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Best lineup strategy for Rockets vs. Trail Blazers NBA Showdown [UPDATE]

Will James Harden return to the lineup? We break down how to approach lineup construction for Wednesday’s HOU-POR Showdown on DraftKings.

The Houston Rockets head to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers and we’re all waiting to see if James Harden will be back in the lineup. The All-Star has missed the past two games due to a thigh injury and is questionable to play tonight. Clint Capela also may return for the Rockets from a heel injury. We’ll have to keep an eye on that news heading into lock tonight, but obviously there’s plenty of time. Let’s get into some strategy for lineup building for the Showdown on DraftKings.

Update: Both Harden and Capela are expected to play, per Mark Berman.

Who should I play at Captain?

Russell Westbrook ($16,500)

I discussed this contest a bit on DK Live’s The Sweat this morning. It’s basically down to two players for me: Westbrook or Damian Lillard ($17,100). I’m leaning Westbrook because his floor is a bit safer — with or without Harden in the lineup. Westbrook is putting up close to a triple-double per game over his past eight games. He’s been a bit out of control, but the Blazers aren’t an imposing defensive team. If Westbrook limits the turnovers and Harden is out again, I think Russ is a lock. If Harden is back, maybe I lean Dame, but still think Westbrook is the play.

Who should I stack with Westbrook?

Damian Lillard ($11,400)

Again, I think your lineup starts with Russ and Dame and you go from there. Lillard has been on an incredible run, averaging 40 points per game over his past seven. He’s had three straight of over 70 fantasy points and has been generally unstoppable. Westbrook and Dame like going at each other, and Westbrook can’t guard Dame. We could see both players go absolutely nuts going at it all night, which should make for a fun sweat.

Where can I find value in the contest?

Caleb Swanigan ($1,400)

This is the type of contest in which we need to go “Stars and Scrubs” to get the best fit. I mentioned PJ Tucker ($5,000) on The Sweat, but really if you want to fit in Dame, Russ and another high-priced player, Swanigan is almost paramount to lineup construction. If Harden and Capela are out, we can go another route and look at Tucker, Danuel House Jr. ($6,400) or Austin Rivers ($5,800). Swanigan should play around 10-12 minutes and we would need him to do much considering he’s more of a means to an ends.

Who should I fade in the contest?

James Harden ($11,600)

Honestly, I don’t really know if there’s anyone I’m crazy about fading. If Harden returns, the way he was shooting before the injury, I’m not crazy about paying top dollar for him. He could have his minutes monitored and Westbrook had taken over as the No. 1 the past two weeks or so. I think even if Harden is back, he’ll take a backseat to Russ. I also wouldn’t be on Eric Gordon ($8,200) at this price point if Harden is back and won’t be limited. It’s a tough call overall, we’ll need some more information to make a decision here.