DraftKings NBA Christmas Day: Top Picks & DFS Lineups

James Harden

Getty Houston Rockets guard James Harden

It’s the always-exciting NBA Christmas slate, which features a few huge matchups and as we’ve become accustomed to, big daily fantasy contests. This year is no different and we have a slate which includes 10 high-profile teams and plenty of star power as well. Not surprisingly, building lineups on this type of slate can be somewhat tough.

Fortunately, the pricing on this slate for many players isn’t all that bad, allowing you to find upside with mid-range options. We’re going to take a look at the top picks and targets for the DraftKings Christmas slate specifically, and then break down optimal lineups.

I’ll build three different lineups using the top targets for Tuesday’s action. Before we dive into it, let’s first look at the games that are on tap for the holiday.

  • Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks: 12 p.m. EST
  • Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets: 3:00 p.m. EST
  • Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics: 5:30 p.m. EST
  • Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors: 8:00 p.m. EST
  • Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz: 10:30 p.m. EST

We’ll start things off with the top picks and targets which will be broken down by pricing tier. From there I’ll lay out the lineups and take a deeper dive into the thought process there.

DraftKings Christmas NBA Picks & Targets by Price

*Note: Picks feature favorite overall play at the top and go down from there. The top tier will be more of a ranking than breakdown, as any of these names can be in consideration.

  • James Harden ($10,900)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,700)
  • Kevin Durant ($9,300)
  • Joel Embiid ($9,500)
  • Russell Westbrook ($10,300)
  • LeBron James ($10,100)
  • Stephen Curry ($9,000)
  • Paul George ($9,700)

I love Paul George’s game, but not quite for $9,700. Although he’s been on an absolute tear and I could swing and miss badly here, that’s too much to spend. Especially when I could pay down to Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid or Stephen Curry.

There’s no question James Harden is the top stud on the slate but will also have the highest ownership. The Rockets star sees his usage rate and fantasy point per minute skyrocket with Chris Paul off the court, so he’s hard to ignore.

Two other things worth noting are that Durant’s price is painfully low, especially since the Lakers have been horrible at defending small forwards. Along with Durant, Embiid’s price is too low, especially for a player who loves the spotlight more than anything. I could see a world where Durant and Embiid are the two highest scoring players behind Harden.

Top DraftKings Targets: $6,500-$8,500

  • Kyrie Irving ($8,100)
  • Ben Simmons ($8,400)
  • Damian Lillard ($7,800)
  • Clint Capela ($7,400)
  • Jimmy Butler ($7,000)
  • Donovan Mitchell ($7,100)
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. ($6,600)
  • Steven Adams ($6,700)

To be clear, I had to expand this range from $6,500 to $8,500 because there are only three total players from $7,500 to $8,900, so that’s interesting. Regardless, the top players come in that higher range, for good reason.

Kyrie Irving’s price is hard to pass on, and although he may draw the Jimmy Butler treatment, it’s hard not to like him at home in a primetime game. Ben Simmons and Butler are also both incredibly appealing, as this game has a lot of meaning and you can even pair them together in some lineups. The Celtics aren’t a team I want to attack, but this spot is fine on a five-game slate.

I won’t have a ton of Damian Lillard, but he’s a great GPP play and won’t break the bank either. In that same game, I really like the idea of Donovan Mitchell in a primetime game on his home floor. Potentially putting Lillard and Mitchell together could be a strong way to create a nice lineup for a 150-max game.

Top DraftKings Targets: $5,000-$6,400

  • Draymond Green ($6,300)
  • Jusuf Nurkic ($6,100)
  • Enes Kanter ($6,200)
  • Ricky Rubio ($5,400)
  • Eric Gordon ($5,800)
  • Brandon Ingram ($5,300)
  • Jayson Tatum ($6,000)
  • C.J. McCollum ($5,900)
  • Noah Vonleh ($5,200)

Building a core from this group and then adding a superstar with some value is a great starting point on this slate. Draymond Green is a great play here and I expect him to have one of those games where he fills up the box score and does a bit of everything. Along with Green, rolling out Brandon Ingram on the other side at $5,300 when he has no limitations is solid. He should have no problem hitting value at that price.

Although Enes Kanter, Ricky Rubio and Eric Gordon come with risk, they also provide a decent amount of upside. Kanter is risky because David Fizdale could just destroy fantasy players with his minutes. If he gets the run in this game for the Knicks, I expect a monster game from Kanter.

The pricing on Rubio and Gordon is appealing, and I’m fine using either one. Rubio has been red-hot in the past two games and while I’m not expecting another 45-fantasy point showing, expecting 30-35 isn’t unrealistic. As for Gordon, he’s always a wildcard but with Paul out, he immediately becomes an offensive focal point.

Top DraftKings Targets: Sub-$4,900

  • Jerami Grant ($4,500)
  • Brook Lopez ($4,300)
  • Ivica Zubac ($4,400)
  • Rajon Rondo ($4,500)
  • P.J. Tucker ($4,300)
  • Gerald Green ($3,900)/Danuel House ($3,600)
  • T.J. McConnell ($3,600)

There’s a decent amount of value on this slate, but the bulk of the plays come with risk. I narrowed down the value field quite a bit here, specifically leaving out a few names who could be in good spots. Specifically, Mike Muscala ($4,200) is a strong play for the Sixers if Wilson Chander sits out again.

But from the group above, Jerami Grant in a fast-paced matchup is strong. He’s going to see big minutes and can rack up stats in all forms, so there’s risk, but not as much as some of the other names. Along with Grant, I like two big men in Brook Lopez and Ivica Zubac. Lopez’s run is safe and he draws a Knicks team which struggles against opposing centers. As for Zubac, there’s a chance the Warriors play small-ball and he sees his minutes cut, so that’s a little concerning. But regardless, he should be safe for roughly 20 minutes, making him worth the price.

I like both P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green specifically here, but for different reasons (obviously). Tucker fills up the stat sheet and sees consistently big minutes due to the short rotation and injury woes. This same situation benefits Green, although he’s more of a scorer than anything else, which is a bit riskier. Green does have a higher upside between the two, making him better for big tournaments.

Top DraftKings Lineups for Christmas Day

*Note: Top lineup is the optimal

  • PG: Ricky Rubio ($5,400)
  • SG: James Harden ($10,900)
  • SF: Kevin Durant ($9,300)
  • PF: Draymond Green ($6,300)
  • C: Brook Lopez ($4,300)
  • G: Brandon Ingram ($5,300)
  • F: Gerald Green ($3,900)
  • UTIL: Jerami Grant ($4,500)

Lineup for 150-Max Games

  • PG: Kyrie Irving ($8,100)
  • SG: Eric Gordon ($5,800)
  • SF: Tim Hardaway Jr. ($6,600)
  • PF: Danuel House ($3,600)
  • C: Enes Kanter ($6,200)
  • G: Rajon Rondo ($4,500)
  • F: Noah Vonleh ($5,200)
  • UTIL: Joel Embiid ($9,500)

Cash Game Lineup

  • PG: Ricky Rubio ($5,400)
  • SG: James Harden ($10,900)
  • SF: Kevin Durant ($9,300)
  • PF: P.J. Tucker ($4,300)
  • C: Jusuf Nurkic ($6,100)
  • G: Eric Gordon ($5,800)
  • F: Jerami Grant ($4,500)
  • UTIL: T.J. McConnell ($3,600)

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