There are no NBA games this evening, but daily fantasy contests at DraftKings are now open for the Christmas Day slate, including the $1M Holiday Classic. Top score earns $100,000 cash for a $20 buy-in. That means $900,000 in guaranteed prizes will be split among 11,899 other winners, even if it doesn’t fill with the maximum 57,471 teams.
The action begins at noon EST with the Pelicans in Miami. Goran Dragic $5500 (wrist) may not play; Beno Udrih $4000 wasn’t bad on Tuesday as the starter. Though still coming off the bench, Jrue Holiday $5600 is having a fine December and Tyreke Evans $7800 has been just as good Anthony Davis $10300 (i.e., better bang for the buck) over the last couple of games. For the Heat, Hassan Whiteside $7100 is on a roll again — 14 BLK in three games — and double-doubled (16 & 16) on Tuesday against Andre Drummond.
Plays of the Day
The $400K Mini Holiday Classic is only a $3 buy-in (FREE with your initial deposit at DK) where the top 33,000 finishers (from up to 153,334 teams) win cash. First place is worth $30,000. Enter now; you can make lineup changes until each player’s game begins tomorrow. Other start times during the day have smaller player pools: look for Turbo (2 games; 2:30), Afternoon (3 games; 5:00) and Late (2 games; 8:00) contests in the Lobby.
At 2:30, the Thunder take on the visiting Bulls. As we cautioned, Russell Westbrook $10400 and Kevin Durant $10000 were barely needed in routing the Lakers again, so Enes Kanter $4200 (16 PTS, 11 REB) was the value play. Chicago is a much tougher challenge, with Jimmy Butler $7500 and Pau Gasol $7600 reasonably priced. Joakim Noah (shoulder) is out for a while, making Taj Gibson $4400 an excellent price and keeping rookie Bobby Portis $3300 in the rotation. Doug McDermott $3700 may have more fantasy value as a bench scorer than as a starter.
Many will call Cleveland at Golden State at 5:00 a Finals preview. It’s certainly an exciting rematch and the centerpiece of this Christmas buffet for hoops fans. However, Kyrie Irving $6600 is not ready to take on Stephen Curry $10700, and if Draymond Green $9200 slows down LeBron James $10000 just a little, the champs will prevail. Both teams have an excellent third scoring option; Klay Thompson $7400 has been sharp all month and Kevin Love $7900 relieved his owners’ concerns with a double-double (23 & 13) against the Knicks.
Finding bargains in this one is tricky. My crystal ball sees Iman Shumpert $3600 closing the minutes gap with J.R. Smith $4400, and we recall Tristan Thompson $5000 registering four straight double-doubles against the Warriors in June. Andrew Bogut $4000 can rise to the challenge; he looked very strong against the Jazz on Wednesday — 10 points, 13 boards, 4 assists and a block.
The Spurs are in Houston for the 8:00 start and Kawhi Leonard $8400 continues to impress at both ends of the floor. He’ll take on James Harden $10400, while the 1-2 punch of LaMarcus Aldridge $6900 and Tim Duncan $5500 is more than a match for Dwight Howard $6700 and the Rockets’ revolving door of uninspiring PF. There was a Ty Lawson $3600 sighting last night; returning from a two-game suspension, he wasn’t horrible (for a change) and played 27 minutes. San Antonio is deeper and better-coached, which isn’t always a good thing in DFS, as predicting the hot hand in a Gregg Popovich rotation is more art than science.
In a quintuple-header, they can’t all be gold. At stake for the Clippers and Lakers is the championship of their own gym. As Damon Runyon once said, “The battle isn’t always to the strong, nor the race to the swift, but that’s the way to bet.” Kobe Bryant $6400 is playing much better since announcing his retirement, but the old Mamba’s fangs are no longer dangerous. Julius Randle $5900 (ankle) is questionable and Roy Hibbert $4600 does not appear to like basketball any more, which means Blake Griffin $9000 and DeAndre Jordan $6700 will be absolutely dominant. Chris Paul $8600 can keep everyone involved. My concern is garbage time arriving very early in the third quarter.
We’ll update tomorrow and suggest an alternate sample lineup, but here’s my Short List, pending any injury updates or other breaking news. For example, if we learn that Dragic will play, I’ll replace Udrih at PG (perhaps with the aptly-named Holiday) and plug in the best G available in the $4000 price range.
|PG||Stephen Curry $10700||Chris Paul $8600||Beno Udrih $4000|
|SG||James Harden $10400||Klay Thompson $7400||Iman Shumpert $3600|
|SF||LeBron James $10000||Kawhi Leonard $8400||Doug McDermott $3700|
|PF||Anthony Davis $10300||Blake Griffin $9000||Taj Gibson $4400|
|C||Hassan Whiteside $7100||DeAndre Jordan $6700||Andrew Bogut $4000|
The Fantasy Spin features DFS advice every day of the NBA season. Follow Kent Williams @SheridanFantasy for updates.