NBA Daily Fantasy Helper: Monday 1/4/16

Kevin Durant is out tonight with a toe injury, which means it's time to fire up Russell Westbrook.

If you've never played daily fantasy basketball before, it's time to start. Unlike traditional leagues, you're able to select the players you want on that specific day only, giving you a different squad to root for each and every NBA night.

Today's lineups can be found here. The information below is to help you understand why particular players are being picked, because we don't want you going into the night completely blind. We want to help you. Keep in mind, however, that things often change up until tip-off, so make sure you're refreshing the optimal lineups as close to the start of games as possible.

Oh, and if you're interested, check out our daily fantasy basketball heat chart for today's slate. It's full of information like tonight's Vegas lines, team offensive and defensive efficiency ratings, pace, fantasy points against and so much more. 

As for today's picks -- let's get to it.

The Best of the Best

Russell Westbrook - Westbrook makes a strong daily fantasy play on most nights, but he's a must start any time Kevin Durant is out of the lineup. In the six games the former MVP missed this season, Oklahoma City's star point guard averaged a ridiculous 32.6 points, 9.3 assists and 7.6 rebounds per game. Westbrook led the league in Usage Rate with Durant sidelined most of the year a season ago, and should see a massive boost in usage as long as his Thunder running mate remains out of the lineup. Tonight, Westbrook gets the pleasure of facing off against Rajon Rondo and a terrible Kings' defense that has given up the fifth most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards on the year in what Vegas expects to be the highest scoring game on tonight's slate.

Draymond Green - Nobody in the NBA is hotter than Green right now. With reigning MVP Stephen Curry in and out of Golden State's lineup while fighting several nagging injuries, the Warriors' budding star forward has truly put the team on his back. With Curry playing just 14 minutes over the last three games, Green has filled up the stat sheet with 16.6 points, 12.3 boards, 11.3 dimes, 2.6 steals and a block per game, posting triple-doubles in each of the last two games. He now finds himself ranked 10th in our player power rankings with a 10.6 nERD as well. With an excellent matchup against a Hornets' frontcourt that has given up the fourth most fantasy points per game to opposing power forwards, Green makes a strong play in all formats tonight despite the fact that his price has increased quite a bit over the past week, especially if Curry is forced to sit out once again.

Top Mid-Range Values

Karl-Anthony Towns - On most nights, I would completely avoid any team facing off against the 76ers due to the blowout potential that comes along with playing the worst team in the league. That said, the Timberwolves are just six point favorites on the road in Philadelphia tonight. Given the fact that the Sixers rank just 23rd in the league in Defensive Rating (107.3), have allowed the 6th most opposing points per game (104.8) and play at the 6th fastest pace in the league, pretty much all of Minnesota's starters are in play tonight, but if I had to choose just one, it would be Towns. The number-one overall pick of last year's draft has been red hot as of late, averaging a double-double over his last 10 outings with 18.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Considering that Philadelphia owns the fourth-worst rebounding differential (-3.6) in the NBA and has allowed the second most fantasy points per game to opposing centers on the year, Towns should be in line for another massive fantasy outing tonight.

Isaiah Thomas - The Celtics' backcourt just can't seem to catch a break injury-wise this season. Marcus Smart is finally healthy and back in Boston's rotation, but Avery Bradley is now out with a hip pointer and will likely miss more than just tonight's game against Brooklyn. While several Celtics have battled through injuries early in this season, the one constant in Boston's backcourt has been Thomas. The diminutive point guard is having a career-year, averaging career-bests in scoring (20.9 points per game), assists (6.8 per game), rebounding (2.9 per game) and Usage Rate (28.3%). He draws a tremendous matchup against the short-handed Nets' who have allowed the fourth most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards and should see a slight boost in usage with Bradley sidelined. Thomas makes a great compliment to Westbrook at the point guard position.

Basement Ballers

Shane Larkin - As I alluded to above, Brooklyn will be without Jarrett Jack for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. While this is certainly terrible news for the Nets' organization and Jack himself, the veteran point guard's injury should open the door for some younger players to step up and Larkin will get the first opportunity to do so. Larkin has played well when given the opportunity, averaging 12.4 points, 7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals on a per-36 minute basis and should see minutes in the low-30s tonight. Although a matchup with Boston is less-than-ideal, it's hard to overlook any starting point guard in the NBA who costs just $4,500 on FanDuel and $4,400 on DraftKings. Larkin is one of the best value's on the board tonight despite a difficult matchup against the Celtics.

Patrick Mills - Tony Parker has already been ruled out for tonight's contest against the Bucks, and Mills is likely to slide into the Spurs' starting lineup. Although he has not had the opportunity to start yet this season, Mills has once again been a standout off the bench for San Antonio through the first 35 games of the season. He's averaged 14.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals on a per-36 minute basis and dropped 22 points with 3 rebounds and 3 assists last time Parker sat out. Even if the Aussie star doesn't draw the start tonight, he should see minutes at least in the mid-20s and is an absolute steal at just $3,800 on FanDuel and $3,700 on DraftKings.