Welcome to Round 15 of the NBA Yahoo Cup! This free, multi-round, single-entry contest that runs every Friday throughout the rest of the NBA DFS season. Scoring is cumulative for the year-long points race, with your five lowest scores dropped. At the end of the season, a $50,000 prize pool is shared amongst the top 7,950 competitors, with a whopping $10,000 going to first. But even if you’re late to the game, the top 15 finishers in tonight’s freeroll earn entry to the BetMGM Final Round, where multiple Las Vegas trips will be up for grabs.
Let’s focus on three plays to slot into your NBA DFS lineups for tonight’s Yahoo Cup contest.
NBA DFS Pick No. 1: Mohamed Bamba — $10
The trade deadline came and went Thursday, and the Magic are one of the teams left severely short-handed in the aftermath. Their three best players — Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier — were all shipped to three separate teams, along with ancillary pieces Al-Farouq Aminu and Gary Clark. That leaves only nine active players on their roster for today, with only Terrence Ross ($21) and Michael Carter-Williams ($15) siting above the $10 minimum salary threshold. That makes anyone in a Magic jersey on Friday a viable play in your Yahoo Cup lineup.
Of those $10 plays, Mohamed Bamba projects as the highest-upside choice of the bunch. The minutes are tough to get a read on, as this is the first time in his young career that he won’t be buried on the depth chart behind Vucevic. But if you project him for even 20 minutes in this spot, his 1.23 Yahoo fantasy points per minute make him leap off the page at minimum salary. That might be selling him short too; it’s easy to see him playing at least half the game against a Trail Blazers frontcourt consisting of traditional bigs Enes Kanter and Jusuf Nurkic, with Nurkic expected to return to the lineup this evening. Alex ‘Awesemo’ Baker, the world’s No. 1 daily fantasy player, has Bamba currently projected as the fourth-highest value today for your NBA Yahoo Cup lineups.
NBA DFS Pick No. 2: Kendrick Nunn — $14
The Heat, similar to the Magic, are another short-handed group due to a number of trades they made at yesterday’s deadline. Additionally, Goran Dragic has already been ruled out this evening, opening up more guard minutes that were filled by Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro and Gabe Vincent on Thursday. For Friday’s matchup against a Hornets team that’s ninth in pace and 21st in defensive efficiency, consider rostering multiple pieces on this team again, especially if Jimmy Butler is to sit out for a second consecutive night.
Among the Heat guards, Nunn sticks out head and shoulders above the rest due to his cheaper salary and increased workload. In 818 minutes with Dragic off the floor this season, Nunn sports a 20.6% usage rate and around 0.85 Yahoo fantasy points per minute. He also averaged 34.5 minutes in the Heat’s past two games sans Dragic, showing there’s security in those minutes before Victor Oladipo arrives. At just $14 on Yahoo tonight, he will certainly be one of my most-rostered players.
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NBA DFS Pick No. 3: Zion Williamson — $39
With so much value on Yahoo tonight, combining a bunch of $40-plus studs with $10 bargains is going to be a popular lineup construction. And that makes sense, as almost any slate with double-digit games is going to be rich with solid value and the stars you want to combine them with. However, a lot of those top-tier spend-ups have salaries that are far too high, which is guiding me more into the $30 range for a lot of my high-upside plays.
Tonight’s top pay-up option is Zion Williamson, who has quietly been one of the NBA’s most consistent young players over the course of this season. He has eclipsed 30 Yahoo fantasy points every single game of 2021 and reached at least 40 in each of the past four. He has scored at least 20 real points in an astounding 21 consecutive games, and there is no formidable resistance on the Denver Nuggets to stop him from extending that streak. But perhaps my favorite thing about Williamson has been the spike in his peripheral stats in recent outings, with averages of 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in his past four. That makes him a high-floor/high-ceiling option for your Yahoo Cup lineup tonight.
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