This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
With only two games available today, showdown contests will dominate DraftKings' contests, so it's worth mentioning some basic strategy concepts about Showdowns, especially since we'll soon see these contests take over the site.
Basic math tells you that it would be the wisest option to predict the player with the highest potential score and slot him into the 1.5X Captain slot. On some nights, that might be the way to go, but when you factor in that all captain picks carry an inflated price of 1.5X their original price, you immediately begin to devalue the five remaining utility slots by paying up for an elite player. Analyzing point-per-dollar value becomes a big part of your showdown builds, and the added wrinkle is that you're comparing one player to himself. Is the 1.5X price justifiable for the 1.5 boost? My most successful Showdown contests involve utilizing the Captain spot with players in exceptional circumstances – players who start due to an injury, or players who are on an impressive run and are consistently beating value. Shaquille Harrison or Christian Wood are good recent examples of this kind of player. While it's tempting to just slot the elite guy in there, it most likely will not win you any GPP's as it is often not contrarian enough to make an impact. By no means does this paragraph summarize all the nuances of the format, but it's productive to at least touch on the subject.
My picks will fit for both Classic and Showdown contests, and since the late is so small, I will only endorse two players per position. First, let's look at the injuries and load-management spots on the docket.
Joel Embiid (knee) QUESTIONABLE: Even if Embiid takes the floor, I expect his minutes to be limited due to the lopsided matchup and a motivation to rest the center for the playoffs. Jonah Bolden ($4,900) remains the best bet under the basket, but the rest of Philly's starters will see a boost in output as well. If Jimmy Butler (back) doesn't take the floor, you'll easily be able to hone in on the best options among the remaining starters.
All other injury situations like the litany of injuries for the Bulls remain constant, although there is a slight chance that we may see Otto Porter Jr (shoulder) tonight. His presence would end up impacting Shaquille Harrison's totals.
D'Angelo Russell, BKN at MIL ($9,100): Many will surmise that Russell's price is too high versus Milwaukee, but I think he will be sufficiently motivated to show the Bucks that Brooklyn belongs in the postseason, not to mention the fact that he's in the conversation for the league's Most Improved Player award. His past three games have yielded video game-like numbers ranging from 47 to 53 DKFP, and he has the added advantage of a few days of rest.
J.J. Redick, PHI at CHI ($6,000): Redick is an excellent play if Butler sits again, but he's easily beaten value in three straight games, including a 42.5 DKFP score against the Bucks in a Butler-less lineup. My only knock on Redick is the possible downtick in assists if Embiid is absent, but the potential high ceiling for this price is still very compelling.
While I'm sure Giannis Antetokounmpo will have a good score tonight, I don't see any scenario where I can justify using him at $11,400. He did happen to destroy value at a similar price with an 83 DKFP game against Philly two days ago, so you can't rule him out entirely, but his floor sits in the mid-50 DKFP range right now, and I'd need more than that at this price.
Tobias Harris, PHI at CHI ($7,200): If Embiid plays I will move off of Harris and opt for the consistent Khris Middleton ($7,100) at this price point, but Harris emerges as the best big target for Philly if he's out. A 30-plus DKFP number would be less reliable with Embiid on the floor, but if I had to make a wager now, I'd bet on Embiid taking a seat and Harris enjoying a more significant role.
JaKarr Sampson, CHI vs. PHI ($5,000) Otto Porter's possible return would throw a wrench into a play for Sampson, but I think his presence increases the likelihood that Porter sits tonight. They already know what they have with Porter, and right now Sampson is a mostly unknown quantity on a 10-day contract. With little to play for, I doubt the Bulls called up the G-League product out of necessity, but rather to see what he could do at a higher level. So far, he's exceeded expectations.
Brook Lopez, MIL vs. BKN ($5,700): Without Embiid, it's slim pickings at the center position, but at least you can lock in a budget-priced player if the Process sits, Lopez should top the bunch, as I'm almost always inclined to play an opposing center versus the Nets. Lopez is reliable for a total in the high 20 DKFP range with a ceiling in the mid-30's, and should be a solid, albeit a potentially high-owned target today.
Robin Lopez, CHI vs. PHI ($5,100): Embiid's absence could open up things a bit for Lopez today, so I would consider him if Embiid ends up sitting today. Lopez's big problem involves his floor, which is definitely more volatile than the other Lopez above, but for $600 less you could end up seeing greener pastures in an Embiid-less game script.