NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks: Tyrese Maxey + Houston Rockets = Tournament Goodness! (January 12)

Friday winds down the work week with an eight-game featured slate, beginning at a unique 7:30 p.m. ET lock time 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 Tyrese Maxey, along with several interesting Houston Rockets players.

NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today: Friday, January 12

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Tyrese Maxey: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Sacramento Kings

Reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid is missing his third straight game with a sore knee, and he has missed seven of the last nine, with tonight being the 10th time he has been out this season. Keep in mind that the individual player awards, as well as the coveted All-NBA Team nominations, are now predicated by players appearing in 80% of the games or 65 for the year. That means Embiid can miss just seven more after tonight before losing eligibility for those honors.

When the Cameroonian was out around the Christmas holiday, Tyrese Maxey did not capitalize on his absence and actually seemed to struggle with inconsistency. Over the last three games, he has averaged 40.5 minutes, 29.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 9.0 assists, and 3.7 combined blocks and steals. For the season, he is averaging a career-high 37.4 minutes, so it would not be a shock to see the 23-yeaer-old continue to push 40 minutes in competitive games with Embiid on the shelf.

In 719 minutes this season with Embiid, Maxey is averaging nearly 1.1 fantasy points per minute. In 585 minutes without The Process, Maxey sees a boost of nearly 20% to 1.3 fantasy points per minute.

Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox can be considered for some extra in-game synergy. Fox has been struggling, but there is no reason to skip over him with the 76ers interior defense lacking sans Embiid. Of course, Sabonis continues to rack up rebounds at a ridiculous rate, and he still has power forward eligibility on FanDuel.

Houston Rockets at Detroit Pistons

Think of how inconsistent the Houston Rockets have been over the last couple seasons since James Harden bade farewell. Now consider that this team is an 8-point road favorite tonight. That is a marked dichotomy, and while the Rockets are going against a Pistons squad headed for an ignominious win total, being heavy road favorites in the NBA is still the hallmark of a strong team.

Tari Eason (leg) is going to miss his sixth consecutive game and Dillon Brooks (oblique) his ninth. This duo continues to see their return dates pushed down the road, and it seems they are unlikely to play before next weekend. The minutes and production that they have vacated have all been accounted for; however, it does seem that the DraftKings and FanDuel algorithms did leave a little room for “profit” for Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith and Jalen Green.

Fred VanVleet is a strong tournament play on DraftKings ($7,900) and FanDuel ($8,500) coming off back-to-back 50 burgers. There is always a risk with VanVleet, who can completely lose his effectiveness on offense, and it is his points that tend to push him into fantasy relevance. He has been a fine facilitator, though for DFS purposes that can be frustrating, as he does a good job of keeping his team involved but is not selfish enough to keep going for it on nights where he doesn’t have it. This makes him an outstanding tournament play, and we can see the boom/bust results in his last nine games, with three above 50 fantasy points, two in the 40s, one in the 30s and a ghastly three in the 20s. This will keep his popularity in check, and he is a terrific differentiation option.

Alperen Sengun is one of many centers on the slate, but he continues to impress from a fantasy perspective, with a 25% increase over last season to 43 fantasy points per appearance. His 32.3 minutes, 15.8 field goal attempts, 21.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.2 steals are all personal bests, and this is the perfect matchup for him to pull off his third career triple-double, with a little luck. This wager is currently available at +1800 on both PointsBet and DraftKings, and even at +1600 on FanDuel, it is a fun one to drop a finski on and have a little extra rooting interest in this matchup — for entertainment purposes, of course!

Jalen Duren is a steady selection on both DraftKings and FanDuel, though not particularly spectacular, as the absence of Isiah Stewart and general lack of contributions from James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley III are already factored into his salary. FanDuel missed the boat on Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes, with Cade Cunningham out for the next week or so. The Rockets have improved on defense compared to last year, but they are average at best without Brooks and Eason.

Bogdan Bogdanovic is questionable with a calf issue, and if he is out, then that would solidify the offensive baseline for Ivey and Hayes while elevating Alec Burks into the picture for those looking to gain cheap access to this fantasy-friendly environment.

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Additional NBA Building Blocks Pick — Sports Betting Opportunities

De’Anthony Melton currently has a line that should have your running to the virtual window to bet the over on his 2.5 assists prop, which is currently available at -101. Per the true odds of -131 (how OddsShopper measures the potential expected ROI of a given wager), this opportunity has a tremendous 13% 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 at -195 to -200 which is downright crazy!

NBA Bet Pro has Melton projected for 29.7 minutes and 3.99 assists. The 25-year-old tends to do a little bit of everything while on the court, and though facilitating is not his primary focus, he is averaging a career-high 3.2 assists per game. In his last 15 outings, he has three or more assists just five (33%) times, but with Harden no longer in Philly and Embiid out again, he should get a few chances for some helpers. In those 15 games he landed on two assists five times, so while this wager is likely to come down to the wire, Melton should be in the mix for surpassing this threshold tonight nearly 57% of the time.

Because this margin is so thin, anything worse than -120 can be skipped in favor of other action.

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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