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Intermediate NBA DFS: Pace of Play

We continue our breakdown of the basics for NBA DFS. In this section, we look at pace, with definitions and some basic strategy.

Houston Rockets guard James Harden dribbles the ball during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Toyota Center.  Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In daily fantasy basketball, like in most things, getting the fundamentals down is integral toward laying a foundation of knowledge to build from as you progress as a player. For DFS, that means understanding statistics and which ones will help you most in building your lineups. One of those is Pace, which we will discuss below.

Pace of Play


A teams pace of play is measured by the amount of possessions they have per game. A team that has a high amount of possessions is flipping the court often and thus is pushing the pace of play. A team that has fewer possessions is not doing so and is thus not pushing the pace of play. Pretty simple, really.


Pace of play is sort of like a tipping scale. Sometimes you get basketball games that are equal in terms of pace — both teams playing up in tempo or both down in tempo. Either way, one team is usually ahead of the other in possessions. A lot of the times in today’s NBA we see this scale around even. A lot of teams play up in pace. There are however games in which one teams pace can positively or negatively affect the other team.

Game Stacking

A more common strategy in NBA DFS is game stacking. This means you’ll be picking a game with a high implied total and using mostly players from said game. Usually a game with a high implied total will feature two teams that play at a high pace.

For example, let’s say there’s a 3-game slate and we’ve got these games: ATL @ WAS, HOU @ IND and OKC @ ORL. Which game appears to be the best stack without looking at each teams pace of play? Well, we can eliminate one game easily — Thunder (20th) vs. Magic (26th). These are two teams that generally play at slower paces and play more efficient team defense.

The Rockets (4th) and Pacers game has sneaky stack potential. You’ve got one team that plays at a high pace and the other doesn’t. Indiana may slow Houston up or the Rockets could speed the Pacers (24th) up. The Rockets also play a small lineup, so that helps Pacers bigs. Overall, not a bad option but not the best.

The best option is Wizards (5th) vs. Hawks (6th). On the outside, you’ve got two stud players and a bunch of mid-range and cheap options. Trae Young and Bradley Beal are the core and you build out from there. These are the most effective game stacks — the ones in which both teams play at a high pace. It also helps that neither team plays defense, but that’s beside the point.