The NBA tips off the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day with a busy 11-game slate that features four players with five-figure price tags. We also have four of our favorite defenses to attack in action, with the Pelicans, Lakers, Sixers and Suns all taking the floor Monday. You’ll see more than a sprinkling of players facing those teams included in our favorite positional picks for this active start to the week.
All prices are courtesy of FanDuel and based on a $60,000 budget.
PG: Kemba Walker ($7,900) vs. LAL: Walker is coming off one of his best games of the season after he put up 22 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two steals in Saturday’s win over the Grizzlies. He has now played at least 40 minutes in five straight games, so there’s no concern over usage rate with the UConn product. The Lakers have surrendered the most points per game to point guards this season.
SG: Devin Booker ($3,600) vs. CLE: Booker will enter the Phoenix starting lineup, filling in for the injured Eric Bledsoe (knee). He saw the most time after Bledsoe suffered the injury Saturday, scoring 19 points in just 20 minutes. The teenager out of Kentucky hasn’t had much opportunity this year, but Jeff Hornacek indicated he’d get plenty of that over the next few weeks. Bledsoe is expected to be out 6-8 weeks, so Booker will have plenty of leash to prove he should be the starter for the next two months.
SF: LeBron James ($10,000) @ PHO: James just had one of his worst games of the season and gets a chance to wash that taste out of his mouth against a team allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to small forwards. Expect him to take advantage. This game has an over/under of 202 with the Cavaliers favored by 8.5 points. That means they’re expected to score about 105 points on their own. James will have more than his fair share.
PF: Thaddeus Young ($7,000) @ MIA: The matchup with Miami isn’t great for Young, but it’s awfully hard to ignore him at that $7,000 asking price. He has been one of the most consistent power forwards all season, and has been hot lately, scoring at least 36.8 fantasy points in four of his last five games. He’s averaging a double double per game in December (16.3 points, 10.3 rebounds) and has 21 steals in his last 10 games.
C: Nikola Vucevic ($8,000) vs. NO: No team in the league has surrendered more points per game to the center position than the Pelicans. That’s great news for Vucevic and his backers on Monday night. He has played at least 34 minutes in each of his last five games, averaging 22. 8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and one steal and block per game in that timeframe. That translates to 41.7 fantasy points per game, and he has had more than one point per minute in eight of his last 10 games.