FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Helper: Bucks at Hawks (7/3/21)
In a traditional FanDuel NBA lineup, you have a $60,000 salary cap to roster nine players. In the single-game setup, the salary cap is the same, but the lineup requirements are different.
You select five players of any position. One of your players will be your MVP, whose FanDuel points are multiplied by two. You also select a STAR player (whose production is multiplied by 1.5) and a PRO (multiplied by 1.2). Two UTIL players round out the roster, and they don't receive a multiplier to their production.
This makes the five players you select important in more than one way, as you need to focus on slotting in the best plays in the multiplier slots rather than just nailing the best overall plays of the game. Read this piece by Brandon Gdula for some excellent in-depth analysis on how to attack a single-game slate in NBA DFS.
The war of attrition for a chance to make the NBA Finals continues Saturday. This messy, imperfect series with bizarre shooting slumps, injured stars, and unlikely heroes could finally be over after Game 6, as the Milwaukee Bucks visit State Farm Arena to battle the Atlanta Hawks. Milwaukee needs one victory to advance, but Atlanta could force a winner-take-all Game 7 with a win on their home floor.
FanDuel Sportsbook believes Atlanta will do so. The Hawks are currently 2.5-point favorites to win Game 6, with an over/under set at 216.5. The average total in this series has been 216.6, so the total for Saturday's contest is quite literally a reflection of the aggregate of the first five games, but it is notable that the teams smashed the over with a total of 225 last game with each team's star player sitting out.
Injuries and What-Ifs
The injuries in this series have frankly shaped it. Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo has been unable to assist the Bucks since suffering his knee injury in Game 4, and he is doubtful to play in Game 6 on Saturday.
A gigantic boon for Atlanta could be on the way, however, as Trae Young is listed questionable with his foot injury to return for the elimination game. Young is the only Atlanta rotation member currently in doubt, as Bogdan Bogdanovic is listed probable with his knee ailment, but with Bogdanovic logging heavy minutes in each of the past two games, he does not appear to be in danger of missing this contest.
At The Top
Trae Young ($15,500): It is no exaggeration to proclaim that this entire slate revolves around Trae Young's right foot. In a single-game environment, the Atlanta salaries are predicated around Young not playing on Saturday, and therefore if he does, Young becomes the immediate top MVP option and renders essentially all of his teammates unplayable at their salaries. For the entire postseason, Young has posted a 34.7% usage rate, with the next highest Atlanta starter at 20.8%. Young has also averaged 1.25 FanDuel points per minute for the playoffs, and no other player in this game -- on either side -- will have that same guarantee of production or touches. While there will be some risk to Young if he plays -- including reaggravation of a tough injury -- no one else would possess his ceiling.
Khris Middleton ($15,000): Unless stated otherwise, the remainder of this single-game breakdown will be placed on two decent assumptions -- that both Giannis and Trae Young do not suit up. Young has the higher chance of the two, especially with Atlanta facing elimination, so Milwaukee should be less conditional to predict. The most relevant sample of the one game without Giannis is not exactly kind to Middleton at this salary, which is pretty interesting to say about someone who just posted 61.8 FanDuel points as the far and away top MVP on Thursday. But Middleton had just a 21.0% usage in 45 minutes, which is even down from his 26.2% usage across the rest of the series. With a more team-centric approach sans Giannis, Middleton was able to make up for his offensive role with 13 rebounds in such a heavy minutes total, but it is a factor worth considering in tournaments given that Middleton will likely be the chalk MVP if both top options miss Saturday's contest.
Jrue Holiday ($14,500): If Young and Giannis do miss, Jrue Holiday is the guy I want to use at MVP. At less MVP popularity than Middleton, Holiday posted 42 minutes last time out, compared to Middleton's 45, tied the team-high in shots with 20, and possessed a higher usage (23.9%) than Middleton in Game 1. Truthfully, a few rebounds in Holiday's pocket and not Middleton's shift Thursday's optimal MVP, and the stark gap in popularity will likely not reflect that split. Atlanta gave up the third-most FanDuel points per game to opposing point guards this season, which is likely how Holiday is averaging 10.2 assists per game in this series, and Holiday only recorded one steal on Thursday after having at least two blocks or steals in four of his prior five contests.
Bogdan Bogdanovic ($13,500): It is is an obvious "no" at MVP for Bogdanovic if Young does play, but he is the final option above $13,000 worth MVP consideration if Giannis is indeed ruled out for the contest. Bogdanovic's Game 5 showed just a 24.4% usage and 1.03 FanDuel points per minute, and his 40 FanDuel points in back-to-back games does not tell that story. He was aided by four steals in Game 4 as well as 44% shooting from deep on 16 attempts in Game 5, so a bulk of his production came from tremendous shooting in, albeit, a healthy 22 shots. The upside of Bogdanovic in a relatively similar role to some of his teammates at a bloated salary lends me to believe that rostering Bucks is a more profitable endeavor in this tier.
