RadThad guides you through today’s Showdown slate in the wonderful world of NBA DFS!
What’s up my peeps? Welcome to the NBA Finals!
Saying that brings me great pleasure, as it wasn’t that long ago that we weren’t even sure if the season would continue. By all accounts, the NBA “bubble reboot” has been a success and the NBA Finals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat should provide us with lots of “goodness”, both in daily fantasy and in “real life”.
Roster construction is important in daily fantasy, regardless of the sport, however, when it comes to single game slates you need to get everything perfect if you want to win. You could have the same players on your roster as the winning lineup, but if they’re not in the correct lineup spot, you can find yourself on the losing side of the equation.
If you nail the “Captain/MVP” spot, you are in the money. If you get it wrong, your night will be over early, and you’ll find yourself looking for reruns of “The Golden Girls”. There’s a lot of luck involved on single game slates, so protect your hard-earned bankroll accordingly.
LeBron James (LAL): The NBA Finals just wouldn’t be the “NBA Finals” without the presence of LeBron. After taking an unintentional break from the playoffs last year, James is back to where he’s led multiple teams for most of his career. Whether you like him or not, the dude is a stud. As usual, James has turned it up a notch lately in the playoffs, averaging 57.45 DraftKings points over his last 10 games (team-high usage rate of 30.3%). He’s put up 60.0 or more points in five of those 10 games, including a 79.0 fantasy point effort the last time he took the court (in 40 minutes against Denver). He’ll be a very popular choice for the “Captain/MVP” spot on DraftKings/FanDuel, and for good reason. If he breaks out with a “vintage Lebron” game against the Miami Heat tonight and you don’t have him as your “Captain/MVP” spot, you’re not winning anything.
Anthony Davis (LAL): When you’re speaking about the Los Angeles Lakers, Davis has to be mentioned in the same breath as Lebron. Without the services of “The Brow”, the Lakers would have been bounced a long time ago. Like James, Davis has brought his “A-game” towards the end of the playoffs, averaging 48.83 DraftKings points over his last 10 games (second in team usage at 27.9%). He’s scored 50.04 more fantasy points in six of those 10 games and should be considered a core play in cash games along with James (and Butler). He’ll be a much less popular choice for the “Captain/MVP” spot, however, if you think James falters in any way, Davis is the logical choice to pick up the slack. Consider him a fine option for the “Captain/MVP” spot in tournaments.
Jimmy Butler (MIA): The combination of James (“Captain/MVP”), Davis and Butler will be a popular cash game core across single game slates tonight. These guys are projected to be the three highest scoring players on the night, so team “jam ‘em in” will be in full effect. Butler is the “heart and soul” of this talented Miami Heat squad, averaging 37.48 DraftKings points over his last 10 games. He’s been second on the team in usage during that span (22.4%) and will need to continue to shine if he wants to lead his team to victory in Game 1. Given the presence of James, Butler will be much lower owned when it comes to the “Captain/MVP” spot. This is the first game of the series, so don’t be surprised if strange things happen. If, for some reason, the Heat go out and dominate the Lakers, it will be largely in part due to heroics from Butler. He’s another excellent choice for the “Captain/MVP” in GPPs.
Dwight Howard (LAL): “Well, well, well. Look who decided to dip a toe in the “Hot Tub Time Machine”. Don’t look now, but Howard has become a relevant factor in the NBA Finals. After spending the vast majority of the season splitting time with JaVale McGee (LAL), Howard started at center for the Lakers in their last two games against the Denver Nuggets. He played 23 minutes and 35 minutes, posting 30.75 and 23.25 DraftKings points, respectively (usage rate of 12.5% over those two games). All signs point to Howard remaining as a member of the starting five, giving him a significant amount of value across all sites. The combination of NFL, MLB and even NHL has likely distracted a number of casual players. They may not be aware of Howard’s new role so take advantage of it before it becomes common knowledge. He’s a sneaky play in both cash games and tournaments, at least for the moment. He’s my “Kool-Aid” pick for the “Captain/MVP” spot in GPPs.
Andre Iguodala (MIA): Iguodala is a very good value option if you’re looking to jam in James, Davis and Butler tonight. He isn’t very high in the pecking order when it comes to fantasy points or usage (averaging 11.88 DraftKings points per game over his last 10 games with an average usage rate of 10.1%), however, he’s cheap ($3400 on DraftKings and $7500 on FanDuel) and won’t surprise you with a DNP-CD out of the blue. If anything, the 27 minutes Iguodala has played in two of the last three games is a promising sign (10.1% usage rate over that span). The veteran is no stranger to the NBA Finals. His defensive prowess will be leaned on heavily throughout the entire series against the Lakers.
Markieff Morris (LAL): Morris isn’t my favorite play, by any stretch of the imagination, however, if you’re looking for a cheap cash game or tournament play that shouldn’t end up with a DNP-CD, he’s your guy ($2600 on DraftKings and $7000 on FanDuel). I fully expect him to come off the bench to start off this series, but if he can stay on the court for 14 or 15 minutes I’ll be happy (14.0% usage rate over his last 10 games). Morris won’t do a lot of the heavy lifting, however, he’ll allow you to roster the guys that do.
Other cash game plays to consider include Rajon Rondo (LAL) and Alex Caruso (LAL).
Here are a few things to consider in tournaments:
Roster anyone other than LeBron James (LAL) in the “Captain/MVP” spot. Like I said before, I expect James to be the highest owned player used in the “Captain/MVP” spot tonight, however, there are paths to success by pivoting to someone like Anthony Davis (LAL) instead. This season, James is averaging 49.1 DraftKings points against the Miami Heat in two games, while Davis is averaging 55.8 DraftKings points against them (in two games). While I wouldn’t hang my hat on this information when it comes to predictive value, it does let me know that there is room for error when using James as your “Captain/MVP”.
Pivot off of Jimmy Butler (MIA) and use a different high upside Miami Heat player instead. While Butler is the unquestioned leader of the team, he frequently defers to his teammates until they need a helping hand. Butler “did his thing” in his last game against Boston (38.0 DraftKings points), however, it was Bam Adebayo (MIA) who took home “Miami Heat Stud of the Night” honors with 59.5 DraftKings points. He’s eclipsed the 50 fantasy point mark three times in his last 10 games and could end up with another “50 burger” in Game 1 tonight.
Roll with a Miami Heat stack. The vast majority of the lineups that I’ve come up with are packed with Los Angeles Lakers alongside Jimmy Butler (MIA) and Andre Iguodala (MIA). It’s the first game of the series, so a “beat down” at the hands of the Miami Heat isn’t off the table. Those of you played the Monday Night NFL single game slate and had a gang of Baltimore Ravens in your lineups sure would have benefited from stacking the Kansas City Chiefs. Am I right? Well, this is no different. Adding a mixture of Goran Dragic (MIA), Bam Adebayo (MIA), Tyler Herro (MIA), Jae Crowder (MIA) and Duncan Robinson (MIA) to Butler and/or Iguodala makes for an excellent tournament strategy. Crowder has yet to face the Los Angeles Lakers this season and could be a hidden gem (expect minuscule ownership).