The NBA Player Models are the lifeblood of our NBA product. They house our projections for each player, but that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find inside. You’ll also find our Trends tool and so much more.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates.
Top Ceiling: Luka Doncic at Oklahoma City Thunder – $10,800 DraftKings, $10,000 FanDuel
It has been nearly a month since Luka Doncic has played in a game. He was out due to an ankle injury and then went into the COVID protocols. His last game was on December 10th. The Mavericks are just 5-9 without Doncic this season. He comes back at the right time, as Kristaps Porzingis is ruled out due to rest. Using our On/Off tool, Doncic has a 2.5% usage rate increase and a +3.3 DraftKings Plus/Minus this season.
The Mavericks are eight-point road favorites tonight. The Thunder have the second-worst point differential in the Western Conference this season and now are playing without their best player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. In four games without Gilegous-Alexander, the Thunder’s Defensive Rating drops from 107.5 to a whopping 129.1. This is a great matchup to target Doncic at what feels like a discount.
Top Value: Duane Washington at Cleveland Cavaliers – $3,300 DraftKings, $3,900 FanDuel
Coming in as the best value guard option on both sites tonight is Duane Washington. The Pacers are decimated in their backcourt, as Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. McConnell, and Chris Duarte are all out. Washington played 30 minutes in their last game against the Bulls and was a stat-sheet stuffer with eight points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block. He had a 22.5% usage rate while scoring 21 DraftKings points.
Not only did Washington have a solid game, but he also shot extremely poorly. He shot 3-for-14 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown. It looks as if Washington has a pretty juicy upside at this cheap price tag. However, the matchup against the Cavaliers certainly isn’t ideal. They rank third in Defensive Rating and have only allowed 102.3 points per game, which ranks second-best in the league. Matchup stinks, but price tag is fantastic.
Note: Duane Washington is only SG-eligible on FanDuel.
Top Ceiling: Jaylen Brown vs. Orlando Magic – $9,300 DraftKings, $8,600 FanDuel
One of the most consistent players in this price range this season has been Jaylen Brown. He has seven straight games scoring 40 or more DraftKings points. I prefer my Brown exposure on FanDuel, where he has recorded a positive Plus/Minus in eight of his last nine games and has a 92% Bargain Rating. Brown has crazy upside in this spot. He attempted a career-high 36 field goals five days ago against the Clippers.
This play could get even better if Jayson Tatum is unable to play due to injury. Make sure to monitor his status. Using our On/Off tool, Brown has a 5.5% usage rate increase and a +6.3 DraftKings Plus/Minus without Tatum on the floor this season. Regardless of whether Tatum plays, this is still a great matchup for Brown, as the Magic rank 27th in Defensive Rating and have allowed 111.5 points per game, which is sixth highest.
Top Value: Ty Jerome vs. Dallas Mavericks – $4,200 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel
With previously mentioned Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the COVID protocol, the Thunder will look to Ty Jerome as their main ball handler tonight. Jerome is one of the best value plays on DraftKings with a 99% Bargain Rating. He is much tougher to get on FanDuel with a $6,200 salary. Jerome has a team-high +6.2 DraftKings Plus/Minus with Gilgeous-Alexander off the floor this season in 281 minutes.
The Thunder are eight-point road underdogs with an implied total of 100 points, which is the lowest on the entire slate. This is mainly due to how slow the Mavericks play; they rank 29th in Pace this season. Jerome should be able to still have a solid game, as he has averaged 17.5 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 5.0 assists per game, and 2.0 steals per game in his last two games. Stick with Jerome on DraftKings tonight.
Top Ceiling: LeBron James vs. Minnesota Timberwolves – $12,000 DraftKings, $11,400 FanDuel
The highest-priced player on both sites on the slate is LeBron James. The 37-year old has been playing at an elite level lately. James has over 70 DraftKings points in each of his last three games and over 60 in each of his last five. James has scored over 30 points in each of his last seven games. During that time, he has averaged 36 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game with a 34.7% usage rate.
