- Picks for every position and price point for NBA DFS contests on Monday, December 18.
The NBA takes a backseat to the NFL on Sunday, but it returns with a vengeance on Monday with 10 games and plenty of intriguing matchups. The big story is how injuries and resting players will affect teams like the Warriors, 76ers, Heat and more. It's shaping up to be a stars-and-punts kind of night. Think about using some of these plays, along with our NBA Lineup Optimizer, to give you an edge on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Team Stack Alert
How many Warriors is too many Warriors?
Kevin Durant (FD: $12,000, DK: $11,600)
Projected Points: FD: 56.17, DK: 56.34
Klay Thompson (FD: $7,200, DK: $7,000)
Projected Points: FD: 35.92, DK: 37.64
Omri Casspi (FD: $4,500, DK: $4,100)
Projected Points: FD: 30.79, DK: 31.43
Patrick McCaw (FD: $3,500, DK: $3,400)
Projected Points: FD: 19.25, DK: 18.98
Jordan Bell (FD: $4,700, DK: $4,500)
Projected Points: FD: 34.97, DK: 32.46
Andre Iguodala (FD: $4,400, DK: $4,200)
Projected Points: FD: 24.55, DK: 24.24
It’s extremely rare to see this many players from one team come in as value plays on a single slate, but it’s definitely the case with the Warriors on Monday. Stephen Curry is still at least a week away from returning with the ankle injury, and Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pachulia have all been ruled out early. That leaves the Warriors very thin from top to bottom. We will likely see a starting lineup of McCaw, Thompson, Durant, Casspi, and Bell, with Iguodala logging heavy minutes off the bench as a secondary ball-handler. Even playing at less than full strength of late, the Warriors have handled their business. They've won their last eight, but often without the cushion of a typical Golden State blowout. Opponents have kept games close, helping to consolidate minutes around the starters.
Durant is the clear play alpha here. In the last four games without Curry he’s averaged 34 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks per game. These are superstar numbers and should continue Monday in what projects to be a high-scoring affair against the Lakers.
Each of the other five guys is a value play at his respective price point. Thompson’s defense and much-needed scoring have kept him on the court for around 37 minutes a game over the last four, and he’s averaging 20 shots a game in his last three.
Casspi has shifted to starting power forward over the last two games and played his most minutes of the season. He’s versatile and can spell Durant at small forward in certain Warrior rotations.
In his only other start this season, McCaw played 33 minutes and finished with 16 points and seven assists. With both reliable point guards hurt, we could see major minutes out of a guy priced at near minimums on both sites.
And then there’s the Lakers, who are running at the league’s fastest pace (104.7 possessions per game) and playing about average defense. This is a fantastic matchup for the Warriors core unit, especially if Los Angeles can keep the game close. The only question is which three or four of these guys do you roster?
Russell Westbrook, vs. Nuggets (FD: $11,300, DK: $11,200)
Projected Points: FD: 56.07, DK: 59.17
With the Warriors, and some other cheap value, opening up so much salary cap flexibility, we should be fine paying top dollar for Westbrook on Monday. After an epic, three-overtime win against the Sixers on Friday in which Westbrook logged an unfathomable 52 minutes, the Thunder couldn’t muster enough energy to beat a Kristaps Porzingis-less Knicks team on Saturday. But Westbrook still managed 25 points, seven assists and seven rebounds which seemed Herculean considering what he did the less than 24 hours prior. On Monday, he’ll match up against a Nuggets team allowing 3% more scoring and 6% more assists than league average to opposing point guards. He and Durant represent the clear big money plays of the night, and both will likely see plenty of ownership.
Kemba Walker, vs. Knicks (FD: $8,000, DK: $7,100)
Projected Points: FD: 38.6, DK: 39.86
Walker struggled on Saturday, finishing 7-of-26 from the field, which continues his recent swoon. In fact, during the month of December, he’s shooting only 37% overall and 29% from three. It’s led to a season-low salary on DraftKings, and also a terrific time to buy. Walker is a scoring-dependent point guard, and when the shot isn’t falling he’ll see a short-term dip in price. Player shooting tends to regress to the historical mean over the long term, and on the season he’s good for 42% from the field and 34% from three. His scoring should bounce back sooner rather than later. The slow-paced Knicks aren’t a fantastic matchup, but it’s mostly Walker’s price point that draws interest. Don’t be discouraged by the recent game log, the points will come around.
Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Victor Oladipo, vs. Celtics (FD: $9,300, DK: $8,700)
Projected Points: FD: 44.83, DK: 45.16
That the Paul George trade doesn’t feel like the total disaster it did over the summer is as much about Oladipo as anything else. He’s been a revelation since leaving Westbrook and the Thunder behind, blossoming into a top-flight scorer with a usage rate well beyond any reasonable expectation. He’s averaging career bests in scoring (24.4 points per game) and rebounding (5.4 per game) and shooting the lights out from beyond the arc at 43%. This isn’t a great matchup against a defensively sound Celtics squad, but expect major minutes from Oladipo if he’s tasked with guarding Kyrie Irving. Oladipo’s scoring gives him a solid floor, but the defensive stats add a layer of upside that few other shooting guards enjoy. He’s expensive, but still a solid play if the game stays close.
Get further analysis of Monday's NBA DFS slate, lineup optimizers and more at Lineup Lab, your home for all your NBA, NFL and MLB DFS lineup needs
Wesley Matthews, vs. Suns (FD: $4,800, DK: $4,700)
Projected Points: FD: 24.84, DK: 25.66
Monday is so loaded with cheaper value plays that we made it this far without even mentioning anyone from the team playing Phoenix. The Suns are a dream matchup considering they run at the third-fastest pace and rank the worst in defensive efficiency. That means high-quality, high-volume possessions for their opponent. Matthews is coming cheap after a brutal three-game stretch in which the Mavericks faced the Warriors once and San Antonio twice. It gets a lot easier here, and we’ve seen Matthews dial up the scoring when he’s knocking down threes. Bad defenses like the Suns allow for plenty of open looks, and this game projects to stay close because both teams are pretty bad.
Kelly Olynyk, vs. Hawks (FD: $6,200, DK: $5,000)
Projected Points: FD: 34.35, DK: 35.04
Bam Adebayo, vs. Hawks (FD: $5,000, DK: $4,100)
Projected Points: FD: 25.66, DK: 24.57
Hassan Whiteside won’t play this week, and on Saturday the Heat lost James Johnson for the next 7 to 10 days. That leaves an already thin frontcourt with very few options beyond Olynyk and Adebayo. They get a great matchup against a Hawks team ranking near the bottom of the league in defending big men. Atlanta gets beat up on the glass, where they allow worse than league-average rebounding rates to power forward/center types. On Saturday, after Johnson went down, Olynyk and Adebayo logged 34 and 28 minutes, respectively, and should see similar court time on Monday. On the season, Olynyk goes to a 25% usage rate from 20% when Whiteside and Johnson are off the court, with a bump up in rebounding, as well. Of the two, he’s definitely the safer bet to see minutes in the mid-to-high-30s in this game, because the Heat will be able to run smaller lineups against an undersized Atlanta frontcourt.
Amir Johnson, vs. Bulls (FD: $3,500, DK: $3,500)
Projected Points: FD: 24.76, DK: 24.1
Richaun Holmes, vs. Bulls (FD: $4,500, DK: $4,100)
Projected Points: FD: 26.76, DK: 26.33
One or both of these guys stand to benefit with Joel Embiid and, to a lesser degree, Trevor Booker already ruled out for Monday. When Embiid sat out two games last week, Johnson drew the starts, though foul trouble burned him in both games. Those were against the Pelicans and Cavaliers, with superstars like Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins and Lebron James getting to the rack early and often. It’s much less of a concern against the Bulls, who don’t boast anywhere near the offensive firepower. Johnson was still serviceable at these salaries, and if he can avoid the fouls could hit value even with mid-20s minutes.
Holmes is much more a fantasy asset, and even off the bench has double-double potential. Without Embiid last week he averaged 13 points and six assists in only 22 minutes per game. If he were to draw the start he’d instantly become one of the best values on the entire slate.