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NBA Finals, Game 5: DraftKings Showdown Players & Captain Picks

NBA Finals, Game 5 - DraftKings Daily Fantasy Player Picks 061019-1

Say it ain’t so!

What feels like just yesterday yearning for (and anticipating by default) a gritty, back-and-forth, tooth-and-nail series pushing toward an inevitable Game 6…has since rapidly transpired to be a tour de force instance of bully being bullied, with the defending champion Warriors on the verge of handing over the presumable moniker, and the only semblance of tooth involved being that of Fred VanVleet’s broomed off the hardwood.

When considering all of the circumstances and interwoven nuances involved, this Finals matchup is strikingly reminiscent of the 2004 Detroit Pistons shocking the world by punching the star-studded Lakers in the mouth. The very same Lakers who were simply assumed to be gifting the newly acquired Gary Payton and Karl Malone rings as a farewell tour bonus to resignation. Through a similar parallel, DeMarcus Cousins was atop the same set of expectations leading up to just two games before now.

So suddenly, we’re talking about Marc Gasol finally getting a ring to be merely one behind his brother, and how the streets of Toronto will be eclectically partying away to the sighing relief of “Finally”.

But there seems to be one strained calf still standing in the way of the parade that’s been preemptively booked. Or a torn Achilles, however you prefer to look at it. The point being, it belongs to one defending Finals MVP, and this apparently supersedes all celebratory conversations to be had for the time being. Is Kevin Durant actually in the realistic conversation of daily fantasy value for one last hoorah to fight another day this season? We’ve got a conundrum on our hands.

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Top Shelf

Kawhi Leonard ($12,000/$18,000 Capt.)

Somewhere in the world, Gregg Popovich is ignoring a question about Kawhi Leonard. And if you were deemed partially responsible in the public eye for casting away quite possibly the best player in the game of basketball, you’d be trying to do the very same.

And from a DFS standpoint, you can tell when a player has reached such a caliber when their already drastically high DraftKings price tag hiccups to yet another salary tier and you don’t even blink an eye as you scramble to the ‘Draft’ button. With a familiar stage set, as well as a beaming opportunity for self-separation from other players in his current talent considerations, Kawhi Leonard is the closest play to a “lock” as you’ll ever hear me concede to.

Leading his fellow Raptors by example, Kawhi blew the doors off in Game 4 with 36 PTS, 12 REB, 4 STL, and 2 AST as they put the rout on the Warriors 105-92 in what is highly likely to be the final game at Oracle Arena. With a 28.3% usage rate and fear of no shot attempt, Leonard won’t be slowing his roll whatsoever and to fade him would be disastrous from a fantasy aspect. There’s contrarian, and then there’s stupid.

I will be getting to the closest amount of Kawhi without being at 100% roster exposure, and 30% of those will feature him at Captain.

 

Kevin Durant ($10,000/$15,000 Capt.)

The story you’ve all been waiting for. Being absent for over a month with what’s said to be a strained calf, Kevin Durant is now officially questionable for Game 5 of the NBA Finals and participated in shoot-around on Sunday with his teammates. In this time span, many of the public have already written the script for Game 7 and how Durant will win another Finals MVP.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen how he’s been walking since being absent from the court, but it does not look to be as simple as a strained calf. And supposedly he didn’t practice for long before having to quit to go back to icing it without stress. Not a good look.

Here’s how I see it: Durant, if he plays, will be massively owned by the public. It’s nearly a given with how they will always treat the star name over the realistic situation at hand in daily fantasy; as a misguided notion that somehow ‘celebrity’ outweighs science and that to fade them is a crime (ie: Todd Gurley the final 1/3 of last season).

And with that assumption of high ownership aside, how likely do you really believe that KD will play anywhere near what he was like just prior to being off for a month with an injury of all things? If he’s a bust (the more likely situation given his still-lofty price tag and how much he’ll have to  score to hit payoff value), there will be a ton of ownership to get dragged down with it and this is where fading Durant will be the wisest leverage move, and the easiest.

 

Mid Grade

Klay Thompson ($8,800/$13,200 Capt.)

If the Warriors are going to stand a chance to comeback whatsoever, it’s going to likely be thanks in part to this guy based on what the Warriors’ have demonstrated thus far. Klay Thompson has been firing on all cylinders, even while nursing an injured hamstring in Game 4 and shooting over 61% from the field and putting up 28 raw points and 37.75 DraftKings Fantasy Points.

I don’t see things shifting away from Klay one bit, and if the Raptors continue to harass Curry with Fred VanVleet and persist with the Box And-1 defense,  we’ll continue to see the deference to Thompson.

Klay will probably be the Warrior I get the most of given his still-affordable price tag and shooting lights out the past two games he’s played with an elimination game on the line. I’ll be getting to about 75% Klay with 1-2 of them featuring him at Captain designation.

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Lower Tier

Fred VanVleet ($6,400/$9,600 Capt.)

Playing like a man possessed, Fred VanVleet has turned a new leaf from his meek bench role that was decent at best through most of the season leading up until the Eastern Conference Finals with the Bucks and rose like the Phoenix of Lore. He’s proven that he’ll literally fight tooth and nail to step up his game to the level of talent a role-player 6th man aspiration should embody, and his fantasy numbers are evident in this as well while somehow flying his DraftKings price under the radar, even debatably still now.

VanVleet has been receiving 30+ minutes (29 in Game 4 while still only playing less than three minutes in the 4th quarter due to Kyle Lowry and Danny Green eating up run), and while his usage isn’t the highest he’s efficient with the ball in his hands (44 EFG%) and still put up a decent 22 DKFP in Game 4 (8 PTS, 6 AST, 4 REB, 2 TO).

And he will be thriving in front of his home crowd after getting his face busted from Livingston’s elbow last game on the road. Look to VanVleet to be a value play with lower ownership after a lull in fantasy production in the last time out there. I’ll gladly get to a healthy 40% of Freddy, and I’m guessing this should be enough to better the field’s ownership considering their attention will probably be on other standouts memorable from last game.

 

GPP Dart Throw

Norm Powell ($2,000/$3,000 Capt.)

After letting me down in every single game of the Finals thus far, I’m stubbornly going back to the well because something’s gotta give with his floor time and the situation at hand. Considering there will quite possibly be a blowout in place, especially if Durant doesn’t roll, Norm Powell is due for positive regression and what better way than with garbage time against a Warriors third unit?

I’m going to honestly throw a decent amount, in the vicinity of 30%, into my roster stakes due to his huge upside at such an incredibly low cost here. It won’t take much at all to pay off a $2,000 salary on DK and he could be getting bigger run than we’d think depending on how quickly things may unravel for the much-depleted Golden State roster. Who knows…I might get cocky and put one with him at Captain?

Here’s the latest on updated NBA Odds.

Chris "Topher" Giordani is a sports gambling nerd who derives his passion for such from a number of avenues, particularly the ilk of fantasy sports. Currently working and residing in Orange County, California, daily fantasy sports consume a vast majority of his attention span on any given day. Reviving his sports rant podcast in 2019. #FadeTheChalk

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