It’s an ample seven game slate to kick off the week after Thanksgiving. While some of us may have made it into work with loosened belts this morning, it’s time to get back to the grind after a long weekend, and Christmas – one of the best NBA holidays of the year – is on the horizon, giving us some more time off to look forward to. Let’s get into the top FanDuel plays for Monday…
Point Guard: Isaiah Thomas ($7,800) – Believe it or not, of the 14 teams taking the court tonight, 11 of them are playing their third game in four nights, and the Hornets will actually be playing their fourth game in five nights tomorrow against Detroit. The Celtics are one of the three teams not playing their third game in four nights, and with Al Horford out for personal reasons (birth of his child), Isaiah Thomas’ usage should be more than enough to pay off his $7,800 price tag. Thomas owns a true usage rate of 35.1%, so even in a pace-down game against a tough opponent (the Heat are ranked second against PGs), I don’t see Miami doing enough to slow the miniature sized point guard down. Thomas has been remarkably consistent this year, even in tougher matchups.
Shooting Guard: Josh Richardson ($4,200) – Here’s your top value play of the evening. There really isn’t a dearth of value available at any other spots, and without many potential high-end or mid-range plays at the SG spot, Richardson is going to be an immensely popular play. Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson have both been ruled out for tonight, which opens up a ton of time on the wing. Waiters was seeing around 32-37 minutes per game, while Johnson was up to around 26-30, especially in games that Dragic has missed. Dragic himself is questionable and his return would limit Richardson’s upside in the assists department, but the Heat just don’t have enough healthy bodies at the SG/SF spots to avoid playing Richardson 30+ minutes this evening. The Celtics do a good job at limiting the production of opposing guards, but this is a volume over efficiency play.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant ($10,000) – Durant is the clear top option at SF and it’s not remotely close. Carmelo Anthony is very interesting in a game that is expected to be played fast and remain competitive, but the typically consistent Melo has been a bit more volatile this season with Kristaps Porzingis breaking out and Derrick Rose commanding the ball more often. As for Durant, he’s a fantastic upside play against an Atlanta team that could keep this one close enough to have the GS starters see run deep into the fourth quarter. Draymond Green is now expected to play tonight (his absence would have been good news for Durant, Curry and Thompson), but I’m still perfectly content with targeting any of the four DFS-viable GS starters. Durant owns an elite 1.41 FPs per minute rate this season, compared to 1.23 for Curry and 1.15 for Green.
Power Forward: Kristaps Porzingis ($7,200) – I’d also be fine with Paul Millsap here, but I think he makes a better GPP play than cash game play against the Warriors on the road. Porzingis doesn’t have an elite draw against the Thunder frontcourt, but he shouldn’t run into Steven Adams all that often, which does help matters. It’s likely that Porzingis sees a combination of Domantas Sabonis, Jerami Grant and hopefully some Enes Kanter, and he should be able to take advantage of all of those matchups for different reasons. The Thunder are likely to throw Andre Roberson – one of the better wing defenders in the league – on Melo, which would theoretically open up a few extra shot attempts for Porzingis and/or Derrick Rose. The PF spot isn’t deep tonight, so Porzingis deserves a spot in your cash lineups this evening. If you want to go cheap at the second PF spot, Frank Kaminsky is the top value play at the positon.
Center: Marc Gasol ($7,000) – I don’t usually love the idea of targeting DeMarcus Cousins on B2Bs, not to mention his third game in four nights, so I’ll be foregoing that play in cash games. I’ll pivot down to Marc Gasol most frequently given that he’s still underpriced and is basically running a two-man game with the starting unit alongside Mike Conley. Gasol owns a healthy 27.8% true usage rate, and that won’t drop as long as Zach Randolph remains out of the lineup. Center also happens to be the spot that the Hornets struggle most with, ranking 23rd against the position on the year. The Hornets are also 20th in rebounding differential (compared to eighth for Memphis), so we could see an extra few rebounds slide Gasol’s way.