FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Saturday 5/8/21

If you're new to daily fantasy basketball -- maybe you started your DFS journey during the MLB or NFL seasons, or maybe basketball is your sport and this will be your first year giving it a shot -- you're in for a treat. The NBA scene changes on a week-to-week, day-to-day, and -- depending on injury news -- even a minute-to-minute basis, making every slate a unique one that requires an ever-changing approach.

With so much changing so quickly, we're here with plenty of tools to help you out. We have daily projections, a matchup heat map, a lineup optimizer, and a bunch of other great resources to help give you an edge.

Daily fantasy NBA is very reliant on opportunity, so you'll need to make sure that you're up-to-date with key injuries. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news, we have player news updates, and the FanDuel Scout app will send push notifications for pressing updates regarding your players.

We'll also be coming at you with this primer every day, breaking down a few of the day's top plays at each position.

Let's break down today's main slate on FanDuel.

The Slate

Away Home Over/Under Home
Detroit Philadelphia 219.0 -10.0 104.5 114.5 23 12
Washington Indiana 247.5 +3.5 125.5 122.0 1 4
Memphis Toronto 228.0 +5.5 116.75 111.25 8 14
Brooklyn Denver 230.5 +4.0 117.25 113.25 10 27
Houston Utah 226.5 -15.5 105.5 121.0 7 15
San Antonio Portland 231.5 -6.0 112.75 116.75 16 18
Oklahoma City Golden State 223.0 -14.0 104.5 118.5 6 2

For a seven-game slate, the injury landscape is fairly clean. Houston Rockets center Christian Wood is the biggest name in doubt, as he could miss his third straight game due to an ankle injury. His teammates Jae'Sean Tate, with a knee injury, and Kevin Porter Jr., with an ankle, also missed Friday's contest, and all three would leave another night for the Rockets of attempting to scrounge eight active bodies to play.

Having absolutely nothing to play for, it comes as no surprise that Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet are out for rest purposes for the Toronto Raptors. They join OG Anunoby (calf) and Chris Boucher (knee) out for Toronto in a season that folks north of the border probably wish would end now.

Better news lies in Indiana, where Malcolm Brogdon at least has some optimism around his status to rejoin the Indiana Pacers, but he is still questionable due to his pulled hamstring. His return would overall bump down Pacers in the highest-paced, highest-totaled contest of the evening.

Point Guard

Russell Westbrook (FanDuel Salary: $12,000): It feels like 2017 all over again, as the triple-double machine has returned in a big way for the Washington Wizards. Westbrook is back to 1.62 FanDuel points per minute the past two weeks, even while be comfortable second (26.2% usage rate) behind Bradley Beal (32.7%) in the offensive hierarchy, and that explains how Westbrook has broken 70 FanDuel points in three of his past four contests.

The slate begins with a fork in the road to use Westbrook at this astronomical salary or not, especially with some depth at point guard on Saturday. One giant case in the favor of Westbrook is the projected pace in his game, with both Washington and Indiana top five in pace, and more opportunities for rebounds and assists benefits Westbrook most of all in a game with an over/under of 247.5.

Ben Simmons ($6,900): Simmons has to be the first point guard whose fantasy relevance is solely dependent on their role in the offense on a given night. This season, 29 of 30 NBA teams have allocated at least 22% of their usage to the point guard on the floor on average, but the Philadelphia 76ers largely run through Joel Embiid (36.2%) and Tobias Harris (24.1%) and are the lone exception.

Simmons has a tremendous ceiling at this salary below $7,000, but his key number entering Saturday's game is 12. Simmons has exceeded 35 FanDuel points in each of the last six games he has scored at least 12 points, and he should have a great chance to do so against the Detroit Pistons, who have allowed the sixth-most FanDuel points per game to point guards.

Other Notable Plays: Ja Morant ($7,100), Facundo Campazzo ($6,100), Malachi Flynn ($5,300)

Shooting Guard

C.J. McCollum ($7,500): If Westbrook makes your FanDuel lineup, shooting guard is incredibly challenging to avoid stacking both he and Beal together. McCollum is an interesting spot to spend up in tournaments based on his full-season production. It really has not tailed off recently either, as McCollum has eclipsed 38 FanDuel points in three of his past five games, and that would be fine value at this salary.

