Friday, December 16, wraps up the week with a robust 10-game slate beginning at 7:00 pm ET on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Let’s look at the player pool to discuss the top NBA DFS building blocks today for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups. Be sure to check out the Stochastic NBA DFS & Fantasy Basketball home pagewhere you can find fantasy basketball picks and analysis for each slate of games.
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NBA DFS Building Blocks Today: Friday, December 16
Special shout out to Matthew Belman, who covered this article series while I was out on holiday. Tonight we have a jampacked slate with 20 teams taking the court and a plethora of injury news. Let’s get into the fun!
Core Play of the Day — Nikola Jokic: Denver Nuggets-Los Angeles Lakers
- Stokastic’s Preliminary Point Projections: DraftKings: 59.55 | FanDuel: 57.15
- Stokastic’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: DraftKings: 3.9% | FanDuel: 1.4%
- DFS Salary: DraftKings: $11,900 | FanDuel: $12,200
Typically we would not want to burn our center slot on such a large slate with such a large player pool, but it does look like two of our three superstar options will be at this position. Despite leading the league with 33.0 points per game and having the second-highest usage rate at 37.9%, NBA MVP frontrunner Luka Doncic does not top the fantasy list. Yes, he is a great play and we should by no means avoid him; however, if creating one lineup, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are better fantasy options.
It is no secret that the Mavericks play at a snail’s pace. That said, it may surprise some gamers to learn that over the last 15 game stretch, Portland also is logging a bottom-six pace with 98.2 possessions per 48 minutes. Yes, both squads are terrible on defense, but so too are the Lakers and Nuggets, and their game boasts a projected total of 15 points higher than the Trail Blazers at Dallas matchup.
While the shorthanded Warriors simply will not be able to matchup with Embiid, the same can be said for Los Angeles against Jokic. Over the last 10 games, the Lakers are allowing 116.7 points per 100 possessions, which is the fifth-worst defensive efficiency in this stretch, and they have also been below average on the glass.
Although Jokic has helped this season with a healthy Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., is still on the shelf, and the two-time reigning NBA MVP is averaging 1.7 fantasy points per minute, which is behind only his phenomenal 1.8 rate from last year.
Additionally, rolling with Jokic and one other player from this matchup will give us increased flexibility to react to any news coming out after the main slate locks. This game looks to be set up as a track meet, which means don’t get too comfortable with your “currently winning” amounts during the first three hours of the night.
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Additional NBA DFS Building Blocks Picks Today – Sports Wagering Opportunities
Tonight PJ Tucker has a 3.5 over/under line on his rebound prop for his matchup against the Warriors. The Stokastic NBA player projections have him for 5.2 rebounds and a 65% likelihood that he exceeds this threshold.
Tucker has surpassed this milestone in five of his last seven appearances, and he is averaging 4.3 rebounds per game. The 37-year-old has managed to stay one step ahead of Father Time and is averaging 5.3 rebounds per 36 minutes, which is right in line with his rates over the last five seasons.
This wager does have a semi-heavy -140 juice, which comes with a steady 11% expected return on investment (xROI) per OddsShopper. These types of wagers with a high probability of success but a lower payout upside are best used as a leg in a straight or same-game parlay.
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Atlanta Hawks-Charlotte Hornets
The Atlanta rotation is looking rather thin tonight as they get ready to take on the Hornets in Queen City. Dejounte Murray, John Collins and Clint Capela are all sidelined with various maladies, which is opening up the door for De’Andre Hunter and Onyeka Okongwu in the frontcourt while foisting additional offensive responsibilities onto Trae Young.
Bogdan Bogdanovic was brought on slowly, but he has logged 31, 36 and 34 minutes off the bench over his last three games. With 40 or more fantasy points in two of three games during this stretch, don’t worry about him coming off the bench. Jalen Johnson and AJ Griffin are decent value options, although they are likely to fall out of favor as additional news is released.
LaMelo Ball returned after missing nearly a month, and in a lofty 34 minutes on Wednesday, he had 23 points and 11 assists on his way to the 40-fantasy-point plateau. This is a fine matchup for him and backcourt mate Terry Rozier, with Dennis Smith Jr. on the shelf. PJ Washington, Mason Plumlee and Kelly Oubre Jr. are tertiary options, although they do have merit as part of a mini game stack.
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Sacramento Kings-Detroit Pistons
This matchup in the Motor City boasts a 237.5 implied point total, which could become very intriguing for both sides if Kevin Huerter is out for Sacramento and if Detroit continues to play games with random “injury” designations as the tankathon is on.
De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are key options in all formats tonight, and if Huerter is out, veteran Malik Monk, rookie Keegan Murray and elder statesman Harrison Barnes would all see a boost to their fantasy opportunities.
The Pistons continue to be led by Bojan Bogdanovic on offense, with Alec Burks, Killian Hayes and rookie Jaden Ivey all having their moments. We also get Marvin Bagley III in “Remember me?!” game, which bodes well for his sometimes unfocused efforts. If everyone is healthy for Detroit, then they do lose a little luster, but it’s hard to believe we won’t see them give a player or two the night off for some random reason.
Minnesota Timberwolves-Oklahoma City Thunder
There is pending news for the Timberwolves with Rudy Gobert (ankle) and D’Angelo Russell (knee) both game-time decisions. If they are in the starting lineup, fire them up in all formats, as this game has a 223.0 implied point total and they should continue to produce with Karl-Anthony Towns out for the season. If Gobert is out, then Naz Reid is a tremendous discount dandy at the center position. He also has standalone value on the evening sub-slate. If Russell is out, then Jaylen Nowell is the direct beneficiary and there will be trickledown offensive opportunities for Anthony Edwards. Kyle Anderson benefits from either Minnesota player missing time, with his chameleon-like abilities to fill in wherever the team needs.
The Thunder have been putting out a solid product at home, so Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey are fringe core plays. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Kenrich Williams are out, which should give security to Darius Bazley, Luguentz Dort and rookie Jalen Williams for rotational minutes in the upper-20s.
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Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Building Blocks Today
This is a front-loaded slate with eight games tipping off in the first 60 minutes. This means we are likely to see additional injuries and rest situations, so tune into that Stokastic NBA Deeper Dive and Live Before Lock shows on YouTube at 4:45 pm ET for all of the up-to-date analysis.
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