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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Targets, Values for Game 1s

Zach Thompson gives his top studs and value plays at each position for the Game 1s fantasy basketball slate on DraftKings, which starts at 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday, August 17.

Portland Trail Blazers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA Playoffs get started on Monday after a fun play-in contest on Saturday wrapped up an entertaining seeding round in the Orlando bubble. In addition to the daily fantasy basketball contests, Draftkings is offering a contest that includes all eight Game 1 matchups, stretching across Monday and Tuesday. The action starts at 1:30 p.m. ET on Monday with the Jazz and the Nuggets and wraps up with the Lakers and the Blazers in the 9:00 p.m. ET nightcap on Tuesday.

It should be a great start to the postseason, and the expanded slate gives extra options at every position to consider. You will definitely want to keep up with all the latest news, analysis and lineups, so download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive to keep up with injury and starting lineup news that should impact your roster.

Set your DraftKings lineups here: NBA $40K Pull Up Jumper [$10K to 1st] Games 1s

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Point Guard


Damian Lillard, POR at LAL, $11,400 – Lillard carried the Blazers to the playoffs with some huge games and definitively earned the MVP of the bubble. Lillard has played huge minutes with over at least 39 minutes in all nine contests since the restart. He has over 48.0 DKFP in all but one of those games, including his 61-point, 84.25-DKFP game against the Mavs.

Lillard will have to continue to carry Portland if they are really going to put a scare into the top-seeded Lakers. In three games against them this season, he averaged 36.0 points, 9.0 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 61.0 DKFP. Dame may run out of gas eventually, but for now he’s a great fantasy play since he presents a mismatch for the Lakers and should keep soaking up tons of usage.

Other options: Donovan Mitchell ($8,200), Kyle Lowry ($8,100)


Jordan Clarkson, UTA at DEN, $4,500 – The Jazz won’t have Mike Conley for at least Game 1 and 2 of their series against the Jazz after the veteran guard left the bubble to attend the birth of his son. Clarkson will likely get plenty of extra work with Conley away and could be a great value.

He is quite a departure from the rest of the Jazz’s roster that tends to be very efficient. Clarkson typically piles up plenty of shots and he scored 18 points in three-straight games with over 24.0 DKFP in each before playing just 14 minutes in a reduced role in the season finale.

Other options: Goran Dragic ($4,400), Reggie Jackson ($3,600)

Shooting Guard


James Harden, HOU vs. OKC, $11,600 – Harden and the Rockets take on his former team - the Oklahoma City Thunder - in one of the tastiest first round matchups. Harden has been great in the bubble, averaging 63.4 DKFP over his past five games with 33.2 points, 9.4 assists, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals per contest. Those averages include a game in which he only played 26 minutes against the Sixers, but still managed to get over 50.0 DKFP.

While no one knows exactly how long Harden’s running-mate Russell Westbrook (quad) will be sidelined, Harden will get even more usage for however long Westbrook is out. Harden faced the Thunder three times this season and didn’t put up great numbers against them, but I expect him to still have a strong start to the playoffs and get lots of usage right off the bat.

Other options: Caris LeVert ($7,900), Fred VanVleet ($6,500)


Dennis Schroder, OKC at HOU, $5,400 – Schroder caused some mismatch problems for the Rockets in the regular season and averaged 33.4 DKFP in three games against Houston. Schroder’s play could be a key to the series since he could force Houston’s guards to defend him off the dribble.

He has only played one game since Aug. 1 after having to leave the bubble for the birth of his child. After returning and getting cleared, he had a tune-up against the Clippers and looked sharp, scoring 17 points and producing 26.75 DKFP in his 25 minutes.

Other options: Tyler Herro ($4,900), Donte DiVincenzo ($3,900)

Small Forward


Kawhi Leonard, LAC vs. DAL, $9,600 – Kawhi has looked dialed in and in peek playoff form since returning in the bubble. He played in six of the Clippers’ eight games and averaged 34.2 minutes, 28.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals. He had 29 points and 47.5 DKFP in his 38 minutes against the Mavs and averaged 52.4 DKFP in his three games against them this season.

