Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. If you go out to watch the one NBA game we have today and decide to enjoy a few adult beverages, make sure to be responsible and get home safe. Speaking of responsible, I am responsible for breaking down the three game set we have for Thursday and Friday NBA DFS action. Here are some of the top plays at each position based on matchup and pricing.
Russell Westbrook – Thunder v. Spurs – $10,800 – Westbrook is the most explosive player in the league and faces an aging backcourt for the Spurs. They have no one who matches up well with him at all, unless they decide to put Kawhi on him and that leaves Durant open, and that still probably does not stop him. The price tag is high, but he did put up almost 60 fantasy points last game and is a walking triple-double. Westy can score 30, drop 15 assists, and/or rip down a dozen rebounds. All of those things will likely add up to him being the top overall scorer on the day with his unique skill set.
Goran Dragic – Heat v. Raptors – $6,000 – Those that fall in love with analyzing numbers will be off of him, but those who have watched Kyle Lowry lately know why Dragic makes a ton of sense. Lowry is playing through injury and it shows on both ends of the floor. Dragic is looking for his offense more. After having a big game to send Charlotte packing, he came back with another monster 6.5X performance in his last start v. the Raptors. He was getting to any spot on the floor he wanted to go to and Lowry could not slow him down in his current state. I still think a healthy Lowry is a far superior player, but Dragic is good enough to take advantage of him now. Plus the price is friendly at only $6,000.
Cory Joseph – Raptors v. Heat – $3,600 – The low end for PG is not very appealing today, but Joseph could be a good play. If Lowry is that banged up and sits, Joseph would get a few more minutes. He sees about 24 a game anyway and is dirt cheap, so he does not need to do much. He could have huge tourney upside if Lowry gets hurt or benched which is a real possibility with him not being 100%.
DeMar DeRozan – Raptors v. Heat – $7,100 – With Lowry struggling to end the Pacers series and start the Heat series, DeRozan has carried the Raptors offense. He had 43, 49, and 36 fantasy point in 3 of the last four playoff games, so his production is up and consistent. If the Raptors are going to survive this series, he will need to really play out of his mind. He is taking a more aggressive approach on offense, so another 5-6X performance is what I expect from him today. He has the safest floor at the position if you are playing cash games.
J.R. Smith – Cavaliers v. Hawks – $5,300 – I really like J.R. in the playoffs so far. He’s been mostly in the mid 20s, which is about 5X value and he has upside into the low 30s for 6X or better. He shot 13 3-pointers in the last game and has not taken less than 7 in any game of the playoffs yet. As long as he is chucking, he’s a viable option with a safe floor. Remember those 3-pointers made add up fantasy points quickly when you also factor in the bonus. If he drops 7 of them like he did last game, that’s his 5X floor of about 25 right there.
Danny green – Spurs v. Thunder – $4,000 – Green always plays big minutes, but has not always produced well in them. With the softest matchup on the floor against a weak shooting guard group for the Thunder, he is going to need to be an offensive threat for the Spurs. He has 22, 25, and 34.5 in three of his last four games in the playoffs, and those numbers are good enough for 5.5X, 6X, and 9X his salary.
Terrence Ross – Raptors v. Heat – $2,000 – This is more of a GPP flyer, price play, but Ross saw some good minutes in the first game and finished with 29 fantasy points. At his price, a game like that is 14.5X and a huge return. If you want to fit in Westy with any one of the three small forward options, you may need to have Ross in as your shooting guard and look for him to repeat that performance. Even half of that performance would be good enough value to justify his inclusion.
LeBron James – Cavaliers v. Hawks – $11,000 – LeBron is going to fill up the stat sheet. It is what he does. If the game stays close he should get 50+ fantasy points, and he has upside into the 60s if he decides to take it over at some point. With that being said, he’s not my favorite expensive option. I would much rather pay up for Westy at PG than LeBron here for a number of reasons. I think Westy has more upside, I think we have more viable substitutes at SF, and I’m less worried about a blow out there. With that being said, he is likely to be the high scorer or right in line with anyone else at the position. He is the safest cash option by a mile if you can afford him.
