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.
A huge reason why the Denver Nuggets likely win the 2023 NBA title tonight? They haven't had a starter miss a game all postseason, and their injury report has been completely blank this entire series.
At The Top
Prioritizing Nikola Jokic ($19,000) has been the right move this entire series, and even at this salary, you can get full-time, decent contributors alongside him. He's not an autofade at the highest salary in FanDuel single-game history. Jokic has been the optimal MVP in all four games this series, but we still have two plausible alternatives.
Jimmy Butler ($15,000) has been there for the Heat when called upon, and we're starting to see glimpses of the guy who torched the East this year. In 45 minutes last game, he posted 25 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds. If Jokic were to stumble, Butler could pay off handsomely in tournaments.
The other alternative is Jamal Murray ($14,500), who did best Jokic in FanDuel points in two of the four games against the Lakers, so he does have a chance to make it happen. He's always got more juice at home behind a tremendous 57.9 eFG% in the split that has largely stuck to what it was during the regular season.
Though he's not really an MVP candidate, Bam Adebayo ($13,000) has provided a sturdy floor by eclipsing 36 FanDuel points in all four games. He could be a contrarian STAR choice in a Jokic build that tries to be more well-rounded. Like Jimmy, Bam was up to a hefty workload (43 minutes) in Game 4.
In The Middle
My key stand on this slate will be expecting Aaron Gordon ($12,000) to plummet back to Earth as -- at best -- Denver's fourth option.
Gordon's usage rate was still seventh on the floor (20.7%) in his hyperefficient 27-point effort. His usage rate in just the NBA Finals (15.7%) is even lower. Many likely chase the production tonight, and he's at risk of a total dud if Jokic -- further removed from the ankle issue -- is a bit more active on the glass.
It appears Bruce Brown ($10,500) has unquestionably taken over Denver's fifth spot late in games. Don't expect 21 points from Brown often, but the 29 minutes from Game 4 are the real prize, and he's regularly outperformed his rebound (4) and assist (2) totals from that one. I'd imagine he'll be faded over Gordon in a lot of lineups.
Though I don't understand it with him as a -21 in the series, Caleb Martin ($10,000) is back in a full role at Miami's power forward slot. He logged at least 32 minutes during both games in Miami despite 9-for-21 (42.9%) shooting and being a size liability on defense, so I don't really know what would change his role at this stage.
Kyle Lowry ($9,500) has also worked his way into this tier, and don't write off additional upside after he wiggled into 32 minutes during Game 4. Lowry has just three stocks (steals plus blocks) in four games in this series despite averaging 2.25 per 36 in the playoffs to this point. He's a great choice in a build that is forecasting a competitive affair.
At The Bottom
Who would have guessed the Nuggets would be up 3-1 in the series if Michael Porter Jr. ($9,000) dropped to this tier?
Realistically, Porter has been quiet all playoffs. He's plummeted to a 16.5% usage rate in the postseason versus 22.0% in the regular season, which is a far larger concern than an otherwise solid 52.8 eFG%. Now getting benched late in games, his opportunity has been overrated for the bulk of the playoffs; if he's popular again, I'll happily fade him again.
I said on this morning's Covering the Spreadthat I have a gut feeling it'll be theKentavious Caldwell-Pope ($8,500) game for Denver tonight. After reclaiming 36 minutes in Game 4, his usage rate has been quite a bit higher at home (13.2%) than on the road (11.5%) in the playoffs, and his shot has been the issue. He'll shoot better than a 42.9 eFG% before long.
Gabe Vincent ($8,500) also isn't a terrible pivot. Vincent eclipsed 30 minutes in three straight before a red-hot Duncan Robinson ($7,500) swiped his minutes in Game 4, but he could easily work next to Lowry or Robinson in this one. His usage rate in the Finals (18.9%) has actually been tremendous for this salary.
Miami won Game 2 on the strength of Max Strus ($8,000) getting going from outside, and he'll start with a chance to get hot again at minimal popularity. Robinson will be more popular, but he's also got the chance to earn 25-plus minutes as he did on Friday.
Kevin Love ($8,000), Christian Braun ($7,000), and Jeff Green ($6,500) are also hovering around 15 minutes per game in the series, but they've combined for just two games north of 20 FanDuel points. Braun needed three steals to get his, too.
I'd almost rather toss a dart at Haywood Highsmith ($6,000). He has been missing in action since Game 1, but he did earn 23 minutes in the opener and theoretically could again as Miami throws the kitchen sink at this one.