Thursday’s NBA slate features only Game 2 of the Boston Celtics vs. the Miami Heat at 7 p.m. ET.
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This series features a lot of very good players, but there aren’t a ton of true “studs” from a fantasy perspective.
That said, Jayson Tatum is making strong case for inclusion in that category moving forward. He’s been scoring the ball as well as usual recently – he’s logged at least 29 points in each of his past three games – and he’s taken big steps forward in the peripheral categories. He’s grabbed double-digit rebounds in each of his past five games, and he’s handed out at least five assists in each of his past three. Add it all up, and he’s scored at least 60.5 DraftKings points in each of his past three games.
Tatum is the most expensive player on today’s slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but he still represents one of the best pure values. He ranks second in our NBA Models in terms of projected Plus/Minus, and his projected ceiling ranks first.
The only player with a better projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings is Bam Adebayo, who provided the signature highlight of the 2020 playoffs up until this point in Game 1. His block on Tatum to preserve Miami’s lead in overtime will live on forever.
That block was just part of what Adeabyo brought to the table in Game 1. He contributed in every category across the board, logging 18 points, six rebounds, nine assists, one steal and two blocks, resulting in 43.5 DraftKings points. He stands out on DraftKings in particular, where he’s just the third-priciest option.
Jimmy Butler is the most expensive member of the Heat on this slate, and he was able to salvage his fantasy value thanks to overtime in Game 1. That said, I’m not excited about his prospects moving forward. Butler scored just 37.75 DraftKings points in that contest despite shooting 50% from the field and 66.7% from 3-point range. Butler was not a particularly efficient scorer during the regular season, so I’m expecting some regression in that category tonight.
The midrange is absolutely loaded on today’s slate.
Let’s start with the Celtics. They have three players in this price range who are viable on today’s slate: Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart.
Of the trio, Walker stands out as the most interesting. He has struggled mightily during the postseason, particularly from behind the arc. He’s shot just 26.5% from 3-point range, and he’s gone just 2-16 from downtown over his past two games.
That obviously isn’t ideal, but there’s no reason he can’t improve in that department on today’s slate. There has been some talk that he’s hurt, but he shot 42.9% from 3-point range in Orlando during the seeding games. If he was hurt, wouldn’t his numbers from that time be down as well? I think this is simply a cold streak from Walker, which makes this an excellent opportunity to target him at a reduced price tag. He might also command reduced ownership, which only increases his appeal.
Smart has been the exact opposite of Walker. He’s been scorching hot offensively and has taken full advantage of the injury to Gordon Hayward. He moved into the starting lineup and has been playing a ton of minutes, and he’s responded with a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past five games on DraftKings. He seems poised for some regression, particularly as a shooter, and his ownership should be inflated given his recent performances.
If you do want to play Smart, make sure to do so on FanDuel given his slate-high Bargain Rating of 93%.
On the Heat side, the three options to choose from in this price range are Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, and Jae Crowder. All three options have their merits, but Dragic is my favorite option of the trio. He has been playing a ton of minutes after moving into the starting lineup at the beginning of the playoffs, and he’s averaged 1.07 DraftKings points per minute this season.
He led the Heat with a usage rate of 27.1% in Game 1, and he has the potential to do so again on today’s slate. He’s worth consideration in one of the premium spots on FanDuel and can even be used in the captain spot on DraftKings.
Values and Punts
These are the players who typically decide these contests. It may not feel comfortable to roster someone who isn’t projected for a ton of minutes, but history suggests that it’s the easiest way to find yourself at the top of the leaderboard. These plays typically command lower ownership than the mid-tier guys, so they allow you to differentiate your lineup without sacrificing the high-end stud production.
Let’s break down some of the top options in this range rapid-fire style:
- Daniel Theis ($6,600 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel): Theis can easily be considered a midrange target, but his production doesn’t feel as reliable as some of the other options. He struggled in Game 1, but he logged 35.5 minutes in that contest. Not all of Theis’ contributions show up in the box score, but he’s still averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute this season.
- Duncan Robinson ($4,800 on DraftKings, $8,000 on FanDuel): Robinson could be an interesting buy-low target today. He struggled with foul trouble in Game 1, which limited him to just 17 minutes. He could see a few additional minutes in Game 2, and Robinson always has the ability to fill it up from behind the arc.
- Bradley Wanamaker ($2,800 on DraftKings, $8,500 on FanDuel): Wanamaker is arguably the easiest play on the slate at just $2,800 on DraftKings. He’s become an important part of the Celtics’ rotation following the injury to Hayward, and he finished with 33.75 DraftKings points over 25 minutes in Game 1. He shouldn’t be expected to repeat that performance today, but he still owns the fifth-highest projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings. His cheap salary also allows you to jam basically whoever else you want into the rest of your lineup.
- Kendrick Nunn ($2,000 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Nunn has been coming off the bench in the playoffs after starting each game during the regular season, but he played a respectable 13.2 minutes in Game 1. That’s obviously not a ton of playing time, but he doesn’t need to play much given his current salary. He shot just 1-5 from the field in that contest, so he can improve on his performance from that game with some better shooting in Game 2.