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The NBA Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings + FanDuel | Wednesday, 4/28

Eric Lindquist



NBA DraftKings Lineup Picks cheat sheet for daily fantasy basketball rosters tonight Thursday April 29 late slate of games featuring Zion Williamson based on Awesemo's expert projections, ownership and predictions

There are bad nights, and then there is whatever Tuesday was. Besides the Jaylen Brown freebie, it was a bloodbath for nearly every other popular play on the slate. But the beautiful thing about this game is there’s always tomorrow, so it’s time to have a short memory and get back to work. With that said, here’s a new batch of NBA DFS picks and strategies to improve upon yesterday’s performance in tonight’s massive contests on DraftKings and FanDuel.

Be sure to check out the Slate Starter podcast, featuring yours truly and Rynpak, to get the first look at the slate and make NBA DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel!

NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | April 28

What’s Better Than One Late-Night Hammer? Four of Them

No doubt about it, Wednesday’s slate has some fantastic spots to target in the early session of games. Celtics point guard Kemba Walker will be out for the second consecutive day (still waiting on Jayson Tatum news), opening up another opportunity for the likes of Jaylen Brown and company to spike major upsides once more. The Lakers receive the Wizards bump, yet their prices didn’t really change on DraftKings or FanDuel, making most of their starters an intriguing to add to our portfolio of players. And despite a difficult Heat matchup, the absence of Derrick White in the Spurs frontcourt opens up usage for the usual cast of characters such as DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray, making them stand-out as high-ceiling options.

But if your lineups are sitting pretty after the first few games, don’t even think about counting your money yet; the two games starting at 9 p.m. ET and the two starting at 10 p.m. ET opened with the four highest totals on the entire slate. There is also massive injury news that has already come out of this window of games, as Mike Conley was announced as out late Monday night. That opens the door for Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert to run wild versus a Kings team ranking dead-last in defensive efficiency this season.

There is also the Pelicans – Nuggets game in the late-night window, which is full of studs and plausible value, especially on FanDuel. Nikola Jokic should go without saying (just play him). Zion Williamson was inexplicably given a $9,400 price tag on the blue site as well, seemingly because of two massive blowouts in the Pelicans past three games (so just play him, too). Brandon Ingram sports a usage rate north of 30% over the past month and feels like a FanDuel special since gamers to play two small forwards. Lastly, the P.J. Dozier and Facundo Campazzo may not be the priority value come lock time, but that should make them lower-owned tournament options due to the solid game environment.

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Next up could be the best game environment of the night: Grizzlies – Trail Blazers. This game features a 235 total, which is 7 points higher than any other game on the slate. Portland ran the Pacers off the floor in less than three quarters yesterday, so feel free to go right back to the well with the usual suspects here. Damian Lillard‘s already-absurd FanDuel tag actually went down another $200 to $8,100, so get excited for him to be mega-chalk over there. Jusuf Nurkic will once more be a DraftKings priority at $6,800, while Robert Covington showed he might be too cheap in the aftermath of his quick-and-easy double-double on Tuesday.

And of course, we need to talk the Clippers. They are the ultimate wild card on any slate, as there have been numerous times this season where they’ve turned upside down well after lock. Kawhi Leonard is doubtful, which isn’t too surprising, but now Nicolas Batum and Amir Coffey are questionable. That’s 50-plus minutes to be spread around, boosting the profiles of Marcus Morris, Terance Mann and Luke Kennard (if he starts). No one on this team besides Paul George is a must to have exposure to, even if Batum and Coffey were to sit, mainly because of the tough Suns matchup. But knowing the propensity this team has for chaos, there’s no question spreading out exposure to some of the ancillary Clippers pieces could yield massive returns if something wonky were to happen.

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The $7,100 Question

Tyrese Haliburton has been one of the most popular plays on the past two slates in which he’s appeared. That makes plenty of sense, as DraftKings and FanDuel were slow to pump up his salary despite De’Aaron Fox being ruled out for health and safety protocols, and Haliburton rewarded those who rostered him with back-to-back games eclipsing 40 fantasy points. Even more impressive are his 24.8% usage rate and 40.9% assist rate in those outings, both tops on the team. But now his salary has been elevated to $7,100 in a difficult matchup versus the Jazz.

So the question becomes, quite simply, do we dare play him again at elevated price points? For me, the answer is yes, and that’s regardless of the Harrison Barnes news (he’s questionable). Not to directly compare Haliburton to Ja Morant from last season, but it’s hard to pin down the potential upside of rookies as the focal points of the offense until we garner more of a sample size of them in that role. Sure, there are 694 minutes of court time for Haliburton with Fox off the floor this season where he’s performed admirably, sporting a 21.4% usage rate and a 33.2% assist rate. But those are slight downticks from the aforementioned rates he had the past two outings.

In other words, it’s possible that Haliburton is simply getting better and better as the season has gone along. And this new role as primarily offensive facilitator could lead to some upsides well beyond the 40-fantasy-point threshold in the near future. Of course, Awesemo’s Boom/Bust tool can help us better solve the puzzle on Haliburton tomorrow, as there’s no earthly way of knowing what his ownership will be at the moment compared to his chances of landing in the optimal lineup. But so long as Fox continues to sit, there should certainly be merit to going over the field on Haliburton on any slate he appears, as 50-point upsides could be on the horizon for him sooner rather than later.

Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

  • It is crazy that Cedi Osman went from out of the rotation to playing 37 and 38 minutes in his past two games, leading to a $5,000 tag on DraftKings and $5,500 on FanDuel. What is even crazier is those prices are probably still discounts.
  • Nerlens Noel has an 8.5% usage rate in the month of April, which makes it downright hilarious he’s popping off the page at $4,400 on DraftKings. Expect him to be very popular at that salary, although there’s essential zero double-double upside.
  • Just play Russell Westbrook.

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