Collin Hulbert is back with insights and picks on the first week of Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs.
Welcome to the first NBA DFS article of the postseason! I bet many of you thought I was hibernating until NFL season. Well, you’re all wrong, sorry. I got bored and dove into NBA because there’s only so much NFL research I can do before my wife coaxes me into watching some show I reluctantly get hooked on.
Alas, I’m all-in on the NBA through the playoffs, so expect this to be the first of many weekly Head-to-Head DFS format articles.
Welcome to the 2019 NBA Playoffs
As much as I enjoyed watching the dumpster fire Lakers burn uncontrollably the past few months, I’ve been focusing a lot on the teams actually playing in the playoffs. Each week, I’ll send you a lineup to use in Head-to-Head formats for DraftKings. This week, I’m focusing on a combination of players who are on fire, first round matchups, and anticipating player utilization. It’s going to be a tricky balance, as game strategies will fluctuate as the series go on.
For the opening round, I’m avoiding a few players and I’ll tell you why. Steph Curry has a sore ankle, and with an easy first-round matchup (Sorry Clippers) I expect Klay and Durant will step up and assume more of the scoring responsibilities. Embid is also on ice for me, as he’s not likely to get a lot of minutes, so I don’t see a lot of value with him in the opening round. Durant is a safe play, but I’ve crafted a good value lineup, so I’ll give you a little more diversity.
Jamal Murray (DK-$6,000)
Murray has been hot as of late, averaging close to 40 points over his past five games. He’s been getting those points with solid distribution, averaging over five rebounds and five assists per game. With the Spurs being weak at the guard position and other weapons to draw attention away, Murray should be a safe play for a good price in the opening round.
Klay Thompson (DK-$5,900)
Thompson hasn’t been setting the world on fire lately, but the potential absence — or reduced minutes at the least — of Steph Curry, Thompson should see his shot attempts go up in the early games of this series. I expect Curry’s workload to diminish as the games go on and the leads increase as their playoff success hinges on a healthy Steph in round two against the Rockets.
Terrence Ross (DK-$5,300)
Ross is another guy who’s coming into the playoffs on fire of late, averaging over 40 fantasy points over his last four games. With the athletic, tall Ross, he will create issues for the Raptors on defense, coming off screens and switches and getting good looks as a result. For the price, he’s a worthy play in the first round as the Raptors matchup favorably in other positions with the Magic. Ross will be critical to the scoring success of the Magic.
Kawhi Leonard (DK-$7,900)
Leonard should have no issues in round one against the Magic. I know the Magic are ranked sixth against opposing forwards, but this is playoff time and it’s the first rodeo for the Magic in over a decade, so I’m going to go with the known commodity in this one. Leonard is a solid play for round one.
LaMarcus Aldridge (DK-$7,500)
It’s true Aldridge is on the back end of his career, but the veteran big man has had a renaissance following a rocky start with the Spurs prior to this season. I expect Aldridge to work Jokic to death. Keep in mind, Jokic is going to be preserving himself for the offensive end of the floor, so the defensive effort simply won’t be there for long stretches in this series.
Regardless of his age, this is the type of matchup you want for a guy like Aldridge — facing a sluggish big defending him over an entire series. I expect Aldridge to feast in this series. He’s worth every bit of his $7,500 tag on DraftKings.
Kyle Lowry (DK-$6,500)
Lowry is coming into the playoffs well rested. I like the idea of taking a veteran guard in a matchup such as this, against an inexperienced playoff team. With other weapons around him, I like the potential for Lowry to go on a few scoring streaks and cover his affordable price in the opening round.
Rudy Gay (DK-$5,400)
Rudy Gay isn’t the same guy who used to carry a team on the offensive end for long stretches. That being said, Pop is his coach, so he will be utilized appropriately in the opening round. With a less offensively talented team than years prior, Gay should bear more responsibility on the offensive end than we might usually expect with him in the opening round. Denver can score from a plethora of positions and I expect Pop will put Gay in a position to keep pace. For the money, he’s looking like a good, sneaky play.
Caris LeVert (DK-$5,500)
LeVert has gone over 33 fantasy points in three of his past five games. It’s difficult to project who will actually be guarding him, as the Sixers lineup might be in flux with Embid possibly being out. The prospect of LeVert being guarded by Jimmy Butler is scary, but I think you should probably use game one as a good measuring stick for the remainder of the series.
Collin is a former Army Intelligence and Logistics officer who will watch any sport and gamble with anyone willing. This is his second year writing for dailyfantasysports.codes.
Follow Collin on Twitter @CollinHulbert