At last, after weeks of tanking and treachery tainting seemingly every slate, we’ve reached the NBA Playoffs! That means the days of eight-man active rosters, next-to-impossible minutes projections and the letters “R-E-S-T” listed on injury reports are behind us, and it’s full-steam ahead on a little more predictability and a little less nonsense. Will we still have a bunch of news to wade through? Of course, but that’s why we have the NewzGod running the @AwesemoNBA Twitter account, where he’ll keep you updated of all the goings on leading up to tip of every game throughout the postseason. With that said, let’s get to work finding a few NBA DFS picks and strategies that could help us take down one of those massive contests over on DraftKings or FanDuel.
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NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | May 18
Malcolm Brogdon HAS To Play… Right?
Tuesday night is the debut of the Play-In Tournament, which the NBA put in place as an insurance policy in the event not every team could play their full allotment of 72 games in the regular season, and thus allowing win percentage to dictate all 10 seeds instead of the normal eight if need be. Well, that and it’s a huge money grab that’s going to pay dividends now that the Lakers and Warriors are matched up on Wednesday, but that’s obvious.
For those that don’t know how the Play-In Tournament works, it’s rather quite simple: the 7- and 8-seeds within each conference square off, with the winner advancing to the playoffs and into a seven-game series versus the 2-seed. The loser will then play the winner of the 9- and 10-seed game to see who faces the 1-seed. In other words, the 7/8 matchup is like a Game 6 of a regular playoff series, except both teams are up 3-2. So while you definitely want to finish the deal right then and there if you’re either squad, you still live to fight another day if you don’t. And as for the 9/10 game, it’s win-or-go-home, so you best believe it’s all systems go.
At least, that’s what you’d think, but the 9th-seeded Pacers nevertheless have Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon both listed as questionable on the injury report for their matchup versus the 10th-seeded Hornets. Sabonis seems significantly less-likely to miss, considering he played Sunday and feasted to the tune of 25-16-5 in 39 minutes of work. But Brogdon, who still hasn’t appeared in a game since April 29th with a hamstring injury, is the major question mark on this entire slate.
Not that we’re banging down the doors to roster him by any means ($7,300 on FanDuel is not completely crazy, but $8,700 on DraftKings is). But with the salaries inflated on the rest of the Pacers roster to reflect a situation without Brogdon, getting him back in the mix could put a huge wrench into the slate. We’ll have to wait on that news, but my hunch is he gives it a go in this do-or-die game. And if that’s the case, Sabonis ($10,000 DraftKings/$10,300 FanDuel) and Caris LeVert ($8,600 DraftKings/$9,200 FanDuel) become far lesser priorities, even on just a two-game slate.
That’s where Awesemo’s Boom/Bust tool comes into play for tomorrow, as it’s going to be extremely important to take stands based on ownership and optimal lineup percentages. Make sure to refresh the page as this news comes out, since the ramifications based on Brogdon being in or out are massive and could very well dictate how we’re supposed to attack this slate. But since this is the first of the two games, we will most likely have his status well in advance of the 6:30 p.m. EST lock time. So tune into Live Before Lock at the Awesemo YouTube channel to get my definitive take once that news does hit, as there’s too much that’s still to be determined.
The Russell Westbrook Question (That Probably Isn’t a Question)
Russell Westbrook just went on one of the more torrid runs in NBA DFS history over the past month. He finished the regular season averaging a triple-double for the fourth time in his career, which is in and of itself one of the more remarkable feats in NBA history. But from a fantasy perspective — you know, the perspective that matters the most to us – the man has been an unstoppable force. He’s averaged 1.60 DraftKings points with-or-without Bradley Beal on the floor since April 1st, as those triple-doubles sure do come in handy on their scoring system (not to mention only -0.5 per turnover as opposed to -1.0 on FanDuel).
But while his ownership could (and should) be through the roof on DraftKings at “only” $12,400, the real question becomes how much should we be prioritizing Westbrook at his inflated $13,000 price tag on FanDuel? It’s only a two-game slate, but there’s still some other quality options in Kemba Walker, LaMelo Ball, and if Brogdon can’t play, T.J. McConnell. And while raw points need to be strongly considered, there is no doubt the FanDuel scoring system makes him less likely to destroy the slate. Plus, with Sabonis, Beal and Jayson Tatum plays we’ll also want to spend up for, plus substantially less value than we’ve had on a slate in weeks, we’ll likely need to be more sensitive to his ownership than we’ve been of late.
Still, unless it’s purely for ownership purposes, Westbrook feels like he has to be the massive priority, even at that exorbitant FanDuel tag. His 47.7% assist rate and 16.5% rebound rate this year are video game numbers that go to show he doesn’t even need insane usage to blow any given slate up. He still has that insane usage, though, as his 29.7% trails only Beal’s 33.6%. And considering the high stakes of this Play-In Tournament matchup versus the Celtics, there is no way he’s not going to try and do everything for the Wizards tonight. So as much as we should appreciate the sites trying to price up Westbrook at a long last, it’s still way too cheap for the raw points you’re guaranteed by going his direction.
Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups
- One of the best pieces you’ll find discussing short-slate NBA DFS was written by our very own Adam Scherer right before the start of the season. If you want all the ins-and-outs of what you’re dealing with tomorrow, or need a simple refresher course, it’s a must-read.
- Center on FanDuel is a deserted wasteland tonight, with zero good options plus no one even listed over $5,500. It’s a punt-by-default position, so get excited for Chalk Cody Zeller Day (no, that is not a joke).
- Just play Kemba Walker.