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Explaining Positional Play in NBA DFS

Attempting to compare each era of the NBA to each other could be considered a fool’s errand. That doesn’t stop us from trying but the type of basketball played in the 1950’s and 60’s is very different from the game we are seeing now. Even if you go back to the turn of the 21st century there are going to be some stark differences. 

Winning at NBA DFS
FILE: Dennis Rodman of the Los Angeles Lakers during a National Basketball Association game at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire)

One thing that stands out to me is the lack of true positions in a lot of cases. When going over my DFS Picks for each day one of the topics of discussion is going to be how we are in the era of “position less basketball”. But what does that mean? And more importantly how does that apply to our GPP and 50-50 lineups?

For as much as the NBA as a money-making organization cares about Daily Fantasy Sports, I mean if you are sweating out a GPP lineup you are going to care a all more about each game on a nightly basis, coaches and teams could care less. All they want to do is win. That means putting the best five players on the court at all times regardless of what position they may or may not play. A large portion of this is that today’s players are simply more athletic and versatile than in years past. Can you really put LeBron James in a box and try to figure out what position he plays?

But does it even matter? My DFS advice is about scoring the most points on any given slate. I don’t need to have the most points at each position. NBA teams look to put the best five players on the court and in that sense they are unique. In each of the other four team sports there are specific positions you need to fill out a lineup. An NFL team can’t take a wide receiver and put them at offensive line, or quarterback for that matter (unless you are Denver). It simply doesn’t work. 

Basketball is very different though. On a minute-by-minute basis you are looking to maximize the personnel available to you at that moment while also matching up with or exploiting your opponent. Most importantly players are simply too good to be put it in a box. There are traditional point guards and traditional centers out there based on their skill set and body types but that is the minority of cases. Players of today are simply too dynamic to be looked at as just playing one position. 

If we didn’t do that though we would have a free for fall when completing our DFS lineups on a nightly basis. The most important thing to remember is that Draft Kings and Fan Duel are two different entities. They may hold the majority of the market share within the industry but we have to treat them differently when it comes to DFS advice. Well at least for the game theory portion of things. 

The player pool is the same regardless of what site you are playing on, whether you are setting a GPP or 50-50 lineup, or even whether you taking part in Daily Fantasy Sports or a seasonal NBA league. That analysis doesn’t change. 

Before you even think about setting a lineup you need to go through the match-ups on each games slate and determine the players you like and want to target. This done needs to be done on a site-by-site basis if you are playing across multiple platforms. It goes without saying that you need players at each individual price point in order to complete a successful lineup but the same doesn’t have to said about positions. 

While you don’t want to take a zero or negative return on investment at any lineup spot, you can get by without a center. Your virtual DFS squad won’t get demolished in the post without a big man guarding the paint even if that is something that might keep NBA coaches up at night. 

You need to take what the slate gives you. Go where the talent and the value is. Follow the matchups, the stars, and the injury replacements. Do this without a care in the world about positions. The real goal I have when giving DFS advice is to target players I am comfortable with. Ultimately we need to find a few options at each position within varying price points and you want to compromise as little as possible. That means ignoring positions until you absolutely can’t. Know that the two sites treat eligibility very differently as Draft Kings is a lot more liberal, and use that to your advantage. Pick the players and let the positions work themselves out. It’s only the total points that we care about.