DraftKings NBA Core Plays: Thursday, December 7th
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.
Thursday, December 7th
UPDATE – 2:20 PM EST
With news that Paul George and Jerami Grant are out, Russell Westbrook absolutely becomes the priority high end spend. Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams are great plays now as well. I ever so slightly prefer T.J. Warren over Melo if I had to pick one, but honestly the correct play is to roster both of them.
For those that read this article last year, welcome back. For those that are new, thanks for reading! Here is a quick review of what I am trying to accomplish with NBA Core Plays.
First and foremost, the Core Plays I reference below are for cash game formats (e.g. 50/50, H2H, double-ups). They are the players I think you absolutely must have in your cash game lineup(s) on that day’s main slate. There is a ton of great DFS information available nowadays. However, it can also be difficult to comb through all of that information and know whom exactly to put in your lineup. After reading a lot of articles and listening to a few podcasts, you suddenly are left thinking that there are 20 guys you should be putting into your cash game lineup (“Player X is an elite play!”; “Player Y is perfect for cash games!”; “Player Z is viable in all formats!”).
My goal with this article is to actually prioritize all of those viable plays. So the first player you see listed below is who I think is the most important. The second player listed is the second most important and so on and so forth. I will usually provide 3-5 players each day. While some (or all) of the plays may seem obvious, we still want to make those plays and let our opponents be the ones to make the mistakes. Not building around this core set of players, in my opinion, is a recipe for an unprofitable night.
Since I know a lot of DFS players only play tournaments, I also provide tournament pivots off of those Core Plays. I usually try to have the pivots be from the same position, same game, or same price range. The Core Plays will usually see some of the highest ownership on the slate, so how you mix them into your lineups for tournaments is up to your own personal tournament strategy.
IMPORTANT: I will make every effort to update this article as news breaks until approximately one hour before rosters lock. So please check back throughout the day as I update my Core Plays. However, if time is tight, I will forego the analysis here and only update my tags on LineupHQ. I plan to keep the tags updated on LineupHQ all the way up until lineup lock, so always make sure to check there first. Remember, what may be a great play at 2:00 PM is not always a great play at 7:00 PM. To get my most up-to-date thoughts on the slate before lineups lock, be sure to tune into Crunch Time. Kevin Roth and I will go live thirty minutes before lineups lock, and you can watch right there in LineupHQ as you build lineups.
If you aren’t already doing so, give me a follow on Twitter. I won’t answer too many specific DFS questions (in order to protect you, the Premium subscribers), but I absolutely love just talking hoops. Let’s get to it!
1) T.J. Warren, SF/PF, Phoenix Suns – $6,500
With Devin Booker out for a few weeks, this is just a silly price tag on Warren. He is going to have no choice but to pick up some of the offensive slack that will be missing with Booker sidelined. Furthermore, the minutes are probably a little more secure as well.
The matchup is mostly neutral against a Washington team that is 11th in defensive rating and 13th in defensive efficiency against small forwards. However, if the Suns decide to go real small for some reason and start Warren at the power forward, he would get a nice little bump. The Wizards rank 22nd in defensive efficiency against power forwards.
This play just makes too much sense in cash games. I will be locking in Warren tonight.
(Tournament pivot: I don’t hate the idea of rolling out Troy Daniels tonight in tournaments. If Booker’s absence means the Suns try more lineups with Ulis and James on the court together, Daniels could see more minutes than we think. And when Daniels gets on the court, he is not afraid to get up some shots. This is definitely more of a large field tourney flier for me, but he could end up being one of those extremely low owned guys that you need to take down a big tournament on such a small slate.)
2) Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers – $10,100
This might feel a little like chasing points considering Embiid dropped almost NINETY ONE DRAFTKINGS POINTS on these Lakers in the middle of November. But the game environment is just a tad too enticing for me to pass up Embiid tonight.
This is definitely a pace-up spot for Philly; any game against the Lakers is since they play at the fastest pace in the league. To their credit though, they are eighth in the league in defensive rating. The pace bump wins though as Philly has a team total (114.3) that is 6.1 points higher than their season average (108.2). And that team total just so happens to be the highest on the slate.
I highly doubt we see Julius Randle try to cover Embiid for most of the game like we saw last time these two teams faced off. Does it really matter who guards him though? No one on the Lakers stands a chance. Embiid is an extremely safe cash game play tonight. I think he is a lock for my center position on one of the rare nights that DraftKings doesn’t have a ton of appealing options at that position.
(Tournament pivot: For me, the pivot here in tournaments is to drop down to Rudy Gobert and hope that we continue to see the minutes increase as he works his way back from injury. If he gets back up into the low or mid 30’s for whatever reason, then we suddenly have a discounted price on him. This is a massive pace-up game for the Jazz. Furthermore, the Rockets give up the second most blocks on average to the center position. This is a prime blowup spot for Gobert if he gets the minutes.)
3) Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards – $8,100
What was that I just said about feeling like I am chasing points? That might feel even more so with Beal considering he just put up 59.25 DraftKings points on Tuesday.
However, the matchup is just too good for Beal tonight. The Suns play at the second fastest pace in the league, yet are dead last in defensive rating. As you might expect due to those numbers, the Wizards have a team total (111.5) that is 5.4 points higher than their season average (106.1).
Beal is in a great spot tonight and is someone I will be locking into cash games.
(Tournament pivot: A good tournament pivot at this position way further down the pricing spectrum is Thabo Sefolosha. Regardless of what happens with the statuses of Rodney Hood and Raul Neto, Thabo could see extended run tonight as a primary defender on James Harden. When he has games like he did two nights ago, where he just piles up blocks/steals, basically anything else you are getting on top of that is gravy. I doubt many give Thabo a second thought tonight as a guy to roster. We should take advantage of that in tournaments, even on a small slate.)
ROSTER CONSTRUCTION THOUGHTS
Russell Westbrook is obviously in a great spot tonight. A key decision point will be whether we jam him into cash games at this big price tag. My lean early in the day is to not go higher than Embiid, but that is certainly subject to change as I look into it a bit more as the day progresses.
INJURY/REST SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
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