FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 9/18/20

Is Jamal Murray a worthwhile pivot for the MVP slot in tonight's one-game slate?

If you're new to daily fantasy basketball -- maybe you started your DFS journey during the MLB or NFL seasons, or maybe basketball is your sport and this will be your first year giving it a shot -- you're in for a treat. The NBA scene changes on a week-to-week, day-to-day, and -- depending on injury news -- even a minute-to-minute basis, making every slate a unique one that requires an ever-changing approach -- and that's especially the case now.

With so much changing so quickly, we're here with plenty of tools to help you out. We have daily projections, a matchup heat map, a lineup optimizer, and a bunch of other great resources to help give you an edge.

Daily fantasy NBA is very reliant on opportunity, so you'll need to make sure that you're up-to-date with key injuries. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news, we have player news updates, and the FanDuel Scout app will send push notifications for pressing updates regarding your players.

We'll also be coming at you with this primer every day, breaking down a few of the day's top plays at each position.

Let's take a look at who you should target on Thursday's one-game slate between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, which locks at 9:00pm.

MVP Considerations

Four players in tonight's game have a ceiling projection of 45 or greater, per our model. They are: Anthony Davis ($15,000), LeBron James ($15500), Nikola Jokic ($16,000), and Jamal Murray ($13000). Davis and James have marks of 66.0 and 64.3, respectively, while Jokic and Murray are at 57.6 and 46.3.

LeBron has had at least 52.5 FanDuel points in 8 of the 10 postseason games, including at least 62.4 five times. Davis has had 51.9 or more in 8 of the 10 playoff games, though he's topped only 60 twice. AD had at least 53.7 FanDuel points in three of his four meetings with Denver this year, though he topped out at 58.0.

Jokic has had 50-plus fantasy points in 6 of his 14 postseason games, and he's had at least 44.4 in all but two of them. However, this is a brutal matchup against the league's toughest team on opposing centers. In four meetings with LA this season, Jokic topped 37.7 points just once. The postseason is a different animal, but you'd prefer a better individual matchup for the highest-salaried player on the slate.

Murray has had nearly the same amount of games with 50 or more fantasy points (5) as Jokic, though Murray has the edge in 60-plus point performances (3 to 2). Murray had 43.5 and 48.6 in two of his four matchups with the Lakers this season. The Lakers were below-average at defending combo guards in the bubble.

Given that Murray's had a usage rate of at least 27% seven times this postseason, he's my top contrarian pick for the MVP spot. LeBron will be the chalk in that, but I won't fade him. We can hope that enough people pivot to one of the other three. Either way, I wouldn't construct a lineup without LeBron in one of the top two spots. I'd finish it off with AD over Jokic.

In terms of value, our model ranks Davis first, followed by James and then Murray.

Utility Considerations

Rajon Rondo ($11,000) posted 41.1, 36.9, 35.0, and 20.5 in the last four games of the series against the Houston Rockets -- the lowest total of those occurred in a blowout. This matchup is intriguing, as Denver was below-average against point guards in the bubble.

If you're going to load up on the big guns, you'll need to spend down somewhere, and Jerami Grant ($8,500) is a good filler. Grant played 40.3, 42.3, 34.4, 35.6, 20.1, and 31.0 minutes in the final six games of the series against the Los Angeles Clippers -- that's after playing big minutes in the first round, as well. He's got a low floor, but you can do worse than bet on a guy who will be on the court for those kind of minutes.

In that same range, you can throw a dart at Michael Porter Jr. ($9,000), as well. The Nuggets will need to score in order to keep up with the Lakers (thanks, Captain Obvious), and MPJ is one of the better scoring options on Denver. Like Grant, MPJ has a low floor, though he did have three games with 25.4 or more FD points in the second round.

Our model isn't projecting much value from Kyle Kuzma ($10,000) or Danny Green ($8,500).