The issue with McCollum is that he has dropped yet another spot down the offensive pecking order, as he is not only still behind his backcourt mate Damian Lillard (29.3%) the past two weeks but also Jusuf Nurkic (24.4%). The San Antonio Spurs' defense is stingy, but giving up the eighth-best three-point percentage in the league (37.5%) could lead to some openings on the perimeter for McCollum.

Gary Trent Jr. ($5,000): With so many Raptors resting, C.J. McCollum's former backup is the core play on the entire slate. Especially in cash games and single-entry formats, saving salary makes plenty of sense at shooting guard, and Trent Jr., who has been spectacular with Toronto, is the cornerstone of that.

Trent Jr. has scored over 30 FanDuel points in 6 of his past 13 games, and a lot of the exceptions revolve around his minutes load. Trent Jr. was held under 20 minutes three times in that span. Trent Jr. is the most talented Toronto guard who will suit up Saturday, and he trails only Pascal Siakam (30.0%) in usage of Raptors who will be available over the past two weeks.

Other Notable Plays: Bradley Beal ($9,000), Jordan Clarkson ($7,300), Dillon Brooks ($5,300)

Small Forward

Michael Porter Jr. ($7,000): Porter Jr.'s concern has never been his talent but rather his workload. It feels like head coach Michael Malone finds any excuse to keep MPJ off the floor, but with so many injuries, Porter's role is no longer in question.

This is a perfect buy low opportunity for Porter, who has struggled to just 27.5 FanDuel points per game the past two games. Of course, it is well worth remembering that he scored at least 38 FanDuel points in six straight contests before that. Not only have the Brooklyn Nets given up the sixth-most FanDuel points per game, but Porter Jr. also joins his teammates and MVP favorite Nikola Jokic in positioning the Denver Nuggets as the sixth-best offensive rebounding team in the league. Brooklyn gives up the second-most second chance points (13.6) in the league.

Luguentz Dort ($5,100): Dort has struggled with a hip injury and is officially questionable for Saturday. If he plays against the high-paced Golden State Warriors, Dort's salary is incredibly small for his potential. Dort had scored at least 30 FanDuel points in each of the six games before tweaking his hip injury on April 29th.

Unless resting him is in the card, Dort has played essentially a full load -- minus the Thursday blowout to this same Golden State squad -- in three straight games, and with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out for the remainder of the year, the offensive hierarchy for the Oklahoma City Thunder is wide open. Dort's 23.6% usage -- even in limited action fighting injury -- is still tops of all OKC guards the past two weeks.

Other Notable Plays: Kevin Durant ($10,600), Rui Hachimura ($5,400), Keldon Johnson ($4,900)

Power Forward

Jaren Jackson Jr. ($5,300): The league is better as a whole that the Memphis Grizzlies got one of their young stars back after Jaren Jackson missed most of the 2020-21 campaign due to injury. Even in limited action, the former Michigan State Spartans product has been impressive.

Jackson has posted a 26.5% usage and 1.22 FanDuel points per minute park in his limited time back, and now seven games into his season, it is only a matter of time before Jackson is released to at least 30 minutes in a game. Perhaps with a day off on both sides of Saturday, and the resting Raptors posing little threat, it is on this slate.

Sekou Doumbouya ($4,800): A once highly-heralded lottery pick, Doumbouya has struggled to see the floor even on this awful 2021 Pistons squad. However, in each of the past two games with Jerami Grant resting, Doumbouya has moved into the starting lineup.

In that span, he is averaging 30.5 minutes and 31.4 FanDuel points per game, and that brings him still into a position of value despite the increased salary. As someone with significant rebounding upside as well, Doumbouya's 20.9% usage rate is promising for his fantasy prospects.

Other Notable Plays: Draymond Green ($7,900), Darius Bazley ($6,500), Royce O'Neale ($4,600)


Kelly Olynyk ($8,100): You cannot stop Kelly Olynyk; you can only hope to contain him. Olynyk is having a career renaissance getting all the usage he can handle for the injured and maligned Rockets, and he has eclipsed 45 FanDuel points in seven on his past eight games.

Bizarrely, we have landed in a universe where Olynyk's ceiling is not in any doubt after scoring over 50 FanDuel points in back-to-back games, and his team physically does not have enough players to risk his production due to a possible blowout. Even at massive popularity, Olynyk is one of the top options at any position once again.

Other Notable Plays: Nikola Jokic ($11,200), Khem Birch ($5,800)

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.