The NBA Finals are finally here which means we have some massive Showdown contests to look forward to! This is one of my favorite periods given the game theory nature of Showdown and want to do everything I can to get you guys the information you need to separate yourself from the pack and be unique while also having a shot at 1st place. There are four key things I look for in a player to have the highest probability of being optimal!
These four statistics paired together are the best suitors to find a gem. Almost everyone I mention below hits on atleast 2 of these if not all of them! Hopefully this will help you be more successful while building lineups and give you a higher chance of winning the big bucks!
I would also like to note that I write these articles early in the day. It is always beneficial to check @Underdog__NBA for lineup changes. Those changes could have a direct effect on some of my "favorite plays" in the sense that if a cheap guy that was one of my favorites doesn't start, then they might no longer be a favorite play or even a play at all. Check out my Twitter @HeatingUpDFS for any updates on favorite play changes!
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The Celtics and Warriors split the season series 1-1 with Boston blowing them out in mid March and the Warriors winning a closer contest 111-107 right around Christmas time. You would have to imagine that the Celtics are running on near empty after back to back 7 game series with multiple guys banged up. The Warriors on the other hand have settled their scores quite easily with not a single series going past 6 games in their playoff run. It doesn't really matter how you look at it here, I think all we want is a good series and these teams have the stars to provide us with that. Both teams seem to be relying heavily on the 3 ball which makes me think that is the decider. Whoever can get hot at the right time will likely win this series. I for one might be a minority in saying this but the fact that most have written off Boston and are already giving the Warriors the win is quite crazy to me. The Celtics are young and having a few days to rest up might be all they need. I think they have had a much tougher path to these finals and should be mentally locked in as the underdogs ready to go. If I had to put my money down right now I would take the Celtics in 6 to win the Finals at the Garden. I just think they match up incredibly well to slow down the Warriors despite the number of massive runs they allowed Miami to go on in the last series. Looking at the Warriors though I totally see the reasoning to have them as favorites. They probably have more guys to rotate in and give players some relief which likely means they are much fresher the deeper into the series this goes. They have some absolute fire power shooting the ball and play good enough defense to back it up. I am just firmly in the boat that defense wins championships and that is exactly what the Celtics bring to the table. As for tonight, I think it is a toss up as to who wins making me think that a balanced build is more than likely the best way to go.
For Showdown slates it is always crucial that you get the CPTN correct or you won't stand a chance at the top prize. Usually the top 0.1-1% of the highest scoring lineups in a SD setting feature the same CPTN with varying UTIL spot choices to round out the lineup. Given the rotations should remain fairly tight, there might only be two roster constructions you can choose tonight. The 1st is a stars and scrubs approach. That is where you take a top 3 option at CPTN, follow it up with 3 more of the top 5 priced options, and round it out with two guys that are extremely cheap in hopes that the stars get 80%+ of the usage and you only need 3-10 DK points from the cheap guys to get you to the top. The 2nd option, which will likely be my personal approach, is a balanced approach. Usually it comes with taking a mid range CPTN option, then multiple high to mid priced options at UTIL and only have to lean on one cheaper option that still has scoring viability. The way that Draftkings priced this one puts a lot of emphasis on a balance build. We don't have a $12,000 player up top that is a lock leading to the use of under $3,000 options being a must. The highest priced guy is Tatum at $10,600 and then after Steph at $10,200 you go all the way down to Brown as the only guy over $9,000. Realistically you could get all 3 of those guys tonight and have money to spare depending on if someone like Gary Payton or Bjelica play decent minutes. All in all, I think DK did a good job with pricing everyone so that there isn't a certain build that stands out thus flattening ownership in the mid range. The following guys I believe give you the best shot at either being optimal or different enough to give you some leverage towards a unique build.
