- Picks for every position and price point for NBA DFS contests on Friday, December 15.
Friday nights were made for NBA basketball, and there's plenty to like about the DFS landscape on this 11-game slate. Some star players are coming at season-low price points, while others are in great matchups against bad defenses. Think about using some of these plays, along with our NBA Lineup Optimizer, to give you an edge on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Russell Westbrook, vs. 76ers (FD: $10,900, DK: $11,400)
Projected Points: FD: 54.06, DK: 57.35
The Thunder have won five of their last seven games after spiraling for the balance of November when they went 4-9, causing a swath of the Oklahoma City fanbase began to hit the panic button. They survived a dreadful 3-for-17 shooting night from Westbrook on Wednesday, but there’s reason to believe he’ll bounce back on Friday. He gets a pace-up matchup against the 76ers, who run at the fourth-fastest rate in the league at 103.6 possessions per game. That really benefits opposing point guards, who are scoring about 3% more than league average against them. Westbrook has the best consistency rating of the fantasy game’s top-five scorers this season, which makes him an ideal cash game play in this price range.
Kyle Lowry, vs. Nets (FD: $8,300, DK: $8,200)
Projected Points: FD: 40.29, DK: 42
We are paying something of a premium on Lowry on both sites, but it’s worth it considering the matchup against a Nets team that runs the second-fastest pace in the league and owns a bottom-third defensive efficiency. Lowry has struggled from the field in the short term, shooting just 34.2% from the floor and 30.9% from three in six December games. Those are significantly lower than his season averages, and have led to a massive dip in scoring. Lowry has gone through spells like this before (think all of last year’s playoffs), but I’m encouraged with the consistent usage rates, along with the assist and rebounding numbers much in line with his season averages. This is just the kind of matchup where he could see open, high-quality looks and transition baskets.
Get further analysis of Friday's NBA DFS slate, lineup optimizers and more at Lineup Lab, your home for all your NBA, NFL and MLB DFS lineup needs.
Gary Harris, vs. Pelicans (FD: $6400, DK: $6400)
Projected Points: FD: 33, DK: 33.07
Harris is coming off the best scoring game of his career, finishing with 36 points on 16-for-25 shooting from the field in Wednesday’s loss to the Celtics. Harris has been getting more looks of late, averaging 16.4 field goal attempts per game in six games in December, up from a season average of 12.4 per game entering the month. The increased usage has coincided with Nikola Jokic’s absence (and Will Barton sat last game as well), but it’s encouraging to see Harris assert himself more in the offense. He has a great matchup Friday against the Pelicans and their weak perimeter defense.. Harris has a higher minutes floor because of his versatility and exceptional defense. He was a chalk play on Wednesday and is trending that direction again.
Dion Waiters, vs. Hornets (FD: $5,100, DK: $5,500)
Projected Points: FD: 26.85, DK: 27.94
The Heat have played in an inordinate amount of blowouts of late, leading to inconsistent minutes from their core rotations. Friday’s game though projects to be close, though, with the Hornets favored by five points. The heat will be without Justise Winslow, opening up more minutes at the shooting guard and small forward position. Waiters should step into that breach. Waiters played 38 minutes in Miami’s last game, the one in which Winslow suffered a knee injury. The Hornets have been torched by opposing wings this season, allowing about 7% more scoring than league average to twos and threes. I suspect Waiters will have a low ownership rate, which could create separation in big tournament structures.
Jonathon Simmons, vs. Trail Blazers (FD: $6,700, DK: $6,600)
Projected Points: FD: 34.27, DK: 34.84
Evan Fournier has no timetable to return, Terrence Ross is out for the season and Arron Afflalo is questionable, making the Magic very thin on the wings. Simmons has been the beneficiary, making the most of his opportunity since Fournier went down. Over the last three games, Simmons is averaging 35 minutes, 23 points, and six rebounds per contest. He has seen about a 10% price increase in that period, but it’s not enough to offset the increase in minutes and usage. Even if Afflalo were to return, Simmons’s playing time should be safe; the Magic need his ability to create off the dribble and willing defense. Don't be scared off by short-term price increases when the opportunity has clearly changed.
