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DFS Basketball 101: How To Play on DraftKings

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

DraftKings offers a fully array of daily fantasy basketball contests, such as Guaranteed Prize Pools (tournaments), 50/50 contests, multipliers, double ups and leagues of varying size. Entry fees can range anywhere from $0.25 cents to $10,600 and prize pools are regularly in the six figures for many large-scale tournaments each night.

Game slate options include the night’s full array of NBA games, as well as various smaller slates that might encompass only the contests with early starts, or only those taking place in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

$50,000 Salary Cap, Eight Roster Spots, Early Lineup Lock

DraftKings’ daily fantasy basketball rosters are built under a salary cap of $50,000 and are composed of eight positions: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center, guard, forward and a utility, which can be filled with a player of any position.

Until this coming NBA season, DraftKings allowed late swap, which enabled contest participants to remove or add a player to their lineup at any point before their game tipped off. However, that option will not be available for the 2016-17 NBA season, meaning that there will always be a risk of having a zero in your lineup if news of a late scratch breaks after tip-off.

Bonus Points

One small but important difference that DraftKings’ daily fantasy basketball scoring system brings is that it incorporates modest bonuses for made three-point shots (0.5 fantasy points), double-doubles (1.5 fantasy points) and triple-doubles (three fantasy points). The remainder of the scoring structure is as follows:

Point = +1 PT
Rebound = +1.25 PTs
Assist = +1.5 PTs
Steal = +2 PTs
Block = +2 PTs
Turnover = -0.5 PTs

Given the extra fantasy scoring opportunities that exist on DraftKings for proficient long-range shooters and players capable of excelling across the stat sheet, allocating resources accordingly can be a key to success.

This can be particularly relevant in the case of capable three-point marksmen, who can supplement your lineup’s point total nicely with a particularly strong night from beyond the arc. To a lesser extent, the same holds true for players who frequently churn out above-average scoring and rebounding numbers that result in double-doubles, as well as that special caliber that can produce the occasional triple-double performance.

Prudent Use of Utility Spot

Therefore, it’s always prudent to fill the aforementioned utility spot that with a player who’s highly capable of producing these types of bonus-generating efforts. Depending on the slate, filling out your extra guard and utility spots with a high-end point guard can really boost your lineup’s upside, potentially giving you three players with the potential to generate a double-double and some three-point buckets along the way.

Alternatively, there will be nights when the guard options are on the thinner side, but there is a more appealing array of options in the frontcourt. On slates like these, filling in the utility spot with a second stud center or a third forward that dominates on the boards can be the more advisable move. Doing so certainly gives your lineup a potential trio of double-doubles, with the possibility of a triple-double and its accompanying bonus also in play.

Dual Positional Eligibility

Another unique aspect of play on DraftKings is that of certain players having dual positional eligibility. For example, some frontcourt players are able to be rostered as either a center or power forward. This gives you a greater degree of flexibility when building your daily fantasy basketball lineup and allows you the opportunity to take advantage of more of what might be considered your ideal plays for that slate. Particularly in tournaments, where maximizing the potential upside of your lineup is key, exploiting the ability to deploy players at a secondary position so as to fit another optimal play can lead to great success.

Watch for Injury News Before Lineup Lock

Without being able to modify lineups after the earliest tip-off, it will be particularly important to keep an eye on late-breaking news leading up to the early slate of games. Naturally, there will often be occasions when news on players involved in later games will not be available at lineup lock, so avoiding players with questionable or worse designations will often be the right call.

Playing daily fantasy basketball contests on DraftKings can be one of the more exhilarating ways to give DFS a whirl. With a multitude of fantasy-point categories, the scoring is continuous and very fast-paced, especially compared to other sports where players have the opportunity to generate points on a much more infrequent basis. Trying one’s hand through participation in the many free or low-stakes contests available can often be the best way to acclimate to the nuances of the daily game, while hopefully setting the stage for long-term success.

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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Juan Carlos Blanco plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: jcblanco22, FanDuel: jc_blanco22, DraftPot: jc_blanco22, FantasyDraft: jc_blanco22, OwnThePlay: jcblanco22.