Day 1 of the NBA Play-In Tournament is in the books and now we move to the 9-10 matchups. Of course tonight is a do-or-die so we should a high level of intensity from all 4 teams.
First off, I hope you selected the players I featured yesterday. You could have jammed in all of those players perfectly into a FanDuel lineup and would have easily reached the cash line. We were spot on with Kevin Love and Nic Claxton. Both of them rewarded us nicely with low ownership and at least 6x return. In fact Claxton's return was at 9.1x! Projecting the minutes is essential and the head coaches for both the Cavs and Nets placed their trust in their top frontcourt players off the bench. Kevin Durant was Kevin Durant with a great playoff performance as usaul and fading Karl-Anthony Towns proved fruitful given that it was his first ever playoff game against a tough defense. We were wrong to fade De'Angelo Russell and Rajon Rondo would have been a nice value play. You definitely needed those two pieces to take down your GPPs last night but we will gladly take the profit with yesterday's roster construction.
The link below displays last night's predicted and actual results as well as the residual. You will see that the predictions for nearly half of yesterday's players were quite close to the actual fantasy scores.
Secondly, it's time to focus on tonight. Check out the projections in the link below.
You will find three sheets in the Google Spreadsheet above. The first one represent my model's outputs and you will see that Trae Young will be a tough fade tonight. You should have 100% exposure to him, much like Durant last night. The other two sheets show the top 10 optimal lineups for both DraftKings and FanDuel using my model's outputs.
Let's do a quick breakdown of my favorite players for each position tonight. Remember, the focus is for FanDuel but you can try to build something similar on DraftKings. Also, keep in mind that the players I feature may not show up in the optimal lineups, much like Love and Claxton last night. Building DFS rosters is both an art and a science. Trust the data but trust your instincts as well.
PG: Trae Young and LaMelo Ball
Big time players step up in big games. I remember Santana Moss, while he was with the Miami Hurricanes, saying that after a superb performance. I can't remember the game itself or who he played against but apparently he was a big time player who stepped up in a big game! I think the same can be said about Young and Ball. The model loves both of them and the predicted FD points to FD salary ratio is more favorable for them than DeJounte Murray who has struggled lately to even reach 5x value and missed 5 of the Spurs' last 6 games.
You have to love the Vegas total with the Hornets-Hawks game which is 11.5 points higher than the later game. You also have to love Young's real-plus minus ratio on ESPN, especially for offense. That metric is at 5.74 and only Giannis Antetokounmpo is higher. Among point guards, Ball is 9th while Murray is 12th. If we get a track meet in Atlanta tonight, I would much rather have Ball than Murray, especially at a savings of $900 on DraftKing and $1600 on FanDuel. While there are other players on both teams who can shine tonight, stick with the top usage players for each team.
SG: CJ McCollum and Lonnie Walker IV
Some of you might be leaning towards Rozier. Let me tell why you should fade him. The correlation coefficient for fantasy points between Ball and Rozier is -0.52 during the 2nd half of the NBA regular season. If we are expecting Ball to do well, then you better fade Rozier or go the other direction. Durant and Irving have a similar player correlation and perhaps I should have selected Russell instead of Irving. While Rozier could still have a solid game, I would rather pay up for McCollum who has plenty of playoff experience and is in a pace up spot against San Antonio (Charlotte is in a pace down spot against Atlanta). Also, the Spurs backcourt defense is not very good. Except for Murray who has a postive +/- ratio for defense, Walker, Vassell, Jones, and Richardson are all negative for that metric. Richardson and Walker are especially bad. There is a good chance McCollum will be on the floor at the same time as the Spurs bench given McCollum's penchant for high minutes. That is when McCollum's scoring spurts will take place. You will want a piece of that action.
As for Walker, this purely about getting some value players. Walker's price is cheap on both DraftKings and FanDuel and he should see 23-24 minutes with a 22% usage rate. Also, he has been playing great off the bench during the 2nd half of the NBA regular season. During the 1st half of the season, his FG% was 39.5% and 3pt% was 29.4%. Those percentages have jumped to 44.3% and 36.7%, respectively. The minutes have not changed between pre and post All Star break but Walker is averaging 4 more points per game. Last night was a testament for the need to roster solid bench players and Walker fits the bill.
SF: DeAndre Hunter and Miles Bridges
These two players are all about correlation plays with Young and Ball. If we are going all-in with the top two usage players for Atlanta and Charlotee, you might as well get the players who tend to benefit the most from their high end performances. Both Hunter and Bridges are moderately priced and should see north of 30 minutes tonight. Their usage % is also decent with both in the low 20s. Here is the real kicker: Young and Hunter have a correlation coefficient of 0.46 post All Star break while Ball and Bridges are at 0.33. If Hunter pops off for 50+ fantasy points tonight, you can pretty much guarantee a 25 fantasy point night from Hunter which will already be at 6x value. We can say the same for Ball. Whenever he hits 45 fantasy points, Bridges is typically at 40 fantasy points which is near 6x value. Young and Ball do just more than score; they pass. Hunter and Bridges are two very good frontcourt players who work well in open space. They tend to be recipients of their point guards' passes so pair Hunter with Young and Bridges with Ball.
PF: Zach Collins and Herbert Jones
We will need to hit the bargain bin again now that we have paid up for 3 excellent backcourt players and will spend up at center. Like Walker, Collins is a solid bench player and if you have followed Poppovich's coaching career, his top role players are usually set up for success. Since March 20, Collins has reached double digits in scoring 7 times with 6 of those games coming off the bench. He has also flirted with a double-double. He kind of reminds me of Claxton last night: a reliable frontcourt player who will make his presence felt when on the floor. Keep in mind that Collins was a lottery pick for Sacramento just a few years ago and was impressive with Gonzaga, being a 4 star recruit and helping them get to the national title game in 2017. Collins is also a big dude: 6'11" and 250 pounds. You will probably get him at low ownership and if he gets us a double-double, we will be sitting pretty.
As for Jones, he is a tough but to crack. Some games he does nothing and other games he will blow up for several blocks, steals, and rebounds. The thing I like about Jones is that he should see plenty of minutes and his defense will be needed tonight. He has a +/- ratio of 3.27 which gets him into the top 10 for small forwards. There are not too many options at PF tonight. Maybe you could dive down deeper in the bargain bin for Montrezl Harrell but he needs to score points for him to have a good fantasy performance and Clint Capela is a fierce defender. Plus the minutes sometimes are not there for Harrell. Jones it will be and let's hope he racks up many blocks and steals.
C: Clint Capela
There are a few good options tonight but Capela is the one for me. Since John Collins went down on March 11, Capela has been nothing but dominant in the frontcourt. The game thing happened during the first half of April 2021 when Collins was also injured. Just look at the splits for the last two years. In April 2021, Collins averaged 17.1 ppg, 15.7 rpg, nearly 3 combined blocks & steals, and 32.4 minutes per game. Capela's splits with Collins out this season are quite similar. That is pretty much 45-50 fantasy points per night with Collins in street clothes and we are getting Capela for just $6900 on DraftKing and $7300 on FanDuel. The bottomline is that Capela steps up when there is a void in the frontcourt. Finally, Harrell and PJ Washington are both awful defenders. Capela will feast tonight.
If you play the players I discussed in this article on FanDuel, you will have $100 left in salary which is perfect since it means you will have a fairly unique lineup and probably at low ownership. The data backs up these selections and we have some strong correlation plays. Get your lineups submitted and enjoy watching your bankroll grow again tonight!