We know what Kawhi can do in the playoffs after he carried the Raptors last postseason, and he’ll look to bring similar success to the Clippers. Based on the pace these teams have played with so far in the bubble, there should be plenty of points in this series.

Other options: LeBron James ($10,700), Michael Porter Jr. ($7,100)


Matisse Thybulle, PHI at BOS, $3,300 – Thybulle has taken on a bigger role for the Sixers since Ben Simmons’ injury, and with Glenn Robinson III (oblique) also sidelined, there should be plenty of minutes for the versatile rookie against Boston. Thybulle played at least 29 minutes in the three games prior to the season finale. On Sunday, coach Brett Brown said the team may even start Thybulle against Boston.

He doesn’t usually put up a ton of points or usage in his minutes, but as such a cheap play, he doesn’t have to do much to be worth this extremely affordable salary. If you’re paying up for some of the stars on this slate, you’ll need some scrubs who also deliver solid value from the other end of the salary structure.

Other options: Joe Ingles ($4,900), Danilo Gallinari ($5,800)

Power Forward


Jayson Tatum, BOS vs. PHI, $8,800 – If the Celtics are going far in the playoffs, they’ll need Tatum to continue to emerge as a superstar. He struggled in his first game in the bubble, but played much better after that, producing over 35.0 DKFP in five of his next six games.

He scored 29 points in each of his past two games against the Magic and the Grizzlies and will cause a matchup issue for the Sixers without Simmons and GR3. Tatum averaged 37.4 DKFP in his four matchups with Philly earlier in the season.

Other options: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,500), Tobias Harris ($7,600)


Carmelo Anthony, POR at LAL, $5,300 – Anthony has looked like a whole new player since the restart and has been a huge part of Portland’s push to this point. He had at least 20 points in four of his past five games including scoring 21 points and producing 27.75 DKFP in 38 minutes against the Grizzlies in the play-in game.

Melo didn’t have much success against the Lakers in two games before the restart, but he has stepped into a much larger role, especially with CJ McCollum ($7,800) somewhat limited by a bad back. Even though he doesn’t get a ton of non-scoring production, Melo should get heavy minutes and be a solid volume option against the Lakers.

Other options: Jerami Grant ($4,500), Chris Boucher ($4,100)



Joel Embiid, PHI at BOS, $9,800 – Embiid has crushed the Celtics and is expected to get tons of usage without Simmons available. He did suffer an ankle injury earlier in the bubble, but looked to be recovered in his 23 minutes against Houston on Friday. He had 14 points and 24.5 DKFP, but more importantly, didn’t seem limited by the ailment.

The Celtics will definitely focus a lot of defensive energy on getting the ball out of Embiid’s hands, but they don’t have anyone who can match up with his size down low. Daniel Theis ($5,200), Enes Kanter ($3,100) and maybe even Robert Williams ($3,000) will take turns on Embiid, but none of them have shown any signs of being able to slow down The Process in the past.

Other options: Jusuf Nurkic ($9,000), Jarrett Allen ($6,900)


Ivica Zubac, LAC vs. DAL, $4,300 – Zubac played very well in the bubble while picking up extra work with Montrezl Harrell ($5,900) unavailable. Harrell is questionable to play and probably won’t be ready for a full workload even if he is available, so Zubac could still be in for more work.

In his seven games before the season finale - where he played limited minutes - Zubac averaged 11.3 points and 11.1 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game. His best game actually came against these Mavericks, when he had 21 points, 15 boards and 44.75 DKFP in just 24 minutes. It should be a good matchup for Zubac, and getting him at this price is too good a deal to pass up.

Other options: Darius Bazley ($4,600), Marc Gasol ($3,800)

Set your DraftKings lineups here: NBA $40K Pull Up Jumper [$10K to 1st] Games 1s

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

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) 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.