Here we have our yearly traditional Christmas NBA slate. It will be five games staggered throughout the day and night, making it a different structure than we are used to, with many games generally overlapping. The first game starts at 12 PM Eastern, and the last at 10:30 PM Eastern. It will be imperative to keep track of news throughout the day and adjust lineups accordingly, particularly with the current unpredictability due to the health protocols. I’ll go game by game in order of their start times.
ATL (108.5) @ NYK (109.5)
Many players will be out for Atlanta, meaning we have a good amount of fantasy value. The guys that we know are healthy: Gorgui Dieng, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Lance Stephenson, Jalen Johnson, Skylar Mays, and Malcolm Hill. Cam Reddish and Delon Wright both exited Thursday’s game with injuries. They are probable to play but could sit. If Reddish and Wright suit up, they will both be fantastic plays, as will Dieng. John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic will also be excellent options here. If Reddish and/or Wright do not play, some of the other players I mentioned will come into contention. Bogdanovic and Collins are somewhat worse options at their FanDuel pricing.
The leading players we are looking at for DK value on the Knicks are Jericho Sims and Evan Fournier. Everyone else is priced up beyond value contention for their projections. Kemba Walker has, however, been on a tear and is worth considering. Julius Randle always has tournament upside but is too expensive for his current production level. RJ Barrett is slated to be back, which could make a big difference across the board in terms of usage and minutes for the Knicks. Alec Burks joins Sims and Fournier as a solid play on FanDuel. Randle is priced considerably better there at just $8,700.
BOS (110.5) @ MIL (117)
Milwaukee is a substantial favorite over Boston and has a reasonably high team total. A few guys are questionable for the Celtics, namely Al Horford and Marcus Smart. If either sits, other guys will get boosts. Dennis Schroder would particularly benefit. No one on Boston stands out as a great play with everyone healthy. Too many teams have tons of guys out, causing unbelievable value throughout the NBA. Fully healthy teams with a balanced attack become less optimal to use in DFS. As projections stand, the best Boston play is Dennis Schroder on FanDuel. You can always take a shot on Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, but they just don’t stand out on DraftKings. They do look better at their FanDuel prices.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis are both probable for the Bucks. Assuming both suit up, we have a similar situation with Milwaukee where we have no real value. All the more so since they have been priced up with Giannis having missed many games. If Giannis sits, other guys would be in play. Giannis is the best play on both sites, assuming he is in.
GSW (111.75) @ PHX (115.25)
This game will be one of the better real-life games on the slate. A few players for the Warriors are out, notably Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole. Otto Porter Jr., Gary Payton II, and Juan Toscano-Anderson are great plays on both sites. Draymond Green is a solid value on DraftKings as well. Steph Curry is always an option, although his price is so high that his points-per-dollar value is not there, particularly on DraftKings.
Phoenix is too healthy to offer a ton of value. Jae Crowder is a good play for savings on DraftKings, while Devin Booker grades out pretty well at just $7,600 on FanDuel. Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton can all spike big games, but none stand out outside of Booker on FanDuel.
BKN (116.5) @ LAL (116.5)
Here we have a pick ’em matchup between the Nets and the Lakers. At the beginning of the year, we would have thought that this would be one of the more exciting matchups in the NBA. At this point, these teams are shells of what they should be. We still have some good DFS plays on the Brooklyn side, with James Harden and Blake Griffin being top priorities on DraftKings. Harden is the best spend-up on the entire slate on both sites. Griffin is an okay FanDuel play, but not as good as on DraftKings, where he is only $5,600.
Rajon Rondo and LeBron James are the best Lakers options on DraftKings. Talen Horton-Tucker enters into the fray on FanDuel. King James looks particularly good at his DraftKings price of $10,800. Considering all the value we have on this slate, playing LeBron and Harden together is possible, and it may even be optimal. You get the added benefit of the correlation if this game does stay close. It may blow up to the tune of the spread and total, and they both hit their ceilings.
DAL (108.75) @ UTA (113.75)
For the last game of the night, we have the Mavericks going up against the Jazz. Luka Doncic will be out for Dallas, and Kristaps Porzingis is questionable. If Porzingis cannot hit the floor, tons of value will open up. For the moment, we’ve already got some good plays on the Mavs. On DraftKings, we’re looking at Sterling Brown, Jalen Brunson, Dwight Powell, and Dorian Finney-Smith. We have to consider Porzingis as well if he can play. It is essentially the same on FanDuel, although Dorian Finney-Smith is not as good of an option at his FanDuel price.
Utah is one of those too healthy and well-rounded teams to offer us much in today’s DFS. Royce O’Neale on DraftKings is the only standout points-per-dollar option. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert lead the offense, and both have upside, but they are not good plays at their price points on either DFS site. Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley are middling plays that would only make sense to fill out a roster spot at relatively low ownership and hope for an outlier performance.