This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
FanDuel is rolling out its single-game format with a host of offerings for Game 7. The tip-off for this elimination game is at 3:30 p.m. EDT, so lock in your contests and follow along.
As you'll see, our split between the teams is fairly balanced, but the value spots are squarely in the Celtics' corner. Both squads have their obvious elite selections, but Boston's supporting cast carries a more dependable floor overall and our UTIL selections will almost exclusively come from that roster.
We have no major injuries for Sunday, which severely limits our ability to pivot for value.
There's no need to identify baselines by position because we're simply looking for the best five-player combo that can fit under the $60,000 salary cap, with our highest producers going into the multiplier spots. We also need to keep in mind the tendency to overvalue the 1.2x multiplier as your 2x (MVP) selection will often make or break your lineup. Let's begin by examining the trio at the top of the pool.
MVP Joel Embiid ($17,500)
MVP Jayson Tatum ($17,500)
MVP/STAR James Harden ($15,000)
I hoped Jayson Tatum's slow start in Game 6 would have sent his salary south of 17.5k, but his tour de force in the fourth quarter eliminated the possibility of a lower number. I've identified him as the most dependable elite throughout this series, and I have no reason to doubt him in this spot. There are many reasons to justify Joel Embiid as MVP. The primary reason for his viability is the huge positional drop-off. Al Horford and Robert Williams are far behind the pack when it comes to influence in the paint. And though Embiid's 26/10 line on Thursday wasn't his best, his overall results this series have been spectacular. The combination of factors compels me to lock him in as MVP, with Tatum a close second.
Rest assured, James Harden is going to be exceedingly popular due to his $2,500 discount compared to the aforementioned stars. While I don't consider him a universal add, he should get around 50 percent exposure in your builds. Harden's biggest issue this series is the volatility of his floor. It's not uncommon for him to run cold and produce lines well below value. His 37.7 FDFP from Game 3 is a prime example of the All-Star when the shots aren't falling. There's still tremendous upside for him at this salary. And though I'd hesitate to make Harden the MVP, he's the best STAR candidate if you can afford him.
STAR/PRO Tyrese Maxey ($12,000)
PRO Marcus Smart ($11,500)
I'm fading Jaylen Brown ($13,500) because the upside hasn't been there during this series. We can find similar production at a lower salary, and both of these players qualify as the best fits to round out our multipliers. Selecting Maxey over Harden in the STAR position will offer you more UTIL flexibility. And while I think that's a slightly better play than Smart, there's merit to rounding out the multiplier with either player at the PRO. As you'll find with some tinkering, an Embiid/Harden/Maxey build will essentially lock in your utility spots, but an Embiid/Maxey/Smart build will expand your utility selection to include players with more production potential. This multiplier combo would be hurt by a blowup game from Harden, so those taking the MME route tonight should retain enough exposure for Harden to account for that possibility.
Malcolm Brogdon ($9,500)
Al Horford ($9,000)
Robert Williams ($8,500)
Derrick White ($7,500)
Completing the lineup with Harden and Maxey will limit you to Williams and White, and I hesitate to go any lower than White on this slate. If you elect to move Maxey to the STAR position over Harden, you open the window for Brogdon and Horford, but one has to consider the cost-benefit of going this direction. How much can we potentially lose by fading Harden? The discussion would hinge on the potential of Smart and these four players. I would endorse the utility candidates in the order they're listed. But again, it all depends on who you favor in the STAR and PRO positions.
THE CASE FOR TUCKER
There's one way to get Embiid, Harden, Maxey and Brogdon into your builds. Taking a flyer on P.J. Tucker will get you there, and I think there's merit in going this route. He took a few more chances in Game 6, and the result was his best postseason total. If Tucker can display the same confidence in his shot and can find looks from mid-range, he'll crush value at this salary. He's the final piece of the puzzle if you're a Harden fan who also values Maxey's contribution.