clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nuggets vs. Cavaliers Simulated NBA Game: DraftKings DFS Showdown Strategies and Captain's Picks

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 Sunday’s free simulated game between the Nuggets and Cavaliers, which locks…

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 Sunday’s free simulated game between the Nuggets and Cavaliers, which locks at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Set your FREE to play lineups here: Simulated Basketball $2K FREE Contest (DEN vs CLE)

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


Denver Nuggets

Allow me to welcome you into my writing process for a moment. Generally speaking, I’m a man that likes to milk as much sleep time as I can every morning; so, when I finally do wake up, I usually have to jump straight into my assignments. I’ve also never been a coffee drinker, which, on occasion, can leave me a little groggy for the first paragraph. However, on this particular morning, I happened to see something so hilarious and jarring that my brain immediately switched on. Do you know what that thing was? It was the fact that Nikola Jokic ($10,400) is less expensive than Collin Sexton ($10,800) on Sunday’s simulated NBA slate. How does that even happen? The Serbian center has exceeded 40.0 DKFP in 67.7% of his 65 starts in 2019-20 and he’s managed to crack the 50.0 DKFP plateau in a massive 40.0% of those same opportunities. On the other hand, Sexton’s averaged just 30.8 DKFP for the season – only the fourth-highest figure on his own team. Jokic was always going to be viable in this Showdown contest, but that sort of pricing makes the big man even more enticing.

Jokic isn’t the lone screaming value on Denver’s roster, either. There are a couple of different players that seem undervalued when compared directly to one of their teammates. Take the salary differential between Jamal Murray ($10,000) and Will Barton ($8,000) as a perfect example. While Murray is justified in being the Nuggets’ second-most expensive asset, his price tag should be closer to Barton’s than Jokic’s. Where Denver’s All-Star has averaged a whopping 47.8 DKFP per game so far this season, the Canadian finds himself producing just 34.7% DKFP per night. Barton, the only other member of the team averaging more than 30.0 DKFP, checks in at a very similar 32.1 DKFP. Also, while Murray has eclipsed 30.0 DKFP in 61.8% of his 55 games, the former second-round pick has accomplished the same feat 56.9% of the time. Again, it’s not as if Murray is someone that has to be avoided on this slate at all costs, but you do have to admit that paying $2K less for Barton appears to be the more cost-effective option.

We also see this strange price gap when it comes to Jerami Grant ($7,400) and Paul Millsap ($3,600). While the latter has dealt with his share of injuries and disappointments so far in 2019-20, Millsap has surpassed the 30.0 DKFP plateau in 40.9% of his overall appearances, while the former has cleared that same threshold in just 21.9% of his opportunities. I mean, Millsap is actually averaging the fourth-most DKFP per contest on Denver (24.1), so it’s fair to question his standing as the roster’s seventh-most expensive asset. He’s easily the best value play the Nuggets present on Sunday; though, for those who like a good risk/reward scenario, Michael Porter Jr. ($2,400) does possess a huge ceiling. Keep the rookie in mind when putting together your lineups.

Cleveland Cavaliers

For as perplexing as the aforementioned salary of Sexton is, Andre Drummond’s ($9,400) price tag puts him into the immediate conversation for a Captain’s pick. Though the former All-Star’s production has been affected by a mid-season trade to the Cavaliers, Drummond still comes into Sunday’s contest averaging a slate-high 48.0 DKFP per game. Drummond’s also managed to exceed 50.0 DKFP 26 times in 2019-20 – a number that’s identical to the amount of 50-plus DKFP performances that Jokic has mustered this season. However, while Denver’s big man has needed 65 appearances to hit that threshold, Drummond’s registered his 26 in just 57. Additionally, the Connecticut product’s 71.9% rate of surpassing the 40.0 DKFP plateau is better than Jokic’s figure. At a cheaper price, Drummond is clearly the superior play.

Kevin Love ($8,800) also seems like he’s at a bit of a surprising discount given the state of Cleveland’s current roster. It’s not even just about how much Love’s been able to bring back value so far this season as an individual, it’s about how monstrous his fantasy numbers look when directly juxtaposed to all non-Drummond members of the Cavaliers. Consider that Love has eclipsed the 35.0 DKFP mark in a well-above-average 64.3% of his appearances in 2019-20. Darius Garland ($6,800) and Cedi Osman ($6,200) – the two names that follow Love’s on Cleveland’s pricing list – have both failed to reach that plateau in 7.0% of their games this season. That’s right. Not even 7.0% of the time. Neither hits the cutoff of a semi-strong IPA. Honestly, the lone viable DFS option in the mid-tier for the Cavaliers is Tristan Thompson ($5,400), who has at least managed to score 35.0 DKFP in 36.8% of his 57 games. I mean, that might not be the most impressive ratio in the world, but it is a higher rate than Sexton possesses if you needed yet another reason to fade the sophomore.

Finally, let’s talk about a potential salary bargain in the form of Kevin Porter Jr. ($3,200). The rookie doesn’t need to do much to hit 5x value, and keeping that in mind, know that Porter’s exceeded 15.0 DKFP in 66.0% of his 50 appearances in 2019-20. Still, this isn’t a play that’s entirely about floor. Porter’s also mustered 13 performances with at least 25.0 DKFP, including one occasion against Miami where the then 19-year-old dropped a career-high 51.5 DKFP. You could do worse than getting some exposure to the USC product this afternoon.


There are a handful of players who could turn out to be great options in the Captain’s slot, yet, in my mind, it’s two names that stand above the rest of the pack. You could take the high-end route with Andre Drummond ($14,100 CP), who deserves to be this slate’s most expensive asset, or you could try to find a balanced build with Paul Millsap ($5,400 CP), who is criminally undervalued in this contest. Either is the start of a lineup that should threaten the top of the leaderboard.

For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app and follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.

For sports betting, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook or download the DK Sportsbook app.

Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.

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.

Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA) or 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN) or 1-800-522-4700 (NH/CO). NH/NJ/WV/IN/PA/CO only. 21+ (18+ NH). Eligibility Restrictions Apply. See website for details.