the starting lineup to feel great about it, but the logic is there for Paul to get heavy run and produce.

The Spurs are holding out some key players tonight, as Tony Parker, Man Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green will all be sidelined. Rudy Gay is already out, too, so there is going to be a chance for BP3 to convert as one of tonight’s best NBA DFS value picks.

Paul is not easy to trust, but he’s displayed some nice scoring ability in the past and should be in for some solid run. If that’s the case, there’s little reason not to take a chance on him, as he’s the minimum at FD and draws a tasty matchup (76ers rank 25th versus shooting guards).

SG: Eric Gordon – Houston Rockets ($6.6k)

I obviously see the merit in using CP3 tonight, but I think he could be rather popular. Because of that, I’ll pivot off of him and try to take advantage of James Harden’s value being split amongst other Rockets players. One of the main beneficiaries is destined to be Gordon, who has an absurd 34% usage with Harden off the floor (per RotoGrinders’ CourtIQ).

Gordon flopped last time out (15.7 fantasy points in 42 minutes!) but he’s again going to have a huge role. He’ll be working to set others up and score the rock and Houston will need him badly with their top player down for the moment. Only helping his case is Orlando’s awful rankings (30th and 29th) against both guard spots.

SF: Lance Stephenson – Indiana Pacers ($6.2k)

Victor Oladipo remains out tonight, so it’s back to the well with Born Ready. Lance will start again and due to his versatile skill-set, remains an elite value play. The price has jumped quite a bit, but he’s got a solid floor in this role, as well as a tantalizing ceiling.

Stephenson’s matchup with the Bucks isn’t amazing, but I’m making this play based on ability and role. Robert Covington and Jaylen Brown are worth a look in a similar price range, but I like Born Ready tonight.

SF: Trevor Ariza – Houston Rockets ($6k)

I’ll keep rolling with those Rockets, as Harden’s playmaking and shooting needs to be picked up elsewhere along the roster. I’m sure that makes Chris Paul pretty chalky, but I’ll pivot off of that and try to nab the extra numbers with the secondary Houston options.

Ariza is not a guy I normally flock to, but he can hit the outside shot and rack up defensive stats when he’s dialed in. The Magic don’t pose much of a threat (20th against SF) and for a guy who already had one of the most locked in roles in the entire league, his ceiling should see a nice spike.

PF: Ryan Anderson – Houston Rockets ($4.3k)

I really like three value plays at PF tonight and don’t have a lot of interest in spending elite dollars here. Rando is a big reason why. He’s on the road (he stinks at home), he’s facing the team that drafted him and he’s bound to get a lot of opportunities with James Harden (hammy) on the shelf.

As you can see on this particular NBA DFS squad, that probably goes for all Rockets. Orlando is a good matchup, though, as they rank just 27th against the PF position. Anderson just feels like an elite value play across the board in this one and I’m not sure I can fade him.

PF: Bobby Portis – Chicago Bulls ($4.5k)

I can go with Portis or Larry Nance at the second PF spot. There are some elite options at PF tonight, but none of them have amazing matchups on paper and I want to spend my cash elsewhere. I’ll be paying down at both power forward spots and it just depends on what injuries stick.

Both Nikola Mirotic and Kyle Kuzma are questionable as of this writing, so if they both end up sitting out, I’ll have a decision to make. Hopefully one is out and it makes it easy on me. However, I like Portis anyways, as he’s the more impressive offensive talent and has been pretty good in limited duty. If Niko sits, he looks like an elite value pick tonight.

C: Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves ($9.8k)

KAT is always in play, but he comes in at a mild discount and center really isn’t as loaded as you’d think it’d be on a 12-game slate. He also has a pace-up showdown with the Brooklyn Nets and with Jahlil Okafor looking at floor time tonight, the matchup is more sublime than usual.

Towns was a great play to begin with (Nets rank 28th vs. centers), but facing Okafor gets me excited. He’s one of my favorite studs on this slate and I won’t be surprised to see him top 50 fantasy points.

Tonight feels like a night to spend on center, one way or another, so also consider Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid if he plays. Kevin Love ($7.9k) is probably my favorite overall value at the position, provided he doesn’t sit out on the second leg of a back-to-back set for Cleveland.