3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 8/10/20
Welcome back, NBA! For the next several weeks, we get the bubble-wrapped version of the top 22 teams in the association as they look to finish up the 2019-2020 season.
When it's time to start building DFS tournament lineups, especially for NBA, 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 the 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 of that night's games. 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.
With a maximum of eight games per night from now until the end of the season, it will be even more important to determine where we should differentiate against the field.
Let's look at plays for Monday's FanDuel main slate.
At first glance, I would say four of the five Monday games offer several intriguing storylines that will appeal to DFS players.
The Phoenix Suns-Oklahoma City Thunder game features one the bubble's hottest players this side of T.J. Warren -- Devin Booker -- on its hottest team. The Suns are looking to win out to make it to the play-in tournament for the 8 seed in the West. The Thunder need a win to stay out of the 7 seed so they can avoid playing the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. The Booker- Chris Paul showdown will be must-see TV.
The Dallas Mavericks-Utah Jazz is the value game of the day, with Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dorian Finney-Smith already ruled out, there are no players over $5,000, offering DFS players much-needed salary relief on this slate. Ownership will be heavy (and perhaps necessary) for those players on this slate.
An afternoon matchup between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks should be a small preview of will likely be the Eastern Conference Finals. Look for teams to play this one like a playoff game as they have their last shot at checking out each other's styles of play and tendencies.
The late-game features the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. The Nikola Jokic-Anthony Davis matchup should be a clinic of how next-generation big men lead an offense and how much of it can flow through them and still be successful and not lane-clogging. This should be a fast-paced, entertaining matchup with a nice mix of stars and value plays.
That leaves the Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers game as the one likely to be overlooked, especially if the Heat are mostly at full strength. Plus, both teams are bottom eight in pace and top 12 in defensive rating this year. Not exactly a DFS player's dream scenario.
Still, there are good tournament plays to be found here and throughout the slate.
Malcolm Brogdon ($6,700) - If not for T.J. Warren, aka The GOAT, Brogdon would be getting a lot more run for his play during the Pacers' 4-1 start this month, keeping them in the hunt for the fourth seed in the East.
Even with Warren averaging well over 30 points per game for the Pacers, Brogdon has been able to improve his usage rate, assist rate, rebound rate, offensive rating, and true shooting percentage in the bubble.
With so much defensive attention being drawn in by Warren and his constant drives into the lane, Brogdon is freed up for better looks or more assist opportunities than when we saw a more passive Warren earlier in the year.
Three of Brogdon's four games in Orlando have gone for more than 37 FanDuel points, and his price only sits $200 over where it was when games started back up -- presenting a great buy-in opportunity for tournaments, even with a tough matchup against Miami.
Bam Adebayo ($7,900) - First, the bad news. Adebayo has been a bit hit-or-miss in Orlando, scoring more than 37 FanDuel points three times, but under 30 twice. He also got a $300 price bump after putting up 47 FanDuel points against the Phoenix Suns in his last game.
Now the good news. Centers matched up against the Pacers in Orlando has been the DFS version of a Disney World ride FastPass. Straight to the basket, no restrictions. Indiana has allowed 65.2 FanDuel points to the center position the last two weeks, five points higher than any other team, according to Basketball Monster.
Adebayo's usage rate the last two games has been greater than 30%, but even if that takes a hit with Jimmy Butler back in action, he is still averaging 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and one block per game in the restart. Those contributions give him a solid floor even if the scoring isn't always there.
Our projections have him crossing the 40 point threshold with a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double on Monday.
Brook Lopez ($6,000) - Some kind of light has switched on for Lopez since he got to Orlando, as he has reached at least 33 FanDuel points in all four games in which he has played during the restart.
He still isn't rebounding as you would want from your center position, at only 6.75 per game, but he is blocking 3 shots per game, and has hit 10 three-pointers in the bubble, in addition to his 22 points per contest.
One of the more interesting stats this month has been that Lopez has the sixth-highest usage rate among all centers left in play -- higher than Jusuf Nurkic, Anthony Davis, Deandre Ayton, and many others. I don't know if that's sustainable or if the Bucks are simply trying to ease the load on Giannis Antetokounmpo until the playoffs, but as DFS players we will take it as long as we can get it.
This might seem like an unorthodox play today, but with most of the strong center plays today at the $7,700 or above range and all of the cheap plays with giant question marks (looking at you, Boban Marjanovic), Lopez will surely be low-owned.