This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a single-game slate Thursday, as the Lakers and Nuggets face off in Game 4 of their Western Conference finals series. Showing some of the trademark grit that's gotten them this far in the postseason, the Nuggets fought back to halve their series deficit in Tuesday's Game 3 with a 114-106 win. While Denver certainly would want to avoid going down 3-1 in the series, it's already proven that's not too big a challenge for them to overcome if required.
With just one game on the ledger, we're dealing with FanDuel's single-game contest rosters, which are comprised as follows:
· MVP- (Garners points at 2x the normal rate)
· STAR- (Garners points at 1.5x the normal rate)
· PRO- (Garners points at 1.2x the normal rate)
· Two Utility spots- (Garner points at normal rate)
With the pricing also being different than in conventional FanDuel contests on multi-game slates and top players inevitably headed for heavy rostering, there are definitely strategic elements particular to single-game rosters. Finding key value plays for the two utility spots is undoubtedly important, as it enables you to fill out the multiplier spots with some of the top projected producers.
We'll proceed to examine the relevant injuries for the day below and will also break down the positional outlook, before reviewing possible chalk plays and some of the value plays that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.
Without further ado, let's dive into Thursday's single-game slate!
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets (Projected total: 214.0 points):
The two squads essentially come into Game 4 at full health and certainly have the firepower to blow past this total if things are clicking offensively. Games 1 and 3 finished with totals of 240 and 220 points, respectively, and the last three regular-season meetings between the two finished with totals of 232, 236 and 245 points. LeBron James has upped his scoring totals in each game of the series thus far, while Anthony Davis is shooting 52.5 percent over the first trio of contests. On the other side, Jamal Murray has also bumped up his point tallies in each installment and Denver is getting strong contributions from Nikola Jokic as well, making this number one that could go by the wayside comfortably.
FanDuel single-game rosters don't have traditional positions that match those on a starting five, so we'll instead break down some candidates for the top three multiplier positions instead:
MVP (2x): One of the defining fantasy characteristics when these two teams meet is that the top-level production is almost always going to be heavily funneled toward a quartet of top players. On the Lakers, that would naturally be LeBron James and Anthony Davis, while Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic hold that distinction in Denver. Therefore, there's not a lot to contemplate when it comes to this slot, especially considering how well each player has performed relative to their salaries as the series has evolved. Davis did uncharacteristically slump to just two rebounds in Game 3, but given he'd had no fewer than nine in each of the eight games prior, it's likely safe to consider it an outlier.
STAR (1.5x): Whichever of the three players from the foursome mentioned above don't make your MVP slot would be fine candidates for this multiplier. In fact, it's accurate to say they'd exclusively constitute the pool you should be considering, taking into account what was stated earlier about the particularly narrow distribution of elite fantasy production on these two teams.
PRO (1.2x): There appears to be one clear-cut candidate each for this spot from each team. On the Lakers it would be Rajon Rondo, who's logged between 22 and 30 minutes in each of the first three games and has scored between 19.3 and 28.4 non-multiplier FD points in those contests. We also saw Rondo go for some spike performances in the last round against the Rockets (36.9 to 41.1 FD points), so the potential is certainly there. Meanwhile, the Nuggets' Jerami Grant came up huge in Game 3 with 26 points over 34 minutes (35.1 non-multiplier FD points). He also scored over 20 non-multiplier FD points on five occasions so far this postseason, including two hauls of more than 30. There have also been some much more modest performances so the risk remains, but Grant could have another big role in Game 4 while plenty of attention is heaped on teammates Murray and Jokic.
Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
LeBron James, LAL (groin)
James is probable with a groin injury and fully expected to play.
Danny Green, LAL (finger)
Green is probable with his left finger injury. With the injury to the wing's non-shooting hand, the concern appears to be minimal.
Alex Caruso, LAL (wrist)
Caruso is probable with right wrist soreness.
Dion Waiters, LAL (groin)
Waiters is doubtful with the groin issues that's cost him the last six games.
Long-term injuries of note:
Will Barton, DEN (knee)- OUT
The three highest-priced players on the slate are LeBron James ($16.5K), Anthony Davis ($15.5K) and Nikola Jokic ($15K), while Jamal Murray checks in $2K cheaper than his teammate. An argument can naturally be made for investing in each of these players, and as mentioned earlier, James, Davis and Murray have all particularly enjoyed success offensively and seem to be getting better as the series unfolds. Given his price, Murray could ultimately offer the best fantasy-point-per-dollar return if he puts the team on his shoulders once again as he's done numerous times during these playoffs.
With only one game on the ledger, the quartet mentioned in the prior section should be even more popular than usual. Additionally, important complementary pieces Grant and Rondo could also find themselves on plenty of rosters.
Note: On a multi-game slate, I typically try to highlight players that would be considered under-the-radar plays in this section. Naturally, with such a limited player pool, there will be very few low-rostered players that are likely to also be viable from a DFS perspective, so I'll instead focus on two of the best candidates to provide a strong return relative to salary for the two Utility spots in single-game lineups:
Michael Porter, DEN vs. LAL ($9,500)
Porter isn't producing at anywhere near his seeding-game clip, but he's also no longer starting, making the downturn understandable. The rookie wing has still seen at least 20 minutes off the bench in each of the first three games of the series, delivering 17.8 to 33.0 FD points. He's averaging a solid 8.0 shot attempts across his 23.7 minutes per contest and draining them at a 54.2 percent clip, and his 6.7 rebounds per game are certainly encouraging as well. With what should continue to be a locked-in role and another competitive affair likely in Game 4, Porter could deliver a solid return while giving you flexibility elsewhere.
Paul Millsap, DEN vs. LAL ($9,000)
Millsap has logged 28 and 31 minutes in the last two games, turning in matching six-point, eight-rebound efforts while playing a complementary role offensively. While those performances have only netted 14.1 and 19.1 FD points, he's one of the few complementary pieces on either team that can be counted on to have a solid role and that has the ability to provide a double-digit scoring total if there's concentrated defensive attention elsewhere. Millsap has done so on five occasions this postseason thus far, including in a stretch of four of five games versus the Clippers in the semifinal round. L.A. is undeniably a tough frontcourt matchup, but it's worth noting Millsap had tallies of 21.8, 22.2 and 26.8 FD points against the Lakers this past regular season.
Other value plays to consider: Danny Green, LAL ($9,000)