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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA DFS Lineup Strategy for Magic vs. Nuggets Showdown on April 4

Zach Thompson gives his top lineup advice for Sunday’s fantasy basketball Showdown contest on DraftKings between the Magic and Nuggets, which starts at 10:00 p.m. ET.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic are headed to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Nuggets in the late-night Sunday NBA matchup. The Magic were one of the biggest sellers at the trade deadline but have actually gone 2-3 in their five games since. While that’s still not outstanding, it is a dramatic improvement over their 2-11 run before the deadline which helped them opt to go into full tank mode by trading away Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. They’ve been giving younger players plenty of run since then, and so far the kids have been all right. On the other side of this matchup, the Nuggets have gone 8-2 in their past 10 games, acquired Gordon at the trade deadline and moved up to No. 5 in the Western Conference.

DraftKings Sportsbook has the over/under for this matchup at 214 points, which is one of the lowest totals of the day. Denver is heavily favored at -16.5, so we could get plenty of garbage time if the game gets lopsided. The Magic are playing for the second night in a row after losing by 46 in Utah last night, and the Nuggets will be playing after two days off following a seven-point win over the Clippers on Thursday. Let’s break down this matchup further from a single-game Showdown perspective for DFS purposes this Sunday night.

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $150K Fadeaway [$50K to 1st] (ORL vs DEN)

EDITOR’S NOTE: PG/SG Michael Carter-Williams (illness), SF/PF Otto Porter Jr. (foot) and Magic PF/C Khem Birch (illness) have been ruled out Sunday vs. the Nuggets.

Captain’s Picks

Aaron Gordon ($11,100 CP) - Gordon has the revenge narrative going for him as he faces the Magic, who traded him to Denver just over a week ago. In his three games with the Nuggets, Gordon has averaged 11.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals in his 28.0 minutes per game. After being limited to 20:41 and 24:33 in his first two games with the Nuggets, he stepped up and played 38:43 in their win on Thursday and finished with 14 points, six assists, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks and 40.5 DKFP. He had a solid 19.5% usage rate in that game and should continue to get more work as he fits into the Nuggets’ offense. Especially after a couple of days of practice, he should be able to step into a larger role in this matchup.

The Magic actually rank pretty well this season against PF, but most of that is ironically due to Gordon’s work when he was with the team. Since trading Gordon, they’ve been using rookie Chuma Okeke ($6,600) and Khem Birch ($5,000) in expanded roles at PF. While Okeke makes sense as a play himself (more below), he doesn’t have the defensive ability to slow down Gordon, and I think Gordon should be even more motivated than usual to take it to his former team. Since the matchup will mean more to him, look for his teammates to get him the ball and feature him a little more in this contest. While he may not play much down the stretch depending on game flow, he should get big numbers when he is on the floor.

Wendell Carter Jr. ($10,200 CP) - If you just glance at the matchup, it looks like an awful one for Carter, which could help him fly under the radar, especially as a Captain’s Pick. However, Carter could end up with a big workload as the Magic continue to try and figure out how the 21-year-old big-man fits into their future plans. Carter has played four games since coming to the Magic in the trade that sent Vucevic to the Bulls, and he logged over 30 minutes in each of his past two games. In a five-point win over the Pelicans, Carter finished with 41.5 DKFP on 21 points and 12 boards on Thursday, and he played even more Saturday night, getting his first Orlando start and producing 40.5 DKFP on 19 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes.

One of the reasons Carter has gotten more run is that both Birch and Mo Bamba ($6,900) are dealing with an illness. Birch was ruled out and Bamba had to leave after playing just 11 minutes on Saturday. Both are questionable for this game, but if either is out or limited, WCJ will have to carry a lot of the workload in the middle regardless of game flow. Carter has a usage rate of over 20% in each of his past two games and has posted a great rebound rate as well. He should keep doing work on the glass and is capable of putting together another strong outing. If you’re scared of the Nuggets resting their starters after they open up a big lead, going with Carter is a great way to mitigate that risk.

Value Plays

Chuma Okeke ($6,600) - Since we may not see much of the Nuggets’ starters if they open up a big lead, it’s actually safer to stick to value plays from the short-handed Magic’s side of this matchup. Okeke has stepped up and started the past five games for Orlando and instantly become a high-usage option. He has a usage rate of at least 18% in four of those contests and an overall 19.1% usage rate. During that time he has been crazily effective with a true shooting percentage of 60.4%. In his 28 previous games, his true shooting percentage was only 50.7% and his usage rate just 10.9%. The extra usage seems to have helped the 22-year-old be even more efficient, and he’ll be worth this salary even if he does have a little regression in this contest.

In his five games with more work, he has averaged 15.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 32.55 DKFP and has taken at least 11 shots four times. He played 33 minutes on Saturday despite the blowout, so his workload appears pretty safe regardless of game script.

R.J. Hampton ($3,600) - Hampton was part of the trade going the other direction, moving from Denver to Orlando. The 20-year-old was a first-round pick in last year’s draft straight out of high school after spending the 2019-20 season in the NBL in Australia. With Orlando down big on Saturday and Michael Carter-Williams ($6,200; illness) out, he got some extra run and showed he can contribute counting stats when given the chance. In his 31 minutes, Hampton posted 12 points, eight rebounds and 28.0 DKFP.

He also had at least 16 DKFP in two of his first three games with the Magic with a usage rate over 18% in each game. He also has a revenge narrative but more importantly, could help clean up in garbage time and log plenty of minutes. He did have success during his time in Denver as well when given opportunities, which is why the Magic wanted to add the young wing in their trade return for Gordon.


Nikola Jokic ($11,200) - Jokic is one of the best players in the NBA and can put up monster stat lines in any situation. He’s one of the top contenders for NBA MVP and has as high of a ceiling as any player in the game right now. The fact that I think he’s a fade in this matchup has nothing to do with his talent or skill. He’s just very expensive, and I don’t think there’s much chance he needs to play very much in this contest for his team to win. The Nuggets have Monday off before four games in six days to finish the week, so they could try to get Jokic as much rest as possible in this contest.

In his three most recent blowout wins or losses with a margin of more than 12 points in either direction, Jokic has produced 48.5, 41.5 and 42.5 DKFP. While that’s still not a bad total at all, it does show that coach Mike Malone will get the Joker some time with a lighter workload when given the chance. Especially if they feed Gordon early to build a lead, look for Jokic to ultimately come up short of value with a reduced workload in this matchup.

The Outcome

I think the most likely game script will see the well-rested Nuggets get out to a big lead early against the short-handed Magic behind Gordon, Jamal Murray ($9,000) and Michael Porter Jr. ($8,200). The Magic players available should end up with decent fantasy production while the Nuggets will get a chance to get some fringe players for meaningful minutes much like the Jazz did against Orlando last night. While the margin may not be over 40 points like last night’s game, I don’t think the Magic have the depth to run with the Nuggets in this contest, and Denver should ultimately cruise to a comfortable win.

Final Score: Nuggets 118, Magic 94

Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball lineups here: NBA Showdown $150K Fadeaway [$50K to 1st] (ORL vs DEN)

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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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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