3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/5/19
"One cannot be betrayed if one has no people."
- Kobayashi (The Usual Suspects)
When it's time to start building DFS tournament lineups, especially for NBA tournaments, the fundamental choice to make is whether or not to buy into the chalk plays of the slate. More than any other sport, the popular plays in NBA are popular for a reason. Where we often get into trouble in tournaments, however, is when we begin to blindly trust a slate's chalk.
This regular piece will focus on tournaments by looking through the lens of the projected chalk plays -- the usual suspects -- of that night's games. The Usual DFSuspects, if you will. In an attempt to understand the context of the slate, we will also uncover a Keyzer Soze of the night -- a player who looks helpful on the surface but is not what he appears as we dig deeper.
Let's look at plays for each position on Tuesday's FanDuel main slate.
Dejounte Murray ($7,000) - This man needs more minutes. Do us a favor, Coach Pop, and start unleashing Murray tonight in a delightful matchup against a hobbled Trae Young. If you played NBA DFS in 2018-2019, you will recall that all point guards against the Atlanta Hawks were automatic lock buttons. Last season, Young was one of the five worst guards in the league in defensive rating and routinely gave up massive performances to his opponents. With Young coming off injury and John Collins now suspended, the backcourt and interior defense for the Hawks looks weak.
Would you believe me if I told you that among players with at least 20 minutes per game this season, Murray ranks 11th in defensive rebound percentage? That's not 11th among guards -- 11th among all players. Better than Joel Embiid, Clint Capela, Nikola Vucevic, Anthony Davis, and many others. He also ranks top 15 in assist ratio. With Murray, you are not only getting a guard who scores 14 points per game but one who also chips in over eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals every night. With Murray's slate-leading 1.61 fantasy points per minute, anything over his standard 22 to 24 minutes would give us tremendous value at $7,000.
Kevin Love ($9,400) - In the early going, we are witnessing some vintage Love performances. He is averaging over 19 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists -- which all adds up to over 44 FanDuel points per game, with only one contest below 33 minutes and 38 FanDuel points on the season. What's scary is Love's offensive rating is one of the worst of his career, suggesting there could be room for improvement.
The Boston Celtics have surprisingly been poor against power forwards this season, likely due to the loss of Al Horford. Boston allows 27 points, 14 rebounds, and three assists to the position through their first five games. The Celtics rank 23rd in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage and 19th in defensive rebound percentage, setting the stage for an elite rebounding game for Love.
Nikola Vucevic ($8,600) - Assuming Steven Adams is out for another game tonight, Vucevic's matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder may be just the answer for the Magic center to break out of his early-season slump. Of course, a slump for Vucevic is still 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 35 FanDuel points per game.
Last season, however, we grew accustomed to consistent 45-to-60 point performances on his way to 21 points and 12 rebounds per game. Vucevic's effective field goal percentage is his lowest since his rookie season, but his usage is near a career high, so some course-correction should come in short order.
Without Adams in the lineup, the Thunder have dropped all the way to 23rd in defending centers, allowing 55.41 FanDuel points per game. Nerlens Noel's defensive rating is nine points worse than Adams' this season, so if he becomes Vucevic's primary defender tonight, it will be all systems go for the Magic.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Jimmy Butler ($9,500) - To be clear, it's not that I think Butler will have a bad game against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, but it's just that there may not be a more obvious candidate for regression through the first two weeks of the season than Butler.
Through his first three games (he missed the Miami Heat's first three contests of the season), Butler is averaging 48.1 FanDuel points per game, including more than 53 in his past two contests. In this small sample size, Butler is averaging an assist rate and assist ratio more than 10 percentage points better than his best season. He is also averaging a career high in rebound percentage and steals per game -- a whopping 4.3 steals per game. All of these strong peripheral stats mask the fact that Butler is averaging just 14.7 points per game with terrible numbers in effective field goal percentage (second lowest of his career) and true shooting percentage (lowest of his career).
The scoring and ancillary stats should regress back to their norms over time, but at $9,500 (more expensive than Nikola Jokic, Kevin Love, Trae Young, and Malcolm Brogdon, among others), he will find it very hard to continue paying off the steep price tag.