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NBA Playoffs DFS Breakdown (Saturday, Aug. 22): Pay Up for Vucevic?

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The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.

Friday features a four-game NBA DFS slate starting at 1:30 p.m. ET on DraftKings and FanDuel.

Point Guard

Stud

Damian Lillard is the only PG priced at $8,000 or above on FanDuel today, and he’s a fairly tough player to analyze. On the one hand, you’d expect him to bounce back from a poor showing in Game 2 in which he scored just 22.1 fantasy points across 30 minutes in a blowout loss to the Lakers. On the other hand, it’s tough to predict how he’ll perform with that dislocated finger he sustained in the loss.

Commenting on the injury, Lillard admitted “It’s just sore, a little bit tender to the touch […] swollen and uncomfortable.” We’re projecting him to get back up over 42 minutes, so it shouldn’t hinder his opportunities, but it might hurt his shooting. Given those factors, he’s definitely in play but likely more suited to tournaments than cash games.

Value

Point guard is a little tough today: Lillard, Malcolm Brogdon and Chris Paul are all expected to play around 37 minutes or more, and then it’s a drop-off to guys who may only get in the 20s. That makes those top-end guys even more valuable.

Brogdon owns the highest projected Plus/Minus at the position at FanDuel, and he’s put up near double-doubles in each of his past two games against the Heat. If you’re worried about Lillard and want to lock in a reasonably high-floor, Brogdon is one of the safest options available.

Fast Break

Paul isn’t as safe as Brogdon, but like the Pacers PG he’s in a do-or-die situation down 0-2 to the Rockets. Paul is already playing high minutes with decent usage; if his shot gets hot, he’ll be a GPP winner.

If you want a punt play, Markelle Fultz is a fine option at $4,500 on DraftKings. He’s outperformed expectations in six straight games and has shown the ability to rack up stats all over the place.

Shooting Guard

Stud

As usual, James Harden is in a tier of his own at the position: At $11,700 on FanDuel, he’s over $3,000 more expensive than the next guy in Jimmy Butler.

That’s a high price tag, but it’s also difficult to fade a player whose floor is essentially 50 fantasy points. He’s actually missed value in both games in this series, but in DFS that’s a little less harmful for a guy at that floor vs. someone who has true dud potential. Harden distributed a bit more last game — which wasn’t particularly close — but we’ve seen him approach 40-50% usage when he needs to. That type of floor/ceiling combo is always in play.

Value

Andre Iguodala is by no means the sexiest play on the slate, but if you want to get up to the studs today, you’ll have to cut costs somewhere. And he’s a player who is near the minimum on both sites and projected to play 25-30 minutes. Iguodala’s usage will be low; but if he can get just a couple steals and blocks, that’s all he would need to pay off value.

Fast Break

If you don’t want to pay up for Harden, Butler is a great consolation prize. In fact, the Heat wing has the highest projected Plus/Minus at the position at DraftKings. He hasn’t smashed value yet against the Pacers, but his usage is solid and he’s projected to approach 40 minutes yet again.

Small Forward

Stud

Two players are in their own tier at the SF position today: LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. On FanDuel, they’re both projected to be around the same value; the latter is more expensive but has a higher projection.

Among the two, Giannis has been the higher usage player, but he does carry a bit more risk today: He popped up on the injury report with a calf contusion. He’s listed as probable, so he’s very likely to play — and probably play a lot — but there’s some uncertainty to his projections. If the game turns into a blowout, the Bucks might be cautious with him.

As a result, if you want to pay up at SF, LeBron may be the superior cash-game play. Nonetheless, it almost goes without saying that both SF studs are amazing tournament options given their sky-high ceilings.

Value

Danuel House was a revelation last game, putting up 34.3 fantasy points at $4,200 on FanDuel. He scored 19 real points across 38 minutes of action. House was bumped up to $4,500 today, which isn’t nearly enough of a hike: We’re projecting him for 34 minutes, making him a pretty easy plug-and-play at the position.

Fast Break

Tournaments could be won or lost depending on who gets it right in this middle tier: There are a ton of guys who could pop off in tournaments in the $5-6K range, including Evan FournierDanilo GallinariCarmelo Anthony and Eric Gordon.

Among those, Gordon has been the best of the bunch lately, making him the likely cash-game play. But Gallinari might have the highest ceiling in a must-win game for the Thunder against a beatable Rockets defense.

Update: With Aaron Gordon ruled out for the Magic, Fournier is now the best value of this bunch, although I do still like the ceilings of the aforementioned players.

Power Forward

Stud

Power forward is the most shallow position of the day: Only 10 players are listed with eligibility on FanDuel. Anthony Davis is definitely in a tier of his own at $10,700, and he also owns the best projected Plus/Minus of the group.

It’s not often that the highest-priced guy is also the best value, which suggests that he might be a player to prioritize today. His combination of minutes (projected for 37) and usage (projected for nearly 28%) is unrivaled among his peers. He’s hit value in both games against the Blazers, including one in which he shot just 8-of-24. That demonstrates the floor he possesses.

Value

Because of the shortened rotations in Houston, Jeff Green has had to play some huge minutes lately, going for 32 and 37 in Games 1 and 2, respectively. And he’s actually filled out the box score pretty well; that diversification is enticing for both cash games and GPPs alike. At just $5,000 on FanDuel, he’s severely underpriced relative to his role.

Fast Break

Bam Adebayo has been hit or miss lately, which likely takes him out of cash-game consideration. In Game 1, he put up 17-10-6, showing his all-around game, but in Game 2 he put up just 28 fantasy points. Most concerning is that he used just 11% of the Heat’s possessions while on the floor. We’re expecting that to bump up today, so if you want to take a shot and differentiate from the field by fading AD, Bam is a good option for that.

Center

Stud

There are two players priced above $6,500 today on FanDuel: Nikola Vucevic and Jusuf Nurkic. Among the two, the former has the higher projected Plus/Minus and has a more solidified fantasy role, especially with Gordon out today.

He’s been on fire in the playoffs so far, putting up 35-14 and 32-10 lines in Games 1 and 2, respectively. With Orlando so thin at the frontcourt positions, expect Vucevic to be the focal point yet again in Game 3. He’s likely the superior option in both cash games and GPPs.

Value

Steven Adams is a bit of a scary play against the pace-and-space Rockets, although they’ve been a bit slower without Russell Westbrook in the lineup. Adams isn’t a flashy player by any means — he took just four shots last game — but his role is definitely solidified in a must-win game, and his price is nice at under $6,000.

Fast Break

Myles Turner went off for 41.6 fantasy points at a cheap salary last game, and he presents similar upside today in ways that other available centers likely don’t possess. He’s fairly shooting-dependent for a big man, but that’s okay for tournaments: If he hits three or four 3-pointers, he could differentiate at low ownership.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Pictured: Nikola Vucevic