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NBA Core plays


1) Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

FanDuel: $9,700, C DraftKings: $8,300, C Yahoo: $51, C FantasyDraft: $15,700, F/C

I spent about 30 minutes figuring out what to do with Drummond in this spot. Let me break down both sides of the argument so that you can make an informed decision for yourself.

On one hand, the Pistons played this same Bucks team in the first round of the NBA playoffs last year. They did not have Blake Griffin for that series, and all signs point to Griffin resting tonight. Milwaukee’s personnel has not changed a lot since last year. That playoff series should be a pretty good barometer. Detroit got swept — very handily, I might add — in that series. Here were Drummond’s game logs in that series:

Game 1 – 26 minutes, 12 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks

Game 2 – 38 minutes, 18 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 2 blocks

Game 3 – 30 minutes, 12 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks

Game 4 – 33 minutes, 15 points, 12 rebounds 3, assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks

Series averages – 32 minutes, 14 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.3 blocks

Detroit lost every game in the series by at least 16 points, and it was simply domination from start to finish. However, Drummond still averaged nearly 40 fantasy points per game in that series. Yes, the matchup is difficult, and Brook Lopez is an opposing big man with range who can try to draw Drummond away from the paint.

I simply cannot look past the fact that Drummond absolutely went nuts early in the season when Blake Griffin was sidelined. He nearly averaged a 20/20 line over the first nine games of the year, posting a double-double in every single contest. The Pistons lack any other semblance of size and rebounding ability when Griffin is out, and Drummond has taken his game to another level. In addition, his price had climbed to over $10K on FD and near that mark on DK after that stretch. Now, he sits at $9,700 on FD and $8,300 on DK. I’ll take that savings and start my lineups with Drummond this evening. It’s an easy choice on DK/FDRAFT at those salaries, while it’s a bit of a difficult decision on FD/YAHOO.

(Tournament pivot: Most people are either going to look to Drummond or to Orlando value with their center picks tonight. That will leave high upside players like Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert with relatively low ownership. Gobert is particularly intriguing against an up tempo New Orleans squad that doesn’t play much defense. Without Derrick Favors, they will have trouble keeping Gobert off the glass. Any non-Drummond spendy options are interesting GPPplays at center on this slate.)

2) Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers

FanDuel: $8,700, PF DraftKings: $8,100, PF/C Yahoo: $39, PF FantasyDraft: $14,700, F/C

Let me preface this by saying that I obviously like Giannis Antetokounmpo. He has been ridiculously consistent with a floor seemingly near 60 fantasy points on a nightly basis. If you can fit Giannis into your cash game lineups, there is no reason to question whether or not you should do it. The problem I see is that, at least as of the time I am writing this, we don’t have a ton of obvious value on the slate. That’s why I am leaning toward a Drummond/Sabonis start to cash game lineups. That has more appeal that a Giannis/punt start to cash game lineups, at least at this stage of the day. As always, things can change throughout the day. I simply wanted to address this in case anyone wonders why Giannis isn’t listed as a core play. It’s the lack of value that is holding me back right now.

As for Sabonis, he is quietly having a fantastic season in Indiana. He had been bothered by a hip injury, but you wouldn’t be able to tell based on his results. Sabonis has played in eight games in the month of November, and he has posted a double-double in all of them. He is averaging 16 points and 16 rebounds over 33 minutes per game. That is remarkable production for a guy who gets no national attention. The Pacers have had four days off leading up to this game, so that should have given him plenty of time to rest his hip and get close to 100% for this game.

Oh — and they also get to face an Orlando team that will be without both Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic due to injury. Hop on the Sabonis train with confidence, and look for him to breeze to a ninth straight double-double.

(Tournament pivot: Speaking of players that get little attention, enter Donovan Mitchell. I am not sure what the reason is, but Mitchell has seemingly gotten no love from the DFS community this year. Perhaps it’s because his price has remained at a high level all year. Perhaps it’s because the Jazz have largely been healthy, limiting his chance to dominate usage. Perhaps it’s because they acquired Mike Conley. Perhaps it’s a combination of all this. Whatever the case may be, a good matchup awaits tonight against a Pelicans team that ranks near the bottom of the NBA in defensive efficiency and near the top of the NBA in pace. This is a nice spot for Mitchell to drop a 50 burger against a poor defense, and I love him as a GPP pivot on this slate, and he checks in at a similar price tag to Sabonis.)

3) FD VALUE Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers

FanDuel: $4,000, PG

DraftKings has priced Aaron Holiday up to $6,600.

FantasyDraft has priced Aaron Holiday up to $12,300.

Yahoo has priced Aaron Holiday up to $20.

FanDuel… has dropped the ball.

According to CourtIQ, Aaron Holiday sees a 6% usage bump and scores over seven additional fantasy points per 36 minutes when Malcolm Brogdon is off the floor. Holiday has been the starting point guard for four games since Brogdon’s injury, and he has averaged 31 minutes and 33 FanDuel points per game in those four contests. That’s over 8x value on a point per thousand dollar basis. There is absolutely no reason Holiday should be priced at $4,000 given those circumstances.

I will state that it’s difficult to rationalize having two core players from a relatively ugly IND/ORL game with a low total. However, matchup dictates the use of Sabonis, and FanDuel salary dictates the use of Holiday. I will avoid the Pacers outside of these two players.

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