This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
If you just can't wait for regular NBA DFS action, DraftKings has you covered on Sunday with contests for the All-Star Game.
Unlike the usual game formats, DraftKings will employ their popular Showdown format for Sunday's game. There are six utility spots available, with one spot designated as the 'Captain,' and this particular player's DKFP will be multiplied by 1.5. The wrinkle here (and a sometimes overlooked one) is that the salaries for players in the Captain column are inflated with a 1.5x multiplier. Novices in this format are likely to squander a lot of cash with a top-rated player and move on, but they key to winning these contests is to go contrarian with the Captain spot, and if you want an elite player, you'll be able to get him for a more standard salary. The All-Star Game throws a lot of the normal DFS contentions out the window, but the Captain strategy remains a solid consideration when you build.
THREES IN, REBOUNDS OUT: Since there is no real cohesion with the two teams, players who can create their own shots in space are going to have a big scoring advantage in this format. There's no better way than the long-range ball, and you're going to see every sharpshooter make several attempts in this game. Traditionally the big men don't get as much opportunity as guards and perimeter-shooting forwards on All-Star Sunday. Since so many shot attempts will be made outside the paint, the centers who lack the ability to stretch the floor are likely to be DFS disappointments.
I'm going to select three high-priced targets, three mid-range guys and two low-cost plays to outline my selections for this game.
LeBron James ($9,400, $14,100 CPTN): If you think James isn't going to play floor general in this game, I think you're fooling yourself. He picked these guys, and chances are high that we'll see a monster assist total from The King as he attempts to spread the wealth around. He's also going to create his own opportunities as he often does, but I think his assist numbers will make him one of the most valuable guys to roster on Sunday. He currently has 343 All-Star points over his illustrious career, which is easily the highest total in NBA history for this format.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($9,200, $14,100 CPTN): I think you have to go with both captains today, even though playing both of them will likely carry high ownership totals. Like James, Giannis will have proper motivation to be involved heavily in the offense. Spreading the ball around doesn't suit his gameplay as much as LeBron, but there's no question that he'll have stiffed stat line anyway. How will we afford both? Read on, and we'll reveal that in the value section.
Stephen Curry ($9,000, $13,900 CPTN): Lest we forget, Curry went to college right down the road from Charlotte at Davidson, and, as I will illustrate with another pick below, hometown players get a little more action in these contests. I think it's entirely possible for Curry to break his All-Star record of six 3-pointers as he directs the floor for Team Giannis. More than LeBron's team, I think TG's game flow will be heavily dictated by the hot hand. If Curry's off his game things could quickly flow elsewhere, but I wouldn't count on it. He's been heaving up his usual ten 3-pointers per game lately, and I suspect he'll do the same tonight.
Kevin Durant ($8,400, $12,600 CPTN): Injuries to Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard should blow the doors wide open for Durant, and I suspect he'll carry a heavy load for Team LBJ. It will be interesting to see how he's utilized tonight, and it will highly depend on how generous James will be to guys inside. Durant is one of those guys I mentioned who really knows how to stretch the floor, so despite my propensity to fade big men tonight, Durant is priced right in this format.
Kemba Walker ($6,400, $9,600 CPTN): As I said before, the hometown guys usually fare well, so I am a big fan of Kemba Walker playing on his home court in Charlotte. Although he'll be playing off the bench, his entry into the game will undoubtedly get the crowd involved, and I think Kemba's long-range shot and ball distribution will be sorely needed for TG going into the second half. On paper, Giannis' team is hugely outmatched, but Walker has a lot of experience in this format and should be a solid anchor off the bench.
Ben Simmons ($4,800, $7,200 CPTN): First I say threes are essential, and then I endorse somebody who hasn't made a single shot from beyond the arc all season? Hear me out. LeBron to Simmons. LeBron to Simmons. I predict you're going to hear that a lot tonight. James is a Simmons fan, and he's already said he's looking forward to sharing the court with him. Even though his shooting struggles this year are well-documented, he showed us all in the Rising Stars game that he's got the ability to get open and make a significant impact.
Khris Middleton ($4,400, $6,600): Combine Mike Budenholzer as tonight's coach and The Greek Freak, and you've got a solid Milwaukee connection. If you want a contrarian pick of monster proportions, I think you have to play the Bucks angle. This is a spot where there's already proven chemistry and Giannis picked him for a reason. Middleton will come off the bench but the familiarity between the two will be evident right away, and that's a massive advantage in a format that isn't particularly well-known for defense. At this price, Middleton makes all my rosters tonight.
LaMarcus Aldridge ($3,600, $5,400 CPTN): With Anthony Davis likely to see limited time, that leaves LeBron with only Towns and Aldridge as the healthy centers. You'll find a picture of Aldridge next to "underrated" in the dictionary. The guy can flat out play, but in DFS formats he's often overlooked – you might even say he's ignored. He won't be saddled by the Spurs' slow pace tonight, and if he gets enough opportunity, he could turn into a huge value play.
If you're hemming and hawing between two players, I think you have to go with Team LeBron tonight as a tie-breaker. I think the shot distribution will be better and more guys can create their own shots. I hesitate to say that Team Giannis is full of 'system' players, but it's generally a more disciplined group of guys. I also need to justify my fade of the likely MVP, James Harden. Bottom line – I think he's overpriced. I do not doubt that we'll see a lot of The Beard, and I may eat my words, but I think the Showdown format is won without him tonight.