Scouting the NBA 12/20/17

Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Plays of the Day


Value: Mario Hezonja dropped 28 points over 31 minutes in a loss at Detroit on Sunday with Aaron Gordon (calf) out and he’s averaging 12.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per 36 minutes this year, so he’s a worth a look in a much more favorable matchup tonight against the young Bulls.


Fade: Chris Paul has seen a steady increase in price to the point that he’s almost as expensive as James Harden, and he might not be worth the money against an underrated young defender in Lonzo Ball and a feisty Lakers team tonight.


Point Guards


Lonzo Ball – (6,700 DK/7,400 FD)

Ball remains cheap on both main DFS sites and is particularly appealing as a triple-double threat on DK in what should be a high-scoring affair between two top 10 teams in terms of pace. The rookie is averaging 10.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 6.9 APG over his last 7 appearances and has been particularly hot lately in matchups against the Sixers, Knicks, Cavs and Warriors. What do those teams all have in common? They’re either at the forefront of the league in terms of pop culture or are championship contenders, and tonight he’ll face off with the red-hot Rockets in Houston.

Isaiah Canaan – (4,500 DK/4,100 FD)

The Suns have been searching for answers with Devin Booker (groin) out indefinitely and may just have found one in Isaiah Canaan. The journeyman PG is off to a great start with 32 points and 13 assists over two games with Phoenix and he could see more than the 27 minutes he’s played in those contests tonight. The Clippers are no longer a fearsome defensive team in the backcourt with Patrick Beverley gone, as Milos Teodosic and Austin Rivers are below average on that end of the floor, so Canaan has a good chance to keep rolling in what’s become a plus matchup.


Potential Value

Milos Teodosic – (5,200 DK/5,400 FD)

Teodosic should continue to provide solid output, especially with Lou Williams (ankle) questionable ahead of tonight’s plus matchup against the Suns.



Jamal Murray – (5,700 DK/5,600 FD)

Murray could see a serious increase in usage if Gary Harris (elbow) can’t go tonight.


Shooting Guards

Tyreke Evans – (7,000 DK/7,500 FD)

The Warriors continue to play at a blinding pace but their defense is not where it’s been it past years, especially on the interior. That trend should continue if Draymond Green (shoulder) misses another game tonight and Evans is the primary ball-handler capable of attacking the rim and trying to keep Memphis in this road game. Rather than rolling with Marc Gasol after his big line against the Celtics, use the Grizzlies best option in the backcourt with Mike Conley (Achilles) on the shelf.

Mario Hezonja – (4,700 DK/4,800 FD)

While he’s listed as a SG on DraftKings, Mario Hezonja is likely to start at PF once again with Aaron Gordon (calf) ruled out. The Croatian national knocked down 10 of 18 FG attempts for 28 points over 31 minutes in a loss at Detroit on Sunday and he’s averaging 12.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per 36 minutes this year, so consider him somewhat of a boom-bust option in what should be a high-scoring matchup with the streaking Bulls.



Potential Value

Reggie Bullock – (3,800 DK/3,700 FD)

Bullock is one of several Pistons guards who will see a spike in playing time with Avery Bradley (groin) out over the next week.



Rodney Hood – (5,600 DK/5,700 FD)

Hood returned with a hot shooting night on Monday and could see even more usage for the injury-plagued Jazz with Donovan Mitchell (toe) questionable.


Small Forwards

Kevin Durant – (11,600 DK/11,900 FD)

Durant produced another fantastic line Monday with Steph Curry and Draymond Green out, dropping 36 points with 11 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks while maintaining a very high usage rate in a win over the Lakers. Look for KD to carry the load once again in a matchup against the struggling Grizzlies, who uncharacteristically rank 26th in opponents 3PT shooting (.377%) and allow the third-most FTA (24.1) per game this season, which bodes well for a high-volume player like Durant that gets to the line often.

