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Best lineup strategy for DraftKings NBA Tiers contest on Feb. 21

We look over a few tiers in Friday night’s pick ‘em contest and help you make the best NBA daily fantasy basketball lineup.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic in action during the game between the Mavericks and the Kings at the American Airlines Center. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Hello Darkness, my old friend ... If you know me at all (which you probably don’t), you know that I’m the Tiers master over at DraftKings. This is the first Tiers breakdown we’ll do for this NBA season on DK Nation, so get amped! Sure, not many of you probably partake in Tiers — viewing it as more of a beginners type of contest. Truth is it’s pretty fun and challenging, though I’d suggest firing up multiple lineups at the very least. In this article we’ll sift through some of the more difficult tiers and help you pick the best option.

Tier 1

Luka Doncic, DAL @ ORL
LeBron James, LAL vs. MEM
Anthony Davis, LAL vs. MEM
Nikola Jokic, DEN @ OKC

This probably comes down to the two Lakers studs, though it’s hard to fade two players with triple-double upside in Doncic and Jokic. My issue with them is the opponent and game environment. Both Mavs-Magic and Nuggets-Thunder should be lower scoring and slow-paced. Lakers-Grizzlies should be quicker in pace and I feel LeBron and AD possess higher ceilings than the other two anyway. My lean would be toward AD given the matchup down low. The Grizz allow a lot of second-chance points and don’t have an experienced big who can defend Davis outside the paint.

My Pick: Anthony Davis.

Tier 4

Jayson Tatum, BOS @ MIN
Julius Randle, NYK vs. IND
Devin Booker, PHX @ TOR
Kristaps Porzingis, DAL @ ORL
Pascal Siakam, TOR vs. PHX
Kyle Lowry, TOR vs. PHX

So what I like to do first when making a pick ‘em lineup is process of elimination. Which players do I want to fade in this tier? From first glance, Porzingis, Siakam and Lowry — to me — have the least upside. So that leaves us with Randle, Tatum and Booker. With no Kemba Walker for the Celtics, Tatum will be chalky in this tier against the T-Wolves. Normally we like to get some leverage, but if the chalk is too good not to eat, we almost always need to take it. The Suns have a healthy lineup, which may limit Booker’s upside. Randle won’t have an easy time down low against Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. Tatum should get a huge usage bump with no Walker and the T-Wolves are poor defensively.

My Pick: Jayson Tatum.

Tier 6

Donovan Mitchell, UTA vs. SAS
Brandon Ingram, NOP @ POR
DeMar DeRozan, SAS @ UTA
LaMarcus Aldridge, SAS @ UTA
Lonzo Ball, NOP @ POR
Gordon Hayward, BOS @ MIN
Jamal Murray, DEN @ OKC

Tier 6 tends to be the biggest tier with the most variance. In this contest — with nine games — it’s even tougher given the options are all players we’d normally see in higher tiers. Easy fades here are LMA, Ball and Murray. DeRozan was banged up prior to the ASB, so I worry a bit about his back flaring up. I think D-Mitch, Ingram and Hayward are the three to pick from here. Hayward may be chalky for the same reasons Tatum is in T4. I like Ingram overall on this slate, but that’s mostly because of his price in Classic contests. Same goes for Spida. With the insane projected point total, my lean would be Ingram, but this may be a situation where nobody separates themselves from anyone by much.

My Pick: Brandon Ingram.