NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks: Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving are Key Plays! (January 11)

Thursday has a fancy four-game featured slate tipping off at 7:30 p.m. ET p.m. ET on DraftKings and FanDuel. There are several options in the player pool worth analyzing to find the top NBA DFS building blocks and NBA DFS picks, including some intriguing playing time situations that provide steady value options. Let’s dig into the NBA DFS picks and core plays like Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, and a host of Mavericks and Knickerbockers.

NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today: Thursday, January 11

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Anthony Davis: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns

In his last 19 games, Anthony Davis has tallied 70-plus fantasy points twice, 60 to 69 five times and 50 to 59 nine times. In his three games below 50 fantasy points, he is averaging nearly 47. He has played all but two games, and the Lakers are starting to get back on track, with wins in each of the last two games; they now sit a 19-19 on the year. Davis is averaging 36.2 minutes per game, which is the second most of his career, falling shy of the 36.4 he played per tilt in 2017-18.

The Phoenix defense is not particularly daunting, and it is barely average when firing on all cylinders. The Suns have dropped three of the last four games, and they are right in line with the Lakers at 19-18 on the season. LeBron James is just outside the 12 most popular players on the main DFS sites tonight, and he continues to chug along after celebrating his 39th birthday just prior to New Year’s Eve. On any given game he can still be a top-10 player in the league, and when everything is connecting, we get glimpses of a top-5 superstar. It should be no surprise that James is on the injury report, but there have been no other murmurings that he will be sitting tonight.

Dallas Mavericks vs. New York Knicks

Tonight all eyes in the DFS world will be on Dallas as the Mavericks host the New York Knicks. DraftKings seems to have overlooked the absence of Luka Doncic when assigning salaries to everyone other than Kyrie Irving. Currently the six most popular players for Thursday are slated to be Mavs. Then the next two favorite plays will be Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, while on FanDuel Jaden Hardy, Dwight Powell and Derrick Jones Jr. are the three most popular options, with Josh Hart of the Knicks next, followed by Jusuf Nurkic, then Brunson and Randle.

Keep in mind that Dante Exum is also out, while Maximilian Kleber is unlikely to play after missing the last two months with a toe injury and rookie Derek Lively II is all but assured of missing his fourth consecutive game with a sprained ankle. Grant Williams is also questionable with an ankle sprain. Other than Mitchell Robinson, no Knicks are on the injury report.

This is an island game for both teams, and each plays again on Saturday. Irving has averaged 1.4 fantasy points per minute when Doncic has been off the court (256 minutes), which is nearly a 12% increase, and that has the basketball vagabond as one of five players with a median fantasy point projection above 50 tonight.

Brunson and Randle are not in that lofty category, which also means they could be somewhat overlooked as gamers reach up for the superstars. Randle has been piling up the fantasy points, and he has 40 or more in six of his last seven games. Brunson should be comfortable in this arena, having spent his first four years in the league playing for Dallas. He has continued building on last year’s breakout campaign, and the Mavs are sorely lacking an above-average rim protector.

Hardy has made four starts in the last three weeks, and while he dropped a 40 burger on Portland six days ago, he posted 10, 25 and 15 fantasy points in his other starts. Those figures have some slight rounding for comparative purposes across the DraftKings and FanDuel scoring systems, but the point is that there is some risk of a dud, and he is currently the most popular player on both sites, coming in at 90% on DraftKings and 60% on FanDuel. In 190 minutes without Doncic or Exum on the court, Hardy has averaged 1.15 fantasy points per minute. Your mileage may vary.

Tonight should be the fourth straight start for Powell, but he has averaged just over 23 fantasy points in the prior three, producing just shy of a fantasy point per minute. Green has produced even less in slightly more time since joining the first five four games ago, though he does average 0.71 fantasy points per minute when Doncic is off the court, which is well above his 0.59 when Doncic is on the court.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is scoring dependent, but he should at least get 12 to 15 field goal attempts; his conversion rate is another story. He tends to produce around a replacement-player average of 0.7 fantasy points per minute, so he needs to put the biscuit in the basket with some frequency to be a difference maker.

Isaiah Hartenstein has been crushing, and over the last five games, he is averaging 35.7 minutes, 9.4 points, 13.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.4 steals and 2.8 blocks. He is not much of a scorer, mostly getting ally-oops and putbacks, but otherwise he has been racking up the fantasy goodness. Tonight he should be able to operate in the paint with impunity, making him a tremendous option on FanDuel, where he has power forward eligibility, as well as on DraftKings, which provides the utility slot.

Rounding out the remaining Knicks, Hart, O.G. Anunoby and Donte DiVincenzo are fine options, though their forays above 30 fantasy points are not particularly frequent.

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Additional NBA Building Blocks Pick — Sports Betting Opportunities

Giannis Antetokounmpo has the best fantasy point projection on the slate, but he has a tough matchup against Boston. This is not an easy recommendation, but there are some potential advantages by looking to the under 51.5 points + assists + rebounds (PRA) prop, which is currently available at +100. Per the true odds of -102 (how OddsShopper measures the potential expected ROI of a given wager), this opportunity has a thin 1% expected ROI as a function of the inefficient line, though there are several ways in which this under comes to fruition.

It is crucial to take advantage of OddsShopper to look at all the available lines since that can easily be worth another 2% to 3% for your ROI, even on perfectly neutral bets, based on how the different books value things. To demonstrate this very concept, look below — you can see that several books are offering this bet between +100 and -121, so be a savvy shopper!

NBA Bet Pro has Barnes projected for 38.2 minutes, 33.11 points, 12.91 rebounds and 5.22 assists. In his last six games, Antetokounmpo has topped this threshold five times. So why are we willing to wager against him? Well, in this run a lot of things have gone right for him, such as averaging 37.4 minutes, which is well above his 35.2 for the season, and though his 60.9% conversion rate on 21.3 field goal attempts is in line with his 60.7% season-long rate, it is well above his 55.8% clip of the last three seasons.

Boston has a 111.4 defensive efficiency rating over the last 10 games, which is the third best in the league, and the Celtics are the second best when looking at the full season, allowing just 110.6 points per 100 possessions. Antetokounmpo would be rested, having last played on Monday. The Bucks take the court again on Saturday, hosting the struggling Golden State Warriors, so it does make sense to see this lofty 38.2 minutes projection.

However, all we need is a poor shooting night, foul trouble, fewer minutes, a lop-sided game or even Antetokounmpo falling below his usual high rebounding numbers against the best rebounding team in the league, and he could fail to get to that 52nd PRA.

Rooting for unders may not be as fun as rooting for overs, but that is where the line value is more often than not when it comes to player props, as the sportsbooks look to use psychology against casual bettors.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today

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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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