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Intermediate NBA DFS: Narratives

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

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook attempts to score a basket as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and center Steven Adams defend during the first quarter 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 Narratives, which we will discuss below.



A narrative is a storyline surrounding a particular player in certain situations that could be considered useful when crafting DFS lineups. Narratives aren’t really a statistic or something we should be basing out decisions off of. They’re essentially fun ways of looking at how to construct a lineup on a given night.


The Revenge Narrative

The most prevalent narrative in all of DFS NBA is The Revenge Narrative. Also referred to as “Revenge Games” by the community. This is when a player faces his former team in a window that is recent to that players departure. With so much turnover and sometimes ugly breakups between players and teams, revenge is a meal served often in the NBA.

There are some great examples of revenge narratives from this season. Let’s go over them a bit.

Anthony Davis, PF/C, LAL vs. New Orleans Pelicans — Nov. 27

41 points, nine rebounds, three steals in a 114-110 victory.

Russell Westbrook, PG, HOU vs. Oklahoma City Thunder — Oct. 28

21 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists in 116-112 victory.

Kawhi Leonard, SF, LAC vs. Toronto Raptors — Nov. 11

12 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, three steals in 98-88 victory.

So as you can see, there were some pretty big narrative games in 2019-20. These range from Westbook, who was shipped off by the Thunder. To Leonard, who left via free agency after winning a title for Toronto. Westbrook likely has a bit more animosity towards OKC and is thus motivated more. Leonard likely has little ill-will toward the Raps, though still had a great game. AD going to L.A. from NOLA was a move he wanted all along. Davis and the Pels seem to have a solid relationship but the storyline surrounding the game was huge. As such, Davis goes for 41 points in a win.

There’s a lot that can back the idea that players are extra motivated against former teams/teammates. It’s a very competitive NBA that is filled with superstars switching teams constantly. I like to use the revenge narrative as a kicker when making lineup decisions. I don’t go all-in on a narrative, but some are stronger than others. Weigh a narrative properly and be sure not to over-expose yourself.

Birthday Narrative

This could be a tough one to track, so be sure you follow plenty of team Twitter and Instagram accounts. Again, there’s no way for sure to know if a player even gives a shit that it’s their birthday. Thankfully, we have YouTube. Shout out to username Jlooki for the vid on some big time birthday performances in the NBA.

Pop Culture narratives

This category is pretty much reserved for any other narratives that may pop up. So think anything involving players in tabloids, any players beefing on social media, stuff of that nature. Most NBA superstars are super competitive having grown up watching Michael Jordan. Because of this, they have no problem using the basketball court and a box score in order to make a statement to the media, another player, a celebrity, whoever and whatever.