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NBA DFS Picks & Lineup Optimizer Building Blocks NBA All-Star Game | Sunday, February 20

Eric MacPherson

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The best NBA DFS optimizer picks today for Yahoo, DraftKings & FanDuel daily fantasy basketball lineups | NBA All-Star Game Tonight 2/20/22

Sunday, Feb. 20, brings the last NBA DFS action prior to the resumption of the regular season tipping off at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday. Let’s look at the player pool and discuss the top NBA DFS picks for the 2022 edition of the NBA All-Star Game. In addition to this article, check out Awesemo’s All-Star Game projections, which are already available.

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NBA DFS Building Blocks: NBA All-Star Sunday | Sunday, Feb. 20

The Schedule for All-Star Weekend

Friday: Ruffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and the Clorox Rising Stars Exhibition

Saturday: Taco Bell Skills Challenge, MTN DEW 3-Point Contest and the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest with the festivities beginning at 8 p.m. ET

Sunday: 71st NBA All-Star Game beginning at 8 p.m. ET

The All-Stars

Team Lebron

  • Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, LeBron James and Nikola Jokic
  • Reserves: Jarrett Allen, Jimmy Butler, Luka Doncic, Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul and Fred VanVleet
  • Injuries: James Harden, replaced by Jarrett Allen

Team Durant

  • Starters: Joel Embiid, Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, Andrew Wiggins, Trae Young
  • Reserves: LaMelo Ball, Devin Booker, Rudy Gobert, Zach LaVine, Khris Middleton, Dejounte Murray, Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Injuries: Kevin Durant, replaced by LaMelo Ball and Draymond Green, replaced by Dejounte Murray

The Rules

For the third year, the game will be using the “Elam” format, which has been employed to spice things up a bit. Each of the first three quarters will be scored as individual games. Each team has designated a charity that will receive a donation for each quarter that their team wins. After three quarters have been played, the scores will all be added together. A target score will be calculated by adding 24 points (in honor of Kobe Bryant) to the leading team’s score. Then the teams will play in an untimed fourth quarter which will end when one team reaches or exceeds the target score.

Previous Box Scores

2021: Team LeBron 170 – Team Durant 150 click here

2020: Team LeBron 157 – Team Giannis 155 click here

2019: Team LeBron 178 – Team Giannis 164 click here

2018: Team LeBron 148 – Team Stephen 145 click here

2017: West 192 – East 182 click here

2016: West 196 – East 173 click here

2015: West 163 – East 158 click here

Narrative Connections to Cleveland

In a fun twist, the NBA is celebrating the 75th anniversary season, the other two times Cleveland was the host city coincided with the 35th and 50th anniversary for the League.

James of course has the most ties to Cleveland, though this year there are two Cavaliers in this game including Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen. LaMelo Ball spent his final prep year at Spire Academy in Geneva, OH and it is a little known trivia tidbit that Stephen Curry was born in Cleveland during the lone season his father Dell spent with the Cavaliers. Andrew Wiggins was the top selection of the 2014 NBA Draft, though Cleveland packaged him in a deal with Minnesota for Kevin Love prior to the start of the season.

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Other Narratives and Trivia

  • Team LeBron has won this event each of the last four years.
  • Durant has not played in the last two All-Star Games due to injuries, despite being a captain.
  • The All-Star Draft was held shortly after Harden was traded from Brooklyn, Durant chose to take Gobert over Harden with his last pick.
  • First-timers include Ball, Garland, Morant, Murray, VanVleet and Wiggins.
  • James is playing in his 18th All-Star Game, though at 41-years old, Kareem Abdul Jabbar is still the oldest participant.

Strategies

It is well known that there is not a lot of defense that goes into this game unless things are close down the stretch. Most players do not want to risk injury and of course make other players look bad. This also bears out with fouls called as last year the teams combined for 16 and in 2020 it was an anomaly with 36 fouls, as the five preceding games had 15, 26, 16, 16 and nine.

More often than not, the starters and the captains usually see extra minutes. On the flipside, this means reserves and centers tend to lose out. Because of the Elam ending the last two years, it is harder to track who received minutes in the untimed quarter.

Blocks are few and far between and steals typically are the result of bad passes. The Elam ending should help make the final quarter a little more interesting, but that is not a guarantee if one team is out to a 15-20 point lead.

  • 2021: Three blocks, 24 steals
  • 2020: 14 blocks, 25 steals
  • 2019: Seven blocks, 17 steals
  • 2018: Eight blocks, 20 steals
  • 2017: Two blocks, 32 steals
  • 2016: Two blocks, 31 steals
  • 2015: Two blocks, 32 steals

Across the last seven years only three times has a team converted less than 50% of their field goal attempts. In this timeframe there has been 19 double doubles recorded along with one triple double (Kevin Durant 21-10-10 in 2017, though technically, James Harden got there as well with 12-7-12 and 10 turnovers in that same game). It is a mostly even split for double doubles being achieved with rebounds or assists to go along with points.

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Newbies tend to lose out the most when it comes to minutes, though sometimes we also see veterans content with just a couple stints on the court. Last year Zion Williamson, Jaylen Brown, Julius Randle, and Mike Conley Jr. were the first-timers. Zion got 14 minutes in a start, as a last second injury replacement for Joel Embiid (health and safety protocols) who was a late scratch. Randle and Conley had 13 and 12 minutes off the bench while Brown got 26, though he also grew up and went to high school in the Atlanta area, so he had a hometown connection.

Team LeBron NBA DFS Picks

Team LeBron will be led by first-time coach Monty Williams and his staff from the Phoenix Suns.

