clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Lineup Strategy for Lakers vs. Nuggets Showdown on May 22

Matt LaMarca gives his top NBA lineup advice for Monday’s fantasy basketball contest on DraftKings between the Lakers and Nuggets

NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It is officially do-or-die time for the Lakers. They’ve lost the first three games of the Western Conference finals, so they’ll need to make history if they’re going to win banner No. 18. No team in NBA history has ever overcome an 0-3 series deficit in the postseason, and only three previous teams have managed to force a Game 7. This series has largely been competitive – unlike the Celtics and Heat in Game 3 – but it’s going to take a herculean effort to prevent the Nuggets from reaching the finals for the first time in franchise history.

Let’s dive into some of my favorite Showdown selections for this contest, which starts at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $600K Shootaround [$150K to 1st] (DEN vs LAL)

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

Captain’s Picks

Nikola Jokic ($20,400 CP): The Lakers actually did a pretty good job against Jokic in Game 3, limiting him to just 24 points, six boards, and eight assists. It was his worst postseason performance since Game 1 vs. the Timberwolves, and Jokic played just 28.5 minutes in that contest. He played more than 38 minutes on Saturday, so the Lakers did an excellent job of keeping him under wraps.

That said, Jokic did manage to take over in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of his 24 points in the final 12 minutes. That’s not a huge surprise since Jokic has done basically whatever he wants all playoffs. Prior to Saturday, Jokic had scored at least 70.25 DKFP in nine of his previous 10 games, including seven straight.

There is simply nothing that Jokic can’t do on a basketball court. He’s capable of dominating as a scorer, passer, and rebounder, making him a nightly triple-double threat. He’s averaged 1.73 DKFP per minute for the year, and he’s managed to maintain that production despite playing more minutes during the postseason.

Ultimately, Jokic is the easy top call if you’re paying up at Captain.

Anthony Davis ($17,400 CP): Davis doesn’t provide a ton of salary relief, but he is slightly cheaper than Jokic and possesses a comparable ceiling. Davis has already been the optimal Captain once this series, which is something that Jokic can’t say. He’s also been in the optimal lineup in all three games, which only he and Jamal Murray have accomplished.

LeBron James may go down as the greatest player in NBA history, but this is clearly Davis’ team now. LeBron has struggled to find his offense in this series, so the team has had to lean a bit heavier on Davis. He leads the squad in usage rate in this series, and he’s also been a more efficient scorer than LeBron.

Davis also brings a bit more upside in the peripheral categories, thanks to his work on defense. He’s tallied at least two blocks in each game in this series, and he’s been a beast on the glass all playoffs. He has double-digit boards in six of his past seven games, including 18 rebounds in Game 3 vs. the Nuggets. He should be locked into at least 50 DKFP, and he has a ceiling of around 70.

UTIL Plays

Jamal Murray ($10,400): Murray may be a bit overlooked during the regular season, but he has earned plenty of praise for his work during the postseason. He willed the Nuggets to a win in Game 2, scoring a Jordanesque 23 points in the fourth quarter, and he followed that up with 30 points in the first half of Game 3. The Lakers did a much better job against him in the second half, limiting him to just seven points on 2-9 shooting, but Murray still finished with at least 54.25 DKFP for the third straight game.

Ultimately, Murray has provided the same level of per-minute production as Davis and LeBron in this series, but he’s done it at a slight discount. His salary continues to creep up, but he’s proven he can return value at his current salary.

Rui Hachimura ($4,600): If we’re looking to jam in multiple studs, we’re going to need to find some value plays. Fortunately, Hachimura stands out as an excellent option. He was outstanding for the Lakers in Game 2, finishing with 27.0 DKFP in 30.1 minutes and landing in the Captain spot in the optimal lineup. He wasn’t quite as productive in Game 3, but he still finished with 24.0 DKFP across 33.7 minutes. Hachimura’s playing time should be pretty safe on Monday, and it wouldn’t shock me if he moves into the starting lineup. D’Angelo Russell has been virtually unplayable in this series, while Jarred Vanderbilt hasn’t provided much in his two starts.

Mo Bamba ($1,000): Bamba is a big x-factor on this slate. He was officially removed from the team’s injury report, so he will be available to play in Game 4. How much he actually sees the floor remains to be seen, but there’s a chance he sees a handful of minutes off the bench. The team is looking for big bodies to throw at Jokic, and Bamba certainly fits that description.

Bamba has averaged 1.03 DKFP per minute for the year, so he doesn’t need a ton of playing time to provide value. We’ve already seen a min-priced player find the optimal lineup in this series, even though that player scored zero DKFP. If the top studs all go off – something that happens pretty frequently – just getting a handful of points from Bamba could be enough to crack the optimal lineup.


LeBron James ($12,000): Has Father Time finally caught up to LeBron? The King has deferred to his teammates throughout the postseason, and he’s started to look his age during this series. An “aging” LeBron has still averaged 23.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 10.3 assists per game vs. the Nuggets, but he’s shooting just 15.8% from 3-point range. His usage rate is also down to just 26.5%, which is a far cry from what we’ve come to expect from LeBron during the playoffs.

This is no disrespect to LeBron. The fact that he’s still this effective despite the amount of minutes he’s played in his career is nothing short of remarkable. That said, we can’t play everyone in this matchup, and he stands out as the clear No. 4 option behind Jokic, Davis, and Murray.



Falling into an 0-3 hole can be demoralizing for an NBA squad. They know the history, so they know that their season is all but over. How can the Lakers find the motivation to get up for this game knowing that a win only means they’re going back to Denver to likely get eliminated? Historically, teams that are down 0-3 are just 32-40-4 ATS in Game 4, dating back to the 2004-05 season.

I don’t expect LeBron to just roll over and die, especially since the first three games have been pretty competitive. That said, the Nuggets have been able to get across the finish line at the end of games and expect the same to happen on Monday. It might be Jokic, it might be Murray, or it might be someone else entirely, but the Nuggets have shown the ability to hit the tough shots when it matters most. That’s been the difference all series, and it’s why they’ll take care of business again in Game 4.

Final Score: Nuggets 115, Lakers 112

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $600K Shootaround [$150K to 1st] (DEN vs LAL)

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

Place your NBA bets at DraftKings Sportsbook or by downloading the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

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.