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NBA DFS Picks: The NBA Slate Starter for DraftKings + FanDuel | August 20th

Eric Lindquist



Josh Walfish goes over his top NBA odds boosts from August 26th for your NBA best bets, NBA Picks and more, including LeBron James.

Welcome to the NBA Slate Starter, where I feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” as I dig into Thursday’s NBA DFS slate. You know, because it’s the same four matchups as Tuesday, which comes after today’s same four matchups as Monday, which … You get my drift.

All joking aside, I love this playoff schedule. I welcome the ability to analyze near-identical slates and make adjustments to my lineups as teams make adjustments to theirs. Because in reality, it’s only three days into the playoffs, and we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do.

Take Norman Powell, for instance: in Game 1, he was uninvolved in the Raptors’ game plan, playing 17 ineffective minutes and busting big-time at decent ownership. So what happens in Game 2? Oh nothing, just a ridiculous 32-minute, 37.2 FanDuel-point outburst at sub-1% ownership everywhere. What’s even crazier is Nick Nurse usually runs some of the most predictable rotations in the Association; if he can mix up the minutes and rotations like that, any coach can.

Without further ado, this is your first look at Thursday’s four-game NBA DFS slate for DraftKings and FanDuel.

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More Lineups Are Better Than One

A core belief I’ve always had in sports (and NBA DFS) is that elite talent supersedes matchup. The most expensive players have hefty salaries for a pretty basic reason: they put up more fantasy points, regardless of opponent. And on an average NBA DFS slate, there’s only ever two or three of to choose from, so it’s pretty cut-and-dried who to pay up for if you’ve got the salary.

That’s sort of the problem with tomorrow: there are five–count ’em, five!–$10,000+ players to choose from on DraftKings and FanDuel. And if your lineup doesn’t have the right ones, you’re in big trouble.

So how do you pick? My suggestion: build more lineups. If that means going down in stakes from the huge $20 entry, $100,000 contests on DraftKings to more affordable tournaments for your bankroll, do it. All five studs have put up at least one game of 73+ DraftKings points in the bubble, and while I have my favorites to crush tomorrow, any combination of them could go off for a monster score and it wouldn’t surprise me.

Diversify amongst the stars up top, keep a tighter core of preferred value plays, win money. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

Lineup Study For The Win

If you have a few spare minutes tomorrow, I strongly suggest combing through Monday’s and Wednesday’s slates on Lineup Study, available through Fantasy Cruncher Pro. Look at the exposures from the top DFS players and compare their lineups between the days. What adjustments were made? Did they have a lot of a certain player Monday, then significantly less of them on Wednesday? Did they increase exposure to anyone in particular? Were there any low-owned players they took an overweight position on?

Most importantly, theorize why those adjustments (or lack thereof) took place. Was is sensitivity to price/ownership? Chasing the hot hand for a certain team? I can’t reiterate how rare it is to get the same exact same four-game slate with the exact same four matchups in a controlled environment like the bubble, so let’s use it as an opportunity to learn what the best in the world do so we can do it, too.

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Do You Believe In Magic?

Okay, that heading is hyperbolic: I totally think the Bucks roll tomorrow after Tuesday’s embarrassment. But after a first-glance at salaries, the Magic didn’t really see the salary increase I expected, perhaps because the Aaron Gordon questionable tag still looms. If he plays tomorrow, that probably makes life easier, as I can’t see myself getting much of anyone besides Markelle Fultz on DraftKings ($4,500) or Evan Fournier at a weak small forward position on FanDuel ($5,100).

But if Gordon sits, things get spicy: Nikola Vucevic is coming off a monster 62-point game on DraftKings where he sported a hefty 33.7% usage rate, and would make an intriguing contrarian spend-up option. Gary Clark and James Ennis would again become great (and chalky) value options. And D.J. Augustin, coming off a performance that landed him in the optimal lineup on Tuesday, would pick-up considerable ownership, too.

Be careful, though: I’m not typically narrative-driven, but you’ve got to expect big things from Milwaukee. Vegas thinks so, too, as they weren’t shy to go right back to that -12.5 spread from Game 1 for Game 2. Plus, we probably won’t have that Gordon news right out of the gate like we did on Tuesday, so make sure you have some pivots lined up in case he’s active. There’s a lot of ways these Magic plays go sideways, but on a slate with studs to pay up for and scarce value (minus presumably Aaron Holiday and Duncan Robinson on DraftKings), they would certainly be welcome value options.

Parting Words for Your NBA DFS Lineups

By now, we’re all getting pretty good at the one-game-at-a-time slate style, but if the first game tips before the Gordon news comes out, there will be ramifications (and opportunities to take advantage of our opposition). Plan out pivots, or if you prefer value elsewhere already, lock that in. And be sure to check the Awesemo+ ownership page bright-and-early in the morning: if people are zigging to plays from a -12.5-point dog with a huge question mark looming over it, maybe it’s time to zag.

That’s all I’ve got for today; best of luck, and see you back here tomorrow night for another Slate Starter!

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