This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
As the playoffs continue, we'll once again see DraftKings roll out Showdown contests for the Warriors-Rockets game. The goal is to construct the best lineup with six utility spots. This unique format adjusts salaries for players to make up for the reduced number of slots, and with a $50K bankroll, the average salary per spot is a little over $8K.
First, a note of warning about Showdown contests: The big prize pools for the GPPs are deceiving. There are inevitably a number of tie scores in this format, so you're more likely to make a profit by focusing on head-to-head and double-up contests.
The top end of the player pool is littered with the usual suspects. James Harden and Chris Paul represent the Rockets, while Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are the Warriors players with salaries in the 10K range. Obviously, you're going to need to reach down for lower-priced options, but it's entirely feasible for you to snag three of the aforementioned elites and find value at the bottom, if that's the way you elect to go – to be perfectly honest, it's how I'll be playing it. Unlike the Cavs-Celtics series, where you can find a myriad of low-priced possibilities, this series is a bit more straightforward. You won't find as many viable budget selections.
Let me take a moment to discuss the aforementioned elites, as I won't be including them in the selections below due to their obvious value. Since I mentioned that I might go with three high-priced options, which three would I choose? I would go to the well with Curry, Harden and Durant, because regardless of how much I choose to spend at the top, I think I've identified low-cost guys that can be worth the risk. It's not that I am against Draymond or Paul, or even Clint Capela at $9,700, but a few thousand here or there is not going to make a substantive difference in how I buy low. No matter which three you choose, you're locked into selecting a couple of players in the 3K range.
Since I've made my strategy fairly obvious, my highlighted picks at each position will reflect potential options that will prop up this method.
Shaun Livingston, GS at HOU ($2,500): Even though he's only averaged 14.4 minutes per game since the beginning of the Pelicans series, he still finds a way to make an impact with his limited time on the court, averaging 5.5 points, 1,8 rebounds and 2.0 assists over that span. These averages include a five-rebound effort in one game and a 10-point outing in another, so there's enough evidence to indicate that he could find close to 20 DKFP if things fall into place.
Nick Young, GS at HOU ($1,800): Despite being priced even lower than Livingston, I think he might end up with higher ownership on Wednesday. His flashy play and off-court antics make him a popular pivot, and even though I don't think that necessarily translates to a big stat line, he's entirely capable of filling out this showdown format if you go for three elites.
TWO-ELITE OPTION: Eric Gordon, HOU vs. GS ($7,100): If you elect to go with only two of the marquee guys, it's likely that you can fit someone in at a slightly higher price, and Gordon would be that pick for me. He logged 34 minutes in Game 1 and is the first player in the third tier cost-wise, coming in at $1,300 cheaper than Klay Thompson. He's matched some outstanding games with a few clunkers, but I think he's the best way to go if you take the two-elite route.
Gerald Green, HOU vs. GS ($3,200): Green looks to be one of the more obvious spend-down options on Wednesday, as his Game 1 performance featured some clutch shots that will no doubt stick in the minds of many viewers. Despite the potential for high ownership, he will likely play too much of a role to fade at this price. After seeing a lot of him against the Bucks, he faded into obscurity against the Jazz but his 17 minutes in Game 1 is the sweet spot we are looking for in terms of his potential production.
Kevon Looney, GS at HOU ($3,500): I expected Looney to come in at a cheaper price, but his increased usage in the playoffs has made him a key component of Golden State's second unit. He's seen fewer than 20 minutes only once in the playoffs (13 minutes against the Spurs), and has posted a respectable 4.7 point, 4.7 rebound average in the postseason. Looney will be a low-priced option in all of my lineups.
TWO-ELITE OPTION: Andre Iguodala, GS at HOU ($6,300): It's questionable to go this way if you're including Livingston or Young as your cheaper options, but I think he's a better mid-level pock than guys like Trevor Ariza or P.J. Tucker. While he played a key role in Curry's absence, his output hasn't trailed off as much as one might expect. Steve Kerr seems to have settled on pitting Durant at the four and Green at the five, which has opened up more opportunities for guys like Iguodala and Looney to have an impact.
This position is incredibly scarce if you want to go low, but obviously Clint Capela ($9,700) is a reasonable way to go if you're looking for elite production that will give you a bit more room to maneuver. I can see the rationale for taking a flier on guys like David West ($1,500), Zaza Pachulia ($1,000) or Nene ($1,300) but I think they're all a bit of a reach. If I had to go with one of these guys I would select West, who's put up a couple of decent stat lines in the playoffs. His dirt-cheap price could allow you to snag a guy like Iguodala or Gordon to go with your elite picks.