DraftKings DFS NBA Strategy Advice: Sunday (5/2)
The NBA playoffs are fast approaching. It’s been fun covering regular-season DFS slates for you each week, and I’m hoping for some great performances as we end the year.
Each week, I’ll be here to profile some strong value plays, studs, and duds for Sunday’s DraftKings slate. I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction, and if you have any questions, you can hit me up on Twitter at @is_sirois. All matchup data is pulled from our defense versus position tool.
Most Value Per Dollar
Tonight’s seven-game slate will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. ET. The betting totals don’t point to a ton of high-scoring matchups, as only one has a total above 230, POR/BOS (234.5), and only one more has a total above 225, SAC/DAL (227). The rest of the slate offers decent value, although I’m not targeting many players in games with totals below 220, like NYK/HOU (217.5), MIA/CHA (211), and TOR/LAL (217).
As far as injuries go, the Celtics remain without Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown is questionable tonight. Almost everyone on the Lakers is day-to-day, although we have a good shot to see both LeBron James and Anthony Davis suit up tonight. The Mavericks will remain without Kristaps Porzingis, and the Heat won’t have Victor Oladipo or Tyler Herro tonight.
Below is a list of the top-10 players of the day expected to generate the most value relative to their salary, ranked in order of how much they’ll cost you.
Andre Drummond (LAL) $7,300
Drummond is pretty cheap on this slate, and he’s reasonably priced for the matchup. Sure, he probably won’t play more than a half-hour, but he just hit 5x value against this price on Wednesday, and the tanking Raptors are beatable in the paint. I would definitely consider featuring Drummond if either Davis or James sit, but he ranks as the fifth-best center-eligible player in our cheat sheet even if they don’t.
Ben Simmons (PHI) $7,200
What has Simmons done lately? Not a whole lot, but enough to pay off the bargain-bin salary he has been assigned. He has hit 5x value against this price in three of his last five games, and he’ll face the Spurs tonight, who have struggled against opposing point guards since Derrick White went down. They give up the ninth-most DKPPG to opposing point guards.
Marcus Smart (BOS) $6,400
Smart is a slate-winner at DraftKings tonight. I do not use those words lightly — with Walker out, Smart should play at the point, and that gives him a defensive matchup against one of the league’s worst defenders: Damian Lillard. Smart’s salary dipped by $400 since his last outing, too, so he should be able to generate even more value than his 5.9x showing on Friday — especially since this should be the slate’s highest-scoring battle.
Tim Hardaway (DAL) $4,900
With Porzingis sidelined, the Mavericks should continue to trust players like Hardaway and Richardson with larger roles. Hardaway dropped 28.3 DK points (5.8x value against this price) when the power forward missed Saturday’s matchup, and you can still fit him in your lineup at a minimal cost. The matchup against the Kings, who rank last in defensive efficiency, screams value — although they have fared better against small forwards than most other positions.
Keldon Johnson (SAS) $4,800
I’m not sure why Johnson is quite this cheap. He has gone for at least 5x value against this price in four of his last five outings, and though the 76ers are a tough matchup, Johnson has shown the floor necessary for me to consider him a value play. That said, you’re better off looking elsewhere for tournament upside.
Nerlens Noel (NYK) $4,600
So do you remember when I said that I wouldn’t feature that many players in low-scoring contests? I was fibbing a little bit. There are two Knicks that I like on this slate because of their absurdly affordable prices, and Noel is the first. He just scored 40.5 DK points against the Bulls on Wednesday, and the Rockets give up more DKPPG to opposing centers. Also, the main reason why this total has been set so low is Houston’s awful play at home; New York’s team total is a respectable 114.5.
Josh Richardson (DAL) $4,300
Richardson only played 23 minutes in yesterday’s win over the Wizards, but I personally see that as a positive. He’ll come into this game fresher than some of his teammates, and his sharp shooting ability makes him a high-value option against a defense as bad as Sacramento’s. They give up the third-most DKPPG to shooting guards.
Payton Pritchard (BOS) $4,000
I personally prefer Smart, but Pritchard also makes a ton of sense against Portland’s underwhelming defense. Pritchard would be an absolute must-start if Brown fails to play through his questionable tag, too.
Elfrid Payton (NYK) $3,300
Although Alec Burks should be back, I just don’t see Payton losing enough minutes to not hit value against a price this low. Sure, he’s getting phased out of New York’s rotation. That’s fine — he doesn’t need that much time to hit value! Payton just needs to score 16.5 DK points to hit value tonight, a feat he has accomplished in two of his last three and in seven of his last ten.
Andre Iguodala (MIA) $3,100
The Heat remain pressed for depth, and Iggy has played 20-plus minutes in back-to-back games. He easily hit value in his most recent outing, as he recorded 21.8 DK points (7x value) against the Cavaliers. Also, the Hornets have an awful perimeter defense — if Iguodala gets warm from deep, he could even have a high-ceiling game.
Studs Worth Their Salary
- Luka Doncic (DAL) $10,800: Doncic recorded a career-high 20 assists last night, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps the momentum rolling into tonight’s matchup with the Kings. Who better to target in a high-scoring matchup than the guy with the NBA’s second-highest usage rate?
- Jayson Tatum (BOS) $9,900: Tatum is a good play if Brown plays but a great one if he sits. The Trail Blazers field an average defense against power forwards, but they’re worse against small forwards, and Tatum sees more of his minutes there.
- Jimmy Butler (MIA) $9,000: The Hornets give up the fifth-most DKPPG to small forwards, and the Heat will have to lean on Butler due to the current state of their roster. Let’s just hope that Oladipo can suit up for the playoffs.
- Chris Paul (PHO) $7,700: It’s (another) revenge game for the veteran, and our projections expect him to score 42.3 DK points tonight (5.5x value). However, if this one turns into a blowout, the Suns may scale Paul’s minutes back.
Notable Players to Fade
- Julius Randle (NYK) $10,200: Randle’s salary is just a bit too high tonight. Not only is there some risk of a blowout, but he barely hit 5x value against this price against the Bulls, and you’re better off looking elsewhere for value.
- Christian Wood (HOU) $8,600: If Randle’s salary is a bit too high, Wood’s salary is far too high. The Knicks surrender the second-fewest DKPPG to power forwards, the sixth-fewest to centers, and their slow pace of play should keep Wood well below 5x value tonight.
- DeMar DeRozan (SAS) $8,200: The 76ers’ defense has played too well for me to consider rostering DeRozan at this high of a price. They rank second in defensive efficiency and give up the third-fewest DKPPG to small forwards and the 11th-fewest to power forwards.
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