The Lakers will continue to play without Anthony Davis, who is out due to a knee injury. In 10 games without Davis this season, James is averaging 35.4 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game while shooting 23 field-goal attempts per game. He has a usage rate of 33.8% in those 10 games compared to 28.7% when Davis is in the lineup. James has a positive Plus/Minus in eight-straight games. Don’t be intimidated by the price tag.
Top Value: Caleb Martin at Sacramento Kings – $4,900 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel
Caleb Martin is the best projected Plus/Minus play on both sites at small forward, but he isn’t standing out. The main reason for Martin is the minutes. He played 38 minutes in their last game and has averaged 32 minutes per game in his last three games. During that time, Martin is averaging 12 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game. Max Strus and Duncan Robinson are still out, which solidifies Martin’s playing time.
Martin looks better on DraftKings with a 83% Bargain Rating. The Kings are absolutely getting torched defensively, which benefits Martin. The game environment should be fast-paced, and if Martin can hit his shots, he can certainly be viable. In his last three games, Martin is shooting 53.6% from the field.
Top Ceiling: Domantas Sabonis at Cleveland Cavaliers – $9,800 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel
My favorite play on FanDuel is Domontas Sabonis. He has a 97% Bargain Rating on FanDuel and has had a positive Plus/Minus in eight of his last 11 games. Sabonis is a near lock to double-double tonight, as he has averaged 18.1 points per game and 12 rebounds per game this season. His 12 rebounds per game rank fourth in the entire league, and Sabonis will be leaned on with all of the Pacers players out.
This will be quite the test for Sabonis, as the Cavaliers have a massive frontcourt filled with versatility. Our model has Sabonis projected to play a slate-high 37 minutes tonight, and he’s one of the most popular plays on FanDuel tonight. He has been awesome lately, averaging 17.7 points, 16 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game in his last three games while averaging 37.3 minutes per game.
Top Value: Jalen Smith at Charlotte Hornets – $5,000 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel
The highest projected value play on both sites tonight is Jalen Smith. The Suns will be playing without big men Deandre Ayton, JaVale McGee and Frank Kaminsky. Smith has been fantastic with the extra playing time he has been given. Over the last three games, Smith is averaging a double-double with 15 points per game and 10 rebounds per game. He is averaging 27 minutes per game and playing well.
The price tag on Smith shot up like a rocket, but the upside in this spot is incredible. The Hornets present the best matchup for an opposing fantasy player. They rank 28th in Defensive Rating, second in Pace, and dead last in points allowed with 116.1 per game. They also allow the second most rebounds with 48.2 per game. It is hard to see Smith not recording a double-double in this matchup.
Top Ceiling: Jarrett Allen vs. Indiana Pacers – $9,100 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel
After missing four-straight games due to the COVID protocols, Jarrett Allen returned to action and played 37 minutes, scoring 21 points and grabbing eight rebounds. The Cavaliers desperately needed to get healthy, as they lost three of their four games with Allen sidelined. He is a focal point of their defense, as he leads the team in rebounds and is second in blocks. The price tag is relatively high, but Allen has upside tonight.
Allen had a run in late November and early December where he was pouring in several games above 40 DraftKings points and even some over 50. We have seen the upside, even if it has been a while. Playing this many minutes allows for plenty of opportunities for Allen to have a ceiling game in this spot. This should be a slower-paced game against the Pacers, which bodes well for Allen being a focal point in the half court.
Top Value: Omer Yurtseven at Sacramento Kings – $6,500 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel
Another awesome big-man value play tonight is Omer Yurtseven. He also has seen a major hike in his salary, but Yurtseven has had a positive FanDuel Plus/Minus in 10-straight games. He is the second-best value play on FanDuel, despite being only center eligible. He has an 85% Bargain Rating.
This matchup for Yurtseven and the Heat is very good. The Kings rank 26th in Defensive Rating, seventh in Pace, and 28th in points allowed with 113.7 per game. They also rank 25th in Rebounding Percentage, which bodes well for Yurtseven, who has recorded at least 12 rebounds per game in seven straight games. In his last three games, his minutes have increased even more, and he has a double-double in every game.