Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday that honors one of the bravest and most impactful civil rights leaders in American history. MLK Day represents the importance of racial equality and service to community, core commitments held close to the heart of the NBA. In that sense, MLK Day has also become one of the two main unofficial holidays of the Association. Just a few weeks after Christmas, this federal holiday typically lands right around the halfway point of the professional hoops season. So, today, we will toast to Martin Luther King Jr. and build a DraftKings lineup to make us some DFS cash.
The five-game Monday afternoon slate features plenty of star power. Tipping at 3:00 p.m. ET, Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers host the Pelicans, Jalen Brunson and the Knicks host the Raptors, and Steph Curry’s reigning-champion Warriors travel to face Kristaps Porzingis and the Wizards in the nation’s capital. Jimmy Butler and the Heat head to Atlanta, the birthplace of MLK, to take on Trae Young and the Hawks at 3:30. And Lauri Markkanen leads the Jazz to Minnesota to take on former Utah center Rudy Gobert and the Wolves.
That’s a stacked few hours of NBA hoops, providing us with plenty of DFS goodness with which to build a DraftKings Classic lineup. Today we will go with a fairly balanced approach, drafting no players over $9,100 and picking only two guys averaging under 24 fantasy points per game. The anchors of our lineup, former Mavericks Kristaps Porzingis ($9,100) and Jalen Brunson ($8,500), fill it up across the board statistically, as do most our sleepers and under-the-radar players.
Let’s dive into our lineup, and discuss which players made the cut on this important day in America on and off the basketball floor. Here’s our MLK Day DraftKings NBA roster, and a brief explanation on why each player could help win you some holiday DFS cash.
Note: DraftKings lineup construction is simple: draft eight players with assigned salaries — one for each position, as well as one guard flex, one forward flex, and one utility — and keep the team under the $50,000 salary cap.
Best MLK Day 2023 NBA DFS Picks: DraftKings strategy, sleepers for Monday afternoon
PG: Jalen Brunson, Knicks vs. Raptors ($8,500)
Not long ago, members of our NBA team questioned the Knicks’ unrelenting free-agent pursuit of Brunson. But the Knicks sure look like they deserve praise for the offseason signing now, as the former Mav averages 22.3 points, 6.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game and could be headed to his first NBA All-Star Game. Brunson averages 38.6 fantasy points per game, but he’s dropped 55-plus three times since the New Year and he even poured in 61 FPTs on Friday at Washington. He now faces a banged-up Fred VanVleet and the Raptors, who he torched for 45.25 FPTs just 10 days ago. Draft this man!
SG: Jordan Clarkson, Jazz at Timberwolves ($7,200)
Many wondered if Clarkson would maintain an elite scoring impact for Utah after Danny Ainge shipped Rudy Gobert and multiple other key Jazz to Minnesota and other franchises during the offseason. Alas, JC has been just fine this season, and the Jazz have been one of the biggest surprise storylines of this NBA campaign. Clarkson’s fantasy baseline is basically the low-30s, but on Saturday he reminded us that he still has plenty of ability to go off, putting up 57.75 FPTs against the Sixers. The Wolves are battered and bruised (both their bodies and egos), and their defense has been nowhere near as effective as pundits thought it might be with Gobert in tow. Even if Rudy and Ant Edwards play, we expect Clarkson to easily exceed his modest price tag here. He put up 48.75 FPTs the last time Utah visited Minneapolis.
SF: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Hawks vs. Heat ($5,600)
One of my favorite role-player value guys in DFS, Bogdanovic is always a threat to go off with his pure shooting stroke. Since returning from injury, he has really stepped it up for a Hawks team that has battled health issues all season. He came through with 34.25 FPTs against the tough defense of Golden State earlier this month, and lit Milwaukee up for 37.75 FPTs last week. Don’t worry about Jimmy Butler and the Heat — Bogdan will get his if he’s feeling it.
PF: Kristaps Porzingis, Wizards vs. Warriors ($9,100)
Porzingis represents the second main pillar of our DFS build with Brunson, his former teammate in Dallas. KP has been relatively quiet this New Year, but we saw around the December holidays that he can still fill it up for 50-60 fantasy points on any given outing. Against a small Warriors front court, we like his chances to go off for a Wizards team that has been without franchise player Bradley Beal since Jan. 3. Go eat, KP!
C: Evan Mobley, Cavaliers vs. Pelicans ($6,300)
We’re loving the balance we have with this squad. Mobley is a master of the peripheral stats, serving as one of the best young defenders and rebounders in the Association. We love his chances to rack up the counting stats today, especially with New Orleans missing Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas likely dealing with Cavs center Jarrett Allen all day. The Pels rank among the 10 most generous to bigs in fantasy, even worse with Zion sidelined. Get your boards and blocks, big man!
G: Monte Morris, Wizards vs. Warriors ($4,800)
Morris is another one of my favorite cheap fantasy assets. He may not be exciting, but he’s consistently reliable as a decent scorer and assists and steals streamer. Steph Curry’s recent return from injury may help Golden State offensively, but it hurts the Dubs defensively. Morris should be good for his textbook 24-to-32 fantasy points this afternoon.
F: Anthony Lamb, Warriors at Wizards ($4,100)
Lamb, an undrafted third-year journeyman out of Vermont, has exploded onto the scene lately. He’s dropped 13 points in five of Golden State’s past six games, and scored a career-high 26 against Orlando on Jan. 7. He’s also a decent contributor in the rebounds and assists departments, and sometimes provides a steal or block in his 20-25 minutes of play. With the Warriors constantly battling health and depth issues, Lamb is not going anywhere if he stays this hot.
Util: Jaylen Nowell, Timberwolves vs. Jazz ($4,400)
Another sleeper who has enjoyed a breakout campaign, Nowell has been one of the better storylines in Minnesota this season. His game on Satuday against the Cavs gives you a good glimpse at his upside: 16 points, four boards, two assists, two steals. That’s good for 28 fantasy points in just 26 minutes of play! With the Jazz ranking dead-last in fantasy points allowed to guards, Nowell is a fantastic cherry on top of a well-balanced MLK DFS squad.