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NBA DFS: Deandre Ayton and best/worst DraftKings daily fantasy basketball plays for Saturday, July 17th

Duds and studs. Good and bad plays. We take a look at the past and upcoming NBA games to let you know what’s going on and how to tackle your DraftKings plays.

2021 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Welcome to your daily NBA DFS digest at Fake Teams, gents. Every day I’m here with a handful of pro-tips to roster a winning team just a few hours from now. And on top of that, I’ll bring you some statistical trends from the past week of games!

Gotta Win The Day: Best/Worst DraftKings plays for tonight’s slate

  • Love: Deandre Ayton (C). After a forgettable G3, Ayton came back to his senses in G4. Sure, the points weren't quite there with Ayton finishing at just 6 pops on the day, but he paired that with a monster 17-5-0-3 rest-of-line committing just a couple of personal fouls. That’s the Ayton Phoenix needs for the remainder of the Finals—a 39 MPG player putting on large efforts and on-the-court runs. As the scoring normalizes (measly 33% from the floor in G4 with no freebies attempted and only 9 FGA), Ayton should be back to his dub-dub ways. Obviously, Book hitting 40 points and Chris Paul dishing and diming are going to be key for the Suns to regain some momentum, but Ayton is looking more and more like the key for Phoenix to end winning it all.
  • Hate: Chris Paul (PG). Jrue Holiday has been putting the clamps on CP3 for good. That has Paul following the next fantasy-point run of tallies starting in G1: 51 to 37 to 29 to finally 18 in G4. That’s absolutely incredible considering Paul’s exploits throughout the whole postseason, even when he went through banged-up periods of play. Paul’s FP numbers have gone down at least 25% in each of the past three games, so if the math holds up that means we could see a 10-to-14 FP Chris come G5. That will most probably not take place literally, but you know where I come from and what I mean. Paul is definitely the second—or just the—best player in these Suns, but the Finals are definitely not being his Magnus opus.
  • Love: Jrue Holiday (PG/SG). Jrue is great and he’s getting greater by the day, folks. While Holiday plainly sucked in the first game of the Finals (29 FP back then) he righted his wrongs in the next three outings in helping Phoenix level an 0-2 series that looked very bad entering G3. Jrue hit 44, 42, and lastly 37 DKFP in that 2-1 positive run toward the pivotal G5, and he’s done that even though his shooting hasn’t been great at all. Jrue is hitting just a notch below 35% of the FGA he’s attempting per game, but good for him he’s excelling at everything else. The nightly line reads 17-5-7-2-1, and Jrue caught serious fire in G3 with a stupid 21 pops and 15 of them dropping via five three-pointers. He fell just a dime short of dub-dubbing, and his D is key as he nullifies CP3. Tasty play, perhaps the best in the series as a whole among those not named Giannis.
  • Hate: Khris Middleton (SF). Don’t get it for what it is not: a steady improvement. Khris exploded for a ridiculous 57 DKFP to the tune of a 40-pop performance to go with 6 boards, 4 dimes, and 2 steals. That was great, sure, but it was also a 33 (!) FGA game for Midd in a night he also attempted 8 FGA in his 43 minutes of playing time. In the prior three games, with more average/reasonable playing times and usage rates, Midd went on to score 38, 34, and 36 FP... That, folks, I can’t love. Even less given Khris’ usual salaries, which are far from low. With the likes of Ayton and Jrue priced much cheaper than Middleton on a game-to-game basis, and given what we’ve seen all series long and where we’re headed toward, this is a hard but reasonable decision: fade Midd.

What’s cooking? Statistical trends from the Regular Season

  • Nikola Jokic is about to become the reigning MVP... in the NBA, but not in the fantasy world! Russell Westbrook, who has been on a tear for the last month-and-change, is the one on that front, folks. Westbrook closed the season averaging 58.2 FP per game, good enough to edge Nikola Jokic by a measly 0.6 FPPG!
  • On a pure counting basis, though, Jokic gets the edge as he played seven more games than Russ. The final tally is Jokic 3,914 FP, Russ 3,548 FP. No other player crossed the 3,400-FP mark on the year.
  • The most efficient player of the season was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who posted 1.72 FP/min in 57 games averaging 33.5 MPG. Both biggies Jokic and Joel Embiid rounded up the top-3 with similar scores of 1.62 FP/min.
  • It is reasonable to expect centers to top the Points Per Shot leaderboard as they operate in the paint most of the time. The top-3 players were Rudy Gobert (1.84 Pts/Shot), Jarrett Allen (1.78), and Dwight Howard (1.76). But there is a clear outlier among the top scorers: Kevin Durant with 1.70 Points Per Shot. That’s absolutely bonkers for a non-center player. If we don’t count Zion as a wing (he’s a biggie to me given his shooting profile), then Durant is the only qualified non-center in the top-20, with Jimmy Butler at no. 21 but already down at 1.51 Pts/Shot.
  • As stupid as it sounds even if nobody wants to acknowledge the feat anymore: Russ has just wrapped up his fourth season averaging a triple-double. What the hell, dude? Russ closed it on a 22-11-11 average line. Bonkers.
  • Silly cheap values (min. 30 games played): Kenyon Martin Jr., Ty Jerome, JaVale, Stewart, Brunson, Melton, Hart, Rudy Gay, Portis, Nunn, Robert Williams, Reiz, Cody Zeller, Whiteside, Diallo
  • A little more expensive but still with massive ROI: Olynyk, Garland, Thad Young, Plumlee, McConnell, Dray, Harrison Barnes, Derrick White, Lonzo, Holmes, Rose, Anunoby, Nurkic, Ant Edwards, Haliburton, Bobby Portis, Kemba
  • Some very expensive players not doing enough: Anthony Davis, Simmons, Booker, Ingram, Porzingis, Drummond, John Collins, Nance, Aaron Gordon, Kuzma, Harrell
  • Cheap points: McDermott, Monk, Quickley, Lonnie, Bacon, Reid, Poole, Bullock, Mills, Jerome, Grayson Allen, NAW, Monte Morris, Lamb, Forbes, Gary Harris
  • Cheap threes: Danny Green, Ellington, Bullock, Mills, Forbes, Monk, Jerome, Grayson, Shamet, Cam Johnson
  • Cheap boards: Willy Hernangomez, Stewart, Noel, Mo Bamba, Whiteside, Tony Bradley, Birch, Vanderbilt, Favors, Taj Gibson, Biyombo, Kleber, Bruce Brown, Kenyon, Baynes, McGee
  • Cheap dimes: Satoransky, Rondo, McLaughlin, Ish Smith, Tyus, Jerome, Saben Lee, Campazzo, Cam Payne, Cory Joseph, DJ Augustin, Monte Morris
  • Cheap steals: Thybulle, Danny Green, Campazzo, Neto, Caruso, Melton, Okeke, Noel, McLaughlin, Bazemore, Vanderbilt, Nwaba, NAW, Okoro, Cory Joseph, Iggy
  • Cheap blocks: Noel, Gafford, Mo Bamba, Bitadze, Stewart, Whiteside, Biyombo, McGee, Gasol, Thybulle, Taj Gibson, Reiz, Favors, Len, Pokusevski, Derrick Jones, Eubanks
  • Cheap FG% (min. 8 FGA): McDermott, Reid, Monte Morris, Bullock, Jerome, NAW, Cam Johnson, Jaylen Nowell

If you have any comment or question about the daily column, tonight’s games, players involved in them, or even season-long fantasy NBA topics, just drop it below or reach out to me on Twitter at @chapulana and I’ll get back to you as soon as I grab a keyboard!