FanDuel Single-Game Basketball Helper: Clippers at Nuggets (9/13/20)

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.

Clippers at Nuggets Overview

The Denver Nuggets surprised the NBA world by staving off the championship-favorite Los Angeles Clippers in an elimination Game 5 on Friday night with a 111-105 win. They now will attempt to avoid elimination again on Sunday, but the Clippers now have their eyes affixed on their crosstown rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, who finished their series Saturday to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

FanDuel Sportsbook believes the Nuggets will once again have an uphill battle to stay alive, as the Clippers are 8.0-point favorites to win Game 6. Denver plays fairly slowly (29th in the NBA during the regular season), which is the explanation behind the somewhat low 213.5 total -- a number exceeded in three of five games in the series so far.

Injuries and What-Ifs

Neither squad enters Game 6 with significant injury news, which is always a plus. The Clippers' rotation is fairly consistent, but the story for the Nuggets remains their minutes distribution amongst Paul Millsap and Michael Porter Jr. at the four spot. The series averages thus far are 25.4 minutes for Millsap and 23.6 minutes for Porter, but both have exceeded 30 minutes in a game this series thus far.

Porter finished last game with a big three-point shot, and the Nuggets may lean on his offense late again. There seems to be no distinct reasoning or trend behind Michael Malone's minutes distribution between the two -- at least that we can pick up from the outside.

Player Breakdowns

At The Top

Kawhi Leonard ($16,000): From a conceptual point, one has to imagine Kawhi does not want to expend much more energy against Denver with LeBron James and the Lakers looming. Leonard certainly has put it all out there in terms of workload, getting up to 39.75 minutes per game in his last four contests. "Board Man" is also making a return from last year's playoffs, as he is up to 11 boards per game in that stretch. Kawhi is the clear-cut top option for MVP as numberFire's highest-projected player for Sunday.

Nikola Jokic ($15,500): Michael Porter Jr. publicly criticized the Nuggets' gameplan, and he might have turned it back around. The Nuggets are 4-0 this postseason when Jamal Murray leads the way in usage, and 3-5 when Jokic does. Murray led them in usage and scoring in Game 5. If that is the plan again, Jokic is a risky fantasy proposition at just $500 lower in salary than Kawhi is, given that Jokic has averaged only 42.5 FanDuel points in the four Murray-led games.

Paul George ($13,000): PG13 has played more than 40 minutes in three of the last four games, with the only exception being really severe foul trouble in Game 4. The Clippers are definitely leaning on their star duo as they look to close out the series, and that means good things for George. He gets 57% of his FanDuel output from points, so his shooting is important to his overall projection. PG13 has his shot working well in this series at 46.8% from the field -- with a tremendous 42.7% from three-point land.

Jamal Murray ($12,500): Can we trust Jamal Murray again? The answer is a slight "no" based on his Game 5 results. He produced a suitable fantasy output by leading the Nuggets with a 30.3% usage rate, but he shot just 36% from the field despite making 5 of 7 from deep. Murray was so productive against the Utah Jazz because of his 52.9% field-goal percentage, but at a frigid 36.8% this series, I have a difficult time drafting him over George, especially as the less productive player in the regular season, too, in terms of FanDuel points per minute.

In The Middle

Michael Porter Jr. ($10,000): The squeaky wheel got the grease, as Porter nailed the big shot in Game 5 to force this contest. He still played just 22 minutes, as his coach even called the shot "youthful inexperience," so the minutes workload for MPJ entering this contest is up in the air. Porter, if he were to see heavy minutes again, is third on the Nuggets in usage (19.1%) in the Orlando bubble, so his offensive ability gives him the highest upside of this middle group, but he also carries the lowest floor, given that he scored only 16.5 FanDuel points in Game 5.

Marcus Morris ($9,500): Morris feels like a lock in cash and single-entry, as he checks nearly every box for such a middling salary. He is averaging 32 minutes per game in the series, which is surprisingly third on the Clippers. He has not just stood still on the court, either, as he has scored in double figures every game. The only threat to Morris's production would be a potential blowout, but he posted 33 FanDuel points in Game 1, when Los Angeles won by 23 points and he played only 27 minutes.

Gary Harris ($9,500): The Nuggets' best perimeter defender is the Michigan State Spartans' product, but that has been to his detriment for fantasy. He has been in foul trouble each of the last two games, which has substantially reduced his minutes load. The expectation is Harris would return to closer to his Game 3 total of 34 minutes if he were to avoid foul trouble, and he posted 31.2 FanDuel points in that contest. His floor, because of just a 6.9% usage rate in the series, might be too low for cash games, but Harris is an option for tournaments.

At The Bottom

Ivica Zubac ($9,000): The strangest development of the playoffs has been the Clippers relying more heavily on Zubac than Sixth Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell -- who posted the 10th-best defensive win shares rating this year -- to guard Nikola Jokic. Zubac has played 31 minutes per game in the last two contests, which is fourth on Los Angeles' deep roster. There is a "buy-low" opportunity with Zubac from Game 5, as he severely underperformed his 1.16 season-long clip of FanDuel points per minute, posting only 0.59 on Friday.

Paul Millsap ($9,000): Millsap is in the same camp as his platoon-mate Porter -- he does have the potential for 30-minute upside but also boasts an incredibly ugly floor. Millsap arguably saved the Nuggets' season, as they trailed by 12 at the half last time out and seemed like they were marching toward their grave until Millsap scored 11 of his 17 points in a huge third quarter. His reward for that was being benched late. Millsap's 0.90 FanDuel points per minute in this series is tremendous. The question is how many minutes will Millsap get.

Jerami Grant ($8,500): Grant feels like another plug in a cash or single-entry format, as he has consistently been third on the Nuggets in minutes -- behind Jokic and Murray -- and one of the few stable elements of a wonky Denver rotation. Unlike Millsap, Grant's 0.54 FanDuel points per minute has been poor in his 35.6 minutes per game in this series, but Grant scoring 24 FanDuel points on Friday -- as well as posting a mark of 0.76 FanDuel points per minute during the Orlando bubble before this series -- leads one to believe that Grant will produce in the long run given this many minutes.

Key Takeaways

-- Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are both averaging 40 minutes per game in the last four games and better than 1.00 FanDuel points per minute in the series. Leonard is well ahead of that mark at 1.64.

-- The Nuggets are more successful this postseason when Jamal Murray leads the team in usage, holding a 4-0 record in those games versus a 3-5 record when Nikola Jokic does. Jokic is severely impacted in terms of fantasy production when Murray controls the show, which has been Denver's best path to victory.

-- Of the group of players under $9,500 in salary, only Jerami Grant and Marcus Morris average more than 28 minutes per game.

-- Ivica Zubac has stolen the center platoon from Montrezl Harrell and is now up to 31 minutes per game in the last two matchups.

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.