This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Tonight's slate in DraftKings reverts to the Showdown format once again as the Warriors and Rockets continue to fight for a spot in the Western Conference Finals.
Looming over this game is the absence of Kevin Durant, who will miss the rest of this series, and possibly longer. This isn't the first time that Golden State has been without the All-Star this postseason, and we should be able to provide a reasonable hypothesis about how the game will flow without him. Stephen Curry is going to do his best to carry the team as he did in the closing minutes of Game 5, but the Warriors will need more than a 3-point threat to subdue the Rockets.
The challenges of Showdown contests center around the selection of the Captain slot and determining the best player who can make his 1.5 salary boost worthwhile for their 1.5x DKFP bonus. The elimination of Durant crystallizes things, to some degree, leaving a decision between Curry and James Harden for the bonus, with one other potential wildcard in the mix
It might be foolish to brand Curry as the more volatile pick, but his shooting struggles in the postseason have been abundant, but it's hard to rule out his potential for playoff heroics. Harden has also come out of the gate slower than usual, but his floor is substantially better than Curry, and therefore is a more reliable Captain pick. I will also incorporate Curry into the regular slots with a good bit of frequency, however.
Let's first look at how Golden State's usage has been affected when Durant is off the court. To stay current, we will look at statistics over the past month. To streamline the stats, we will also eliminate DeMarcus Cousins and restrict our picks to those players who have played in every game.
Stephen Curry: 37.3% USG, 1.6 DKFPPM
Klay Thompson: 27.7% USG, 0.8 DKFPPM
Draymond Green: 22.2% USG, 1.2 DKFPPM
It's no surprise to see Curry at the top of this usage list, but what is more glaring is that utility guys like Kevon Looney and Andre Iguodala barely register with any significant change in usage or production. This information leads me to take the path of least resistance and run with the Warriors' starters, and leave low-cost bench positions to the Houston bench.
Draymond Green ($15,000 CPTN, $10,000 UTIL): Few players have been more consistent than Green in the postseason, and the multi-category threat looks highly motivated to close this series out. He is the only other player I can make an argument for in the Captain slot, and Durant's absence could send his totals to record levels. Over the past four games, Green's floor is excellent, hovering right below 46 DKFP per game.
P.J. Tucker ($7,200 UTIL): Tucker's salary is starting to reflect his production, and there's only a narrow avenue where you can afford him if you elect to go top-heavy with Curry, Green and Harden. It's hard to fade his production, and he's a great play if you choose to go with two elites at the top.
Eric Gordon ($6,600 UTIL): You'll need to go low in at least one spot to afford Gordon, but there's no question that he's worth it. If he can reheat his 3-point stroke, he could be a deadly difference-maker as he's enjoyed many open looks at the perimeter.
Andre Iguodala ($5,800) UTIL: I don't think we can afford Klay Thompson at $8,400, and even though this is a pick that flies in the face of the numbers, you have to assume that Iguodala will pick up his share at Durant's position. He had considerable playoff experience and plays well under pressure, and he has the potential to exceed 30 DKFP if the game flows in his direction.
My final value play, and a definite wildcard, is Jonas Jerebko ($1,800). Unlike Kevon Looney, Jerebko possesses more of the skills that can fill Durant's shoes more consistently, He's an apt rebounder and has the shooting range for a few threes here and there. Usage is the prime concern here, but if we want our top three and someone like P.J Tucker, slotting Shumpert and Jerebko can do that for you.