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NBA DFS: Deandre Ayton and best/worst DraftKings daily fantasy basketball plays for Thursday, July 8th

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 - Milwaukee Bucks v Pheonix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via 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). Giannis playing? Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis providing coverage? PJ Tucker around the place? Sure, all of that happened and was part of G1, but it didn’t affect Ayton’s ridiculous performance—for the nth time this postseason. Ayton fell one rebound short of putting up the first 20-20 dub-dub after Shaq did so at least a thousand years ago. Ayton’s 22-19 double-double with a steal to spare in his 39 minutes of playing time was absolutely fantastic and proved Ayton as a mighty, unstoppable force. Ayton is never going to command top-dollar salaries with the likes of Giannis, Khris, Jrue, Booker, and Paul in the same slate. To that I say: take advantage of the stupid algorithm and get over-the-top value from Deandre because this man won’t be stopped any time soon.
  • Hate: Jrue Holiday (PG). Not the safest play out there after a rather middling outing in G1. Jrue went from scoring 52 and 63 DKFP to send the Hawks packing to putting up a mediocre 28 FP on Tuesday, and he never got it going. No treys, two freebies, and just 10 points scored ain’t going to cut it for us fantasy GMs. The rebounds and the dimes were as high as they’ll ever get with 7 and 9 respectively, but the 28% shooting performance on a healthy 14 FGA was just ridiculous. Obviously, Jrue should bounce back at some point, but in a squad that already had Giannis and Midd out there, odds are there won’t be huge changes in how this thing develops. At least for G2 and until adjustments are applied, I’d fade Jrue for good.
  • Love: Khris Middleton (SG/SF). While priced cheaper than three other players today, Khris projects to the second-highest DKFP mark only behind Giannis. That’s more than tasty for a value play, folks. Khris had a meh Finals debut, but he still put up a sound 29-7-4 line with 5 treys on the day shooting a great 46% from the floor. Middleton, though, could only reach 38 DKFP on the day mostly affected by a stupid 5 TOs and no free-throw attempts at all. Giannis will start shooting more as the series go on (only 11 FGA in G1) while Khris will probably hand some of his shots and lower his usage rate after attempting 26 FGA last Tuesday. Even then, though, Middleton has grown more important by the day for the Bucks, he was way above Jrue’s level of play against the Suns, and already down 0-1 Midd will need to keep putting up numbers and leveling up if Milly wants to have a chance.
  • Hate: Cameron Payne (PG). For what is worth, Payne wasn’t that bad. I mean, sure, the 12 DKFP were low as hell, but he played 17 minutes and attempted 8 shots so it’s not that he could have done much more. That being said, the role and usage (still a high 26%) tell you all you need to know about Cam going forward. If Paul and Book are available—which, please God let that be the case—there is just no place for Cam other than stints in the second unit sharing the floor with not-so-good players—one of them, Dario Saric, is now out for the remainder of the season and next one. If you’re looking for fliers, go Portis/Crowder/Kaminsky’s way over Cam Payne.

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!