FanDuel Single-Game Basketball Helper: Rockets at Lakers (9/12/20)

In a traditional FanDuel NBA lineup, you have a $60,000 salary cap to roster nine players. In the single-game setup, the salary cap is the same, but the lineup requirements are different.

You select five players of any position. One of your players will be your MVP, whose FanDuel points are multiplied by two. You also select a STAR player (whose production is multiplied by 1.5) and a PRO (multiplied by 1.2). Two UTIL players round out the roster, and they don't receive a multiplier to their production.

This makes the five players you select important in more than one way, as you need to focus on slotting in the best plays in the multiplier slots rather than just nailing the best overall plays of the game.

Rockets at Lakers Overview

The Houston Rockets are looking to stave off elimination against a Los Angeles team on Saturday, which is the same fate the Denver Nuggets were able to avoid on Friday. The Los Angeles Lakers will be a tough foe, as they have won three straight games in the series. The Lakers are 6.5-point favorites to close out the Rockets on Saturday, and they have slowed down the pace of this series tremendously, with a total of just 215.5 for a matchup that features two teams that were top 12 in pace in the NBA this season.

Injuries and What-Ifs

For the Lakers, LeBron James (groin) and Anthony Davis (hip) have been on the injury report throughout Los Angeles's stay in the Orlando bubble, but neither have missed a postseason contest to this point nor do they figure to on Saturday. Markieff Morris entered the starting lineup on Thursday for Game 4 but played only 22 minutes, which was a lower total than he saw off the bench in Game 3.

For the Rockets, Danuel House Jr. is done for the season after breaking bubble protocol. He has left the bubble and will not be allowed to return.

Player Breakdowns

At The Top

LeBron James ($16,000): "Playoff LeBron" has continued to be spectacular this series. He has a rock-solid 29.6% usage rate that has never dipped below 28% in any individual game. His clip of 1.60 FanDuel points per minute is just slightly higher than AD's, but the extra $500 in salary could be worth it considering LeBron should regress toward his average of 26.3 points per game during the playoffs, versus the 16 points he posted on Thursday.

Anthony Davis ($15,500): AD has torched the small-ball Rockets all series, with mammoth averages of 28.5 points and 12.8 rebounds per game through the first four games. As the Rockets may fatigue through the series, it might be harder to rebound against a force like Davis, as Houston is coming off their worst rebounding effort of the playoffs, collecting only 26 boards last time out. Davis is the highest-projected player in the game by numberFire, and my top option at MVP, as well.

James Harden ($15,000): If you listened to just the media, you would think Harden scored only four points on Thursday. He still netted 21 points in large part thanks to 16 free throws, but he remains a consistent scoring threat while notching double-digit assists for the first time in the series in the last outing. Davis has a higher floor due to his rebounding, but Harden is worth tournament consideration in the MVP spot. He'll likely be the least popular MVP pick of the trio of guys at $15,000-plus.

Russell Westbrook ($13,000): Both Westbrook and Harden should see heavy minutes with Houston's backs against the wall, and Westbrook has actually turned around his scoring. Westbrook is averaging 27.5 points in the last two games after a rough shooting start, but his Game 4 assists (3) and rebounds (3) were both his lowest yet this series, meaning he still has yet to put it all together in one game. numberFire believes he will today, as he's our fourth different player who is projected to score at least 50 FanDuel points. He comes at a significant salary decrease from the other three. His best use may be an affordable option in the STAR spot.

In The Middle

Rajon Rondo ($11,500): Rondo owns a 19.5% usage rate, which is third among Lakers who have logged at least 10 minutes played in the series. This salary may be slightly high given that Rondo -- as a bench option -- is a big risk in the event of a blowout. He has been tremendously efficient in this series, shooting 53.2% from the field and 42.5% from three-point territory, which means the Rockets should probably stop letting him take wide open shots.

Robert Covington ($10,500): The old cliche is that basketball is a game of runs -- so, too, has been RoCo's FanDuel production. In his first four postseason games this year, Covington averaged 22.0 FanDuel points per game. In the next three, he averaged 47.5 FanDuel points per game, which correlated with the return of Westbrook. However, in the last four games, Covington has dropped back to 25.4 FanDuel points per game. His minutes and usage have not changed, but the decreases have come in both scoring and rebounding. RoCo could easily return to the form of the "middle three" contests and would smash in tournaments if he did.

Eric Gordon ($10,000): Gordon is incredibly steady given his usage. He is third on the Rockets in this series (behind Harden and Westbrook) with a 20.1% usage rate, and the next highest Rockets' starter who is active only is at just 8.9%. That has enabled Gordon to score at least 25 FanDuel points in 10 of 11 playoff games. He is a tremendous fit in a PRO spot in a cash or single-entry lineup.

At The Bottom

P.J. Tucker ($9,000): Tucker has failed to eclipse 10 FanDuel points in each of the last two contests, but that means he will probably not be popular in tournaments. His role (35.5 minutes per game) and usage (5.0%) did not change from the first two games of the series, when Tucker averaged 31.3 FanDuel points per game, largely on the strength of 10 rebounds per contest in those outings. If Tucker can get back on the boards, he will be a dynamite tournament plug, but his rate of FanDuel points per minute is too low to use in a multiplier spot.

Alex Caruso ($8,500): The Lakers have benched their centers, which has benefitted Caruso the past two games. He's averaging 27.5 minutes per game in that span, versus only 22 per game in the first two contests of the series. Caruso has always been productive, scoring 0.73 FanDuel points per minute in the regular season, but just has not had the time on the court to deliver big fantasy outputs. His minutes -- and clip of FanDuel points per minute -- are higher than Danny Green's, Kyle Kuzma's, and Markieff Morris'. But Caruso will be popular after his tremendous showing Thursday, and, as always, he can be slightly inflated in popularity due to his internet presence.

Danny Green ($8,500): In a tight contest, Green is always a threat for increased minutes because of his defense, but he has failed to see more run in three of the four games in this series. His woeful 32.3% three-point shooting percentage is likely why, as Green has little to offer offensively if his shot is not falling. Multi-entering in tournaments, Green has five games this year where he erupted for over 20 points because of his three-point shooting, so therefore he is not best ignored, but numberFire's projected, pedestrian 0.71 FanDuel points per minute seems accurate.

Austin Rivers ($7,500): Rivers was the largest beneficiary of Danuel House Jr's misconduct, as he saw 28 minutes off the bench, which was fifth best on the Rockets in Game 4. He made the most of it as well, posting 14 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists--and this should come as no surprise, as Rivers was second among active Rockets in FanDuel points per minute when Harden and Westbrook were off the floor this year. The former lotto pick is a talented option seeing minutes, and likely a popular and justified plug in all format.

Key Takeaways

-- Anthony Davis is the highest-projected player in the game at 57.9 FanDuel points, per our model.

-- Four players are projected for between 50 and 58 FanDuel points, but Russell Westbrook is by far the best point-per-dollar value among them.

-- Rajon Rondo has produced well in this series but could be hampered in the event of a blowout given that he comes off the bench for the favorite.

-- Robert Covington and PJ Tucker have the same roles they've had in previous games in terms of minutes and usage but have simply underperformed in their recent small sample.

Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.