Jayson Tatum ($15,900 CPTN) or Steph Curry ($15,300 CPTN)
Almost EVERYONE will go this route tonight since it is more than feasible to do so. The Warriors have enough really cheap options in the rotation that you can get one of these guys CPTN, one at UTIL and be just fine filling in the gaps to have a solid chance at optimal. I think if you are creating lineups for the new SERIES contests on Draftkings they are almost a must at CPTN just because they will 100% be the top scorers come the conclusion of this series. However, for tonight, I actually lean Tatum heavily and Steph I think is a good fade. I know most of you might think I am crazy saying fade Steph but Marcus Smart is 100% and has had Steph's number in the past. He knows how to limit him and they will stick Smart on Steph like glue just like they did with Butler last series (even though it was a horrible size matchup for Smart). If you fade Steph you can almost avoid the $3,000 and fewer range completely which has little to no upside. As for Tatum, I think he has a much easier matchup against Wiggins and with Klay guarding Jaylen that could lead to a slight usage bump for Tatum. He just checks every box tonight. Even if you want Steph as well I am not going to talk you off of that. The odds that he is outside the top 6 in scoring tonight is probably less than 1%, but I just lean Tatum CPTN over him with almost no difference in salary.
Marcus Smart ($12,300 CPTN)
The man is just a player. He shows up when it matters and puts his heart out on the floor on every single play. I guess that could lead to a bit higher injury risk which we have already seen, but I am willing to take those chances. He will get as many minutes as he can handle to defend Steph and showed in Game 7 he can get over the 40 minute mark. He accumulates stats across the board is priced up enough that some might avoid him leading to a bit of leverage. He lets you avoid the $3,000 and under range completely but also has 40+ DK point upside to get close enough to Tatum and Steph's score to push being optimal. I love him in this spot against Steph who is still not a great defender so lock in on Smart tonight. I think the big decider is that in both games against GS this season he scored 40+ DK points.
Jordan Poole ($9,600 CPTN)
The field is generally extremely underweight on bench players at CPTN and for good reason. Usually they are much more volatile and the minutes can be spotty. However, Poole is not your average bench guy. He should see close to 30 minutes regardless of the outcome and if his shot is falling they will certainly leave him out there. The price is just too low for his ceiling and in the one game he played against BOS this season he scored 45 DK points... It is extremely risky, but I don't think anyone does this tonight and that might be exactly what you need to leverage wise to be unique and push for a top 1% finish.
Along with all of the CPTN options, the following players look to be a good value tonight for a number of different reasons (pricing, matchup, ownership leverage, etc.)
Jaylen Brown ($9,200)
Brown is kind of stuck in the dead range which could mean 1 of 2 things. He could come in severely underowned with the field going up to Steph and Tatum or he just doesn't have what it takes to get up to them in scoring and he kills all of the of the low ownership believers. Unfortunately I am in the boat they he doesn't get there tonight. He doesn't matchup well with Klay and in the two games against GS this season he failed to pass 40 DK points and the price difference between him and the two above him isn't enough to warrant playing him. I think he is great leverage, but I don't think you will get enough of it. That being said I actually like him more than Steph here who I think is in a much worse spot compared to Brown. Taking Brown and Tatum likely means you think Boston wins tonight and I don't think much of the field will think that way so it is really up to you. I guess a positive is he will get enough minutes to prop his floor up to around the 30 DK point range which is great. He is definitely in the boat of he is fine if you get to him but if you don't I wouldn't be too worried.
Klay Thompson ($7,800)
Man is it refreshing to see him priced accordingly again after he was in the low 9's to high 8's range last series. Similar to Brown I think he is a good leverage piece but Brown is also a good defender. Klay only played in the blowout of the regular season series but has yet to eclipse 30 DK points in any of his last 4 meetings against Brown and the Celtics. If his shot isn't falling they likely go to Poole and if he gets hot that could be the end for Thompson's optimal chances. I would rather go to some guys a bit cheaper or find a way to get to Smart or Brown above him who do a bit more in other categories to support the price tag.
Al Horford ($7,600)
I think this is a pretty easy one. No point in spending this much of Horford when he is going to get Draymond treatment for a good part of the game and have to be active on the defensive end with how much Draymond handles the ball. I just don't think he will get enough opportunities unless Robert Williams gets hurt again and they have to move him to C more. Again, he is a leverage play at best but the price is too steep for my liking.
Kevon Looney ($7,400)
Lol just fade Looney at this horrifying price tag and wait until he is $5,000 by Game 4. He won't be able to do much of anything against Robert Williams or even Horford when they go smaller.
