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.
Read this piece by Brandon Gdula for some excellent in-depth analysis on how to attack a single-game slate in NBA DFS.
I'll be sad to see this swift end of the 2023 NBA Conference Finals. They've been a breeze from a DFS perspective with light injury reports. Today is no different.
Only Anthony Davis (foot) and LeBron James (foot) hold their usual probable statuses on the Lakers' report today. Denver is at full strength -- as they've been this whole time to build a convincing 3-0 series lead.
At The Top
Saturday's slate was warped by the rare stinker from Nikola Jokic ($17,500).
Considering he scored 15 in the fourth despite that, it might have been an off night for the best player on the planet to many. He'd posted 65 FanDuel points in seven straight games prior to that, so don't expect another showing below 50 FanDuel points very often.
Anthony Davis ($16,500) did his part with 28 points and 18 rebounds on Saturday. Interestingly, Davis' usage rate in this series (26.2%) has inched past LeBron James ($14,500), who sits at 25.9%. With the lead scoring role in addition to eight blocks in the series, Davis can always present a decent pivot off Jokic -- especially with L.A. favored by three.
James' low salary could easily work its way into MVP contention, too. We saw LeBron put on the cape in the final game against Golden State, leading the Lakers in FanDuel points (61.3) on just a 22.3% usage rate. I'm not sure how many of those he's got left, but one tonight would be helpful to avoid elimination.
Of course, Jamal Murray ($15,000) is the elephant in the room here. He's been the optimal MVP in consecutive games, rewarding those bold enough to slot him in front of his stat-stuffing center. Personally, I just don't see Murray maintaining a 62.3 eFG% forever on his shot diet, and a mailed-in game before heading home to close the show would be the spot for regression, right?
In The Middle
If you're wondering why they're winning, this second tier is loaded with Nuggets.
The one exception is Austin Reaves ($12,500), who continues to shoot the lights out for L.A. Similar to Murray, I just would be flabbergasted if his 71.3 eFG% held much longer. That mark is 61.3% in the playoffs for him overall, and it was 61.6% in the regular season. Even known for efficiency, he's overperforming currently.
Michael Porter Jr. ($11,000) is growing before our eyes. The predominant scorer has rounded out his game in this series, gobbling 27 total boards and dishing out 6 assists last game. That assist total is his highest in any NBA game ever. These additions, plus solid defense, have led to a role that's stabilized around 38 minutes.
Quietly, Bruce Brown Jr. ($10,000) has won the role next to him. Brown's shooting is also boosted at the moment (61.3 eFG% in this series versus 57.1% in the regular season), but he's also chipped in across every category. Most importantly, he's averaging 29.7 minutes per game in this series, which is up from the Phoenix one considerably.
After a dud in Game 2 where he was benched for Brown, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($9,000) rebounded to 37 minutes in Game 3. The inactive wing is projected to be unpopular despite maybe his best stretch of fantasy basketball ever, topping 25 FanDuel points in four of his past five.
At The Bottom
Aaron Gordon ($8,500) appears to be badly suffering from Jokic trying harder.
Gordon posted 7.8 rebounds per 36 minutes in the regular season, but that's dropped 5.6 per game in the postseason, and with his usual reduced usage rate (15.7%), he's a one-way defender at this point in the playoffs. Gordon hasn't dipped below 30 minutes yet, but he's just incapable of producing if the volume on the boards has dried up.
Conversely, D'Angelo Russell ($8,000) andDennis Schroder ($7,000) have been undone at their own hands. Russell's 36.5 eFG% has been laughably poor, and Schroder's 41.9% is -- albeit less surprising -- poor, as well. A hot night from either could be what finally busts L.A. into the win column, but neither topped 25 minutes in Game 3 as their struggles continued.
As those two have faltered, Rui Hachimura ($7,500) has taken full advantage of them. He's topped 28 minutes in all three games and, yes, is still contributing to stopping Jokic inside. I don't see his playing time going backward, but at this low salary, popularity will be the issue in tournaments.
Denver is ostensibly down to six guys seeing decent minutes, but how L.A. pieces together the rotation in lieu of Russell and Schroder will be the key in the punting range. Jarred Vanderbilt has barely chipped in despite starting in the past two, so perhaps it's Lonnie Walker ($7,000) who carves out a larger role. He had 9 points in 18 minutes on Saturday.
Right now, the Lakers need someone who can hit open shots besides Reaves, so perhaps it's possible they turn to Malik Beasley ($6,000) for a prayer off the bench against his former team. Returning from injury, Mo Bamba ($6,000) could also be an option to throw at Jokic.