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NBA DFS: Damian Lillard and best/worst DraftKings daily fantasy basketball plays for Saturday, Dec. 26th

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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.

Utah Jazz v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Steph Chambers/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

  • James Harden of all men is the one big-impact Rocket available for tonight’s game against Portland. All of John Wall, Eric Gordon, DeMarcus Cousins, etc... are out isolating for seven days after Houston’s COVID outbreak.
  • Welcome back, Eastern Conference MVP Kevin Durant. Your run is over, Giannis.
  • Zion might be for real, folks. He became the second-youngest player to drop 30+ chicken wings on a Christmas game, only bested by LeBron and sandwiched by T-Mac at the other end.
  • Low 24- and 25-minute counts for James Wiseman in his first two pro-games, but oh boy does he look like a stud already. Perhaps the lone good news around the Warriors these days...
  • ...and that’s because Kelly Oubre made history yesterday by becoming the first NBA player to close his first two games of the season going a combined 0-for-11 from long range. Yikes.
  • The Lakers didn’t sign Dennis Schroder this offseason but rather traded for him in exchange for Danny Green and Jaden McDaniels. They are now engaged in contract talks to extend the guard’s contract, which would expire next summer otherwise.
  • The Pistons had a free roster spot and they’re adding Frank Jackson to their squad. The 22-year-old ranked as the 13th-best prospect of the 2016 HS class, was drafted 31st overall in 2017, played the last two seasons for the Pels, and will now try to find the right path to a long career in Detroit. Here’s to hope he does so!
  • Sad to say goodbye to the Celtics great KC Jones, who died at age 88 after winning 12 (!) NBA Championships—eight as a player, one as an assistant, and two as a head coach. Rest in peace, KC.

Duds and Studs: Yesterday’s slate roundup

  • Do these Nets look good or what? Kyrie became The Grinch and kidnapped the XMas slate with his 61+ DKFP, the lone player to break the 60-point barrier. He did so by racking up 37 points to go along with 6 boards, 8 dimes, and a steal to put the cherry on top of his nutty performance. All of that in 33 minutes and hitting 7 treys here and there. That sage be working.
  • Three more dudes with 50+ DKFP including your usual suspects in AD (28-8-5 with 2 steals) and Jokic (24-9-10 with a triple)... and Hulk Zion who finished with 53 DKFP on the night against Miami and a very sweet 32-14 dub-dub in 38 minutes of playing time (and that’s what I like the most, as the pitch-count seems to be finally out of the picture).
  • Eight folks in the 40-to-50 DKFP clip for Christmas. Santa definitely came carrying a ton of goodies yesterday.
  • The ROI King award went to... Nicolas Batum! Nico is no Niko but Nico has not lost a single second in turning into a fundamental Clip. The Frenchman started for the Clips at the PF position, played 36 minutes, helped mollywhoop the Nuggets with his 13-10 dub-dub, and stuffed the rest of the line with 4 dimes, a steal, and a block. Can’t get much more efficient than his 62.5% shooting from the floor on 8 FGA on a very ridiculous 13.1% usage rate. Kudos to Trey Burke, Bobby Portis, and most of all Bench-God Goran Dragic for their huge ROI too.
  • And the DOTS (Dud of the Slate) Award went to... Giannis Antetokounmpo! I can’t believe I’m writing Giannis’s name here, but this is the world we live in and Christmas seems to be an afterthought for Greeks (I guess). Jimmy Butler was the true dud, but he had to left the game early and entered it banged up already so we have to give him a pass. Giannis, though, was putrid. Giannis finished with 37+ DKFP being the most expensive guy of the slate, which sucked. Steph was also mediocre putting up just 35 fantasy points at a monster price.
  • There were only four dub-dubs via points and rebounds (Zion, Giannis, Portis, Batum) and two between points and assists (Jokic and LBJ).
  • Nobody put up a trip-dub on XMas, but Jokic was this close to doing it to the tune of a 24-9-10 line missing by one single board.
  • Shouts out to Kawhi and Goran for stealing four rocks leading the slate at it, and to Jarrett Allen from blocking the most shots yesterday with four blocks—kudos to Wiseman and his three blocked shots too, quite the night for the rook.

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: Damian Lillard (PG). What are the odds Dame put up a dud tonight? Check his line from game one: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 7 dimes, a steal, and a block. And he’s facing Houston today. I mean, if he cooks a 50-burger and ends with a triple-double I wouldn’t be surprised even a bit. I don’t even have any idea who the Rockets will throw against him as it’s going to be Harden and eight scrubs tonight for the heavy-quarantining Houston squad out there.
  • Hate: DeMar DeRozan (SF/PF). As a long time DeDe stan, I hate to hate him. Alas, DeMore DeRozan plays, DeMore his numbers will go down. Just one game is enough for me to know that DeRozan is not a 28-9-9-1-1 average. I mean, he will put up some dub-dubs through the season and even log a few triple-doubles, sure, but that line to kick the season off is not going to hold—and he scored 13 of 14 freebies, which... The Spurs face the Raptors, and the Raptors are stout on D and have multiple bodies to throw at anyone. DeDe might give you his usual 40+ DKFP, but I highly doubt he will reach the levels his salary is speaking of today.
  • Love: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (PG). The first game of the season for SGA, at last after the Houston fiasco. If there is a man poised to win the MIP award this season, that’s Shai. I mean, who the hell is going to carry OKC not to victory, but even to playing basketball games in 2021? The Thunder are a one-man squad these days in a full-rebuild mentality and Shai will be given all the rocks he can handle. We have yet to see him in such a prominent role, but I’m going to bet on SGA till the day I die.
  • Hate: Julius Randle (PF/C). The Randlewus had a pretty nice start to his season the other day, finishing with a near-trip-dub to the tune of 17 pops, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. Allow me to repeat that: 9 assists. LOL. In all 64 games last season, Randle topped at 7 dimes, which he did once. That’s your true Julius out there, folks. There is no way Randle puts on another performance like his season-debut one any time soon, and even less considering the Knicks stink big time. Points and rebounds? Yes. Anything else? Not in this building, sir. (And it is not that Randle isn’t random as hell on the points-board cats, adding wood to his fire).
  • Love: Rudy Gobert (C). Sixth-cheapest center of the slate, which makes no sense. The Croissant is now in possession of the third-richest contract in NBA history—you read that right—and started the season with a 20-17-2 bang. That’s Gobert, and that won’t change. The 15-15 is a near lock nightly (Gobert put up a 15-13 average last year) and the dub-dub extra points are never a bad gift to treat you with. Rudy might not be Utah’s no. 1 with a certain DoMi around, but for fantasy players out there Gobert is all we can dream of. Also just to throw some shade: Minny is a bottom-five team in this league and KAT doesn’t know how to defend a thing. That’s it, that’s the take.

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!