3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 8/11/20
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 Tuesday's FanDuel main slate (at 3:30 ET).
Can I just insert a shrug emoji here? Write "Good luck," and move along? After yesterday, it became clear that we are not going to know who the chalk is on the remaining NBA slates until just about the moment that the slate is about to start.
Yesterday, the Dallas Mavericks value remained relatively chalky, but the mid-range and high-end options changed drastically when the Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, and Milwaukee Bucks were all part of last-minute announcements shortly before the slate kicked off.
So from this point forward, the chalk should be focused around teams that have something to play for and have a predictable rotation. Yesterday, that was Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns. It was also supposed to be Deandre Ayton, but we know how that turned out.
Today, we are going right back out West as all four of the teams battling for two spots are in action. Look for heavy ownership around the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, and Portland Trail Blazers as they try to sort out the eighth and ninth seed with just four days left.
And on the All-Day slate, it's Russell Westbrook. Play Russell Westbrook.
Here are some potential pivots with information we know as of Tuesday morning.
Kemba Walker ($5,500) - We all got excited to play Walker two days ago at $6,100 when we heard his minutes restriction would be moved to more than 30, and then he preceded to bust his way to only 15 FanDuel points in 31 minutes.
Fortunately today, he gets another price drop to $5,500 and should be looking at plenty of minutes as he gets his conditioning up for the playoffs and faces a team desperate to win in the Grizzlies. I see no reason the Boston Celtics should play Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, or Jaylen Brown big minutes in this one, but Walker clearly needs to find his game before playoffs start.
Over the past two weeks, the Grizzlies have allowed more than 48 FanDuel points per game to point guards, sixth-worst in the NBA. With the Celtics also getting an 11-spot pace bump in this one, I'm making sure to have plenty of Walker today.
Thybulle smashed given the opportunity on Sunday, putting up more than 7x value after Embiid left with an injury, and he should have no issue doing that again today at his bargain-bin price tag.
While his contributions may not always be in the points column, he does work in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks (12 steals plus blocks in the last four games), providing that instant boost to his FanDuel scoring.
A matchup with the Suns fits this type of game perfectly, as Phoenix ranks in the bottom half of the league in blocks allowed to their opponents, steals allowed, points in the paint, and overall defensive rating.
Add in the fact that the Suns play at the ninth-fastest pace in the league (fifth-fastest in their last six) and will be competing on every possession, and this is a perfect opportunity for a player like Thybulle to have 10x potential.
Jonas Valanciunas ($7,300) - Center will be a hard position to not go with one of the few upper-tier options, because below $7,000 at center is just gross.
J-Val is the pick here because of the perceived tough matchup against the Celtics and also because I believe most Memphis ownership will go to Ja Morant while center ownership goes to Ayton ($7,700, presuming he shows up for his COVID test today) and Jusuf Nurkic ($8,500).
Our projections have Valanciunas playing a big role in today's game, forecasting him for more than 40 FanDuel points, and he is also projected to be the second-best point-per-dollar play of all centers on the main slate.
While it is thought that the Celtics present a tough matchup (and Daniel Theis is fourth among all qualified centers in defensive rating), they have actually allowed 54.5 FanDuel points per game to centers since the restart, sixth-worst in the league. For context, the Washington Wizards allow 54.8 FanDuel points per contest, and we hammer centers in against them all the time.