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NBA DFS Picks Breakdown (Saturday, Dec. 31): Ring in the New Year with Joel Embiid

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Saturday features a roster of eight games starting at 7pm ET.

Let’s dive into some of the best plays using FantasyLabs tools and metrics.

Also, don’t forget that for big field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to easily create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to build your lineups manually.

Note: Projection and leverage scores/ratings may change throughout the day following the publication of this article. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly.

Consult NBA player models directly for updates as we approach lockdown. Use the PrizePicks promo code LABS for a $100 NBA Player Signup Bonus.

NBA DFS Point Guard Picks

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I think it’s safe to say that Luka Doncic guy is really good. He has been one of the best fantasy producers this season, averaging 1.74 DraftKings points per minute, and has taken his game to another level recently. He averaged 1.78 DraftKings points per minute last month and scored at least 81.0 DraftKings points in three of his last four games. That includes a ridiculous 110.75 DraftKings points against the Knicks, which is the most by any player since the start of 2014-15 (according to the Trends tool). The only other players to break triple figures in that time frame are Joel Embiid, DeMarcus Cousins ​​and James Harden (twice).

Doncic is in great position for another big game on Saturday against the Spurs. They are dead last in defensive efficiency this season, and the Mavericks’ team implied total of 119.25 ranks fourth on the list. Doncic leads all players in ceiling shooting by more than 13.5 DraftKings points, and he has the potential to break a slate like few others.


Value

The Pistons will run out Killian Hayes again on Saturday, which means Alec Burks should maintain a slightly higher workload. He has posted a Positive Over/Under in three straight games, and is averaging 1.07 DraftKings points per minute for the year. He’s currently projected for 26+ minutes on our NBA models, and his $4,500 salary comes with a 98% Bargain Rating.


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The Timberwolves have a lot of appeal on the other side of this matchup. The Pistons are dead last in defensive efficiency, and the Timberwolves are implied at 119.5 points. D’Angelo Russell posted an Over/Under average of +3.05 over his last 10 games on FanDuel and is under priced at $7,100.

Speaking of underbilling, LaMelo ball stands out as one of the best pure values ​​at position in FanDuel. His salary of $9,300 comes with a 96% bargain rating, and Ball leads the way with an impressive 14 professional trends. He has averaged 1.34 FanDuel points per minute since returning to the lineup and has posted a positive Plus/Minus sign in all but one game. That includes 58.5 FanDuel points in their last game, and the Hornets v Nets game tops the list with a total of 237.5 points.

NBA DFS Pitcher Picks

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James Harden saw a pretty steep decline in value in his first game with Tyrese Maxey back in the lineup. He only had eight field goal attempts, and although he finished with 20 points and 10 assists, he still only had 36.25 points on the DraftKings. Harden had at least 62.25 DraftKings points in each of his previous three games, which was a major production setback.

However, the 76ers are playing in the second leg of a back-to-back game and there’s a chance Maxey will sit out. That would be a significant boost for Harden, especially in a positive match against the Thunder. They’ve played at the fourth-fastest pace this season, so Harden has some comeback appeal.


Value

The Knicks are another squad that will be important to monitor on Saturday. The team is already playing without RJ Barrettand Jalen Brunson is questionable after missing the last two games with a hip injury.

If Brunson remains off the pitch, Immanuel Quickley can continue to be trusted in DFS escalations. He took on a monstrous workload in their absence, recording 50.6 and 43.3 minutes in his last two games. Quickley is also an excellent producer per minute, averaging 0.93 DraftKings points per minute, so unsurprisingly he has amassed at least 42.75 DraftKings points in both contests. It’s currently projected for 34 minutes in our NBA models, and Quickley would be hard to miss in that scenario.


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Desmond Bane still getting back to normal for the Grizzlies, but played 28.5 minutes in his last contest. He’s seen a slight increase in playing time in all four games since returning to the squad, so there’s a chance he’ll be closer to 30 minutes on Saturday. Bane is averaging 1.09 FanDuel points per minute this season, making him a viable option at $6,100.

Darius Garland is questionable for the Cavaliers, and its absence would Donovan Mitchell a quality target. He has seen a 3.5% increase in team usage with Garland off the ground this season, resulting in an average of 1.24 FanDuel points per minute. The Bulls also stand out as a quality matchup, resulting in an Opponent Over/Under of +3.63.

NBA DFS Small Forward Picks

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Kevin Durant could be a counter target on Saturday’s slate. He’s only projected to have around 10% ownership in the DraftKings, but the Nets are arguably in the best position of the day against the Hornets. They are ranked 10th in pace and 23rd in defensive efficiency, and the Nets’ team implied total of 122.25 ranks first on the list.