Kevin Durant – Thunder v. Spurs – $9,300 – The decision here comes down to Kawhi v. KD for $100 difference, and despite the defense of Kawhi, I am rolling KD in that spot. KD has had some huge rebounding games late in the season and is a lock for 20 real life points against any defender. He will still be a big part of the offense and can still shoot the lights out. I have KD with a slightly higher floor and a higher ceiling than Kawhi today. If the price difference is only $100, I can not justify taking Kawhi over him. The question then becomes KD or LeBron, and that one is going to be very debatable.
Joe Johnson – Heat v. Raptors – $4,700 – I am not in love with Joe Johnson, but we have to mention him. His price is cheap, and he is still playing 30+ minutes every game and being asked to do a little scoring. The Raptors D with Lowry and Carroll not 100% is weakened, so I’m OK rolling out a cheapish options if I need to.
DeMarre Carroll – Raptors v. Heat – $4,300 – He is not 100%, but he is seeing big minutes at a low price. If you want big upside, I can not see him being that player, but the minutes do translate into some production, and 20-25 fantasy points pays off a $4,300 salary.
LaMarcus Aldridge – Spurs v. Thunder – $8,700 – Aldridge has been a beast in his last two games, and I see no reason why the Spurs will not continue to feature him in this series. He has averaged 36 minutes, 39 real life points, and 55 fantasy points through two games of this series. Kawhi and Parker have tough matchups, Duncan looks like a shell of his former self, and Danny Green is incapable of being the lead scorer in a high scoring matchup if they expect to win. That means LMA will be asked to do a lot of the scoring, and so far he has been able to. I hear Serge Ibaka’s name all the time as a stud defender, but LMA has the height and skills advantage over him. He can step out and hit the short jumper or blow by Ibaka if he challenges him. LMA is clearly the top PF option in my eyes and someone I will have a lot of exposure to.
Paul Millsap – Hawks v. Cavaliers – $8,600 – My #2 option comes down to Kevin Love and his matchup with Millsap, and I think I prefer Millsap there. Love is not the #1 option on his team and has a tougher matchup with Millsap guarding him. Love is not a great defender and Millsap is the #1 option on his team, so that is why I prefer to pay for him over Love. I still think LMA is clearly the top option as the matchup is not ideal for the Hawks, but Millsap would be the #2 I spend on over Love in a heartbeat.
Serge Ibaka – Thunder v. Spurs – $5,600 – I do not see big upside for Ibaka, but he will play big minutes and has been solid in the playoffs so far. He has been averaging 25-33 fantasy points in most of the playoff games so far, which puts his return at 5-6X value for us. He does have his hands full guarding LMA, so foul trouble is a real concern, but he makes sense if you don’t pay up for one of the $8K guys.
Channing Frye – Cavaliers v. Hawks – $2,000 – Another one of those dirt cheap price plays here. Frye matches up better with Millsap than a guy like Tristan or Mozgov does, so they really cannot go double-big in this series. That should mean a few more minutes each game for Frye. He is min price at $2K, so even if he gets us 20, that’s a huge haul and opens up the cap room to go get some big names into our lineups.
Jonas Valaciunas – Raptors v. Heat – $6,600 – I am not thrilled with Horford or Whiteside right now, and this year’s NBA playoffs has been a coming out party for Valaciunas. He was a monster down the stretch, and it has rolled into the playoffs for him. His floor seems to be around the 30-33 point mark with upside into the 50s as he flashed last game. He dominates Amare and did work against Whiteside too, so I think he makes the most sense and is at the best price point to offer safety and upside today.
Steven Adams – Thunder v. Spurs – $5,200 – Adams is never the safest option and likely GPP only, but he did have a monster 37 point performance last game. In fact he has consistently put up 20+ DraftKings points in the playoffs and has flashed upside into the 30s on a few occasions. Adams has a soft matchup against a weak Spurs interior defense, with Duncan being a shell of his former self. His hustle and rebounding along with a few put backs could make him an excellent value here for the Thunder.
Enes Kanter – Thunder v. Spurs – $4,900 – The Thunder dominate the low end of the Center spectrum today because no one below them plays enough minutes or is really involved. Kanter is even more boom or bust than Adams is, but he’s flashed 30 point upside as well a few times already in the playoffs. He’s also had some games with low production and only 20 minutes or less of floor time, so he should be no where near your cash game lineups today. I still think paying up for Valaciunas is the best option, and taking Adams may make more sense if you really need to save in cash games.