This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
We return to the Showdown format for Sunday's slate on DraftKings. Game 2 between the Lakers and the Nuggets will go a long way to determining whether the Lakers can sustain their excellent play from the opener. Rather than dive into strategies for tackling single-game contests, my article linked here will present avenues for beating these showdown games most effectively.
DEN vs. LAL (-7.5) O/U: 213.5
Although he only scored 15 points in Game 1, LeBron James spurred his team to victory through sheer will as he's done so many times in the postseason. His 11 assists represent a great example of how the aging All-Star has adjusted his gameplay to garner the W. Although they are unlikely visitors to the Western Conference final, the Nuggets may be the ideal team to face the presumptive favorites, as Nikola Jokic forces the Lakers to throw out a bigger lineup that puts a lot of pressure on players like Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris and Dwight Howard. Although the tandem of James and Anthony Davis will play the most significant role in LA's success, the staying power of this tall-ball supporting cast could also determine the outcome.
The key to beating Showdown contests depends largely on finding the value (typically 2-3 players) and building from there. Most of the time, these value picks won't be where you find your CPTN selections. Although when Rajon Rondo was appropriately valued, he was part of the optimal lineup against the Rockets in the CPTN position. Your goal is not to find the most productive player for the CPTN spot. Rather, it's about finding the player who can allow for excellence in your UTIL spots. My method of calculating this is better explained in the linked article.
FINDING THE VALUE
What we do here will decide the fate of our entry. As stated earlier, the staying power of the Laker budget picks will make a huge impact in every game of this series. I still believe that is where the bulk of our value will be found.
Dwight Howard, LAL (CPTN $4,200, UTIL $2,800)
Both James and Howard are doing a great job rewinding the clock. Howard looked 10 years younger in Game 1, connecting on alley-oop dunks and impacting the paint in only 17 minutes on the court. He also managed to commit four fouls in the process. Still, he clearly outplayed JaVale McGee and may supplant him in the starting lineup in Game 2. His utility salary will help you reach even higher for the SPTN spot.
Rajon Rondo, LAL (CPTN $10,200, UTIL $6,800)
Rondo made a lot of sense in the CPTN role when he was cheaper, but he's still low enough that we can make this work. We want to field as many elites as we can, and they'll have to be in the UTIL spots because their 1.5x salary points will wreck most lineups. Rondo isn't the ideal CPTN spot for me, but he is useful as a UTIL player if you want one of the top-three in your CPTN slot. He carries a questionable tag, but is expected to play.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL (CPTN $6,600, UTIL $4,400)
KCP is heating up as the playoffs continue, and he put on a good show in Game 1 with 26.3 DKFP. I like filling out my utility spots with combinations of KCP and Danny Green ($4,600), especially if we decide to spend up at the CPTN spot.
Anthony Davis, LAL (CPTN $17,700, UTIL $11,800)
Davis is the best CPTN option, but you'll need to hold on to guys like KCP and Danny Green to get him. Rajon Rondo also found a spot in there, but I was also able to pivot off Rondo to Michael Porter Jr. ($8,000) while making room for the next elite I'll mention below. AD offers the most reliable floor and the best chance for upside, and I'll go this way quite a bit despite the high CPTN salary.
Nikola Jokic, DEN (CPTN $17,100, UTIL $11,400)
If you like Denver in this game, it's reasonable to switch out Davis for Jokic at the top. But even if you favor the Lakers, the opposing player correlation is a smart move. If you select Jokic in a UTIL spot, you still have him if he has a good night. The numbers tell us Davis is more likely to give you a stable floor even if Jokic excels, so that combination makes a lot of sense.
This is just a guide, but it summarizes what we've been recommending above.
UTIL D Green