 Jimmy Butler – (8,800 DK/9,400 FD)

Butler could have his way with the shorter Jamal Murray or offensive-minded wing Will Barton should Gary Harris (elbow) miss tonight’s game for Denver. Butler’s been rolling with averages of 25.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.6 APG and 2.2 SPG over his last five appearances and he’s exceeded value in eight of his last nine outings despite playing huge minutes and dealing with back spasms at times. Denver ranks 29th in opponents FG shooting (.481%) and 22nd in defensive rating this year and this is a huge tilt between the division-leading Wolves and the second place team in the Northwest.


Potential Value

Kyle Kuzma – (5,800 DK/5,400 FD)

Kuzma is under priced as per usual in what should be a great matchup to target in Houston tonight.



Jonathon Simmons – (6,900 DK/6,600 FD)

Simmons is a great option in any format with Aaron Gordon (calf) out tonight.

Power Forwards

Nikola Mirotic – (6,400 DK/7,100 FD)

Mirotic is still worth despite his rising price tag, as he led the streaking Bulls to another win with clutch shooting late and finished with 22-plus points for a fourth straight game despite playing just 26 minutes on Monday. He can play alongside PF Lauri Markkanen and should be asked to do so if Orlando goes small with Hezonja and Simmons at the forward spots. The Magic ranks 24th in defensive rating and 27th in opponents 3PT shooting (.380%), so Mirotic should get plenty of open looks in a game with a 210-point Over/Under.

Maxi Kleber – (4,000 DK/4,500 FD)

Kleber seems to have found his confidence lately while producing 27 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks over his last two appearances and most importantly, he’s playing 30.1 MPG over his last six outings. That makes him a relatively safe value, especially as the Mavs prepare to play three games over the next four nights, further limiting the minutes of ancient PF Dirk Nowitzki.


Potential Value


Trey Lyles – (4,800 DK/4,800 FD)

Lyles has earned more minutes for the Nuggets and he’s a safe play with Nikola Jokic still on an apparent minutes restriction.




LaMarcus Aldridge – (7,800 DK/7,900 FD)

Aldridge could go off against his former team with Kawhi Leonard (rest) expected to sit tonight.




Nikola Vucevic – (9,400 DK/10,000 FD)

Vucevic is the unquestioned “man” for the Magic right now and that becomes even more apparent when Aaron Gordon misses a game. The versatile center is averaging 20.9 PPG, 12.6 RPG and 4.1 APG over nine appearances this month and draws a good matchup against a much slower big man in Robin Lopez. Look for him to keep rolling tonight, as he averages 1.60 FPs per minute with AG off the floor this year.

Clint Capela – (7,500 DK/7,900 FD)

Capela is one of the safer plays to consider in this price range as the primary recipient of lobs from both James Harden and Chris Paul in a matchup against a Lakers team that leads the league in pace of play. His heel injury didn’t appear to limit him as he went off for 24 points and 19 boards in a blowout win over the Rudy Gobert-less Jazz on Monday and now he’ll face a Lakers team that just lost Brook Lopez (ankle) for three weeks and happens to give up the most PPG (29.89) and BPG (2.56) to opposing centers over the last month even with BroLo active.


Potential Value


Bam Adebayo – (4,600 DK/4,700 FD)

Adebayo is being forced into playing heavy minutes and he’s athletic enough to bang with the young Celtics on the boards.




Zach Randolph – (6,200 DK/6,800 FD)

Randolph is carrying the Kings offense right now and faces a defenseless Nets front line tonight.




About Nate Weitzer 85 Articles
Nate Weitzer is a successful DFS player with numerous tournament wins in NBA and NFL contests. He’s been writing about DFS for several years, specializing in NBA advice while continuing to build his bankroll on several sites. He is also a season-long king and has won several leagues over the years. Weitzer is a sports journalist with a Masters from Boston University’s College of Communication. When he’s not playing DFS, Weitzer is often covering high school sports in the greater Boston area for outlets such as The Boston Globe or playing basketball himself. Follow Nate on Twitter @Nweitzer7.