Yahoo DFS Basketball: Saturday Picks

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·6 min read
Yahoo DFS Basketball: Saturday Picks
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This is one of the best slates of the season. It's Christmas Day, which means we have five straight games throughout the day. That's a basketball lover's dream, and I'm ecstatic to be covering it. We have numerous players returning from COVID protocols for this slate, and that's definitely going to be a major theme. With that in mind, let's kick things off with one of those guys!

Guards

James Harden, BKN at LAL ($48)

James just cleared COVID protocols on Thursday, and it looks like he'll be ready to run the show for Brooklyn. What makes him really intriguing here is that Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge remain in the protocols, leaving Harden with all the usage he can handle. James is generating a 37.4 percent usage rate with those two guys off the floor while averaging 1.5 Y! points per minute. That absurd rate is scary since he's likely looking at 40 minutes here, making him extremely enticing against a Lakers team that ranks 27th in total defense. You better believe The Beard will be ready to provide lavish presents on a day like this against a team as historic as the Lakers. 

Kemba Walker, NYK vs. ATL ($14)

Wake up! It looks like somebody over at Yahoo! is sleeping right now because Kemba is playing at a $40 level. The former Uconn guard earned this $14 price tag when he was exiled to the bench, but with Derrick Rose getting surgery, Walker is back to starting duties. He's been unbelievable since regaining this role, playing at least 37 minutes in all three starts while dropping at least 41 fantasy points in each. He's also providing a ridiculous 52-point average in that span, making him the best value on the board at just $14. It's not like Atlanta is tough either, with the Hawks ranked 24th in defensive efficiency ratings. 

Guard to Avoid

Dennis Schroder, BOS at MIL ($18)

We love Schroder when Boston is shorthanded, but he's tough to trust when this team is fully healthy. That appears to be the case now, with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart all expected to play here. That means Dennis the Menace will return to his bench role, making him far less valuable. While Dennis is averaging 31 fantasy points per game in his 18 starts this year, he's averaging just 22 Yahoo points per game in his 11 games coming off the bench. That's even more concerning with Schroder scoring 14 or fewer fantasy points in three straight outings. Not to mention, Milwaukee ranks seventh in defensive efficiency this season. 

Forwards

Cam Reddish, ATL at NYK ($17)

Atlanta is one of those teams dealing with a COVID breakout, but it looks like Cam will be their guy. They're currently missing Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Clint Capela, leaving Reddish as the primary ball-handler. In the first two games without those guys, Cam collected 75 Yahoo points across 70 minutes of action. That 37-point average is no surprise when you see his role, with Reddish attempting 36 shots in those games while leading the team with a 32 percent usage rate. All of that is fantastic news against the Knicks, with New York ranked 23rd in defensive efficiency. 

Otto Porter, GS at PHX ($12)

COVID has been wreaking havoc on the NBA, and it struck the Warriors earlier this week. They lost Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins, leaving a ton of minutes at the wing for Porter. He's started the last two games without those guys, scoring at least 34 Y! points in both of those. That's a spectacular total from a $12 player, and we have to assume his 30-minute role will continue with how shorthanded this team is right now. The matchup with Phoenix is no picnic, but it really doesn't matter with this $12 you're paying for Porter. 

Forward to Avoid

Bojan Bogdanovic, UTA vs. DAL ($17)

Bojan is one of the best sharpshooters in the NBA, but he simply doesn't do anything else. Over his last 12 games played, Bogey is averaging 2.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0 blocks per game. That equates to about 6.7 Y! points per game, meaning he needs at least 20 raw points to reach value at this price. That's a lot to ask since he's only done that in 10 of 21 games this season. All of that is concerning, but this game script is absolutely horrifying. Utah enters this matchup as a 13-point favorite, and it's very possible that Bojan doesn't even step on the court in the fourth quarter of what should be a lopsided game. 

Centers

Rudy Gobert, UTA vs. DAL ($39)

Rudy has established himself as one of the best cash games players in DFS, providing one of the most frivolous floors out there. In fact, Gobert has gobbled up at least 29 Yahoo points in 29 of 31 games this season, reaching 48-plus in four of his last five games. That makes it hard to understand why he remains below $40, especially since he faces a Dallas team that's been ravished by COVID. They were terrible against centers before their breakout, with the Mavericks surrendering the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing centers this season. That was on full display last year when Rudy averaged 20 points, 15.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in his three meetings with Dallas. 

Gorgui Dieng, ATL at NYK ($10)

Atlanta was splitting Capela's minutes between Onyeka Okongwu and Dieng, but with OO entering COVID protocols on Friday, it looks like Dieng should get all the minutes he can handle. We love that since Gorgui has been a fantasy gem in the past, averaging over 1.1 Yahoo points per minute for his career. If you look at the 33 games he's played at least 22 minutes since 2018, Dieng is averaging 29.3 Yahoo points per game. Those 22 minutes appear to be his floor here, with Dieng more likely to play 30-35 minutes with how shorthanded this team is right now. We certainly don't mind that New York surrenders the most fantasy points to opposing centers, either.

Center to Avoid

JaVale McGee, PHX vs. GS ($16)

McGee has been magical when filling in for Deandre Ayton, but with the big man back, McGee is impossible to trust in this bench role. The simple fact is, he doesn't play enough to provide value for a $16 player. If you look at the 23 games JaVale has come off the bench, he hasn't played more than 20 minutes in any of them, averaging 14 minutes a night. Anytime your minute total is below your price and you're not a superstar, that's a major red flag! The matchup against Golden State makes him even more challenging to trust, with the Warriors ranked first in defensive efficiency. In addition, the Warriors play a ton of small-ball, and it could keep McGee on the bench even longer.