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The NBA Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings + FanDuel | Tuesday, 6/1

Eric Lindquist



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Monday took some serious twists and turns, most notably the tweak Joel Embiid‘s knee. That early injury turned the slate on its head, as his absence crushed half the field in NBA DFS tournaments across the industry and led to pronounced performances by a number of Wizards in their upset victory. It is always a bummer when major injuries shape the winners and losers of the slate (unless you’re the winner, of course), so hopefully that isn’t the case again on Tuesday’s three-game slate. Let’s get to work finding a few NBA DFS lineups picks and strategies that can take us to the top on DraftKings and FanDuel.

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NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | June 1

The LeBron Question

Just when Suns fans thought they were the snake bit ones with Chris Paul‘s Game 1 shoulder injury, Game 4 happened. Not only did Paul look resurgent against the Lakers, but Anthony Davis was forced to leave early with a strained groin that was confirmed by an MRI after the fact. He’s being considered day-to-day/questionable for Tuesday’s crucial Game 5, but it would truly be shocking to see him suit up based on what the injury is. Plus, Vegas currently has the Suns listed as 5-point favorites, which surely means they aren’t expecting Davis to give it a go either.

With all of that in mind, there is no question LeBron James becomes an important talking point. Considering his $9,600 tag on DraftKings and $10,000 FanDuel number, there is a very good chance he comes in as the highest-owned player of the slate. Not that we need to get too crazy breaking down rates for one of the greatest players of all time, but James becomes a near 1.50 DraftKings points per minute player with Davis off the floor as opposed to 1.36 when they’re sharing the court together. That makes him — like there was ever a doubt — an incredible option to roster.

The real question then becomes this: How does he project compared to the other studs on this slate? To get a data-driven answer throughout the afternoon, look no further than the Awesemo Boom/Bust tool, as knowing which ones may be going overlooked is going to be extremely important. And looking at the top end on a site like FanDuel, there is surely no lack of $10,000 options we have as high-upside pivots tonight:

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James at the bottom is still my prediction to surpass the others in terms of ownership, but it still wouldn’t be surprising to see any one of (or all) of these other superstars put up more fantasy points. And there is no doubt not having exposure to James would be foolish in this spot, but there are a number of other viable small forwards on the board too:

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Kevin Durant needs no explanation. Norman Powell and Joe Harris have both shown 40-plus fantasy point ceilings in their respective first round series. Michael Porter Jr. has been abysmal, but he now comes at a discount. And despite being 12.5-point dogs to the Nets, the Celtics’ Evan Fournier grades out as the top points-per-dollar play at the position on FanDuel. And although he couldn’t fit on the screen, an honorable mention goes out to a $4,300 Kyle Kuzma who should have to do something for the Lakers if they are to sneak out of Phoenix with a win. So yeah, James is a dynamite play, but be sensitive to his ownership, as the small forward position is surprisingly strong on this slate.

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The Celtics Farewell Tour

The Sixers stunning loss on Monday reminds us that anything is possible in these playoffs. Of course, there was a major injury that played a part, but those sorts of things happen in sports and are why they play the games. Still, Tuesday brings us the most lopsided game of the postseason so far, with the Nets opening as 12.5-point favorites. That means that it’s hard to imagine a world where the Nets don’t close the door on this undermanned Celtics squad tonight, setting up a date for a must-see series versus the Bucks.

But as the Celtics bid us all ado, there might be some value we can mine out of them for NBA DFS purposes. With Kemba Walker and Robert Williams unlikely to play for a second consecutive time, this could once again be a team we’re rostering in bulk considering the minutes, usage and opportunity all up for grabs. Let’s take a glimpse at Game 4’s box score with the help of

Marcus Smart was the best Celtic not named Jayson Tatum to target in the aftermath of the Walker news in Game 4, and he did not disappoint. Mixing and matching him, Evan Fournier and Tristan Thompson into lineups on both sites feels like a given, so let’s leave it at that. What is really fascinating, however, is the number of sub-$3,500 Celtics to consider as deep, deep flyers for large-field tournaments over on DraftKings:

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Romeo Langford grabbed the start on Sunday and most likely will again. He only went for 11.75 DraftKings points in his 26 minutes, but at $3,300 he should still garner consideration again. Then there is the duo of Aaron Nesmith and Grant Williams, both of whom eclipsed 19 minutes but couldn’t quite pass 15 fantasy points. Still, they are two super low-owned darts to take shots on to get up to your preferred studs. And considering Jabari Parker played almost the entire fourth quarter due to the blowout, he’s viable as the best fantasy point per minute performer of the cheapies; if you get another excessive blowout, there is potential for another 20 fantasy points at minimum salary.

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But the talking point for tomorrow feels like it’ll be Payton Pritchard, the Oregon rookie who has been relevant here and there throughout the NBA DFS regular season. Seeing 24 minutes and 21.5 fantasy points in relief point guard duty makes it feel as though he’ll actually garner some ownership on this slate. And rightfully so, as he does have the ability to knock down some open threes and is blowout proof, as he’ll most likely receive 20-plus minutes no matter the game script. So to recap, prioritize any/all starters from the Celtics, but don’t forget about having a few of these backups in your player pool as well, in particular Pritchard.

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Final Thoughts for NBA DFS Lineups

  • For maybe the first time since they teamed up, all three Nets studs put up 60-plus FanDuel points in Game 4’s Boston beatdown. It’d be shocking to see three teammates ever do that in a game again without triple overtime, but this would be the trio to do it. Anyways, just make sure you get tournament exposure to all three.
  • Andre Drummond at $5,200 on DraftKings and Marc Gasol at only $3,600 ought to be fun tournament shots sans Davis. Make sure you have a group set up in Fantasy Cruncher to only get one of the two, as there could be a world where you get both in lineups with it and your upside would be capped.
  • Just play Robert Covington.

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Looking for more NBA DFS picks for tonight and the top NBA DFS picks for today? We also have FanDuel NBA ownership rankings, DraftKings NBA rankings and Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Our NBA DFS projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Check out our NBA DFS rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA DFS projections today. View our FanDuel ownership, our Yahoo! ownership projections and our DraftKings ownership.
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