3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/7/20
"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 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 look at lower-owned plays that help you gain leverage against the competition.
Let's look at plays for Tuesday's FanDuel main slate.
Ja Morant ($7,000) - Morant fans have been clamoring him to get more minutes all season, and he is finally receiving them. Averaging just over 29 minutes per game on the season, Morant has now crossed the 30-minute threshold six times in his last 11 games. His usage rate has also climbed to an elite 26.6%, a number higher than some other point guards on this slate such as Kyle Lowry and Chris Paul.
If Morant crosses the 30-minute mark tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he has the opportunity to produce one of his best games of the season. The Timberwolves allow the second most actual points to the point guard position this year and play a similarly fast-paced style to the Memphis Grizzlies (Memphis ranks third in pace; Minnesota is fourth). With a 228.0-point implied total and only 3.0-point spread, this looks a game to target and stack.
Kelly Oubre ($7,600) - Over the last five games, LeBron James is the only small forward on this slate to score more FanDuel points per game then Oubre has. Normally serving as the second option to Devin Booker, Oubre averages almost 39 minutes and a tick more than 45 FanDuel points per game in that timeframe, and he recently torched these same Sacramento Kings for 50 FanDuel points on December 28.
A matchup against the Kings is not ideal from a pace perspective, as they rank 28th in the league in tempo. But Sacramento is only 18th in overall defensive rating, leading to the Phoenix Suns having an implied point total higher than their season average tonight. This game features the second-highest over/under of the night, and with the firepower available in both offenses, this looks like a potential shootout in which some exposure will be absolutely necessary. Oubre is the strongest piece to own if pivoting off of Booker.
Steven Adams ($6,500) - Everyone everywhere is recommending Andre Drummond tonight as the last man standing for the injury-riddled Detroit Pistons. It's with good reason as Drummond faces a weak Cleveland Cavaliers frontcourt and is getting all the minutes and usage he can handle.
But for a low-priced pivot with a stronger matchup, Adams is certainly in play as his recent trends have him playing some of his best basketball this season. Adams has gone for at least 30 FanDuel points in six of his last eight games, raising his season averages to 1.13 points per minute and 32 FanDuel points per game in just over 28 minutes per night.
He should have every opportunity to excel tonight against a weak Brooklyn Nets frontcourt, one that is allowing the fourth most FanDuel points per game to the center position and ranks only 19th in the league in defensive rebound percentage. This plays perfectly into Adams' strength as he has the highest offensive rebound percentage of any center with at least 25 minutes per game. We project Adams to contribute a double-double tonight (12 points and 10 rebounds), but the ceiling is there for tournament-winning upside.