FanDuel Single-Game Basketball Helper: Nuggets at Lakers (9/20/20)
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.
Nuggets at Lakers Overview
Coming off an exhaustive seven-game series, the Denver Nuggets fell flat in a 126-114 loss in Game 1 that was never as close as the final score makes it looks. If there is hope for Denver fans in this matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, it is that the Nuggets lost by 23 points in Game 1 last round and still rallied to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games to advance to this position.
FanDuel Sportsbook is less than optimistic about Denver tying the series on Sunday, however. The Lakers are currently 7.5-point favorites to take a comfortable 2-0 lead, and despite 240 points scored in Game 1, the total sits at a middle-of-the-road 213.5 for Sunday's contest.
Injuries and What-Ifs
Thankfully for both sides, the injuries are essentially non-existent. Rajon Rondo (back) and LeBron James (groin) have been mainstays on LA's injury report, but neither have missed action since the injuries have been listed. LeBron tweaked his ankle in Game 1, but that is not even listed on the injury report.
There are two minutes situations worth monitoring, but it is slightly difficult to do so due to the blowout. The Lakers' center situation versus Nikola Jokic is one of them, where Dwight Howard saw the greater 16-minute total in Game 1, and JaVale McGee got only 11 minutes. The Nuggets' power forward timeshare is also a situation that has varied all postseason, and the Game 1 totals were 20 minutes for Paul Millsap, and 29 for Michael Porter Jr., but the second-year player got run across the entire fourth quarter because of the wide margin.
At The Top
LeBron James ($16,000): LeBron had a fairly quick night at the office, with only 15 points in 30 minutes in Game 1. His 20.5% usage is slightly concerning, but in a one-game sample, it may be misleading compared to his team-leading 31.4% usage and 1.59 FanDuel points per minute in the last series against the Houston Rockets. That makes James an interesting tournament MVP choice as he'll likely bounce back closer to those numbers, especially if this game stays close.
Anthony Davis ($15,500): Davis was the star of the show in Game 1, leading Los Angeles with a 39.6% usage and 52 FanDuel points in 32 minutes. That was Davis's sixth performance of at least 50 FanDuel points in seven tries in a consistent postseason for the Lakers' star. Denver may have a legitimate matchup problem against AD, who has now averaged 1.38 FanDuel points per minute in five matchups against the Nuggets for the season.
Nikola Jokic ($15,000): At a salary so close to the Lakers' duo, Jokic is likely a tournament-only option given how badly he was bothered by Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard in Game 1. Both Davis and Howard averaged 1.60 FanDuel points per minute against the Nuggets in Game 1, as well, which -- combined with Jokic picking up five fouls in 25 minutes -- suggests the Nuggets' star struggled guarding LA's bigs. But Jokic averaged 57.1 FanDuel points per game across his last six contests prior to Game 1, so better days are ahead.
Jamal Murray ($13,000): As the postseason has progressed, Jamal Murray's shot has fluctuated wildly. Murray shot a tremendous 52.9% against the Utah Jazz in the first round, but he struggled badly against the Los Angeles Clippers, shooting 41.5% through the first five games of that series. Murray's shot may be back since he's shooting a blistering 60.7% from the field over the last three games, which has led to a usage rate of 25.9% in that span. At a reduced salary compared to Jokic, Murray is likely the high-priced Denver option to target in a STAR or PRO spot.
In The Middle
Rajon Rondo ($11,000): Rondo's production has suffered as the Lakers have blown out teams of late, especially as he continues to fight through a slight back issue. He has failed to eclipse 22 minutes in each of the last two games, and that is with LA's starters playing fairly normal minutes. When seeing at least 28 minutes, Rondo is averaging 36.7 FanDuel points in the postseason, but that is contingent on the game staying close.
Gary Harris ($10,500): Most of Denver's starters suffered the three-quarter blowout, but the hope for Harris at this salary is that he reverts closer to the last two games against the Clippers, when Harris took 11 shots in each game, which was third behind Murray and Jokic. Harris has stepped up to a 17.3% usage rate in the last three contests, which is trending above his overall postseason usage of 15.0%, so in addition to the shot volume, he appears to be becoming the Nuggets' third option.
Paul Millsap ($9,000): The Lakers' tendency to play bit should help Millsap stay on the floor, as Michael Porter Jr. does not have the size to play power forward against Davis. Porter averaged only 14.6 minutes of court time against the Lakers in five regular season matchups, so his 29-minute total in in Game 1 may be misleading. Posting 0.75 FanDuel points per minute in the playoffs so far, Millsap would be great value if he gets close to 30 minutes Sunday.
At The Bottom
Jerami Grant ($8,500): The strange third option to see the floor behind the dynamic duo of Jokic and Murray has been Jerami Grant, who is averaging 33.2 minutes per game in Denver's last eight contests. Grant, however, has eclipsed 25 FanDuel points only once in that span, so his ceiling is limited. However, he is on the court often enough -- projected for 36 minutes by numberFire for Sunday -- to pick up peripheral stats like steals and blocks.
Dwight Howard ($8,000): With the "small ball" Rockets a thing of the past, Dwight Howard returned to the court in a massive output in Game 1. He led the Lakers with 1.60 FanDuel points per minute in just 16 minutes on the floor, but he had an argument to close the game as the primary defender on Jokic if the contest had stayed close. In such limited minutes, the risk for Howard is likely too sizable for cash, but he will be popular in tournaments after an electric Game 1.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($7,500): A massive 61% of Caldwell-Pope's per-minute fantasy output comes from scoring the ball, which makes him a highly volatile option. He certainly had a ceiling day offensively in Game 1, with his highest totals in shots (10) and three-point makes (3) across his last five games. KCP has scored more than 20 FanDuel points in just two of the Lakers' 11 playoff games, which means we shouldn't expect another outing like what he had in Game 1.
-- LeBron had a significantly lower usage rate in Game 1, which is a situation to monitor moving forward and gives him a lower floor than teammate Anthony Davis.
-- Jamal Murray's shot is red hot right now, as he's hitting 60.7% from the field over the last three games. He has seen a large increase in usage this postseason when his shot has been falling.
-- Michael Porter Jr. averaged only 14.6 minutes in five regular season matchups against Denver, which may be because of the Lakers' willingness to use seven-foot options alongside to Davis.
-- Jerami Grant and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are in similar high-minute, low-production spots but could still be valuable for tournaments due to the potential of peripheral steals and blocks.
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.