Daily fantasy sports is still popular among sports fans, even with many states now offering legal sports betting.
While the NFL and daily fantasy football still attract the most players, NBA DFS is right there in terms of popularity.
NBA daily fantasy basketball begins in October and wraps up in June at the end of the NBA Finals.
Best daily fantasy basketball sites 2020
How does NBA DFS work?
Daily fantasy for the NBA works about the same as it does for the NFL.
You create a team by fielding a full roster of positions. Most leagues will require you to start at least one player at each of the following spots:
- Point guard
- Shooting guard
- Small forward
- Power forward
To fill each position, you must select the available players from the given pool. They will be organized by position and assigned a salary based on their skill level and matchup.
You must fill out a legal roster that fills all of the player requirements and still stays within the given salary cap. Every team submitted in each contest will have to follow the same set of rules.
Depending on the site and the specific game you choose, the roster regulations may vary.
Most only offer daily contests with a salary cap. DraftKings and FanDuel provided capless NFL and MLB contests earlier this year. It seems like this format would transition well to the hardwood, too.
You can then compete against others with their chosen rosters. Once all of the games are complete, the team with the most points in that contest will win the grand prize. Most contests pay out more than just the top spot, although it varies.
Games are grouped by their entry fee, how many teams can join, and how much money gets paid out.
Sites like DraftKings and FanDuel also create categories for their contest types.
You can scan different games within the following categories:
The division usually helps create competitive leagues where you are playing against those with a similar skill level.
Which states can I play NBA DFS?
The legality of daily fantasy sports (DFS) in the US remains in a transitional phase. Currently, DFS games are widely available in 43 states.
DFS isn’t considered sports gambling in the same way as betting at a sportsbook. In most states without enabling legislation, regulators allow DFS sites to operate undisturbed.DFS is mostly ignored.
DFS operators, including DraftKings and FanDuel, are active in more than 80% of the US. At the moment, daily fantasy sports are only considered illegal in these states:
The majority of DFS sites also don’t run in Alabama, Idaho, Hawaii and Nevada. These states’ attorneys general provided negative opinions on the DFS.
Who offers daily fantasy basketball?
All serious DFS operators provide basketball contests.
As is the case for most sports, the two biggest providers are DraftKings and FanDuel. They feature the most users, the biggest variety of contests and the most money up for grabs.
|Biggest NBA contests (not held nightly)
|$2.5M World Fantasy Basketball Championship
|$4M World Fantasy Basketball Championship
Each site takes its own legal approach to differing state laws.
There are some European- or rest-of-world-facing sites that focus on soccer and other sports. But if a site is serving the US market, it is offering DFS involving the NBA.
Which DFS NBA contests can I play?
Daily fantasy sports operators provide their full lineup of game types during basketball season.
All contests require paying an entry fee to compete for a set amount of prize money. (Some contests are also free to enter and may or may not feature a prize.) The site takes a percentage of each entry as a “rake” to generate revenue.
The contests fall into a handful of categories:
- Guaranteed Prize Pools: This is the most popular style of NBA DFS. Also known as GPPs, they offer a fixed prize pool and a maximum number of lineup entries. These games will play even if they don’t fill up completely.
- Cash Games: Players can join an existing cash contest or have the option to make their own. Depending on the size and entry fee, these contests may not run if they aren’t full.
- Head-to-Heads: This contest only consists of two players with the winner earning the entire prize.
- 50/50: Those who finish in the top half of the field will double their entry fee while the bottom half loses their entry fee.
Daily fantasy players will find all of these contest types on the most significant sites available.
DraftKings and FanDuel both offer multiple game styles within these categories.
Some of the most popular game styles on DraftKings include:
- Classic: This is the most common contest on the site. Users fill out an eight-man roster while staying within the $50,000 salary cap.
- Tiers: The tiers contests allow users to pick teams more quickly by not including a salary cap. Participants must select one player from each level.
- Showdown Captain Mode: This contest only includes players from one single game. Users will assign one player to be their captain, and that player will receive 1.5x the standard fantasy point value for each statistic.
FanDuel has similar game styles available as well, which include:
- Full Roster: FanDuel’s classic contest type consists of a nine-player roster that must stay under the given salary cap.
- Single Game: This style involves only five players, but users must assign titles to three of them. These include an “MVP,” “Star” and “Pro,” who earn more fantasy point value than the other utility players.
- 3-Man Challenge: This challenge allows users to select any three players regardless of their position. This style also includes the MVP and Star spots.
Details of contests at DK and FD
Here is a more in-depth breakdown of contests at DraftKings and FanDuel.
- DraftKings: Eight
- FanDuel: Nine
- DraftKings: Points, three-point shots, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers, double-doubles and triple-doubles.
- FanDuel: Three-point shots, assists, blocks, field goals made, free-throws made, rebounds, steals and turnovers.
- DraftKings: Yes
- FanDuel: Yes
Late swap available for contests:
- DraftKings: Some
- FanDuel: Some
What are the biggest NBA DFS contests?
Since DraftKings and FanDuel are the biggest operators in the daily fantasy sports industry, they’re able to provide the most variety and largest contests.
Both sites have offered NBA DFS tournaments with a $1 million prize pool.
Although these sizable events are not available every day, DraftKings and FanDuel do feature contests that range well over six figures.
How does NBA DFS scoring work?
Here’s how the scoring works for DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel.
- Points: +1 point
- Three-point shots: +0.5 points
- Rebounds: +1.25 points
- Assists: +1.5 points
- Steals: +2 points
- Blocks: +2 points
- Turnovers: -0.5 points
- Double-doubles: +1.5 points
- Triple-doubles: +3 points
- Three-point shots: +1 point
- Assists: +1.5 points
- Blocks: +3 points
- Field goal made: +2 points
- Free-throw made: +1 point
- Rebounds: +1.2 points
- Steals: +3 points
- Turnovers: -1 point
NBA DFS late swaps
Late swaps were implemented into daily fantasy sports to allow you to change your lineups at the last minute. Instead of your roster locking in at the start of the day, you can make changes right up to the start of the game.
Even though this is relevant in NFL DFS, it’s even more important for the NBA. Besides injuries, a lot of NBA players end up being game-time decisions for other reasons.
With an 82-game schedule, a lot of NBA coaches choose to rest certain players on days when they have back-to-back games. The term “load management” has been a popular one in the league the last few seasons.
Although DraftKings chose to eliminate this tool in the past, late swaps are now available on both DraftKings and FanDuel this year.
You must pay attention to the precise rules for each contest, as not every game allows you to utilize the late swap.
The NBA recently imposed a 30-minute rule for teams to announce their starting lineups before a game. By releasing lineups 30 minutes ahead of the tipoff, DFS users won’t have to rely on late swaps as much.
DFS vs. season-long fantasy
The most significant difference between DFS and standard season-long fantasy is that you can draft a new team every time you play.
Instead of being locked in with a core group of players that you initially drafted, as in regular fantasy, DFS allows you to pick an entirely new team every night.
Another big difference is the number of people you are playing.
Most season-long fantasy leagues are played versus 10-14 people or so. With daily fantasy, you can enter contests played against thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of competitors.
But, as mentioned, there are also ways to play just one friend in a head-to-head matchup, too.
The amount of money you can earn is a sizable difference as well.
Season-long NBA fantasy leagues are typically more of a social game with a little prize money for the champion. With DFS, you can win significantly more from one contest.