Starters

LeBron James: This is his fifth time as the captain and his 18th All-Star Game appearance. Played just 13 minutes last year, but likely to see more as Cleveland’s favorite son.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: The two-time NBA MVP was selected first overall by James for the second year in a row to be on Team LeBron.

Stephen Curry: Another Team LeBron favorite, Curry was 8 for 16 from beyond the arc last year and should get plenty of unchallenged looks again tonight.

Nikola Jokic: Started for Team LeBron last year and while he is a great passer, that is muted when surrounded by so many facilitators in the All-Star Game.

DeMar DeRozan: Five-time participant of this game, first appearance since 2017. Hard to count on with his reluctance from long-distance.

Starters

Luka Doncic: Started last year for Team LeBron and saw 32 minutes, though his ball-dominant ways took a backseat with so many other stars on the court.

Chris Paul: Dished out a game high 16 assists for Team LeBron last year, should be on the court a lot once the BIGs make their way to the bench. There is risk here as he is dealing with a thumb injury and with Phoenix looking for another playoff run to the Finals, there is a chance he does not play or is very limited in his time on the court.

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Donovan Mitchell: Third time participating in this exhibition, first time on Team LeBron. Combo guard who can defend will get some run down the stretch if the game is close. Played 28 minutes off the bench last year getting time over Zion and Tatum.

Jimmy Butler: DFS gamers will remember him choosing to stay on the bench during the 2018 All-Star Game after allegedly having a little too much fun the night before. Played a dozen minutes off the bench in 2020, which seems about right for tonight.

Darius Garland: First time All-Star, recent back issues kept him sidelined for five of the last eight games heading into the break. Playing in front of the Cavs fans should get him around 18-20 minutes tonight.

Jarrett Allen: Added as an injury replacement, hard to see more than a couple ferocious dunks in this game as he does not have much of an outside shot.

Fred VanVleet: First-timer is a great story after being undrafted at the conclusion of his four year career at Wichita State. Risky play with this being his debut in this event as well as him missing two of the last four games for Toronto with knee soreness. Last night he was eliminated the first round of the Three-Point Contest.

 

Team Durant NBA DFS Picks

Team Durant will be coached by Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat staff, this is his second turn as an All-Star coach with his first being back in 2013.

Starters

Joel Embiid: Chosen as the first selection for Team Durant, Embiid is a five-time All-Star, though he did not compete in this event last year after being placed in the health and safety protocol for close contact along with Ben Simmons. Embiid is the rare big man with the skillset to succeed in this exhibition. In his last two starting stints he played 23 and 29 minutes.

Ja Morant: Making his debut, this is the perfect format for his ball-handling, long-range shooting and of course crazy vertical antics. Only risk is that he is one of the new guys in this event as well as missing a game just before the All-Star Break with a sore knee.

Jayson Tatum: Playing in his third straight All-Star Game, Tatum had 17 minutes last year as a starter and 13 off the bench in his debut. Last year he was a madman while on the court with 21 points, four rebounds, seven assists and four steals along with three of the eight personal fouls for Team Durant.

Andrew Wiggins: Voted in as a starter by K-pop fans, Wiggins was the top overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft by Cleveland before being traded to Minnesota. Most likely among the starters to see the short end of the minutes allotment.

Trae Young: Second appearance in this exhibition, was not selected last year. Posted a double double in 16 minutes during the 2020 festivities. Eliminated in the final round of the Three-Point Contest last night.

Reserves

Devin Booker: Sat out last year with an injury, this will be the second appearance for Booker. Likely to be among the minutes leaders with his scoring and ball-handling as well as being a “veteran” compared to Ball and Morant.

Karl-Anthony Towns: Took down the NBA Three-Point Contest last night in fine fashion, this will be the third All-Star Game for Towns who last appeared in 2018 event with 17 points and ten rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.

Khris Middleton: Third-timer, his all-around game sets him up for potential success. Last year he saw the court for 23 minutes, though he had just five points on 2 of 7 shooting with a rebound and two assists. In 2019 he was dialed in from deep going 6 of 10 from beyond the arc with five rebounds, four assists and 20 points which were behind only the 38 from the captain of Team Giannis that season.

Zach LaVine: Dealing with a knee injury that sidelined him for the last three games heading into the break and five of his last eight, it is a bit of a surprise that he was not replaced by an alternate. Hard to see him get more than a handful of minutes if he even leaves the bench tonight as the Bulls are looking at a deep postseason run and need him healthy. Last night he went out in the first round of the Three-Point Contest.

Rudy Gobert: This will be the third straight All-Star Game for the Stifle Tower. Last year he flirted with a double double in limited minutes and in 2020 he had 21 points and 11 rebound in 19 minutes off the bench.

LaMelo Ball: Injury replacement for Durant, this will be the first event for Ball. Clearly a crowd favorite, it will be interesting to see where his minutes allocation ends up. Likely benefits along with Morant if LaVine is limited or just a spectator.

Dejounte Murray: Former University of Washington stalwart is in the midst of a breakout campaign and was added to the All-Star roster as the injury replacement for Draymond Green. Always a threat for a triple-double, he should thrive in this game as one of the best defenders and rebounders. Minutes of course will be the key, though he does have more tenure in the league than fellow first-timers Ball and Morant.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS picks for the Sunday, Feb. 20 NBA All-Star Game Slate

This is a fun event and of course there is an edge available if you have read this far. Be sure to tune in tonight to the NBA Deeper Dive and Live Before Lock All-Star Game Show on the Awesemo YouTube channel at 6 p.m. ET featuring Dave Loughran and Josh Engleman on the Deeper Dive followed up by Eric Lindquist and Terry McBride on Live Before Lock.

Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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