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Best lineup strategy for Rockets vs. Thunder NBA Showdown

We break down roster construction for Thursday night’s Showdown contest between Houston and Oklahoma City on DraftKings.

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook handles the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Toyota Center. Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

There certainly isn’t a lack of storylines surrounding tonight’s matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both squads come in playing some of their best basketball of the season, with each having won 11 of their last 15 contests. The oft-injured Danilo Gallinari (calf) is living up to his reputation and will not take part in Thursday’s festivities, while the similarly stigmatized Eric Gordon ($5,400) is questionable due to knee soreness. However, the big news is the return of Russell Westbrook ($10,400), who will be an opponent at Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time in his NBA career.

Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.

Captain’s Picks

Though it’s difficult to ignore someone who has posted back-to-back triple-doubles and back-to-back 80.0 DKFP performances, it really feels like this is going to be Westbrook’s ($15,600 CP) night and not James Harden’s ($14,600). That’s not to suggest that the former MVP isn’t a viable option on this evening’s slate — in what’s still technically his own return to Oklahoma City — but just that you’re more likely to be able to afford both dynamic guards if you’re paying up for Westbrook at 1.5x value. The All-Star isn’t nearly as consistent as a DFS asset as Harden, yet he has scored 20-plus points in 12 consecutive games, a span where Westbrook has also posted five double-doubles.

Moving to the Thunder, Dennis Schroder ($10,500 CP) might be the best Captain’s Pick option that the team possesses. While Chris Paul ($9,200) is averaging the most DKFP per game on Oklahoma City (36.0) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($9,000) is maybe a little bit safer, the nearly $2K difference in price point between the two starters and Schroder doesn’t seem warranted. Schroder’s logged at least 30 minutes in 10 straight appearances and, for the whole season, is producing DKFP at a very comparable rate. In fact, Schroder’s 1.01 DKFP per 60 seconds is only slightly less than Paul (1.10) and is actually more than Gilgeous-Alexander (0.97) is averaging.

FLEX Options

Finding reliable value pieces is a tough task in a duopoly as evident as Houston, yet it’s not completely impossible. If Gordon does eventually get ruled out of Thursday’s tilt due to injury, Ben McLemore ($2,400) suddenly becomes a very nice piece at his low price tag. There’s also always the lottery ticket that is P.J. Tucker ($5,000). The veteran has exceeded 30.0 DKFP in three of his last nine starts - including a 17-rebound performance against Atlanta on Wednesday - however, in those other six contests, he scored fewer than 20.0 DKFP each and every time. Still, considering he’s second to only Harden in minutes per game on the Rockets (36.0), he’s sort of a perfect GPP piece.

Though Oklahoma City is a little more diverse in its scoring patterns than Houston, its still a team that tends to run a pretty tight rotation with most of its starters (and Schroder) usually logging well over 30 minutes a night. So, if you’re going to hunt for value with the Thunder, floor is probably what you’re going to have to settle on. Darius Bazley ($3,400) should see at least 20 minutes this evening as the confirmed starting power forward in the absence of Gallinari, while Hamidou Diallo ($2,200) also appears cemented in Billy Donovan’s rotation after working his way back from a month-long elbow ailment. Neither will set the world ablaze, yet both have a shot to hit 5x value and could pair well with some high-end salaries.

I am an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.