Andrew Wiggins ($7,200)
Now this is where a lot of the mid range ownership will fall to. Wiggins played fantastic in the last series and great in the one game against BOS he played in the regular season (44 DK points). I don't think he gets enough respect for the season he has had and hopefully he will garner more after this series. He plays the most minutes of anyone of GS and does enough in the rebound department to warrant paying this price tag. My only real fear is that you can go both ways and find a guy that probably has a higher ceiling than Wiggins at much lower ownership (Draymond lower and Klay or Horford higher). In GPPs I would likely try to see if I can get up to the Klay or Horford to avoid the chalk or just go down to Draymond and burn the salary. However in cash formats I would 100% get to Wiggins. Just follow the ownership in those contests.
Draymond Green ($6,800)
I am a bit perplexed with what to do with Green here. On one hand he should play 30-35 minutes and handle the ball a good bit. On the other hand Horford is still a more than competent defender and if Draymond isn't getting the peripherals then he is almost certainly going to let you down. In GPPs, I like him a lot more than Wiggins at half the ownership but it is a bit risky. In cash formats I would probably avoid and go with someone that holds higher ownership. It is that simple.
Robert Williams ($6,200)
He might be one of my favorite plays tonight just because I bet no one plays him and he can likely dominate Looney. However the injury is something that clearly hampered him in Game 7 and I don't know if only a few days off is enough to fully get him back to 100%. If they come out and say he is not on a minutes limit then I would try to get to him in GPPs. However, if they don't post that news or he looks gimpy in pre-game then probably just avoid him and hope he doesn't get close to 30 minutes. He is in a dead range anyways which usually means lower ownership. Just tread lightly with Time Lord tonight.
Derrick White ($5,400)
Another guy that I really don't know what I want to do with. He was honestly abysmal in all but one or maybe two games shooting from 3 in the last series and with Smart back 100% I just don't think he can get there. There are guys cheaper that probably can get to his DK score in general whilst saving yourself some salary. I would fade White in this spot.
Grant Williams ($4,800)
I think I am more inclined to go to Williams over White. He seems to be getting similar minutes and I trust his shot a lot more as well as to pick up some rebounds here and there. He should get in the 20 minutes range and even though he might not have the ceiling of White I think he has a much better floor. With how lengthy the Warriors can be I wouldn't be surprised if they went to Grant over White a lot in this series. I still don't really trust Grant which is why I would be cautious. The stars and scrubs build is likely going to outscore a balanced build with Grant more often than not.
Otto Porter ($4,000)
This is my favorite play on the slate. Porter is coming into this one a bit banged up but if he plays then I think he will 100% get the minutes and be a true factor. In the games he didn't get hurt in the previous series he scored 20+ DK points in all of them and played well in the regular season series against BOS. He fits the type of guy that can give you instant help off the bench to pair with Poole and really make it tough for Boston to keep up. He is priced just right for a balanced build that can still push a stars and scrubs build since you can get to everyone in the 7-8k range playing Porter. Hopefully he ends up playing because if he does I will be all over him.
Moses Moody ($2,000)
I think before considering Moody we need the Gary Payton news. If he does end up playing then I think Moody can kiss his minutes goodbye. They love Payton and will likely try to get him in when they can. I still think we are a game or two away from seeing Payton who broke his freaking elbow just a few weeks ago and is probably not 100%. No point in rushing back until you are down 0-2 or tied up 1-1. That being said if Payton does sit I think Moody is a fine punt option but I don't think he offers you much. There really isn't a reason to go this low.
Gary Payton ($1,600) or Nemanja Bjelica ($1,400)
Similar to Moody I don't see a reason to go this low unless you want all of Steph, Tatum or Brown. However if both are active I think one can be more than serviceable. Payton is a great defensive guy that can give you solid minutes but doesn't really have the upside. Bjelica however won't get the minutes exactly (probably settle in the 10 minutes range), but does have a high FPPM output. He will play the backup C minutes and is probably going to settle around 10 DK points. I don't hate that at all for a stars and scrubs build.
Fades (for me):
Jonathan Kuminga, Payton Pritchard, Damion Lee, Daniel Theis