NBA Daily Fantasy Helper: Sunday 4/3/16 -- Afternoon Only Slate

On a slate stacked with studs, James Harden stands out above the rest.

If you've never played daily fantasy basketball before, it's time to start. Unlike traditional leagues, you're able to select the players you want on that specific day only, giving you a different squad to root for each and every NBA night.

Today's lineups can be found here. The information below is to help you understand why particular players are being picked, because we don't want you going into the night completely blind. We want to help you. Keep in mind, however, that things often change up until tip-off, so make sure you're refreshing the optimal lineups as close to the start of games as possible.

Oh, and if you're interested, check out our daily fantasy basketball heat chart for today's slate. It's full of information like tonight's Vegas lines, team offensive and defensive efficiency ratings, pace, fantasy points against and so much more.

As for today's picks -- let's get to it. These will reflect the "Afternoon Only" four game slate on FanDuel.

The Best of the Best

Russell Westbrook (FanDuel Price: $10,700) - Westbrook enters tonight's game with two 55 point FanDuel performances in his past three contests, despite matchups against the Clippers, Pistons, and Raptors, who rank seventh, twelfth, and third, respectively, against point guards according to our Matchup/Game Composite Score. Each team ranks in the top 13 in Defensive Efficiency, too. He will find things much easier tonight against Houston, who ranks 22nd in Defensive Efficiency. Westbrook has averaged 53.4 FanDuel points against Houston over the past two seasons, including a 55.9 point performance just two weeks ago. Oklahoma City's implied team total of 112.5 is the highest on the slate, and this game is expected to remain close. Westbrook is a terrific play in all formats, assuming you can fit him in.

James Harden ($10,700) - Harden comes into tonight's matchup with the Thunder averaging 53 FanDuel points over his past six games. While Oklahoma City has a solid defense as a whole, they struggle to contain guards. They have allowed the ninth most fantasy points to shooting guards this season, and Harden has certainly helped to raise that number. Harden has averaged an obscene 56.6 FanDuel points in three games against Oklahoma City this season, after averaging 51.4 against them last year. A big reason for Harden's success against Oklahoma City is the fact that they struggle to defend in transition. The Thunder have allowed the ninth most transition points this season, and Harden ranks second in the league in transition points. If I have to choose, I prefer Harden slightly to Westbrook today because there is more depth at point guard.

Top Mid-Range Values

Marcin Gortat ($6,400) - Gortat has seen less minutes in his past three games, but should be called upon to play heavy minutes tonight in a must-win game against DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers. Los Angeles has struggled against bigs all season, and ranks 29th in Rebounding Rate, so Gortat should have his way in this matchup. In one previous meeting with Los Angeles this season, Gortat put up 32.2 FanDuel points. He could be in line for similar production tonight, and makes for an interesting pivot off of Karl-Anthony Towns and DeAndre Jordan. The salary saved will help you fit in one of the elite plays, such as Westbrook or Harden.

Jose Juan Barea ($5,500) - Barea enters tonight's matchup scorching hot, averaging 24.3 points and 37.8 FanDuel points over his past three games. Assuming Deron Williams and Raymond Felton remain sidelined for tonight's game, Barea will continue to put up big numbers. In 14 games without Williams this season, Barea has averaged 29.6 FanDuel points and 30.4 minutes. Barea also draws a matchup against Minnesota, who has allowed the sixth most fantasy points to opposing point guards and ranks 27th in Defensive Efficiency. This is also a revenge game for Barea, if you buy into those types of narratives. Be sure to monitor the injury news -- if both guards are out, Barea is a must-play. If one or the other misses, preferably Williams, Barea is still a strong cash game option at this price.

Basement Ballers

Michael Beasley ($5,500) - Beasley can be volatile from game to game, but he has topped 30 FanDuel points in three of his past four, and has 26-plus in seven of his past ten games. While Beasley doesn't start, he is able to soak up Usage as part of a weak Houston second-unit, which is reflected by his 30.8 percent Usage Rate. Oklahoma City is tough against small forwards, but Beasley offers a cheap way to get exposure to this game's high total. I wouldn't use him in cash games, but he's definitely viable in tournaments due to the upside he has shown recently. If you want to fade Harden, but still get exposure to this game, rostering Westbrook and Beasley together is an excellent way to do so.

Zaza Pachulia ($3,900) - This pick is not for the faint of heart. Pachulia's minutes have been all over the place recently, as Coach Carlisle continues to toy with his rotations. I expect Carlisle to go with the better defender, Pachulia, tonight to defend Karl-Anthony Towns. Be sure to monitor the news for the starting lineup, because value plays are hard to come by on this slate, and Pachulia has shown 30 point upside as recently as five games ago. At his price, he makes it a lot easier to fit in one of the elite players.