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Best lineup strategy for Thunder vs. Timberwolves NBA Showdown [UPDATE]

Will Karl-Anthony Towns finally make a return to the lineup? We got over how to approach roster construction for Monday night’s OKC-MIN DraftKings Showdown contest.

Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams drives against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman in the second quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: Karl-Anthony Towns has been ruled out for a 14th straight game and won’t play vs. the Thunder. Adjust your lineups accordingly and see below for advice on how to proceed.

This game is sandwiched between the other two Showdown contests on DraftKings for Monday’s seven-game slate. Here we’ll go over the matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves, a game that actually has some playoff seeding implications. The Thunder have emerged as a playoff contender in the West, holding down the No. 7 seed at 22-17. While the T-Wolves have been struggling, they’re also just 2.0 games off of the No. 8 seed in the conference. Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) has missed the past 13 games, but is questionable for tonight’s contest. If he returns, the T-Wolves would be close to full strength for the first time in a long time. Let’s get into how to craft a winning lineup, shall we?

Captain’s Picks

A lot of where we go here will depend on if Towns ($17,400) is playing or not — and if he is playing, will he be limited at all. I think if Towns is back, he won’t be playing a usual allotment of minutes, so it’s tough to pay up at this salary. I think if Towns is sidelined, that opens up a very clear option at Captain: Steven Adams ($12,300). The T-Wolves have been playing decent defense lately, but it’s more of a product of their opponents. Minnesota got demolished by the Rockets over the weekend, particularly on the boards 58-44. Adams is essentially the only true center for OKC with Nerlens Noel out. I think Adams will have a strong chance of reaching a double-double, and has 15+ rebound upside in this matchup.

If I’m looking at anyone on the T-Wolves side of things, I really like Robert Covington ($10,500) if Towns is out. Bobby C is a great 3-and-D swingman and should be tasked with guarding Danilo Gallinari tonight. He’ll be needed mostly on defense, but if OKC is vulnerable anywhere, it’s defending the 3-point line. Covington gets a nice upside boost if he can knock down 3-4 outside shots. The T-Wolves are also forcing 18.6 turnovers per game over the past eight, mostly thanks to Covington’s defense.

FLEX Options

Choosing the rest of the lineup may be tricky unless Towns is ruled out again. The Thunder get most of their production from their five best players and not much from the bench, so the values on the OKC side are less appealing. Jarrett Culver ($5,200) has great numbers over his past seven: 15.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals in 31.9 minutes per game. His minutes and usage are up with no Towns, so he’s a good UTIL option.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,000) to me is the most appealing of the three OKC guards ahead of Chris Paul ($9,000) and Dennis Schroder ($6,600). SGA has scored at least 20 points in 11 of his past 13 games. Plus, he hasn’t played below 30 minutes since Nov. 27. Similar to the Philly-Indiana Showdown, because of injuries, we may not have many players to pay up for, so crafting a lineup will be easy from a salary cap perspective. It will come down to figuring out the best combination of players rather than fitting guys in.

There’s no need for extreme value, so Andrew Wiggins ($9,600) may be hard to fade if KAT is sidelined again. Wiggins hasn’t had the best four-game stretch since returning, but we know the type of scoring ceiling he possesses. I worry a bit about his minutes recently as well; Wiggins hasn’t played more than 25 minutes in each of the past two games. The Thunder are also tough defensively and the O/U for this game is only 219.5.