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The NBA Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings + FanDuel | Friday, 5/14

Eric Lindquist



76ers vs. Wizards odds, moneyline, point spread and trends. Find more NBA betting picks and predictions for Round 1 Playoff Series.

Today is rather bittersweet, as we’ve somehow reached the end of yet another regular season of NBA DFS. Getting the opportunity to write, talk and interact with you all on a daily basis in this space has been a true pleasure, and looking forward to more of it to come in the postseason, be it through shows or articles. And while the experience of making a podcast with my good friend Rayen “Rynpak” Patnaik could not possibly have been more enjoyable, something tells me we’ll be back again in full force next year. But that’s all the time we’ve got for reflection today, because there’s still some major work left to do. So one more time, let’s find some NBA DFS picks and strategies to utilize on Friday’s eight-game slate 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 | May 14

Get Ready For Stars-and-Scrubs On Steroids

If you were paying attention to the news as it rolled in post-lock on Thursday, there was a really good chance you were profitable. The likes of JaVale McGee starting, Alec Burks being active at $3,200 on DraftKings and the combo of Gary Trent Jr./Chris Boucher not appearing in the starting lineup were all massive pieces of news you needed to react to. And if you didn’t, well, you probably had a tough time taking down a tournament despite the Bucks – Pacers game going insane.

So what’s the goal in reacting to the bombardment of news we’re bound to get on Friday? Well, in a perfect world, it’s landing on something that looks a little bit like this:

stanley johnson nba dfs picks draftkings fanduel daily fantasy basketball strategy advice expert projections ownership rankings

Holy ceiling game, Batman. At only 2.7% ownership in the $5.55 on FanDuel (only 1.2% in DraftKings’ main $20 GPP), Stanley Johnson obliterated the slate with increased opportunity that only an eight-man rotation of a non-contender can provide (well, technically seven after Yuta Watanabe‘s early exit, but who’s counting?).

Of course, we can’t anticipate 60-burgers from sub-$4,000 players tonight. But without a doubt, the chances for it to happen are higher now than at any other point in the season. With teams starting to mail it in, teams locked into certain playoff positions and thus resting starters, and teams with home-court advantage to play for, it’s nearly impossible for sites to efficiently price players for their ever-changing situations. And that, my friends, means we’re going to have so many cheap pieces of value to cycle through tonight that you won’t know what to do with them all.

Think about it: the Warriors and Clippers are most likely going to rest their entire starting units. The Pistons have no one but Jahlil Okafor left to run out against the Nuggets and their massive frontcourt. The Raptors are choosing condensing their rotation to an unbelievable degree. The Kings are on this slate for the second consecutive night, and now more than likely going to be without Richaun Holmes. The Rockets released DaQuan Jeffries and continue to be super short-handed. Heck, even the Thunder — just kidding, don’t play anyone on the Thunder.


But that’s the beauty (see: madness) of Friday: this is a glorified preseason-type slate where salary is almost irrelevant. Now, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be jamming in top-end studs Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic should they all be in action. But aside from those three, there are few other places to spend your salary on this slate. So with the ridiculous amount of players around the minimum on both DraftKings and FanDuel that will be in line for north of 28 minutes tonight, get ready for one of the more irrational stars-and-scrubs slates you can remember.

You Like Metu? Me Too, But Don’t Forget James and Jones

Looking back over another NBA DFS season, one of the best parts about writing this article the night before is all the research gets done without the help of projections. Ironically, one of the worst parts of writing this article the night before is all the research gets done without the help of projections. When Awesemo’s projections and tools are as world-class as what they are, that’s a big piece of the puzzle to be missing out on. Yet sometimes, it can be a blessing in disguise, as certain plays you think will be popular end up being under the radar, and vice versa.

With that being said, it feels pretty safe to say that Chimezie Metu, Damian Jones and Justin James will be three of the most popular value plays on this slate, and there’s very little that could happen between now and lock to change that. Just take a look at their box score from last night (courtesy of

nba dfs picks draftkings fanduel daily fantasy basketball strategy advice expert projections ownership rankings

By my count, that’s a nine-man rotation, and now Holmes is most likely out due to the right knee soreness that kept him out of the second half. That opens up an eternal amount of frontcourt run, as the Kings have shown no desire to play Hassan Whiteside of late, seeing as he hasn’t appeared in a game since April 21. So long as Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley III also sit, you’re looking as some mega chalk with Metu and Jones, who did share ample court time together. Pay careful attention to news from the one true NewzGod at the @AwesemoNBA Twitter account, but so long as they’re both active, there’s no way around exposure to them tonight.

The same could probably be said for James, who saw 33 minutes of court time out of the middle of nowhere. Dissimilar from the Stanley Johnson situation, James hadn’t seen more than 20 minutes in a game all season until tonight, and now will certainly be chalky as a result. But that’s the sort of moving target we’re trying to hit tomorrow with a plethora of other value pieces; it’s just that with James, it feels far more secure rostering him on the heels of 33 minutes and 42.5 DraftKings points than it will to take shots on other non-starters on this slate.

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Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

  • Westbrook’s $12,800 price tag was a nice try by DraftKings, but it’s still about $3,000 too cheap on a slate where salary doesn’t matter.
  • Something tells me it’s Gary Payton II day. He was given a third 10-day contract, and should every Warriors starter be rested, he could be my preferred minimum salary play on the entire board.
  • Okafor should be pretty popular today, too, which is perhaps the most terrifying thing that’s been written in this article all season long.
  • Just play Cameron Oliver.
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