Thursday’s NBA DFS slate features just one game. The Rockets will take on the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals starting at 7 p.m. ET.
This is definitely a top-heavy slate. Four players own a price tag of at least $10,000 on DraftKings: LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the Lakers and James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the Rockets. I’m going to try to jam as many of those players into my lineup as possible, but that’s easier said than done. If you want to roster one of those players in the captain spot on DraftKings, fitting just three is really difficult.
With that in mind, how should you prioritize these four superstars?
I’m starting with Davis, who has absolutely feasted in this series vs. the Rockets. They have no one who can match his combination of size and athleticism, and he’s averaged 28.3 points on 64.2% shooting through the first three contests. The Rockets have also been the worst rebounding team in basketball since trading away Clint Capela, so Davis has unsurprisingly dominated in that area as well. Add it all up, and he’s scored at least 55.25 DraftKings points in each of his past three games.
Davis is only the third-most expensive option on DraftKings, yet he leads the slate in ceiling projection and projected Plus/Minus. That makes him an excellent choice for the captain spot.
After that, Westbrook is next on my wish list. He has the lowest scoring expectation of these four studs, but he’s also significant cheaper. He’s a value in particular at $13,000 on FanDuel, which makes him at least $2,000 cheaper than each of the other top options. That said, we know what Westbrook is capable of on a nightly basis. He posted a usage rate of 39.1% in his last contest, which was actually higher than Harden’s mark of 36.8%. He’s capable of stuffing the stat sheet in the peripheral categories, so that much usage on offense gives him excellent upside.
LeBron is the most expensive player on this slate, but it’s hard to argue against his price tag. He has been insanely good during the playoffs, averaging 27.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game. He’s also been extremely efficienct, shooting 57.8% from the field and 40.8% from 3-point range. He’s scored at least 57.0 DraftKings points in five of his past six games, and he’s eclipsed 63.0 DraftKings points in four of them.
That leaves Harden as the odd man out, and I’m fine with fading him in this situation. That could obviously come back to bite me, but Harden just hasn’t displayed the same ceiling recently with Westbrook back in the lineup. He’s shot the ball well vs. the Lakers – he’s gone 29-55 from the field and 11-23 from 3-point range – but he’s still averaged “just” 51.08 DraftKings points per game. That kind of production is still excellent, but the other three options stand out as better values.
Stars-and-scrubs is usually the preferred strategy in the single-game format, and that seems particularly true on today’s slate. Getting as many studs into your lineup should be the main goal, so I’m fine with punting this tier if I have to.
That said, there are still some quality options worth exploring.
The Rockets in particular are intriguing given the injury to Danuel House. He’s already been ruled out for this contest and is in jeopardy of missing the rest of the second round.
That should give Robert Covington a nice little boost in value. He’s currently projected for 38.5 minutes in our NBA Models, which is the highest mark on the entire slate. Covington is capable of averaging well over 1.00 fantasy points per minute, so he has the potential to take advantage of an expanded workload.
Eric Gordon has also provided some solid value for the Rockets during the playoffs. He didn’t score well in his last game, but that will happen when you have two teammates combine for a usage rate of 75.9%. If you think Westbrook’s usage rate comes back to reality in today’s contest, Gordon will probably be the biggest beneficiary.
For the Lakers, Rajon Rondo is definitely someone who stands out at his current salary. He’s been excellent since rejoining the rotation, and he’s scored at least 37.25 DraftKings points in two of his past three games. He’s significantly underpriced at $5,200 on DraftKings, and he even has some appeal in the captain spot. Rostering him in that location makes it pretty easy to jam three of the four studs into the utility positions.
Values & 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:
- Jeff Green ($4,600 on DraftKings, $9,500 on FanDuel) – Green is way more expensive on FanDuel than DraftKings, where he stands out as one of the top values of the day. He’s coming off 35.1 minutes with House out of the lineup in his last game and responded with 22.0 DraftKings points. He’s close to a lock at that price tag with House out of the lineup once again.
- Alex Caruso ($4,000 on DraftKings, $8,500 on FanDuel) – Caruso is coming off a pedestrian outing in his last contest, scoring just 9.0 DraftKings points over 24.8 minutes. That said, the playing time is pretty encouraging for his fantasy prospects moving forward. Caruso is one of the more productive players in this price range on a per-minute basis, so he should be able to improve upon his performance if he sees a comparable workload today.
- Markieff Morris ($3,200 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel) – Morris stands out on FanDuel where he’s priced at basically the minimum. He’s playing a similar number of minutes to Caruso, and he posted a higher usage rate than Caruso in their last game. He scored just 11.5 DraftKings points in that contest, but he shot just 1-6 from the field. He scored 24.25 DraftKings points in the previous game, so that’s the kind of upside he possesses when his shot is falling.
- Ben McLemore ($1,000 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel) – I’m willing to roll the dice on McLemore at such a cheap price tag on DraftKings. He played 10.6 minutes in his last game and attempted two 3-pointers. If he can make two or three 3s in today’s contest, that would put him well on his way towards fantasy relevance. He only needs to get to around 15 points to be viable at that salary and allows you to roster three studs with one in the captain position.