2018 NBA All-Star Game FanDuel Primer
Just because the NBA is heading to the All-Star break doesn't mean you need to wait an entire week to play fantasy basketball on FanDuel.
Naturally, these All-Star offerings are a bit different than your typical NBA DFS format, so let's dive into some strategy for building your All-Star game rosters.
FanDuel's single-game setup will be in effect here, meaning that you roster five players instead of nine. You get the standard $60,000 to build your roster ($12,000 per player), but you select one guard, one forward/center flex, two utility players, and one MVP, whose FanDuel points get multiplied by 1.5.
You've come to numberFire for some details on who to play, but we can't really do that without telling you why. I'll be digging through past All-Star games (the last five, to be clear) to try to uncover trends and notes for our lineups.
Just like we saw when examining the Rising Stars Challenge, minutes are important. Again, that's just obvious, given the way fantasy stats are accumulated in basketball. But in the past five All-Star games, minutes correlated a little more to FanDuel points than we saw in the past three Rising Stars Challenges (0.760 versus 0.703).
But Points Matter More
It's great to see the underlying tenets of playing daily fantasy translating to these All-Star formats. Points correlate stronger to FanDuel points than any other basic statistic, and the relationship between the two yields a correlation coefficient of 0.855. You can dig and dig, but you won't find many (or any) stats that are as closely tied to fantasy points as actual points.
Further, both field goal makes (0.832) and attempts (0.796) correlate stronger than just minutes alone. Of the non-scoring stats, assists (0.566) and steals (0.534) are next on the list. Simply put, we want the ball hogs on our teams.
Start the Starters
Some of the best moments on the basketball calendar can be found at the end of a tight All-Star game. In these instances, the starters tend to stick on the floor and try to grind out a win. Starters just tend to play more minutes, score more buckets, and rack up more fantasy points, given their increased opportunities. Here are the median ranks for starters and reserves over the past five All-Star games.
|All-Star Game 2013-2017||Minutes||Actual Points||FanDuel Points|
Other than Russell Westbrook in 2015 and 2017 (41 points in each), no bench player has topped 24 points in the past five All-Star games. That means that 13 of the 15 top scoring games belong to All-Star starters over the past five seasons.
By FanDuel points, starters claim 18 of the top 20 showings in the past five years, with Westbrook (56.5 FanDuel points in 2015) and Chris Paul (45.7 in 2015) making the cut.
And if we look simply at minutes played, the top 25 list comprises 25 starters, and just 5 of the 70 bench players in the sample have topped 22.5 minutes.
It's pretty clear who we want to force into our lineups: starters and guards who will command the ball.
The All-Star Lineups
Here are the 24 players in the All-Star game, with salary and FanDuel points per minute since January 1st. Starters are in bold.
If you're counting, you'll see just nine starters in bold. That's because Team LeBron coach Dwane Casey hasn't yet picked a replacement in the starting lineup for DeMarcus Cousins. Who ever gets a start (it should be Westbrook) would get a boost.
Players to Target
LeBron James ($15,000) - It's important to note that LeBron has played just 19.5 and 20.2 minutes in his past two All-Star games, compared to 30-plus in the three prior. He's produced 24.1 and 24.3 FanDuel points the past two years, as well. LeBron is the most expensive player in the game, so that's all worrisome. However, as a captain and a starter, his minutes should be elevated. James also ranks in the 73rd percentile in transition efficiency and is 6th in transition possessions per game among qualified players.
Russell Westbrook ($14,500) - Russ has averaged 58.3 FanDuel points over his past three All-Star games, despite coming off the bench twice. He's taken at least 23 shots in all of those in an average of 25.6 minutes per contest. It also can't hurt from a motivation standpoint that Westbrook wasn't originally named a starter and that he actually thought he got picked last (the list was just alphabetical). To top it off, Westbrook averages 6.5 transition possessions per game, most in the NBA.
Kevin Durant ($14,000) - KD dropped 54.0 FanDuel points last year on just 16 shot attempts. He actually racked up a triple-double (21 points, 10 boards, and 10 assists). Durant is averaging 1.37 FanDuel points per minute in 2018 but just 17.0 field goals per 36 minutes (17th among these 24 players). We know he can do it all in this type of game, though, as evidenced last year. Additionally, Durant ranks fifth in transition possessions per game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($14,000) - The top of this price pool is just loaded. We can't roster them all, but we also can't overlook Giannis. He's second in transition possessions per game and ranks in the 76th percentile in transition efficiency. He's only 11th in field goal attempts per 36 minutes among All-Stars, but he's 6th in FanDuel points per minute (1.41) since the start of 2018. He can do it all in this game.
Anthony Davis ($13,500) - Speaking of doing it all in the All-Star game, Davis checks the boxes. Last year's MVP dropped 52 points on 39 shot attempts to go along with 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and a turnover for a nice showing of 69.0 FanDuel points. Davis is top four in both FanDuel points per minute (1.49, third) and in field goals per 36 (20.2, fourth) among All-Stars in 2018.
Stephen Curry ($13,000) - Betting against the captains is probably not the smartest approach, as both Curry and LeBron should see heavy minutes with their name on the line. Curry's 1.30 FanDuel points per minute are ninth in 2018, and his field goal attempts per 36 (17.9) are 13th. Those aren't stellar at this price, but we know Curry will let loose from deep (11 of his 16 field goals were three-pointers last year).
Kyrie Irving ($12,500) - Irving produced 58.4 FanDuel points in last year's All-Star game. He shot just 12 times but was 6 of 8 from three. He dished out 14 assists and snared 7 rebounds. Starting alongside LeBron, Durant, and Davis should give him plenty of assist opportunities again, and his 19.8 field goal attempts per 36 minutes rank him sixth in 2018.
DeMar DeRozan ($12,000) - DeRozan is the cheapest starter available. His game isn't necessarily tailor-made for the All-Star game, but he is attempting a career high in three-pointers and is attempting 20.5 field goals per 36 minutes in 2018. That ranks him third among these 24 All-Stars. If he is aggressive (18.7% of his field goals come from within three feet of the rim), he could rack up some easy buckets before the rim defense tightens up.
Victor Oladipo ($10,000) - Oladipo ranks eighth with 19.0 field goal attempts per 36 minutes in 2018, and we saw him take 21 shots in the 2015 Rising Stars Challenge (and record 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals for 39.6 FanDuel points). He's in the 56th percentile in transition efficiency and 3rd in transition possessions per game this season.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,500) - When scouring for cheaper options, consider prioritizing guards. Just 10 players over the past five All-Star games have recorded at least 10 rebounds. That being said, KAT is a great fit for an up-and-down All-Star game, and in last year's Rising Stars Challenge, he recorded 24 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 25 minutes. Among all All-Stars, he ranks 10th in FanDuel points per minute in 2018 and is 2nd among the 15 players priced at or below $12,000.
Damian Lillard ($9,000) - Dame is 12th in FanDuel points per minute and 10th in field goal attempts per 36 since the start of 2018. Of his 20 field goal attempts in the 2014 and 2015 All-Star games, 15 of them came from beyond the three-point arc. If he can find his stroke, Lillard should provide some low-end value in his limited minutes.
Kemba Walker ($8,500) - Kemba ranks 12th in the NBA in transition possessions per game. Since January 1st, he's seventh among All-Stars in field goal attempts per 36 minutes (19.3). He is a replacement selection, so he's not a lock for heavy minutes, but he'll almost certainly run point when on the floor. And touches lead to fantasy scoring.