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NBA DFS: Nikola Jokic and best/worst DraftKings daily fantasy basketball plays for Friday, Dec. 25th

Duds and studs. Good and bad plays. We take a look at the past and upcoming NBA games to let you know what’s going on and how to tackle your DraftKings plays.

Sacramento Kings v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to your daily NBA DFS digest at FakeTeams, gents. Every day I’m here with a handful of pro-tips to roster a winning team just a few hours from now. On top of that, I’ll bring you some news, statistical trends from the past few days, some studs/duds from the last slate of games, and much more!

Hoop Land Times: News and notes from around the Association

  • We saw it happening in the MLB, then the NFL, and now COVID also hit the NBA when it comes to positive tests and isolating measures outside of a bubble. And it didn’t even take 24 hours since the season’s tip-off...
  • The whispers started to go around by 5pm ET when there were reports of James Harden’s club video being studied by the NBA for violating COVID protocols. Only a few hours later the Rockets vs. Thunder game was in doubt to be played. A bunch of players started to be named out of the game (John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins,...) as a precautionary measure. Then it was known that KJ Martin was the cause of the “spread”, and while most Rockets tested negative the game was removed from the slate and postponed as Houston could only field seven players (a minimum of eight are needed to play a game).
  • The NBA dropped a $50K-fine on Harden’s forehead, but no suspension for now as he’s a first-time offender.
  • This situation sucked, and it did it most for OKC. They had no clue of what was going on and they have now lost a game to a later date to be determined.
  • Long season ahead, folks. Let’s hope the league makes it to the finish line, but it’s surely going to be a struggle to get there.
  • Doc Rivers set fire to his ex-Clippers by addressing the whole “preferential treatment” stuff that has been discussed since the NBA left Orlando’s bubble. He said the problems started there, and not before, but again, he confirmed there were problems.
  • Andrew Wiggins got cooked and couldn’t do a lot in his season debut, but he’s confident he can get back on track asap. We’ll see.
  • Ja Morant considers the Grizzlies potential title contenders, and he might have a point looking at his Wednesday’s stat line... which included a 44 (!) burger.
  • LeBron didn’t even reach 30 minutes in his season debut while getting a little bit banged up, but he’s on for today’s Christmas game. Expect LBJ to miss a lot of playing time this season and keep your projections on the low because this will definitely be a season to test your patience.
  • First relatively-important injury of the season: Cody Zeller underwent surgery in his fractured hand and will miss four-to-six weeks recovering. No true-biggies left in Charlotte, which will turn to the likes of P.J. Washington, Jalen McDaniels and Miles Bridges to cover for Ze.

Duds and Studs: Yesterday’s slate roundup

  • No games yesterday, so we go back to Wednesday for today’s recap.
  • God bless Giant Jokic for the game he graces us with. Jokic was the lone 70+ DKFP performer two days ago among all players involved in the 12 games played, reaching 76+ fantasy points to the tune of a ridiculous 29-15-14 trip-dub in a match in which he also blocked three shots in 41 minutes of playing time (OT included).
  • Not much sorter of Jokic were both Ja Morant (44 pops with 9 dimes, 2-2-1 boards/steals/blocks) and Brandom Ingram (24-9-11-3 hitting three 3s). They scored 66 and 61+ DKFP on their season debuts.
  • Up to 11 players finished in the 50-to-60 DKFP clip, which considering there were 12 games played wasn’t so surprising. Kudos to Terry Rozier for hitting 58+ fantasy points while priced at just 5.9K... thanks to a monster 10 (!) treys.
  • The ROI King award went to... Darius Garland! I’m cheating here, because the actual ROI King should be Josh Jackson (32 DKFP at 3K) but he fell a little bit short of a huge score. That’s why I’m picking Garland and his 41+ DKFP at 4.1K. CLEVEland is GARland these days, and that’s sweet because Darius put up a neat 22-6-6 line hitting 4 treys and all of his four freebies while committing only two turnovers against Charlotte. Not bad for a start. Jeff Teague and Rozier went unexpectedly off too with great games at a super cheap price.
  • And the DOTS (Dud of the Slate) Award went to... Jamal Murray! I guess Jokic ate all the dough leaving none for Jam. Murray could only reach 18+ DKFP with a pretty putrid 9-4-1 game in which he just attempted 9 field goals scoring 11% of them... The game sucked all around for the kid, who even playing 34 minutes extending into OT could do nothing to bulk up his numbers. Dame was horrid too (9-5-7, 28+ DKFP), same as LaVine (26) and John Collins (26).
  • We witnessed a massive 13 dub-dubs via points and rebounds (Gobert, Embiid, Drummond, Middleton, Antetokounmpo, Sabonis, Valanciunas, Nance, KAT, Vucevic, Bam, Zion, Culver) and three between points and assists (Ingram, Devonte’ Graham, Lowry).
  • Two trip-dubbers in Nikola Jokic (29-15-14) and Russell Westbrook (21-11-15) who seem to have lost no single step after getting traded to the capital.
  • Take it for what you want, but Myles Turner led the slate in blocks with 8. That’s correct, eight blocks. He finished 10-8-1 so the quadruple-double was never at reach—he didn’t even dub-dubbed—and My Turn never truly arrived, but oh man was that an inspiring performance.

