Can Luka Doncic Keep the MVP Train Rolling Tonight?

Saturday’s NBA slate wraps up the calendar year with a bevvy of fun matchups as half of the tilts boast game totals in the 230s. Nearly half of the teams played on Friday night, so there should be news coming out this afternoon with updated injury reports that will provide value options with players stepping into increased roles.

The action for the eight-game main slate gets underway at 7:00 pm ET on DraftKings and FanDuel. Let’s look at the player pool to discuss the top NBA DFS building blocks today for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.

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NBA DFS Picks: Saturday, Dec. 31

Core Play of the Day — Luka Doncic: Dallas Mavericks-San Antonio Spurs

Over his last five games, Luka Doncic has been superb averaging 40.0 minutes and 22.8 field goal attempts with a ridiculous 57.9% conversion rate. This includes seven 3-point attempts per game with a 42.9% success rate. All told, the NBA MVP frontrunner has averaged 40.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 10.4 assists and 2.8 combined blocks and steals during this timeframe. Clearly this heater will come to an end, but keep in mind that over the entire season, Doncic is still averaging over 60 fantasy points per game and 1.6 fantasy points per minute.

This month the Spurs have allowed 119.4 points per 100 possessions which is the worst defensive efficiency rating in the league. Even though this game is in San Antonio, the Mavericks are still 4.5 point favorites and while that indicates they are 2-to-1 favorites to win this game, there is a good chance that the Spurs stay within reach, allowing the fantasy supporters of Doncic to revel in 35 or more minutes of court time.

Philadelphia 76ers-Oklahoma City Thunder

This is a back-to-back game for the 76ers who lost 127-116 last night in New Orleans. James Harden (35), Joel Embiid (34) and Tobias Harris (33) played their standard minutes, so they should all be good to go tonight. Tyrese Maxey (foot fracture) returned after an 18-game absence and he is likely to get the night off as Philadelphia looks to ease him back into the mix.

Oklahoma City is simply not equipped to handle Embiid, especially with Alexey Pokusevsky (leg) and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (ankle) sidelined with leg injuries. Additionally, at this time the best points per dollar options are included Nicholas Claxton in a great matchup against Charlotte and Naz Reid who is facing Detroit and was solid replacing Rudy Gobert in the starting lineup on Friday. This means there is less opportunity cost in rolling with Embiid, who also has the second best fantasy point projection, trailing only Doncic tonight.

Harden continues to impress and while he did not look great last night, despite dishing out 10 assists and scoring 20 points, we should see him with less than seven turnovers and more than just one rebound in this matchup. He is eligible at both guard spots on DraftKings and FanDuel, which provides extra flexibility when crafting rosters.

Harris is a neutral option on the various DFS sites tonight, meaning there is no need to target or avoid him. De’Anthony Melton and George Niang do not have merit on the main slate, although they provide adequate baseline projections for the two-game late-slate.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to impress and he has eight consecutive games with at least 42 fantasy points. During this stretch he is averaging 37 minutes and 21.9 field goal attempts with a stellar 51.4% conversion rate. This has culminated in 33.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.8 combined blocks and steals. Josh Giddey has been an excellent sidekick and picking up more scoring responsibilities as the season progresses.

Luguentz Dort, Tre Mann, along with Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams round out the rest of the viable options for Saturday’s action. Keep an eye on the announced starting lineup and also know that head coach Mark Daigneault lives for subterfuge when it comes to his rotation expectations.

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Additional NBA DFS Picks Building Blocks Picks Today – Sports Betting Opportunities

James Harden is an intriguing option with a 5.5 over/under line on his rebounds prop in his matchup against the Thunder in Oklahoma City. For the season, Harden is averaging 6.2 rebounds per game and with the OKC frontcourt lacking depth, it would not be a surprise to see The Beard more active on the glass. Harden has surpassed this threshold in 12 of his 20 games this year.

The NBA Bet Pro projections have him nabbing 6.9 rebounds for a 62% probability of surpassing this milestone; at -145 on BetMGM, this works out to an expected ROI of 4%. Wagers like this are best utilized as a leg in a straight or same-game parlay for additional upside potential.

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Miami Heat-Utah Jazz

Both teams are on a back-to-back with the Jazz having lost in Sacramento 126-125 last night while the Heat lost in Denver 124-119. That means this is the dreaded “altitude back-to-back” for Miami, who are likely to be without Jimmy Butler (injury management) after he logged a team high 38 minutes on Friday. Dewayne Dedmon (foot) has missed the last four games and Caleb Martin (ankle/quad) was out last night, both are questionable to suit up Saturday.

If Butler is out as expected – he has not played on consecutive days since October – then Bam Adebayo (30), Kyle Lowry (32) and Tyler Hero (33) are in line for additional opportunities and none of this trio was overworked last night. Victor Oladipo did not play last night, but he is also not playing on consecutive days, so he is a fringe punt option on the main slate and a solid late-slate lottery ticket.

Utah is mostly healthy, so unless we get news that anyone is out, we know what we are getting from this overachieving crew. Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, Kelly Olynyk and Mike Conley are all neutral options on the main slate, who would gain more appeal if one of their compatriots ends up being out.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Picks Building Blocks Today

Tonight should be a fun one with 16 teams in action and four games tipping off to start the slate. Be sure to tune into the Stochastic NBA Deeper Dive and Live Before Lock shows at 5:50 pm ET on YouTube, courtesy of BetMGM. Did you know that you can get two free months of Stokastic Plus Platinum for signing up and making your first bet at BetMGM? Claim here today!


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