It’s safe to say the NBA playoffs are off to a roaring start. We got some fantastic Game 1s, including a classic from the Kings and Warriors. Those teams will be in action for Game 2 on Monday, along with the Nets and 76ers, and the DraftKings main slate gets underway at 7 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of my favorite plays at each position.
De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors ($8,500) – The two games on this slate were not created equally, at least for fantasy purposes. Nets-76ers has a 10-point spread and a 213.5-point total, while Warriors-Kings has a 1.5-point spread and a 240.0-point total. That means the Warriors and Kings are both implied for at least 119.25 points, while the Nets and 76ers are implied for 101.5 and 111.5, respectively. Unsurprisingly, most of the top fantasy plays come from the game where there is expected to be significantly more scoring.
Fox has had a phenomenal season for the Kings, and he turned in a fantastic playoff debut in Game 1. He racked up 38 points, which was tied for the second-most by any player in his first playoff contest. Only Luka Doncic’s 42 points were better, and Fox edged out all-time greats like George Mikan (37), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (36) and Julius Erving (36).
His last performance also doesn’t stand out as an outlier. He’s increased his production to 1.31 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he’s scored at least 50.25 DKFP in three of his past six games. He should continue to rack up big totals in what figures to be a highly fast-paced environment.
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kings ($6,900) – Thompson got off to a slow start this season, but he ultimately finished the year with another prototypical Thompson stat line. Specifically, he shot 41.2% from 3-point range on more than 10 attempts per game, which is not something that most players are capable of. He averaged 1.04 DKFP per minute, and he’s scored at least 40.0 DKFP in four of his past five games.
That makes Thompson simply too cheap at $6,900. The Kings finished the regular season ranked 25th in defensive efficiency, so the Warriors have plenty of offensive upside in this series. Thompson also played 37 minutes in Game 1, and he figures to see another expanded workload with the team looking to avoid an 0-2 deficit.
Other Options – Stephen Curry ($9,600), Spencer Dinwiddie ($7,200)
Kevin Huerter, Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors ($5,000) – Huerter was quiet in Game 1 of this series, finishing with just 17.25 DKFP across 31 minutes. That said, he’s a clear progression candidate in Game 2. Huerter has averaged 0.93 DKFP per minute for the year, and he’s increased his production to 1.05 DKFP per minute over the past month. Huerter was a dreadful 3-of-12 from the field and 0-of-5 from 3-point range on Saturday, so with a better shooting performance, he should be able to return value.
Other Options – Jordan Poole ($5,700; questionable), Malik Monk ($5,100)
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kings ($6,100) – The forward spots are really thin on this slate. Draymond is the most expensive option at $6,100, and only six forwards are priced at $5,000 or more. That doesn’t leave a ton of options if you’re looking to spend up at the position.
However, Green does stand out as a strong option for his price tag. He’s no longer the nightly triple-double threat that he was in his prime, but he’s still a very capable fantasy producer. He’s averaged 0.97 DKFP per minute for the year, and he’s capable of doing a little bit of everything for fantasy purposes. He had nine boards and 11 assists in his first playoff contest vs. the Kings, but he supplemented it with just four points. He averaged 8.5 points per game during the regular season, so he could give us a bit more in that department on Monday. If he can crack double-digits – gasp – a double-double is well within reach.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors ($5,400) – Barnes is one of the safer options in the frontcourt. He’s not particularly exciting, but he’s a good bet to see a bunch of playing time. He played 36.4 minutes vs. his old team on Saturday, and he should see a similar workload in Game 2.
Barnes responded with 31.25 DKFP in his last contest, and he’s averaged a respectable 0.77 DKFP per minute for the year. He may not provide much ceiling, but no forward on this slate really does.
Other Options – Cameron Johnson ($5,800)
Royce O’Neale, Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers ($4,400) – O’Neale and the Nets were pretty thoroughly dominated by the 76ers in Game 1, so there wasn’t much value to be had by anyone on the squad. However, O’Neale stands out as a nice target at this price point. He’s averaged 0.83 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he should play around 28 minutes in this contest. O’Neale was priced in a comparable range on just 29 previous occasions this season, and he averaged 22.18 DKFP in nine games with between 24 and 32 minutes. That’s basically all we’re looking for at his current salary.
Other Options – Donte DiVincenzo ($4,300)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets ($10,600) – Even though the Nets-76ers game is clearly the lesser of Monday’s two contests, Embiid stands out as the top stud on the slate. He averaged 1.65 DKFP per minute during the regular season, and Steph Curry ranked second among Monday’s options at 1.44. Over the course of 38 minutes, that’s nearly eight additional fantasy points for Embiid.
The Nets made stopping Embiid their primary focus in the first half of Game 1, but the 76ers’ role players buried them from behind the arc. They moved away from aggressively double-teaming Embiid during the second half, and he torched them for 16 points in 16 minutes. That’s the dilemma that the Nets are going to face for the entire series.
Regardless of the Nets’ defensive philosophy in Game 2, $10,600 is simply too cheap for the kind of production Embiid has provided all season. He averaged 57.85 DKFP per game, so he should be priced above $11,000.
Other Options – Domantas Sabonis ($9,300)
Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors at Sacramento Kings ($5,200) – Looney can play for my team any day of the week. He may not be the most imposing center, but the guy just gets the job done. The Warriors don’t win the title last year without his production, and they’re going to need him again if they’re going to go back-to-back.
Looney was merely average in Game 1 vs. the Kings, finishing with 26.25 DKFP across 32.2 minutes. That said, the playing time was encouraging. Looney has averaged 1.04 DKFP per minute for the year, so he should be able to improve if he continues to play that much moving forward. He will likely lose a few minutes to Andrew Wiggins, but Wiggins could also siphon minutes away from guys like Donte DiVincenzo and Gary Payton II.
Other Options – Nic Claxton ($6,600)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) 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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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.