This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
In order to maximize the usefulness of today's article, we're going to pass on the 12 p.m. afternoon slate and instead tackle DraftKings' second featured slate of the day that begins at 8 p.m. ET.
LAL (-2) vs. LAC O/U: 222.5
DEN (-9.5) vs. NO O/U: 218.5
Today's holiday battle at the Staples Center should be fun to watch, and although LeBron James has been battling a rib injury, he won't be missing today's matchup. There are also no worries about Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma, either. Despite injury tags, both are expected to play today. That's it for injuries on today's slate!
There are some obvious adds in this category, but I'm going to begin in a bit of a contrarian way in relation to the star power on this slate.
Nikola Jokic, DEN ($9,400) vs. NO
Among the elite guys, I think Jokic has the best matchup by a mile. The Pelicans' Achilles heel is in the frontcourt, and despite Derrick Favors' presence, I think Jokic's size and floor-stretching shot-making should stop the Pelicans in their tracks. Jokic began the year with some inconsistency, but that all appears to be in the rear-view mirror. Over the past five games, he's blistered opponents with an average of over 54 DKFP per game and is also consistently turning out double-doubles.
After Jokic, you have some tough calls to make. Looking at the first Lakers-Clippers matchup isn't going to bear much fruit because the game missed a vital component in the form of Paul George. George's presence gives the Clippers a prime opportunity to neutralize LeBron James, who hasn't lined up opposite George since November of last year. While I think all four guys will put up excellent lines in this game, I'm going to put my money on Anthony Davis ($10,100) and Kawhi Leonard ($8,700), over George and James, but only by a little bit.
EXPECTED CHALK AND OTHER TARGETS
Jrue Holiday, NO ($7,200) vs. DEN
The Pelicans actually played Jamal Murray tough in their first matchup, and Holiday won the battle of the backcourt with relative ease, outscoring Murray and Gary Harris with a 41.3 DKFP total. I see no reason to deviate from that outcome, as it might be the only spot where the Pelicans have an advantage. It's tough to bet against a Denver team that's looking to win its eighth straight game, and Holiday is likely the only Pelican I'm 100% confident in tonight.
Will Barton, DEN ($6,600) vs. NO
Barton missed the last game versus the Pelicans, and he's one primary reason why I'm not as high on Brandon Ingram, who I often endorse. An effective scorer and an even better rebounder, Barton could be the X-Factor that turns things in Denver's favor, as they lost a rare game to the Pelicans earlier in the season.
Lou Williams, LAC ($5,800) @ LAL
Williams is at a great price tonight, and the veteran loves the high-visibility matchups. He put up 35 DKFP against the Lakers before the arrival of Paul George, but George's presence hasn't affected Williams' output adversely. Although he's experienced a bit of a downtick in minutes over the last week, the potential is there to reach 6x value at this price.
Montrezl Harrell, LAC ($5,500) @ LAL
Harrell is another guy who's priced right for me today. There's no question that it's going to be tough for the Clippers to get much done inside against Davis, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, but Harrell is perhaps the only player on the team that can match Davis' aggression inside. While Davis often makes things look effortless, with Harrell you can almost sense his force and effort with every play. We should see him off the bench to relieve Ivica Zubac in short order, and I like his chances from there.
Lonzo Ball, NO ($4,500) @ DEN
The Pelicans tinker with their starting five more than most teams in the league, and they are doing everything they can to keep Ball involved. They've shifted Ingram to the four to make room for him in a three-guard setup at times, but I don't think they can afford that scheme tonight. It's a tough call between Ball and JJ Redick ($4,400) as to who will get more opportunity, and the final starting five leading up to tip-off will tell us a lot. In this high-visibility game, I think we'll see a Ball/Holiday/Ingram/Williams/Favors starting five as I think it's the best combo to fend off the Nuggets. This educated guess leads me to click on Ball tonight.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL ($3,900) vs. LAC
You won't see Kuzma in the starting five anytime soon, but his potential production is too tough to fade for under 4k. The potential for 6k value or more is doable with just a few extra minutes, which would likely come in the third and early-fourth quarter.
Avery Bradley, LAL ($3,300) vs. LAC
It's a stretch, but maybe we can give some love to Bradley in a revenge-game scenario against his former team. It will depend on how much playing time they send Bradley's way, but if he drains a few shots he could get extended playing time with the second unit.