The first round of the play-in tournament wraps up on Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. ET with a matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors. DraftKings has released a few sizable Showdown contests for this matchup, including one where you can take home $100K for first place.
This contest is also expected to be a good one. The Lakers were never supposed to be in the play-in tournament, but they slipped to seventh place in the Western Conference following injuries to LeBron James ($10,200) and Anthony Davis ($10,800). However, both players are back in the lineup, and this team remains the favorites to represent the West in the NBA Finals.
Things were much tougher for the Warriors. They lost Klay Thompson to an injury before the season even started, and it took arguably the best season of Steph Curry’s ($10,600) career just to finish in eighth place.
Overall, DraftKings Sportsbook has listed the Lakers as 5.5-point home favorites in this matchup.
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Stephen Curry ($15,900 CP) – Curry led the league in scoring for the second time in his career, and he’s carried the Warriors over the past two months. He averaged 37.1 points over his final 23 games while shooting 49.3% from the field, 43.7% from three-point range and 90.4% from the free throw line. That combination of volume and efficiency is what makes Curry so devastating.
He’s going to face a stiff test from the Lakers — they rank first in the league in defensive efficiency — and they’ve already publicly stated that they’re going to try to get the ball out of Curry’s hands as much as possible. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Curry is the clear top target among the superstars given the uncertainty surrounding James and Davis.
Kevon Looney ($6,000 CP) – The other way you can go at Captain is by rostering Looney. He’s dirt cheap at $6K atop your lineup, and rostering him in the Captain slot allows you to jam Curry, James and Davis into a single build.
Looney also has plenty of merit on today’s slate. His playing time is trending in the right direction after logging 31.2 minutes in the Warriors’ final regular-season game. That contest was essentially a playoff game for the Warriors, so the fact that they played Looney that many minutes is telling for their playoff rotation. I’m expecting a similar workload vs. the Lakers, which makes him underpriced at his current salary.
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Draymond Green ($8,000) – Curry, James and Davis are going to get the majority of the attention as “stud” targets on Wednesday, but don’t forget about Green. He’s increased his production to 1.20 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he could have the ball in his hands a lot vs. the Lakers. If they do try to keep the ball away from Curry, expect a lot of slips and pick-and-rolls to get the ball to Draymond. He’s one of the best in the league at exploiting those situations.
I also love the idea of pairing Curry with Green. Both players are highly correlated — they have a correlation of +0.46 on DraftKings — which is an elite mark. In fact, no two players on today’s slate have historically been more correlated from a fantasy perspective than Curry and Green.
Jordan Poole ($4,800) – Poole is another member of the Warriors who I like in this contest. He’s taken on a large workload for the Warriors recently with Kelly Oubre (wrist) out of the lineup, and he’s responded with an average of 17.8 points per game during May. He racked up 24.25 DKFP in his last game, which would be enough at his current price tag.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($4,200) – So far we’ve focused almost exclusively on the Warriors, but that’s because the vast majority of their fantasy value comes from two players. If you lock in LeBron and Davis, you’re going to have the Lakers pretty much covered.
That said, KCP is someone you can consider for value. He’s averaged 0.72 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he should see around 30 minutes on today’s slate. That gives him a solid floor at his current salary.
Kyle Kuzma ($6,200) – Kuzma has actually developed nicely as a player, and he’s doing a lot of things that help the Lakers win basketball games. However, his fantasy value craters when sharing the court with LeBron and Davis. His usage rate decreases by 3.4% in that situation, and he averages just 0.74 DKFP per minute. He’s still priced up a bit after playing a stretch with Davis and James out of the lineup, which is going to make it tough for him to return value.
The same can be said for Talen Horton-Tucker ($5,600), who will also be in none of my lineups.
I’d love to see the Warriors win this game, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. As long as James and Davis are close to full strength, they are still arguably the best team in the league. The fact that this line has been bet up from Lakers -4.5 to -5.5 also makes me think the sharps like the Lakers to win this contest.
From a fantasy perspective, I like the idea of going with Looney at Captain and loading up on the studs. I would prioritize them as Curry, LeBron, Green and Davis in that order, but that could be a popular lineup construction. It might be wise to leave a ton of salary on the table with your final roster spot if you choose to go that route.
Final Score: Lakers 119, Warriors 109
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