This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We enjoyed a top-10 finish in a major tournament with my endorsements, and we'll try to keep the ball rolling with recommendations for a pivotal Game 4 in Los Angeles. The do-or-die scenario for the Lakers tips off at 8:30 p.m. EDT.
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Before we begin, let's look at the winning lineup for Game 3 via one of FanDuel's most popular tournament contests.
MVP Anthony Davis 112.2
STAR Jamal Murray 89.1
PRO Michael Porter 45.6
UTIL Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 25.6
UTIL Bruce Brown 31.5
Like much of the field, I expected a much better showing from the Lakers at home. The most notable omission from the winning roster was Nikola Jokic, who ceded a lot of production to his supporting cast in the win. It's also long past time to give Jamal Murray his due -- he's become a virtual lock for big numbers in this series.
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Aside from the usual injury designations from Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the injury report is clean for Game 4. James aggravated his foot injury during Game 3 but didn't miss any playing time.
Nikola Jokic ($17,500) MVP
Anthony Davis ($16,500) MVP, STAR
Jamal Murray ($15,000), MVP, STAR
LeBron James ($14,500) STAR, PRO
Austin Reaves ($12,500) PRO
Michael Porter ($11,000) PRO
You'll have to make some concessions in the multiplier tonight. The most productive players hold inflated salaries, but thankfully there's enough talent in the lower range to make a solid multiplier spread quite doable. At first glance, a Jokic/Davis/Porter core seems like an excellent call, but you'd be losing Murray in this build, who I believe is essential. The Game 3 build of Davis/Murray/Porter leaves an average of $8,750 per player for the utility, so it's a bit more difficult this time around. Unlike Game 3, you'll be depending on a lot of Laker budget talent to fill out this build, and unless you heavily favor LA in this game, it doesn't seem like the most prudent call. I hesitate to fade Jokic but I'm completely sold on Murray, so he will take up one of the top two multipliers. Davis' ability to rack up rebounds quickly makes him another confident play, and I like him more than LeBron despite the elimination scenario. I don't see how we can get Reaves into the build without eliminating Davis altogether and since the 1.2 multiplier is basically just a Utility +20 percent, going lower than Porter is a viable option.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($9,000) ALSO STAR
Aaron Gordon ($8,500) ALSO STAR
Bruce Brown ($10,000) ALSO STAR
Rui Hachimura ($7,500)
From here, we are treating the STAR spot like a third utility, with the purpose of making a Davis/Murray or Jokic/Murray build our cornerstone. With Jokic and Murray, we have an average of $9,167 to play with, and Davis/Murray provides an average of $9,500. In both scenarios, I think Caldwell-Pope is a no-brainer. He wasn't great in Game 2, but he had two other solid games against his former team. At $9k, I'll put him into either the STAR or UTIL spot.
Using Hachimura gets interesting because Michael Porter comes back into play at $11,000 in a Davis/Murray build. You could put Porter back in the STAR spot or stick with Pope , creating a pretty impressive-looking Davis/Murray/Porter/KCP/Hachimura build. Granted you'd be leaving out Brown, who has provided a very steady floor in this series. While I would miss Brown, I will likely favor a build that I can get Porter into. The result is rounding it out with Hachimura, who I prefer over D'Angelo Russell.
There will be players among us who won't be able to resist getting Jokic involved, and I can't say I blame them. The bad news is that you'd probably need to omit Davis or Murray to use them, but the good news is that you'll be able to find enough talent at the bottom to make it happen. Assuming a Jokic/Davis top, you'd have an average of $8,667 for the remaining three spots. You could get a combo of Brown and Gordon or Hachimura and KCP in there with ease. I think a Jokic/Murray top is too Denver-centric, and you'd need to have Hachimura in there since we have to have players from both teams.
Even though James and Reaves are in tough spots for us salary-wise, those who don't believe in Murray can get either of them involved quite easily. I will not be in that camp.
My top builds of the night:
Murray swaps: James, Reaves