It’s been a long road — literally months longer than anyone could have predicted back in October — but we’ve made it to the promised land. The NBA Playoffs begin on Monday in the bubble with a four-game slate that’s certainly not lacking in star power. It all gets underway at 1:30 p.m. ET when the Jazz and Nuggets tip things off. Get excited, people.
Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you need to know from a DFS perspective.
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Fred VanVleet, TOR vs. BRK, $6,800 - Toronto has a bit of a sorted history with Game 1’s, though one could make the case that its “curse” ended with a win on the opening night of the Finals last season. Anyway, none of that changes the fact that VanVleet is at a discount. In the Raptors’ eight contests in the bubble, VanVleet led all players on his team in minutes (34.8) and points (17.8) per game. Yet, on Monday, he finds himself priced below $7K for the first time in weeks. Add in the Nets’ pace and defensive woes and you’ve got a buying window at the mid-tier.
Other Option: Jamal Murray ($6,500)
Jordan Clarkson, UTA at DEN, $3,800 - There’s no getting around the fact that Clarkson is going to be a popular play on Monday’s slate, but it’s also hard to deny his value. The veteran guard possessed a team-high 31.6% usage rate in the bubble and his opportunities should only increase with Mike Conley (personal) unavailable. Fade the chalk at your own risk.
Other Option: Alec Burks ($3,900)
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Donovan Mitchell, UTA at DEN, $8,000 - Alright, here’s where the strategy begins. Caris LeVert ($7,600) is justifiably going to be owned in a lot of lineups on Monday. Still, for as great as he is, Toronto posted the best defensive rating in the bubble (102.7) and Nick Nurse is sort of renowned for his ability to game plan against a team’s best offensive option. So, with that in mind, why not pivot to Mitchell? The 23-year-old’s ceiling is just as lofty and he averaged 1.22 DKFP per minute with Conley off the court in Orlando.
Other Option: Jaylen Brown ($7,400)
Garrett Temple, BRK at TOR, $4,400 - Nothing about Temple really jumps off the page. Even with all of Brooklyn’s stars out of the bubble, the veteran hasn’t been an exceedingly high usage asset, nor is he a particularly good shooter. However, he’s solid and it seems like he’s going to play a ton of minutes. I mean, the Nets had literally nothing to play for against Brooklyn on Thursday, yet Temple logged 37 minutes and scored 36.5 DKFP. It was actually the third time in his last five games that he’d eclipsed the 30.0 DKFP plateau. Expect the 34-year-old to continue to have a large role.
Other Option: Norman Powell ($4,500)
Kawhi Leonard, LAC vs. DAL, $9,800 - Leonard has often said the playoffs are the time he truly turns his play up a notch and who am I to argue with a two-time Finals MVP? Leonard’s been exceptional in the bubble, averaging 1.35 DKFP per minute played with a blistering .618 true shooting percentage. I wouldn’t expect that proficiency to dip against a Mavericks squad that’s allowed opponents to score 119.3 points per 100 possessions so far in August. Look for Leonard to dominate this soft matchup.
Other Options: Jayson Tatum ($8,500), Paul George ($8,100)
OG Anunoby, TOR vs. BRK, $3,500 - It’s clear, even in the best case scenario, Anunoby is the fifth offensive option in the Raptors’ starting lineup. Still, this is a guy that consistently had a price tag up over $6K back in March. What’s changed? Sure, Toronto’s healthier, which does eat slightly into the Indiana product’s role, but Nurse has made it pretty clear he plans to use a tight eight-man rotation in the playoffs. Anunoby’s also shot 53.8% from 3-point range since the restart, showcasing his ability to hit open looks. If he plays at least 25 minutes on Monday, he’ll bring back 5x value in a heartbeat.
Tobias Harris, PHI at BOS, $7,800 - This just feels like a fair price for the clear second banana in Philadelphia’s offense. In the 152 minutes Harris has logged without Ben Simmons (knee) on the court since the NBA’s restart, he’s averaged 1.25 DKFP per 60 seconds of work. That’s an near-elite level of production and you’d have to think Harris is going to see a substantial amount of run on Monday; especially with Joel Embiid’s ($10,200) conditioning always a question mark. Even in a bad matchup, Harris is viable.
Marcus Morris, LAC vs. DAL, $4,200 - Morris’ fantasy value could be greatly impacted by whether or not Montrezl Harrell ($5,900) ends up playing through a questionable tag on Monday, but you’d have to expect that the big man will be on quite the minutes restriction even if he is active. In any case, Morris appears to have a pretty sturdy floor. No Los Angeles player logged as many minutes as Morris did in the seeding games and he’s managed to exceed 25.0 DKFP in four of his last five opportunities. Why not take a chance on the veteran in the highest total spot on the slate?
Kristaps Porzingis, DAL at LAC, $8,300 - The strength of the Clippers’ defense is their ability to throw out multiple elite defenders at the wing positions. Their weakness has been their inability to matchup with talented and multi-faceted big men — players like Porzingis. We saw this play out in real time on Aug. 6, when the former lottery pick had 30 points and 51.75 DKFP against Los Angeles in a hard fought loss. Porzingis is probable to suit up after missing Dallas’ past couple of contests with a heel issue. I expect big things in his return.
Other Option: Nikola Jokic ($8,700)
Ivica Zubac, LAC vs. DAL, $4,100 - Zubac also had a great stat line in that aforementioned game on Aug. 6, posting a double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Much like his teammate Morris, Zubac’s viability does hinge slightly on the availability of Harrell; yet, at the same time, the center has registered 30-plus DKFP in five of his past six opportunities. Hard to argue with that kind of consistency, right?
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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.