FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Sunday 5/9/21
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 New Orleans Pelicans are missing some serious star power. Zion Williamson will miss his second of -- presumably -- many games with a broken finger, and the Pels are unlikely to have Brandon Ingram, as he battles an ankle injury of his own. They will, however, at least get one scorer back: Nickeil Alexander-Walker is probable to return for the first time since April 4th with his ankle issues.
The Sacramento Kings also may have reinforcements on the way with star point guard De'Aaron Fox upgraded to questionable, indicating he at least has a chance to return from COVID-19 protocols on Sunday. Miles Bridges will not be, as the Charlotte Hornets' forward continues to clear health protocols himself. Charlotte could also be without Devonte' Graham, who is a question mark to miss his fourth straight game with a knee ailment.
Additionally, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be watching the status of two of their starters as well, as Darius Garland (ankle) and Kevin Love (knee) are both questionable to be available for their battle with the Dallas Mavericks.
LaMelo Ball (FanDuel Salary: $7,700): The race for Rookie of the Year may not go quietly after all. Ball returned five games ago from injury, and it is fairly surprising how quickly the Hornets' point guard reassumed his previous role. He leads Charlotte in both usage (29.8%) and FanDuel points per minute (1.27) since re-entering the lineup, and the usage mark is particularly impressive given that Ball has only seen more than 30 minutes just once in the span. Charlotte will likely continue to lean on their top option, and he could not ask for much better a matchup to work in on Sunday, as the Pelicans have allowed the fifth-most FanDuel points per game to opposing point guards, with much of that sample before losing their top two stars.
Cole Anthony ($5,500): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cole Anthony is an interesting tournament option less than a week after his postgame interview went viral, although "tournament" is carrying a good deal of the heavy lifting in that statement. The Orlando Magic have a bad habit of riding their bench, but in the last seven games, Anthony has seen his normal workload of 29 or more minutes, is averaging 27.5 FanDuel points, and has eclipsed 30 three times. Anthony has occasionally come off the court in favor of a longer look at R.J. Hampton, but it is good news that the two have shared 80 minutes and counting the past five games, and that raises his floor. Both Anthony and Hampton could feast on a Minnesota Timberwolves backcourt that has allowed the second-most FanDuel points per game to opposing floor generals.
Zach LaVine ($9,000): Playing 32 minutes in his last contest with the Boston Celtics likely means that the Chicago Bulls star LaVine is approaching a return to form following a 12-game absence fighting COVID-19 protocols. That could be dangerous for the entire NBA but especially the Detroit Pistons on Sunday. LaVine averaged 49.9 FanDuel points in the seven games in April before his health issues, which creates plenty of upside at this salary. LaVine has done 46.5% of his scoring from the paint this year, which is well above average amongst shooting guards, and a great approach to take against Detroit, who has ceded the third-most points in the paint this season (51.0).
Collin Sexton ($7,700): If Darius Garland indeed does sit on Sunday, Sexton is a natural fit in nearly any daily fantasy format. Sexton has a massive 31.3% usage without Garland on the floor this season, which is a +2.2% boost over his normal output, and he ties the additional ball-handling responsibilities together with a solid +0.08 FanDuel point per minute increase as well. While Sexton will have his off nights from the floor shooting, his floor in terms of fantasy still remains solid because of his role, as he has scored over 38 FanDuel points in five of his last seven contests. With LaVine and Sexton, there is plenty of cause to spend more salary than normal at a shooting guard spot short on value.
Anthony Edwards ($8,800): One of the reasons shooting guard makes sense to spend at is the state of small forward. Due to injuries, there is a realistic chance Edwards is the only option above $6,500 that will suit up on Sunday, but it provides the opportunity to shine some light on the presumptive Rookie of the Year. Edwards is a clear second option for the Timberwolves, as he is the silver medal in both usage (28.2%) and FanDuel points per minute (1.13) behind Karl-Anthony Towns. Edwards feels over-salaried at this spot, but in tournaments, using him instead of the plethora of mid-range options is an easy way to differentiate, and it is not as if he cannot pay off against New Orleans, who cede the fifth-most FanDuel points per game to opposing small forwards.
Luguentz Dort ($4,900): Another day, another Dort. Dort was one of few that did not struggle in the Saturday bludgeoning of the Oklahoma City Thunder by the Golden State Warriors, as Dort scored 16 points in 24 minutes before the Thunder sat Dort, who battled a hip injury entering Saturday, for the remainder of the game. This salary remains tremendously low for what appears to be the lowest of low-end top options in the NBA. Dort leads OKC in shots per game (16.7) since the start of April, and his 24.0% usage is rock solid for his offensive volume as well. Assuming he does indeed play on the second half of this back-to-back, he is the highest upside option on a slate with seemingly endless mid-range small forwards seeing minutes but not doing very much with them.
PJ Washington ($7,000): It does not take a wizard to see the box scores on Washington, who makes a ton of sense at this salary after scoring in excess of 35 FanDuel points six of his past eight contests. However, Washington's floor may not hang around long, and it's largely due to his rebounding. Washington is averaging 7.25 rebounds per game in May following a month where he mustered just 4.9 rebounds per game in April. The reason might be Miles Bridges, who is sitting now due to health protocols, but he started most of April for Gordon Hayward, and Washington has a fairly significant +0.05 rebounds per minute increase when he and the athletic Bridges do not share the floor. With Bridges still out, however, the green light to use him remains on.
Marvin Bagley III ($6,800): The audible groan is palpable, as Marvin Bagley seems to disappoint the second he encroaches upon fantasy relevance, but the good news is the expectations seem to be fairly low for Bagley on Sunday. Really, Bagley just needed to see his minutes allotment on the floor because he is averaging 35.9 FanDuel points in the three games since returning from injury he has seen at least 30 minutes. That is no guarantee, but if De'Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes, Tyrese Haliburton, and others remain out for Sunday's game, it certainly helps his cause. Another key situation to watch is that Sacramento is slowly inching away from Richaun Holmes at center, as Holmes is averaging just 29.5 minutes per game, and that could allow for more time for Bagley at the five as his teammates return.
Mohamed Bamba ($8,200): A fantasy-relevant Mo Bamba has been a delightful end to a tumultuous year. The former lottery pick has always been seen with the athletic gifts of few, but Bamba has yet to see over 20 minutes per game in any month of his career thus far. Following the trade of Nikola Vucevic, more minutes became available, and now with Wendell Carter Jr. struggling with an eye injury, Bamba has been unleashed in full force. Bamba's 1.34 FanDuel points per minute the past two weeks is higher than the season-long averages of Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Zion Williamson for context, and much like when Hassan Whiteside emerged back in 2014, it is largely on the high-floor fantasy basis of rebounds (13.0 per game in May) and blocks (2.75 per game in May).
Other Notable Plays: Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,800), Deandre Ayton ($6,800)
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.