3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 3/10/20
"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.
Devin Booker ($8,200) - As the Phoenix Suns have battled injuries and lineup shifts over the past week, Booker has been given the opportunity to dominate on offense even more than usual and he has not let us down. Over his past three games -- coinciding with Kelly Oubre and Deandre Ayton being out -- Booker is averaging 38 minutes and 49 FanDuel points per game. What is interesting however, is his usage rate in those games is lower than his season average (26.3% compared to 28.8%).
So how is he so dominant without as many shots?
First, his effective field goal percentage has risen from 54.6% on the season to 59.8% the last week. Second, his assist percentage has increased dramatically from 28.7% to 37.5%. He has also decreased his turnover rate and increased his defensive rebounding rate, turning into an across-the-board contributor instead of just a scorer. He has molded his game over the past couple weeks to be much more efficient to make up for all of the bodies his team is missing.
The Suns and Portland Trail Blazers play in the game with the second highest total of the night (233.5), but even with all of the Suns' injuries, there is still a tight 5.0-point spread. The Suns have had nice contributions from Mikal Bridges and Aron Baynes over the last couple games, but if the Suns hope to keep this one close, it's going to take a monster effort from Booker, and he seems to be going overlooked with James Harden, Bradley Beal, and DeMar DeRozan in such good spots tonight.
Larry Nance Jr. ($5,600) - Tristan Thompson is already ruled out for tonight's game, Kevin Love is perpetually a question mark these days, and even when Andre Drummond plays, we don't know if he is going to get 20 minutes on the court or 35. What has been constant in the month of March for the Cleveland Cavaliers, however, is Nance's stabilizing presence. In his four games this month, he averages over 38 minutes per night and 36.5 FanDuel points per game, including an 18-point dud on March 7. This type of production -- his range of FanDuel points over the last weeks spans from 18 to 53 -- plus the low price tonight is what makes Nance the perfect tournament play.
Our projections agree, as we have Nance as one of the top point-per-dollar plays of any forward on the slate. Much of this is due to his increased minutes, but we also can't forget about the stellar matchup against the Chicago Bulls. On the season, the Bulls give up the second most FanDuel points to the power forwards, not surprisingly ranking in the bottom 10 in points, rebounds, and blocks allowed to the position. Admittedly, Nance can sometimes forget to show up to games, but his up-and-down performances will hopefully keep ownership low as others gravitate toward Drummond or other strong value plays at the position like Maxi Kleber or Trey Lyles.
Nikola Vucevic ($8,300) - There is absolutely no reason Vucevic should be this cheap tonight. The Orlando Magic center is coming off a stretch of games in which he has scored at least 45.7 FanDuel points in five of his last six, yet he received a $100 price drop and isn't close to his price tags of late February when he was up over $9,000.
The Magic are in the midst of a span of games against teams that has allowed them to soar past their seasonal average of points per game, and tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies, it should be no different. Coming into a spot where they get a 20-spot pace bump, the Magic are projected to score more than three points over their season average, which is consistent with their recent play. Since the All-Star Break, the Magic have scored 119.8 points per game, compared to 103.9 in games before the break, thanks to the team playing at a much faster pace (101.7 post-break, 98.2 pre-break), and with a general "maybe a vacation is better than playing the Bucks in the first round" attitude on defense (107.4 defensive rating pre-break, 116.3 post-break).
Vucevic has already destroyed this team to the tune of 59.2 FanDuel points earlier this season, as the Grizzlies struggle mightily against post-up centers with versatile offensive games. With Hassan Whiteside and Drummond sure to draw ownership on this slate, I'm looking mostly to Vucevic for a high-priced pivot tonight.