With the end of our eNBA DFS 2K Bracket featuring historic rosters comes a new form of video game simulations and contests brought to you by FanDuel. For the month of April, we will be using NBA 2K20 to simulate the NBA playoffs that would have started this month were it not for the suspension of the season. The playoff sim will start with play-in games this week to finalize the 16-team postseason bracket, and then the main tournament will kick off Friday, April 10.
As with the Throwback 2K Tournament, we’re giving away prizes with Daily Contests where you are asked to predict aspects of the day’s simulated game(s). Get the most correct answers and you’ll be eligible to win loads of prizes! Today’s winner will receive $200 cash! Enter now (and every day) by clicking on the following link:
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Our first slate of the eNBA DFS playoff simulation features a double-header of Western Conference play-in games. The Spurs will host the Suns in the opener and then the Kings will travel to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers immediately following.
PG – Ricky Rubio
SG – Devin Booker
SF – Kelly Oubre Jr.
PF – Dario Saric
C – Deandre Ayton
Phoenix rode the line between fringe playoff contender and bottom feeder the entire season. Despite some solid star power with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, they have yet to bear fruit with team success these last few seasons. On paper, their roster is solid with the studs up top and good depth, but it has not translated. In 2019-20, the Suns ranked 13th in the West at 26-39 and middle of the pack with virtually all advanced metrics: 16th in offensive rating, 20th in defensive rating.
That said, with Booker, Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre providing solid all-around play in the backcourt, Phoenix could be a much better 2K sim team than they were a real-life team this year.
San Antonio Spurs
PG – Dejounte Murray
SG – Bryn Forbes
SF – DeMar DeRozan
PF – Trey Lyles
C – LaMarcus Aldridge
The Spurs’ reign of playoff contention appears to be at its end with them slipping four games back of the eighth seed in the West. They were actually a decent offensive team in 2019-20, ranking top-10 in points per game, but they were bottom-six in defensive rating. They also had a lot of redundancy in their backcourt with young, inexperienced, albeit fairly talented guards. On the plus side, this Spurs group has a lot of shooters paired with the slashing ability of DeMar DeRozan, so they too are set up well for 2K.
PG – De’Aaron Fox
SG – Bogdan Bogdanovic
SF – Harrison Barnes
PF – Nemanja Bjelica
C – Marvin Bagley III
Though just a half game up on the Spurs, people seem a bit more optimistic about the Kings’ prospects moving forward. They have some stud ball handlers with Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox and talented young bigs with Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes. However, Bagley’s injury issues (not to mention the emergence of Luka Doncic and Trae Young) are putting a bit of a damper on Sacramento optimism. Plus, they sit just a half game up on the aged Spurs and ranked 19th in offensive and defensive rating. The Kings are still a few pieces away, even if they have a decent young base.
Portland Trail Blazers
PG – Damian Lillard
SG – C.J. McCollum
SF – Trevor Ariza
PF – Carmelo Anthony
C – Hassan Whiteside
They are the best team on this slate, but the Blazers are still one of the more disappointing teams in the West. They are 3 1/2 games back of eight-seed Memphis with arguably the game’s best starting backcourt. Clearly the loss of Jusuf Nurkic hampered them defensively — they ranked 27th in defensive rating after finishing eighth with him two years ago. And though Hassan Whiteside has racked up blocks in his stead, he is not the total defensive presence Portland needs. Still, the Blazers have the two highest-rated 2K players on the slate (Lillard 94, Whiteside 87) and Nurkic is available in these sims.
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Damian Lillard – G – $12,500
If our last 2K sim tournament showed anything, it is that ball-dominant point guards are always safe plays, especially if they are willing to take 3’s. Well, few are more willing than Lillard. He has by far the highest 2K rating on this slate at 94, a strong 3-point rating of 86 and he will have the ball in his hands on virtually every Portland possession. If we use 2011-12 Thunder Russell Westbrook as our basis, it is safe to project Lillard for around 20 shots in this game, and he is a much better shooter than Westbrook is. That volume would give Lillard a good chance at hitting value for his slate-high $12,500 price tag.
De’Aaron Fox – G – $11,500
Fox is the only other true volume point guard on this slate, so he has to earn some consideration at a $1,000 discount to Lillard. His lack of 3-point shooting (30.7 percent in 2019-20, 74 rating in 2K) limits his scoring upside a little, but Fox also has a lot of shooters around him and some rim runners with Bagley and Holmes. As such, double-digit assists could be on the table if Sacramento’s shooters catch fire. That double-double upside makes Fox a hair more appealing to me than Booker at $500 more.