Wilson Chandler, vs. Pelicans (FD: $4,600, DK: $4,500)
Projected Points: FD: 25.78, DK: 26.79
Chandler went through a month-long stretch where he struggled to garner consistent playing time, but recent trends are in his favor. He has played 35 or more minutes in two of the last three games with injuries in the Nuggets' starting lineup. Chandler is a versatile defender who can range up to a small-ball four at times. That might not be the case as often on Friday against the twin towers of Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, but Chandler should still see plenty of minutes at small forward. The Pelicans struggle with wing defense, and Chandler is simply priced too low for a player who’s a good bet to play 30-plus minutes. He’s shooting more over the last six games, specifically firing away from distance more often. There’s a chance this ends up being his lowest price of the season.
Ben Simmons, vs. Thunder (FD: $9,200, DK: $9,500)
Projected Points: FD: 46.91, DK: 46.53
If Andre Roberson can’t play in this game, the Thunder are going to have some major matchup concerns with Simmons. The Sixers rookie is a handful for any team, but without their best defender the Thunder will have to mix and match against Simmons, likely using Russell Westbrook as his primary man defender. The Thunder are a good defensive team with Roberson, but this game has a 212 over/under, and thin spread with the Sixers favored by two. Simmons is averaging 38 minutes per game over his last six contests, and he’s a triple-double threat every time he takes the floor. That threat will be heightened should Roberson sit on Friday.
Carmelo Anthony, vs. 76ers (FD: $6,500, DK: $6,600)
Projected Points: FD: 31.25, DK: 32.11
Anthony has struggled through a horrible five-game stretch in which he’s shot an abysmal 32% from the field and 24% from three. It’s discouraging to think about rostering a player in this kind of malaise, but his prices have dropped alongside his performance. Both sites have him at his second-lowest price tag of the season, and that makes him too much of a value to ignore, even with his recent shooting woes. Shooting tends to regress to a player’s career mean, so we can make a reasonable assumption that Anthony will turn this around sooner rather than later. The rebounding has been fine, and his usage rate is roughly the same over this stretch. Recency bias should help make Anthony a low-owned player on Friday, which creates an opportunity for differentiation. Anthony represents a perfect player to roster with the idea that the shooting bounces back.
Andre Drummond, vs. Pacers (FD: $9,400, DK: $9,100)
Projected Points: FD: 44.87, DK: 45.87
Drummond and the Pistons are on the second leg of a back-to-back Friday, which can make projecting minutes tricky. Looking at his season game log, though, there’s not much reason for concern with the big man in these situations. That’s great news, because Friday he’ll get a Pacers team ranked dead last in defending opposing centers. They get crushed in scoring and on the boards (more so the former, but it’s all bad). Drummond is an elite rebounder and has become a willing passer with the Pistons working more of their offense through him in the high post. He’s coming off a 12-point, 19-rebound, nine-assist line in only 32 minutes on Thursday, and could be in for an even bigger night in this matchup against the duo of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.
Marc Gasol, vs. Hawks (FD: $8,300, DK: $7,900)
Projected Points: FD: 43.19, DK: 43.4
It’s been a forgettable season for the last place Grizzlies, who’ve already fired their coach (thanks in part to Gasol’s feud with him) and are going to make a strong push for a high lottery pick. But after a run of matchups against very good defenses, Memphis gets something of a reprieve Friday against the Hawks. Atlanta’s interior defenders are some of the worst in the league, and there’s no one here who can reasonably match up with Gasol in the post. He should have free run of the paint and could see an uptick in both scoring and rebounding, considering what Atlanta brings to the table. Center is a weaker position Friday, and Gasol’s DraftKings price is just close to his lowest of the season.