This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Spurred on by a brilliant triple-double from Jimmy Butler Friday, the Heat pushed this series to a sixth game. Unable to close the deal, the Lakers need to lean on the playoff magic that only LeBron James can offer. We can expect some inspired ball from him Sunday, but is he our Captain in Game 6? Let's dive a little deeper.
MIA vs. LAL (-5) O/U: 214.5
Rather than get into Showdown strategy, read my article about single-game contests here to get a better handle on how to approach this unique format.
While the elite talent should follow the usual game script, the difference-maker in Showdown formats boils down to two key decisions. One is deciding on a Captain, and the second is picking the correct value candidates. Duncan Robinson (CPTN $11,400, UTIL $7,600) emerged as the player to own in Game 5 after his 26-point performance, with the lucky few who placed him in the CPTN position handsomely rewarded. He's far too streaky to go the same way in cash games, but merits some exposure in bulk-entry GPPs. Let's take a look at the additional value positions available tonight.
FINDING THE VALUE
Alex Caruso, LAL (CPTN $5,700, UTIL $3,800)
Although Caruso won't light up the board, finding a suitable low-cost candidate is imperative if you are giving CPTN status to an elite candidate. The resurgence of Rajon Rondo damages Caruso's potential, but he's still capable of matching 4x value relative to his UTIL salary.
Danny Green, LAL (CPTN $6,600, UTIL $4,400)
For a bit more cash, Green provides a bit more floor stability then Caruso and his veteran presence will be valuable despite his streaky output. Green is dealing with hip and finger injuries, but he'll still take the floor Sunday. If we hear bad news about his finger prior to gametime, we're forced to consider more expensive options (see below). But Green has the trust of LeBron, and he's the obvious catalyst tonight.
Kendrick Nunn, MIA (CPTN $8,100, UTIL $5,400)
Goran Dragic's injury has provided Nunn with an enhanced role after limited playoff participation. There isn't much explanation as to why Nunn was in the doghouse, but he's again proving his value as one of the league's top rookies. I think it's possible to go contrarian by designating him as your CPTN, and it's one of the only ways you can get a lot of elites involved in your build. Otherwise, Nunn's UTIL cost is tricky because excluding him at the top increases your probability of spending high there.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL (CPTN $8,700, UTIL $5,800)
KCP notched an average of 24.5 DKFP over the last two games, including 26 in Game 5. Aside from Nunn, he's the most likely player to hit or exceed 5x value at the UTIL price point. And despite the adjusted salaries for showdowns, that's a favorable benchmark in our player selection. This upward trend could continue in Game 6, making KCP a sensible utility target.
As we try to cash in what could be our final contest of the season, we have some tough choices to make. LeBron James (CPTN $18,900, UTIL $12,600) merits almost 100 percent exposure as the Finals near their conclusion. While his offensive role has evolved over the years, his ability to will a team to victory in the playoffs is unparalleled. James his also achieved this goal with inferior teams that don't have weapons like Anthony Davis (CPTN $17,700, UTIL $11,800) at his disposal. Davis isn't on the injury report despite a heel injury in Game 5, so you should expect him to be at full speed. The big question regards the inclusion of Jimmy Butler (CPTN $17,100, UTIL $11,400) into our builds. The only way you can have all three is installing them as UTIL players. Even if we take Butler - i.e. the cheapest - and throw him in the CPTN slot, we can't afford a viable lineup with James and Davis also in the mix. Therefore, the choice comes down to a James/Davis stack and excluding Butler or pairing Butler with either James or Davis if we want one of the two as our Captain.
There aren't many appealing combos with James as your Captain, but a build is a little more palatable for Davis and more so for Butler. Let's assume a baseline of 50 DKFP for all three players, making the 0.5x increase at Captain worth 25 points. With a DKFP-per-point value of anywhere between $342 and $378 per point, the additional 0.5 CPTN value comes at a price of roughly $9,000. We now need to estimate our plus-minus deviation off of 50 and see if there's a likely player to boost this 0.5 value higher. The answer? All three players have regularly beaten 50 DKFP, so the value of the 0.5 CPTN increase is probably well north of 9k.
What does all of this mean? Reading my aforementioned linked article further illustrates the value of these numbers. Going with a guy like Nunn, Caruso or KCP in the CPTN spot will probably net you 35-40 DKFP, and you'd be able to field all three elites as a result. Barring a slate-breaker like Robinson, the math tells us putting Davis, James or Butler results in about a +15-20 DKFP differential over allowing all three elites into your lineup. If you are an MME player, you're going to explore many different combinations. But for those firing up far fewer lineups, going with the top three is the safer play and you'll be far better off by aiming for double-ups and similar cash games with these builds. I would only dip into GPPs if you plan on firing at least 20 different combos, and some of them should contradict much of what this article provides. If you plan on going wild, I still think Nunn and KCP are decent flyers and MME players should go with at least one Robinson CPTN build.