Thursday, Dec. 23, has a mega 11-game main slate beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. Everyone is off tomorrow with a break before the five featured Christmas Day Extravaganza begins. Let’s look at the player pool and discuss the top NBA DFS picks for DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo lineups. Do not forget to head over to the Awesemo NBA DFS home page for more great written daily fantasy basketball content.
NBA DFS Picks: Building Blocks, Thursday, Dec. 23
The Portland Trail Blazers vs. Brooklyn Nets game has been canceled, and several other teams have more players with positive COVID tests or who are close contacts, which means once again everything is in flux.
Yahoo Play of the Day — Nikola Jokic: Denver Nuggets vs. Charlotte Hornets
- Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 57.55 | DraftKings: 60.81
- Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 26.4% | FanDuel 33.2% | DraftKings 29.0%
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $56 | FanDuel $11,300 | DraftKings $12,200
Yes, it was a disappointment that Nikola Jokic only played 24.9 minutes last night, however, we see NBA teams accept “schedule losses” all the time. When the bench unit cam into the game midway through the third quarter, Oklahoma City wrapped up a 10-o run and they were leading by 23 at the end of the quarter. While the reserves were able to somewhat close the gap in the fourth quarter, it was clear that the starters we listless and needed a break after carrying the shorthanded team and with a home matchup tonight. Denver does not play again until Sunday, so we should expect full run from Jokic tonight. If last night keeps any gamers away from him, that is better for the rest of us.
With Jokic likely getting full run tonight, the Awesemo NBA projections have him slated for just a tick under 14 rebounds tonight. Jokic’s NBA player prop for rebounds is sitting at over/under 12.5, making the over a solid bet — a bet that is likely to win 63% of the time, according to OddsShopper.
Dejounte Murray: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 48.02 | DraftKings: 48.35
- Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 12.6% | FanDuel 18.1% | DraftKings 12.4%
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $44 | FanDuel $9,900 | DraftKings $10,300
There will be plenty of bargain options with a 22 team player pool tonight. Dejounte Murray is at a reasonable salary when we take that into account. The Lakers are not the same defensive team without Anthony Davis and Murray is clearly the featured option for San Antonio. In his last three games, all on the road including against Utah and the Clippers who are above average defenses, Murray averaged 34.3 minutes with 57.8 Yahoo Fantasy points per game. He is averaging career highs across the board and he is fourth with 8.6 assists per game, 23rd with 8.4 rebounds, which is also tops among guards while also averaging 18.1 points per game. Enjoy!
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Dallas Mavericks
This is a back-to-back for the Bucks who played in Houston last night and are still without Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, Brook Lopez, Donte DiVincenzo and Sandro Mamukelashvili. Grayson Allen has also been a DNP-CD the last two games, though finally coach Mike Budenholzer indicated that the former Blue Devil had been feeling under the weather. While he should not be trusted, both the coach and the player, we can turn to Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton who both average close to 1.3 fantasy points per minute without Antetokounmpo on the court. DeMarcus Cousins is in play on Yahoo at $12 and DraftKings at $4,700, though there are plenty of center options. Jordan Nwora has been outstanding and he should continue to be in the starting lineup. Finally, Pat Connaughton took an elbow to the eye last night and though he stayed in the game, he could have some swelling or discomfort to deal with tonight making him a tertiary option.
Kristaps Porzingis is a game time decision with a toe issue and with the Mavericks playing on Christmas Day and already missing Luka Doncic, they may hold him out to get him ready for the marque matchup. Dallas is also without Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Reggie Bullock, Maximilian Kleber, Willie Cauley-Stein and Josh Green. Sterling Brown and Frank Ntilikina are punt options in the backcourt and Jalen Brunson is a primary target on all sites. If Porzingis is out, Marquese Chriss and Boban Marjanovic are deep cuts on the evening slate, but there is no need to look to that duo on the main slate.
New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic
Jonas Valanciunas is out with a non-COVID related illness, Nickeil Alexander-Walker is in the COVID protocol and Kira Lewis Jr. is out for the season. Assuming no other positive tests, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart become core plays in all formats. Guillermo Hernangomez is an unbelievable fantasy producer, however, he is one of the worst defenders in the league, which caps his minutes. Tonight the Pelicans are likely to need him for 24-28 minutes so buckle up.
This is a back-to-back for Orlando and they are without Mohamed Bamba, Jalen Suggs, Terrence Ross and a whole bunch of other inconsequential players. Both Cole Anthony (ankle) and Wendell Carter Jr. (leg) have missed the last couple games, but are questionable. It would be a surprise if both played and best guess is that Anthony is a coinflip and Carter gets another night off. This is one of the first games of the night, so we should know that information well in advance. Franz Wagner and Chua Okeke are players to target no matter what and Robin Lopez is yet another center option if Carter is out.
Final Thoughts on NBA DFS picks for the Thursday, Dec. 23 Slate
We have another wild night on tap with plenty of moving parts and pending player news. Keep in mind that salaries and scoring formats differ across the various fantasy sites, and a slam-dunk play on Yahoo may be a below-average NBA DFS pick on DraftKings or FanDuel
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