Ten NBA games tonight feature many of the world’s best players. Narrowing down the choices to an optimal eight-man lineup is quite a challenge, as not all positions are created equal.
At PG, the decision isn’t just Russell Westbrook $10800 or Stephen Curry $10500. There’s another head-on battle between John Wall $9400 and Kyle Lowry $8600; Wall had the better night in Toronto on December 30. Kyrie Irving $6900 is fresh off a season high in minutes (34), shots (22) and points (32) on Wednesday and his salary increased only $400.
The SF list is just as impressive. Kevin Durant $10300 or LeBron James $9800? How about Paul George $9100 or Kawhi Leonard $8400? It’s hard enough to rank that quartet in season-long fantasy leagues; predicting who will perform best tonight is equal parts science and art, or as we’ve been discussing this week, requires both skill and luck.
Congratulations to “bucsbt” who won $25,000 for three bucks last night using Patrick Beverley, Kobe Bryant $6300, Kent Bazemore, DeMarcus Cousins, Al Horford, D’Angelo Russell $4800, Brandon Bass $3800 and Pau Gasol. Whether Kobe plays in this back-to-back — he’d missed three previous games with a shoulder injury — remains to be seen, but Russell is gaining confidence and Bass provides maximum effort, unlike the useless Roy Hibbert $3900.
Plays of the Day
The $300K Sharpshooter is only a $3 buy-in (FREE with your initial deposit at DraftKings) where the top 23,535 finishers (from up to 115,000 teams) win cash. First place is worth $20,000. Enter before it fills; you can make unlimited lineup changes (even after the 7:00 EST deadline) until each player’s game begins.
The third position with “too many” superstars is PF, where Anthony Davis $10600 and Draymond Green $10000 are a tossup. Davis fattened his averages on Wednesday against a Mavericks team that rested four starters and still beat the Pelicans. Green was barely used (28 minutes) in an easy win over the Lakers and is well rested. Of course, there are other talented players with more affordable salaries. Chris Bosh $7900 or Dirk Nowitzki $6200 would be decent compromises.
Depending on how you solve those problems, there may be enough cap room left for one of the best SG, where Klay Thompson $8000 and DeMar DeRozan $8000 are the headliners. On the other hand, you may have to “punt” a position entirely, and there are inexpensive guys with upside, like Garrett Temple $4500 or Dion Waiters $3700. In the midrange, consider Wesley Matthews $5100 or the red-hot J.R. Smith $4800 (13 3-pointers in two games.)
It’s similar at C, where Brook Lopez $7900 deserves his top billing but there are value plays in every price range. Enes Kanter $4700 double-doubled twice in four days last month against the Lakers, as the Thunder won both by at least 30 and the second unit got extra run. Jonas Valanciunas $5500 played his best game since breaking his hand— 22 PTS, 11 REB, 2 BLK — on Wednesday. Keep an eye on Jusuf Nurkic $4800 after that 15-point, 10-rebound, 5-block performance in Minnesota, just his third game since knee surgery. Tonight he faces Marc Gasol $6800, so there will be easier matchups.
Taking advantage of injuries and resulting rotation changes is a key part of daily fantasy success. Mike Conley $6300 (Achilles) and Courtney Lee $4200 (hip) are doubtful, so Memphis will rely heavily again on Mario Chalmers $4600, who nearly triple-doubled (23 PTS, 9 AST, 8 REB) on Wednesday.
Toronto lost DeMarre Carroll (knee) and James Johnson $3500 is now starting. Not a great shooter, JJ can do enough with rebounds, blocks and the occasional dunk to justify that price. He’s in a virtual timeshare with Terrence Ross $3800, a streaky shooter on a 4-for-17 slide who will see more action when the Raptors need scoring.
After trying numerous lineups, the Suns snapped a nine-game losing streak by hitting 19 threes on Wednesday. Mirza Teletovic $4600, T.J. Warren $4900 and Devin Booker $4700 combined for 53 points off the bench. They probably won’t beat Miami but losing respectably is actually a good DFS scenario.
I’ve managed to squeeze three of my top-ranked guys in today’s Short List into the sample lineup. PG-13 gets the nod over KD and LBJ because New Orleans gives up so many points and the game will probably be close — the other two may not be needed much in the second half. Klay and Dray are at least as hot as Steph, who is still protecting a bruised shin.
Then it becomes a jigsaw puzzle. Filling five spaces with pieces of the appropriate size still requires flexibility. Going with one more ultra-cheap guy (say, Cameron Payne $3300 instead of Smith) permits an upgrade elsewhere (like from Warren to Dirk.)
|PG||John Wall $9400||Kyrie Irving $6900||Mario Chalmers $4600|
|SG||Klay Thompson $8000||J.R. Smith $4800||Dion Waiters $3700|
|SF||Paul George $9100||T.J. Warren $4900||James Johnson $3500|
|PF||Draymond Green $10000||Dirk Nowitzki $6200||Brandon Bass $3800|
|C||Brook Lopez $7900||Jonas Valanciunas $5500||Enes Kanter $4700|
The Fantasy Spin features DFS advice every day of the NBA season. Follow Kent Williams @SheridanFantasy for updates.