In a traditional FanDuel NBA lineup, you have a $60,000 salary cap to roster nine players. The salary cap is the same in the single-game setup, but the lineup requirements are different.
You select five players of any position. One of your players will be your MVP, whose FanDuel points are multiplied by two. You also choose a STAR player (whose production is multiplied by 1.5) and a PRO (multiplied by 1.2). Two UTIL players round out the roster, and they don't receive a multiplier for their production.
This makes the five players you select essential in more than one way; you need to focus on slotting in the best plays in the multiplier slots rather than just nailing the best overall plays of the game.
At the very least, we can take some time to enjoy this NBA Finals have been largely unaffected by injury. The Nuggets have not had one player listed all series.
Miami's biggest news is a potential addition. Tyler Herro (broken hand) was originally targeted for Game 3, and I'll call my shot and say he plays on Friday after the Heat were embarrassed in that one. Even a few minutes likely sparks the morale.
At The Top
Any sort of plausible game theory around Nikola Jokic ($18,500) was met with yet another middle finger on Wednesday. Jokic has easily been the optimal MVP in all three games thus far.
Miami's Game 2 adjustment went up in smoke. Jokic's usage rate was 28.1% in Game 3 (versus 40.1% in that one), allowing him to compile 10 assists with his 32 points. If there's a spot of decline, it's Jokic's 21 boards off a horrendous Heat shooting effort (42.9 eFG%) in Wednesday's contest. It's still not likely "The Joker" is bested as Friday's top overall scorer.
The Heat looked completely defeated, which does point me toward Jamal Murray ($15,000) as the second-best MVP option in the event of randomness. Murray led the Nuggets in usage (32.4%) while dishing 10 assists and compiling double-digit boards from Miami's bricks himself. A lesser effort on the glass could propel Murray in front of Jokic with another 30-point scoring effort; we saw that outcome twice against the Lakers.
Jimmy Butler ($14,500) had his best scoring effort (28 points) in Game 3, but he appears to just be running out of steam from this heroic playoff run. The most obvious indication is just six total boards in the last two games. At this point, I'm not sure he's got the multi-category upside to challenge Jokic at MVP.
In fact, Bam Adebayo ($14,000) has outscored Butler in all three games this series. If you're looking for a Miami option, it might be him. With just four total stocks (steals plus blocks) in the series, I do think he's got room to grow if his offensive renaissance sticks around.
In The Middle
If my prediction does come to fruition, it'll be great to have Tyler Herro ($12,000) as an option down the road, but is Miami going to lean on him with a good enough role in his return to justify this salary? Likely not.
Amazingly, Aaron Gordon ($11,500) also hit double-digit boards on Wednesday. That generally leans me toward fading Nuggets rebounding knowing Miami will shoot closer to their 55.0 eFG% from the playoffs, so I could hop off the unproductive Gordon if there are indications he'll be popular. His usage rate (15.0% in Game 3) doesn't really provide a ceiling.
The 2-for-10 effort by Gabe Vincent ($10,500) was a good representation of how Miami's night went overall, but Vincent still logged 32 minutes with a decent usage rate (16.4%). He's still my favorite play in this mess of a middle tier for a second straight contest.
I don't think it's a coincidence that Caleb Martin ($10,000) returned to a full role (31 minutes) and the Heat got stomped. We'll have to consider him if he's getting those minutes, yet Martin's 4-for-9 shooting was about as solid as it got from a member of Miami's supporting cast, so he could easily fade into oblivion if shots aren't falling or other guys are hot.
Lastly, Michael Porter Jr. ($9,500) saw an even worse role in Game 3 with just 21 minutes. He's been comfortably outplayed by all four of Denver's other wings at this point, so while his tantalizing talent will likely command significant attention again, his usage rate in the entire playoffs has been just 14.3%. I don't think he'll ever have the role worth the massive popularity.
At The Bottom
If you played Bruce Brown ($9,000) heavily as I did on Wednesday, it might be time to burn sage.
Brown logged the 28 minutes you'd have hoped for, but he went just 1-for-5 from the field and collected just two boards. It'd have been a totally empty night if not for three steals, but he was the fifth man in the lineup that torched the Heat during the second half. That could stick.
Max Strus ($8,500) found an uncharacteristic way (for him) to usurp 20 FanDuel points in Game 3, hitting just one shot but adding five assists and two stocks. Those met (or set) playoff highs for him this season, so you'll want to forecast more shot volume if rostering him, but I always tend to shy away from back-to-back optimal value plays in playoff single-game NBA DFS. He now fits that bill.
At the same salary, Kyle Lowry ($8,500) led a miniature comeback for the Heat late, but the 29 minutes overall are what I've been waiting for. As the chips get pushed to the middle, I have a hard time continuing to see him play behind Strus, Duncan Robinson ($7,000), or Haywood Highsmith ($6,500) late in games.
Michael Malone has always been a "hot hand" coach, so this is a dangerous time to roster Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($8,000). He's hit just five shots all series, culminating in getting benched for Christian Braun ($7,500) for nearly all of Wednesday's second half.
Braun is averaging 37.8 FanDuel points per 36 in the playoffs, so he's a no-brainer getting court time, but beware how heavily that's been propped up by four steals in 34 minutes. Those don't stick forever.
Kevin Love ($8,000) is the final realistic option to consider here. Love canned two of his five triples in Game 3 but still played just 16 minutes. He'll always have an uphill climb to deny playing time of the team's folk hero, Caleb Martin.