Welcome back NBA DFS fans! I’m Adam Strangis and I’ll be covering NBA DFS Picks and Pivots for Brian Tulloch for the next couple weeks. After months of being on pause, the league is back and so is DraftKings with big prizes pools to take down so let’s get started with our top NBA DFS Picks and Pivots: Tuesday August 18!
For those of you new to Picks and Pivots, the goal of this NBA DFS article each and every day is to provide you a “First Look” overview of the slate where we use DraftKings pricing as a baseline to help us get started. Rather than simply write out the “top plays,” this article will focus on slate strategy and roster construction with a GPP mindset to help you get started on your initial builds. Without further ado, let’s dive into today’s slate!
We’re kicking off this slate with the Houston Rockets vs the Oklahoma City Thunder because Russell Westbrook is out. We all know what that means and James Harden is the chalk. We can go round and round on this. Yes, the theory of fading Harden and going more balance can work. It’s an MME tactic only.
We’re talking a 44.1% usage rate and 1.88 DKPM with Westy off for Harden. In 13 games this year without Westbrook, Harden has scored under 30 real points once. That was the last seeding game and he played 26 minutes, scoring 27 real points. He’s been over 60 DK in 10 of 13, 10 of 12 if we don’t count the last seeding game. As long as this game stays remotely close, he’s locked to 38-40 minutes. It’s legitimate to see a 90 DK game from him if he goes nuts, especially considering he just scored 87 DK two games ago.
Now the challenge is finding the right value to put around him. Just because a player is cheap doesn’t mean said player is really viable. I’m turning directly to his teammate Eric Gordon. He played the last two seeding games and hat 25 shots in 43 minutes. I’m taking that kind of value and his 30% usage rate in a 338 minute sample size this season. If you can get 100 DK between those two players, you’re at 6x for your salary.
If we’re already using two Rockets, we may as well see if we can get a little stack going, right? Dennis Schroeder catches my eye at a very reasonable price for a team leading 27.2% usage rate. He missed time in the bubble but came back to log 26 minutes in the last game. He can fill the bucket in a hurry and he’s got big upside here. There’s not another player here that I feel like we have to jam in and will be looking elsewhere.
Now we need to jump around a bit. When we look at the center position, it’s a bit of a tough cookie. Would I love to play and Anthony Davis or a Bam Adebyao? You bet. Can I swing that with Harden and not a lot of glaring values? Well, that’s a different story. I can’t help but look a Brook Lopez for the Bucks as a good value in this slot. Lopez has shot 43.9% beyond the arc in the bubble and the Magic were bottom-eight in three point FG% during the regular season. It’s not the easiest matchup but the price is worthwhile.
The Miami Heat offer some pieces that we should be looking at as well. Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler are cheap for their potential, as we just saw Buckets destroy this Pacers team for 50 DK on just 13 shots. His blood feud with T.J. Warren is certainly not over and Butler with a chip on his shoulder under $8,000 has my attention.
Dragic at $4,400 is really attractive and he should play near 30 minutes. The 1.03 DKPM on the year should pay off here without much struggle. Kelly Olynyk is still in play and we can hope the minutes decrease in the past couple games were just because they didn’t matter.
The catch with this plan is fading the Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trailblazers game and I’m not sure I want to do that. You have two paths to that game – surround Harden and a stud with cheap shooters or just fade Harden almost altogether. Most of my lineups will have Harden, but the ones that don’t will be centered on Anthony Davis.
Players I Want Exposure to – Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Danilo Gallinari, Gary Trent, Jae Crowder. It might be a tighter player pool today and rotate in studs as opposed to the lower salary players.
Update – In talking with Brian this morning, he opened my eyes to some potential other plays I may have overlooked. He’s a pretty sharp dude. To round out lineups, also look at DJ Augustin, Evan Fournier, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Iguodala, Hassan Whiteside (Wonder if Portland tries to counter size with LA)
I’d be lying if I said this isn’t a bit of a difficult slate. As much as I tend to lock in Harden, I also believe the argument is stronger than normal to make a fade and be more balanced. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll have more Harden than not. My goal is to build around a Harden, Schroeder, Lopez and Dragic core as of this writing. We’ll always update as we go in Discord, so make sure you hang out with us leading up to lock!
Let’s jump into Discord and talk some hoops my friends. Time to make money!
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