Hassan Whiteside – F – $11,500
It has been far more difficult for 2K players to get to double-digit rebounds than double-digit assists. The reason is that rebounds in the game are more random and one ball handler will typically dominate possession to boost assist totals. That said, the guys who get high rebound totals are exactly the Whiteside types — long, athletic centers who simply sky everyone else. Whiteside has a high rebound rating in the game, so if anyone on this slate has double-digit-rebound upside, it is him. Of course, if Lillard and C.J. McCollum are going to dominate shot volume, then Whiteside’s scoring will be limited. But those peripherals with blocks and steals should still make him worthwhile as the third-highest-priced forward on the slate.
Ricky Rubio – G – $9,500
High-usage point guards do not have to be volume shot takers in this game. We saw Steve Nash — a decent real-life scorer but a pass-first point guard — drop near 20 a game in our last 2K tournament. Rubio is similarly a pass-first point guard, but he is still a point guard with the ball in his hands a lot. Plus, Rubio’s 3-point rating in the game is 78, just a tick below Booker’s 82, so Rubio may be primed to take more shots than his 3.3 a game he took in 2019-20. And with his assist totals boosting his ceiling, I would not be shocked if Rubio outscores Booker.
Richaun Holmes – $8,500
To me, it is a toss-up on which Sacramento big I prefer in a vacuum. Both Holmes and Bagley should get decent shots at the rim working with Fox and should snatch a handful of rebounds. That said, the fact that Bagley is a full $2,000 more than Holmes despite nearly identical 2K ratings has me fully on Holmes. In real life, his fantasy production was about the same as Bagley’s, only Holmes stayed healthy and played more minutes. All it takes is a simple six-and-five to pay off a modest price tag.
Buddy Hield – G – $9,500
Since I am banking on the Kings offense working through Fox, the key with the others will be hitting the relatively limited chances they get. My guess is that Hield will get between five and 10 shots, three to seven 3’s, and he will have to hit over 50 percent to pay off his tag. He does not even have Sacramento’s highest 3-point rating in 2K; that honor goes to Nemanja Bjelica. But Hield is far and away the Kings’ top volume shooter so if he gets open looks, he will take them every time. And if he makes at a decent clip, he could finish in the range of 15 points plus some peripherals.
Derrick White – G- $8,500
There is not a lot separating the Spurs trio of White, Dejounte Murray and Bryn Forbes from both a real-life production standpoint and a 2K ratings standpoint. For some reason, Forbes is the lowest-rated of the three despite starting the most games, playing the most minutes and scoring the most points. At a 76 rating compared to the other two’s 80-plus, we can rule him out. On paper, Murray looks the best with the 81 rating, the role in the starting lineup and the better assist upside. But he is also $1,500 more than White. Frankly, I do not see there being a $1,500 difference in production between the two and I think any of the three could emerge top fantasy producer thanks to some assists and made 3’s. I like White as the best combination of 2K rating and affordable price.
Rodney Hood – G – $8,000
Hood played in 21 games this season, but he made enough of an impression in those games to earn the slate’s best 3-point rating. He is the only player with a 90; the next closest is Bjelica at 87. It makes sense given that Hood shot 49.3 percent on 3’s before tearing his achilles. He is the Blazers’ fifth-highest-rated player in 2K so he should get enough playing time to see a handful of shots. If he hits three or four 3’s in those minutes, Hood will pay off his price tag.
Nemanja Bjelica – F- $7,500
In the same vein as Hood, Bjelica just needs to get the shot opportunities. His 3-point rating is excellent and he has the fifth-highest overall rating on Sacramento. Plus, the partnering with Fox should in theory be perfect to Bjelica’s playing style, so long as the game operates with a modicum of real-world application. As one of the lower-priced players (of those who actually get playing time), Bjelica could be a steal.
Mikal Bridges – F – $7,000
Nothing about Bridges’ 2K ratings stand out all that much. However, the Suns roster has some things leaning Bridges’ direction as far as playing time goes. Oubre and Booker are the only players on the team who play Bridges’ 2K positions, so he will be on the floor whenever either of those two is out. His 3-point rating of 77 is decent enough to expect him to hit open shots and he has enough in-game skill to get into the paint from time-to-time. At $7,000, we do not need a ton from Bridges to hit value, merely a few made shots, a couple of assists and a handful of rebounds. That is certainly on the table with his presumed opportunity.
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