In The Middle
Kevin Huerter ($12,500): With Bogdanovic not exactly dominating the basketball, I personally prefer Huerter at a lower salary and with some game theory benefits, as well. Huerter was the opposite of Bogdanovic in Game 5, shooting just 25% from the field in a struggle of a 38-minute workload. Huerter is a spot-up shooter, which is indicated by just a 16.2% usage rate in the series, which has increased to just 16.9% in Young's absence. Even not dominating the basketball, Huerter has posted 7 assists in three straight games and north of 35 FanDuel points in four of his past seven contests, which is fairly consistent production for someone who could go overlooked in the presence of Lou Williams and many of Milwaukee's top options.
John Collins ($11,500): The back and forth in playing time with Collins and Clint Capela at the Atlanta five position makes this a tough call, but it is hard to argue against Collins given that he received the minutes in the most relevant one-game sample. Collins played 34 minutes in Game 5 to just 21 for Clint Capela, and the strategy behind that could be to try to have enough offensive success to force Milwaukee to use Pat Connaughton over Brook Lopez. It certainly did not work in Game 5, but Collins should be due for some positive rebounding regression if he can see the playing time, as the bouncy forward averaged 10.08 rebounds per 36 minutes in the last series but has somehow been limited to just 8.28 against a higher-paced Milwaukee team.
Lou Williams ($11,000): If Young is out, the most popular play on the slate will and should be Williams. Williams posted a team-high 25.9% usage in Game 5 (without Young) across 35 minutes, essentially filling Young's role. Williams actually scored 41 FanDuel points in Game 4 with a lower 21.1% usage, but every category went down for him in Game 5 on an off night for his teammates, including Williams himself turning the ball over six times. He has been far more efficient on a per-minute basis this postseason (0.91 FanDuel points per minute) than his dreadful Game 5 performance (0.68), and it is entirely within his range of outcomes to lead the Atlanta side in FanDuel points at just $11,000.
Brook Lopez ($10,500): Thursday's hero likely will not replicate his absurd, 33-point performance on 77.8% shooting, but he also does not have to at this salary. Lopez was having a dismal series in which he played 28 or fewer minutes in each contest before his Game 5 eruption, but the center caught fire early and Mike Budenholzer rode the hot hand. As mentioned, the Hawks have been using Capela less in the past three halves -- likely to force Milwaukee to a lesser offensive player than Lopez from their bench -- but it has not worked to this point. If looking for a reason to fade him in tournaments, Lopez's seven rebounds may not be a normal reflection of his expected board work in Giannis's absence, as he saw a -0.08 rebounds per 36 minutes decrease with Giannis off the floor in 633 regular season minutes.
At The Bottom
Bobby Portis ($9,000): Realistically, if neither Giannis nor Young play, there is no reason to go lower than Portis in terms of value. The former Arkansas Razorbacks' star slid right into the starting lineup and a 35-minute role in Game 5, which saw him post a team-high 25.3% usage rate. Portis played more minutes (836) than any Milwaukee player when Giannis was off the floor this season. His 1.26 FanDuel points per minute was tied for second on the team, and Portis comes at a significant salary discount to all of his fellow Milwaukee starters. Portis should be nearly 100% drafted at this salary if Giannis misses Game 6, which may mean the best way to differentiate with Portis could be using his strong peripherals in a multiplier spot.
Danilo Gallinari ($8,500): Gallinari matched Williams's 25.9% usage in Game 5 in just 23 minutes, and he made good use of the free throw line to post 19 points in that span. Especially with Lou Williams thrust into the starting lineup, being with the bench unit gives Gallinari a massive workload at this value salary, but his minutes have been unreliable. He has logged fewer than 20 minutes in two of five games this series despite playing well, shooting 41.7% from three-point territory, and his team battling injuries. That makes him hard to trust in general, but he also is the only Atlanta player under $9,000 who will assuredly see more than 15 minutes off the bench. Given that his role hasn't prominently changed since the injury to Young, Gallo is fully viable even if Young does play.
P.J. Tucker ($8,000): A vast majority of the approach I've taken with this slate so far has revolved around Young and Giannis sit, but there is a doomsday scenario where both play and burst this single-game slate. In that scenario, Tucker becomes one of the top plays on the slate given that his role -- and salary -- has not changed one iota without Giannis. Tucker played 37 minutes with just an 8.0% usage rate in Game 5, but that becomes significantly more interesting when many players -- such as Bogdanovic, Portis, and Williams -- are far too high up there in salary for their pecking order in the offense behind their stars. He is worth keeping in mind should lock swing around Saturday and both All-Stars are set to battle.
-- With Giannis Antetokounmpo off the floor this season, Khris Middleton (+6.9 percentage points) saw a higher usage bump than Jrue Holiday (+5.9), but Holiday actually outpaced Middleton in an increase of FanDuel points per minute (+0.20 versus +0.19) in that split.
-- Clint Capela was limited to just 21 minutes in Game 5, likely as Atlanta attempts to force Milwaukee to a weaker bench option than Brook Lopez for defensive purposes.
-- Bobby Portis and Lou Williams led their squads in usage for Game 5, and both are below the average per-player salary on FanDuel.
-- Danilo Gallinari and P.J. Tucker have not seen significant role changes with the injuries to their star teammates, which makes them closer to their "normal" salary than most should either star return Saturday.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.