Fantasy Basketball 2021: Daily Fantasy Picks for Friday's NBA Playoffs
Friday's two-game NBA playoff slate comes with one of the most difficult daily fantasy basketball decisions of the postseason.
Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Deandre Ayton are all eligible at center, and only one of them can be selected for a roster in a FanDuel contest.
The immediate focus will probably go to Embiid or Jokic because of their high volume, but a case could be made to add Ayton over to the two, especially given his salary.
No matter which center you choose, you will have to go with at least one value play at the two forward positions.
Tobias Harris carries the highest salary of any forward at $8,800, and it may be hard to trust Michael Porter Jr. at small forward because of the back issue and poor shooting he is dealing with.
Roster Joel Embiid over Nikola Jokic, Deandre Ayton
The choice to go with Embiid at center is not as easy as it may look.
Embiid produced over 60 FanDuel points in his first two games against the Atlanta Hawks, but he has had three games with under 40 points this postseason.
Jokic has been more consistent with five games of 50 or more FanDuel points. He has two other outings with 48.3 and 49.6 points.
Jokic is playing in the higher-leverage game for his team. The Denver Nuggets need to beat the Phoenix Suns at home to avoid going down 3-0 in their best-of-seven series.
However, Embiid posted better totals in Games 1 and 2, and he carries a more favorable matchup against Clint Capela.
To Ayton's credit, he has been fantastic for the Suns in the postseason and could cause some trouble for Jokic that could create a slight difference in points between him and Embiid.
Embiid shot 54.3 percent from the field, averaged 39.5 points and 11.0 rebounds per game and knocked down eight three-pointers in Games 1 and 2.
Jokic shot 47.5 percent from the field, went 3-of-8 from three-point range and averaged 23.0 points per game in the two contests in Phoenix.
Those numbers alone should convince you to take Embiid at $11,000 over Jokic at $10,600 and then build around him with some low-salary forwards.
Look at All Options Under $6,000 at Forward
The salary configuration of Friday's two-game contest allows you to take a handful of players under $6,000 at forward to accommodate for Embiid and at least one of Trae Young, Ben Simmons or Devin Booker.
Tobias Harris is worth a look at $8,800 at power forward since he averaged 21 points per game in Games 1 and 2 versus Atlanta, but it may make more sense to add a high-volume guard given the expected output of Young, Simmons and Booker.
After Harris at power forward is one obvious roster inclusion in Jae Crowder ($5,500) since he attempted the third-most three-point shots in Games 1 and 2 in Phoenix.
Crowder made six of 13 three-pointers and is a more reliable and less expensive DFS option than Mikal Bridges, who had a 23-point Game 1.
Aaron Gordon is an intriguing option at $5,800, but he only produced 6.2 FanDuel points in Game 2. The better play from Denver's roster could be JaMychal Green, who had 20 or more FanDuel points in three of his last five games and has been one of the first players off the Denver bench.
At small forward, you may have to run with Danilo Gallinari and Danny Green to save some salary instead of landing Porter and Bridges.
Bridges seems like the obvious choice to roster behind Porter, but he comes at $6,100 and may not fit into a roster with Embiid and a star guard.
Gallinari put up 21 points in two of his last four playoff games, and Green has been consistently around the 20-FanDuel-point mark because he chips in rebounds and assists along with his small scoring totals.
A Gallinari-Green combination at small forward allows you the opportunity to roster Young and Booker as well as Seth Curry at shooting guard.
That may end up as the best possible roster combination, unless you buy low at center with Ayton and try to make up the points lost from Embiid at guard.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference.
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