Durant is coming off a dominant performance in his last game, amassing 26 points, 16 boards and eight assists against the Hawks. He’s not on par with guys like Doncic from a per-minute standpoint, but his 1.39 DraftKings points-per-minute average is best among Saturday’s small forwards by a comfortable margin. He also leads the way with 10 Pro Trends on DraftKings.


Value

saddiq bey returned a bit to reality in their last contest, finishing just 22.0 DraftKings points in 30.6 minutes. Still, the playing time is very encouraging for their prospects on Saturday. Bey is very cheap at $4,000 on DraftKings, resulting in a 99% bargain rating, and he averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute last month. If he keeps playing for around 30 minutes, he shouldn’t have any problems paying his current salary.


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Zach LaVine is another potential undervalued target at the position. The Cavaliers prepared as a perfect matchup for him, with no team in basketball allowing more 3-pointers per 100 possessions. LaVine is easily the Bulls’ best 3-point shooter, so this could be a game he thrives on and DeMar DeRozan fights. LaVine is a particularly good option on FanDuel, given its 89% bargain rating.

Anthony Edwards had to take on a bigger role with Karl-Anthony Cities away recently. He increased his fantasy output to 1.26 FanDuel points per minute and averaged an Over/Under of +7.53 over his last 10 games in FanDuel. He has three games with at least 60.5 FanDuel points in his last seven matches, so he also has a ceiling of $9,200.

NBA DFS Power Forward Picks

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Julius Randle is back to being a fantasy stud this season. He’s always been an excellent producer by the minute, but he’s struggled a lot in the last year. However, he averaged 1.28 DraftKings points per minute this year and increased that number to 1.41 last month.

Randle tied an excellent Saturday matchup against the Rockets, who are ranked only 28th in defensive efficiency. They were better at defending the painting, but Randle is capable of causing damage in many ways. He’s increased his assist rate by +5.0% with Brunson sidelined for the last two games, so Randle doesn’t necessarily need to dominate on the inside to return value at this point.


Value

Naz Reid has dual PF/C eligibility in DraftKings, and if Rudy Gobert is sidelined again, he must be on your team somewhere. Reid has been a monster when given the opportunity to play this season, and he averaged a robust 1.26 DraftKings points per minute last month. He racked up 31.25 DraftKings points in 29.8 minutes on Friday and scored at least 40.25 DraftKings points in his four previous games with that much playing time.


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Jabari Smith Jr. it’s starting to burst. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute last month and posted a positive plus/minus in three of his last four games. He also boasted a DraftKings cap of 45+ points during that span, but his price dropped to just $4,900 for Saturday’s matchup against the Knicks.

Keldon Johnson has had some dismal shooting numbers for the Spurs of late, but hit 11 of 21 shots on Thursday. Maybe he’s starting to turn things around, and if he is, he’s undoubtedly undervalued by $6,800. He should also benefit from the expected absence of Devin Vassellwith Johnson increasing his use rate by +3.1% with Vassell off the ground this season.

NBA DFS Center Picks

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Joel Embiid didn’t get as much attention as Doncic or Nikola Jokic lately, but he’s been playing great basketball lately. He recorded a usage rate of at least 42.0% in four consecutive games and scored at least 55.1 FanDuel points in three of them.

I have no idea how Oklahoma City plans to protect it given the current roster. Your only real center option is Mike Muscala, and I think it’s pretty safe to say it’s a mismatch. Overall, Embiid boasts a +7.85 plus/minus opponent, with Thunder allowing for the second most paint points per game this season.


Value

Jalen Duren comes off a sub-par showing in his last outing, but continues to gobble up rebounds at an elite pace. He has posted a 22.6% rebound rate since moving into the starting lineup, which would be the league’s second-highest mark in a full season. Only clint chapel (23.3%) won a higher percentage of purses than Duren as a starter.

Duren has lowered double-digit purses in nine of his last 10 games, making him a contender for a cheap double-double. Its scoring numbers weren’t all that impressive, but it does provide a solid floor and a decent roof at its current price.


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The Spurs relieved Jakob Poeltl returned to action, but played 28.6 minutes in the last match. Poeltl has averaged 1.17 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he can do some damage in less than 30 minutes. It was also reduced in price to just $5,700 on DraftKings, resulting in a 96% Bargain rating.

Nic Claxton posted an average Over/Under of +7.70 over his last 10 games on FanDuel and increased his output to 1.20 FanDuel points per minute over the last month. He has at least 45.1 FanDuel points in two of his last three contests, so he has plenty of appeal at $6,800 in a juicy match against the Hornets.

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