DraftKings NBA Core Plays: Saturday, January 13th

Andy Means will be bringing Premium subscribers his top cash game plays and tournament pivots to build around. A former Duke basketball walk-on and now top-ranked DFS player, Andy will take an in-depth look into each of his core plays, and then blend it all together from a roster construction perspective. On weekends, the preseason maestro you all know and love, Allan Lem, takes the reigns.

— Click here for FanDuel Core Plays —

Saturday, January 13th

Update 6:43pm ESTGary Harris is available to play, so that takes me off Jamal Murray as my tournament pivot if he does play. I’ll swap in Spencer Dinwiddie in his place as my tournament pivot. Also updating Golden State, Stephen Curry and”(player-popup #andre-iguodala)Andre Iguodala”:/players/andre-iguodala-1334 are good to go while Omri Casspi has been ruled out. I think Curry is an elite tournament play and assuming there are no restrictions, I’m fine with him for cash too. The hard part is I haven’t heard anything yet on starters or restrictions, so if you play him in cash, know there’s some risk. Tyler Zeller has been ruled out and Quincy Acy is starting in his place. Acy becomes a core play at min salary and I don’t even hate Jahlil Okafor as a deep long shot tournament play. Lastly, Stanley Johnson has been ruled out. Here’s my updated Core Plays list:

1. Kevin Durant
2. Delon Wright
3. Quincy Acy
4. Nikola Mirotic

Update 2pm ESTStephen Curry has been upgraded to probable while Andre Iguodala and Omri Casspi are questionable. If there are no restrictions for Curry I think he is cash game viable. I may update rankings closer to lock depending on the Curry news.

Hello Grinders. We have a four game slate this Saturday night. We’ll be focusing on the main slate only. There are several teams on the backend of a back-to-back: Brooklyn, Denver, Golden State and Washington. It’s worth monitoring these teams in case minutes are scaled back or players are rested. One other thing to note is that Zach LaVine will be making his return from a torn ACL, but will be on a 20 minute limit. Denzel Valentine will move to the bench while Justin Holiday will start at small forward. LaVine is cheap (and it’s Zach LaVine bobblehead night!), but given the 20 minute cap I’m hesitant to recommend him. He could theoretically hit value in that short time frame if he’s chucking the ball but there’s risk there and not someone I can recommend for cash games.

Let’s do a quick recap on the news and notes for this slate:

Chicago BullsNikola Mirotic (Will Return and Play)
Denver NuggetsGary Harris (Questionable – Missed Friday’s Game For Personal Reasons)
Detroit PistonsStanley Johnson (Questionable)
Golden State WarriorsOmri Casspi (Questionable); Stephen Curry (Questionable)
San Antonio SpursDanny Green (Questionable); Kawhi Leonard (Questionable); Tony Parker (Questionable)
Toronto RaptorsKyle Lowry (Questionable / Game Time Decision)

Feel free to give me a follow on Twitter. Let’s dive in!


1) Kevin Durant, SF/PF, Golden State Warriors – $9,700

This slate is a bit tricky with several key players starting the day out as questionable, including Stephen Curry. The good news is that Kevin Durant is priced at $9,700, and I personally think he’s in-play whether Curry is in or not. If he’s out, Durant is a lock in cash games at this price as he’ll be asked to continue carrying the offense. If Curry is in, it definitely knocks Durant down a peg as his usage will decline, but $9,700 is still a fair price.

Tournament Pivot – Stephen Curry: If Curry is ruled in on Saturday’s game, he makes for a fantastic pivot off Durant. He’s priced up and people will likely have some hesitation playing him coming off an injury, which should depress his ownership. Additionally, Kyle Lowry is officially questionable but per this tweet here by Raptors beat writer Josh Lewenberg, it sounds like he’s closer to doubtful. That would mean Curry avoids Lowry’s defense.

2) Delon Wright, PG/SG, Toronto Raptors – $5,600

This recommendation assumes Kyle Lowry does in fact miss the game. If Lowry is ruled in, I will update my core play rankings prior to lock. I’d expect Wright to draw another start if Lowry is out. The one caveat with Wright is that his price has risen significantly to $5,600, which is beginning to make me a bit uncomfortable. But the Raptors are going to need his defense and scoring to keep pace with the Warriors. He only played 18 minutes in their last game but it’s worth noting that the Raptors blew out the Cavaliers by 34 points in that game, so he wasn’t needed. Additionally, Fred VanVleet was having a career game and dropped 22 real life points. Prior to that game, Fred only scored 15 or more points twice in his entire career, so it feels like an outlier performance. I still expect VanVleet to get a chunk of minutes in this game to spell Wright, but Wright should get the lion’s share of minutes between the two (unless VanVleet morphs into Kobe Bryant again and drops another 22 real life points).

Tournament Pivot – Jamal Murray: I’ll admit, this is not an ideal game environment for Murray having to face the San Antonio Spurs on the backend of a back-to-back. But his price is an appealing $6,100 and it sounds like old man Tony Parker will be back on Saturday, which enhances this matchup for Murray. Still, the Spurs have the #2 ranked DvP against point guards this season so I’m fully aware of the risks. When you look at this price range for guards, there’s not a lot that’s appealing. You have Wright, a volatile Avery Bradley and Spencer Dinwiddie coming off a 30-minute game. I’m willing to take some shots with Murray in tournaments.

3) Nikola Mirotic, PF/C, Chicago Bulls – $5,600

Mirotic has missed the Bulls’ last two games because of a stomach bug but he practiced on Friday and is set to return to his normal backup role. I have not read anything about him being limited on Saturday and considering it was just a stomach bug and not a physical injury, I’m more open to rostering him. The most appealing factor about Mirotic is his $5,600 price. This is the cheapest he’s been since December 15th, when he was $5,500, so we’re getting a discount due to the fact he’s been sick. Despite coming off the bench, Mirotic leads the Bulls in points per game (17.4) and usage (26.2%). On the year, he’s averaging 1.25 fantasy points per minute and has been fantastic in his brief time on the court.

Tournament Pivot – Jonas Valanciunas: Valanciunas is the epitome of a tournament play. He’ll have monster outings, followed by monster duds. Case and point – in his last six games, three of them finished with 39 or more DraftKings points, while the other three finished with 16 or fewer DraftKings points. JV also only averages 20.5 minutes per game, so he has to do his damage in a short period of time. You’ll know quickly whether it’s a JV game or not. I’m not going to pretend like I know which JV will show up on Saturday. All I can say is he’s tournament viable on every slate he’s on. The Warriors are ranked 26th in DvP against centers, so on paper this is an elite matchup for Valanciunas to explode once again. But keep in mind he has huge dud potential, so use him mainly in tournaments.

Thanks for reading, and good luck tonight. May variance be on your side.

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About the Author

  • Allan Lem (fathalpert)

  • Allan Lem (aka fathalpert) began playing fantasy sports in high school and transitioned to DFS in 2015. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Economics and lives in California with his wife and two kids. He dreams of winning a big tournament so he can try cashing one of those giant cardboard checks at his local bank.


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