What’s cooking? Statistical trends from the preseason

  • The season has just started, so we don’t have much data to look at today. That being said, the preseason games held during the past few days provided us with some interesting things worth considering while sheets start to fill with meaningful numbers.
  • We’ll get back to the usual seven-day trends once we have enough games on the season log, which will almost be by the start of the new 2021 year when we flip the calendar page.
  • Until then, here are some quick bits from the preseason—and during the next few days, we’ll look at some early trends from the first bunch of regular-season games.
  • Only 13 teams have played the max-four games during this shortened preseason. Combining all players from those 13 franchises, a total of 114 different players have logged at least a minute of preseason-ball.
  • Two Lakers lead the way in preseason per-game minutes: Kyle Kuzma (33.9) and Talen Horton-Tucker (31.6). Makes sense, considering LBJ and AD weren’t in the mood for—or need—many preseason fireworks. Kuzzy better levels up his game, because THT is coming strong, though.
  • Marquese Chriss has ball-hogged like a champ for the Warriors, logging the highest usage rate of the preseason at a monster 40.5 percent to the tune of 8.7 fga and 1.3 tov per game.
  • Speaking of Warriors, it looks like Steph Curry was eager to get on the court. He’s closed the preseason scoring more than anyone (min. 3 games played) at 22.7 ppg in 26.1 mpg.
  • Other than THT (20.5), no real “surprising” player has finished this short preseason with a high ppg average. Terry Rozier and Jordan Clarkson both hit 17.0 ppg, but they are already vets known for heating up here and there.
  • Another heater: Buddy Hield. He’s closed the preseason hitting 3.8 3pm per game for the Kings, and we’ll see how the season develops for him and Sacto after he was thrown to the bench during last year.
  • When it comes to bonkers numbers, Josh Richardson played three preseason games attempting 3.7 treys per game and scoring on 73.3% of those shots. No one shot better than 67% on at least 3 3pa per contest.
  • In this season of giving, Ja Morant was this close to finishing with the lone points-dimes dub-dub of the preseason closing his run with a 17-9 line (9.8 apg, that is).
  • Nikola Vucevic was in fact a dub-dubber for the Magic, racking up a 19-12 average line. Domantas Sabonis and Andre Drummond dub-dubbed too. More interesting: Thunder’s rook Aleksej Pukusevski closed his preseason stint at a very neat 11-9 with 1.3 spg to spare.
  • Andrew Wiggins is now a blocking machine (2.0 bpg), tied for second in the preseason leaderboard in that department (?). Knick Mitchell Robinson led the pack at 2.5 bpg in his four games playing 25.1 mpg.
  • God bless Trae Young, turnover deity. Trae averaged 4.8 tov per game in 25.7 mpg while still putting up a 13-5-3-1 line. Talk about stuffing the sheet.

Gotta Win The Day: Best/Worst DraftKings plays for tonight’s slate

  • Love: Nikola Jokic (C). While already in the 10K+ salary group of players, the Joker couldn’t have looked better in his season debut a few days ago. This man is known for starting slow, but if you anything about this season it is that we’re kicking it off in Christmas, which means October, November, and almost all of December are off the schedule. That means Jokic is entering the season in peak form already, isn’t he? His ridiculous 29-15-14 trip dub with 3 blocks to spare definitely says so, and though the Kings are not the Clippers, these Clips don’t have a ton of interior presence to stop Niko.
  • Hate: Zion Williamson (PF/C). The theory would point to a natural Zion vs. Harkless matchup at the power forward position, but odds are Bam covers Williamson for most of the game, even more knowing Adebayo’s versatility. I don’t have any clue how Miami would deal with Steven Adams in that case, though, but Zion won’t be left free in the wild, that’s for sure. And that’s why I’m not convinced of his upside today. He put up 34+ DKFP in his first game of the season playing 29 minutes, which isn’t enterily bad, but those minutes were pretty limited and although he shouldn’t be on a pitch count we still have to see longer runs. Efficient shooting and daily dub-dub potential, but Bam will make it hella hard for him on this one.
  • Love: Jimmy Butler (PG/SF). What the hell is wrong with the algorithm? Jimmer didn’t have the most mindblowing of debuts, but he still dropped 19 pops on Orlando while racking up stats all across the board as he always does: 3 boards, 7 dimes, and 7 (!) steals addorned his stat line, and he only needed 35 minutes to put up 44+ DKFP. If you think the Pels can stop this Butler, let me tell you you’re more than probably in for a surprise as Jimmy will be the one dishing out the tasty meal today. And all of it at a very sweet discount—keep an eye on his status, though, as he’s questionable at the time of this writing.
  • Hate: Anthony Davis (PF/C). It is impossible to picture AD putting up a second dud in a row after his middling first game against the Clips. The Brow played just below 31 minutes and finished with a putrid 27+ DKFP, making him one of the worst plays of the first slate of the season. His 18-7-2 line wasn’t horrid, but wasn’t that of a monster 10K-priced guy... Davis salary has gone up for this game, which makes no freaking sense. The risk is really high considering that 1) the Lakers are definitely looking to get into the W column, 2) AD and LBJ are going to rest big-time minutes this year, and 3) Davis got a little bit damaged and enters this game with a probable tag attached to his forehead.
  • Love: Donte DiVincenzo (PG/SG). Sneaky play of the sneak, and of those with the highest potential ROI if all things go Donte’s way today. See, DoDi was great against Boston in the Bucks first game of the season, he started at SG, played 27 minutes, and did it all by scoring 15 points (including three 3PM) shooting an efficient 54.5 percent from the floor, turning the ball over just once, and adding 5-3-2 boards/dimes/steals to his line. I’m a sucker for DiVincenzo and I acknowledge it. But this man can be a season-changer for a slim Milwaukee’s roster outside of the Holy Trinity. Play DiVincenzo; reap DiRewards.

If you have any comment or question about the daily column, tonight’s games, players involved in them, or even season-long fantasy NBA topics, just drop it below or reach out to me on Twitter at @chapulana and I’ll get back to you as soon as I grab a keyboard!