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Pistons vs. Grizzlies Simulated NBA Game: DraftKings DFS Showdown Strategy, Captain’s Picks

Garion Thorne preps you for DraftKings’ simulated NBA Showdown contest between the Pistons and Grizzlies, which starts at 3:00 p.m. ET on Monday, July 13th.

Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

With real basketball currently on hiatus, DraftKings is launching simulated basketball games! Take note of the rules since this contest doesn’t work like any other contest we have had before. Here, we will focus on Monday’s free simulated game between the Pistons and Grizzlies, which locks at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Set your free to play lineup here: Simulated Basketball $2K FREE Contest (DET vs MEM)

Curious about when major leagues and events will return? Check out our DraftKings Sports Calendar for the latest updates.

Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.


Memphis Grizzlies

This is something that we just don’t see too often in these NBA simulations. The Grizzlies come into Monday’s slate against the Pistons with the four most expensive players on their own roster. Yes, you read that correctly. The truly interesting thing about this salary quirk is that this is a matchup that is almost completely devoid of DFS star power. You could obviously make the case that Ja Morant ($11,400) is well on his way to becoming a franchise-altering phenom, but, as of this second, neither Memphis nor Detroit can claim to possess more than a single combined asset that’s averaged at least 35.0 DKFP per game in 2019-20. That man? Jonas Valanciunas ($10,000). For anyone who has entered a contest featuring the Grizzlies in the recent past, you’ll already remember that the big man tends to be undervalued, often with a salary below the $8K mark. That’s clearly not the case this afternoon, yet there’s a case to be made that Valanciunas should have a higher price tag than his teammate Morant, as the veteran has scored at least 30.0 DKFP in a team-best 64.5% of games in 2019-20.

Still, if Valanciunas’ salary looks tempting when juxtaposed to Morant’s, both look like downright bargains when viewed next to Dillon Brooks’ ($10,800) price. The Canadian guard has been miscast on this slate. It’s just that simple. While Brooks has shown a propensity to put up raw points this season, his lack of secondary category production limits his upside as a fantasy threat. To wit, Brooks has only managed to exceed 30.0 DKFP in 35.4% of his 65 contests so far in 2019-20. To put that in perspective, Jaren Jackson Jr. ($9,200) has crested the 30.0 DKFP mark in 51.9% of his opportunities. You don’t necessarily have to play either Brooks or Jackson on Monday, but it’s pretty obvious that the latter is the more viable of the duo.

Finally, while players like Gorgui Dieng ($4,000) and De’Anthony Melton ($3,600) can be considered intriguing on this slate as possible mid-tier values, the name that really jumps off the page when we get to the lower-half of Memphis’ roster is Josh Jackson ($1,000). The former lottery pick has seen his salary fluctuate as high as $4K in past Showdown contests, yet, when priced at the minimum, Jackson’s viability is without question. In fact, Jackson has exceeded 20.0 DKFP in 61.1% of his 18 games this season, making him a serious candidate to bring back 20x value. That’s not the kind of scoring chance that can be ignored.

Detroit Pistons

While you almost have to feel for the real-life Pistons after taking one quick look at their roster on this slate, for the purposes of this contest, Detroit is actually one of the more interesting collections of players I’ve ever seen. Sure, there isn’t a single person aside from Derrick Rose ($8,400) within this grouping that’s averaged over 30.0 DKFP per game in 2019-20. However, there are definitely some opportunities to save huge amounts of salary with this squad. Still, let’s begin by breaking down Rose’s personal standing. No one is going to argue that the guard should be the highest-priced member of the Pistons, but how does Rose stack up against the quartet of Grizzlies atop the overall salary list? Pretty well, to be honest. Rose has managed to exceed 30.0 DKFP in 60.0% of his appearances this season, a figure that easily bests Brooks’ and Jackson’s outputs and settles in just below Morant’s ratio of 61.0%. Plus, with 13 performances of at least 40.0 DKFP, it’s not like Rose doesn’t carry a respectable ceiling, too.

After that is where things really begin to open up and get a little weird. Christian Wood ($7,600) might honestly possess the most dollar-for-dollar upside of any single player on this slate, as he’s averaged a whopping 40.9 DKFP in his chances to start in 2019-20. Yet, at the same time, he’s only be called upon to start 12 of his 62 total games. Then there’s the saga of Blake Griffin ($5,400), who was clearly operating at less than 100% health during his 18 contests but was still putting up some decent fantasy outputs. To wit, Griffin eclipsed the 28.0 DKFP plateau 10 times this season, giving the forward better than 50% odds of returning at least 5x value on this particular afternoon under these particular settings.

However, the two biggest values that I can see on Detroit’s roster are Luke Kennard ($4,200) and Jordan McRae ($3,600). Seriously, Kennard’s salary does not make a lick of sense, especially with so few potent fantasy assets on this slate as a whole. The Duke product’s campaign was cut short due to injury, yet Kennard’s success while healthy was undeniable in 2019-20. Aside from sitting third on the Pistons in daily DKFP average (28.3), Kennard also managed to exceed 25.0 DKFP in 15 of his 28 games. That might not seem all that great, but, in this specific contest, I can assure you it’s worth more than $4.2K. As for McRae — a man who’s played for three different teams this season — the guard has scored at least 20.0 DKFP in 59.5% of his 37 appearances while additionally possessing 50.0 DKFP upside thanks to his time in Washington. You’ve got to love teams that run at a high pace, right?


With so many potential places to save salary and so few prominent ceilings, I think you can feel free to spend up at the Captain slot on this slate. Personally, I’d take my chances with Jonas Valanciunas ($15,000 CP) and Derrick Rose ($12,600 CP) before I looked to bestow Ja Morant with 1.5x value. But, like I said, there’s little restriction on what you can do thanks to the amount of bargains the Pistons present in the mid-tier.

Set your free to play lineup here: Simulated Basketball $2K FREE Contest (DET vs MEM)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also 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.