Midweek NBA DFS action at long last brings a game with a total over 230 on the board in Vegas. The Hornets are facing the Bucks in Milwaukee for that high-flying contest that lands at a 230.5 total. The next-highest total on the board is 12.5 points lower than that mark, making this wild shootout an extreme outlier for point-scoring potential on this slate. The hometown Bucks are favored by 8.5, but there is enough talent on both sides to keep the game competitive into the fourth quarter. The rest of the board looks less productive for extreme scoring, but every point spread is tighter, so there could be many competitive situations. There are numerous plays from those games at every pricing tier that warrant consideration, particularly when considering that everyone in the NBA DFS industry will be talking up the game with the heavy total. Getting different with lineup considerations while building from a base of power with highly optimal players is the approach for large-field GPPs.
This space will always focus on the factors mentioned above, but at times we will call out plays that are over-owned, taking the opportunity to discuss the potential pivots. With nine games on the slate, the focus is the top overall plays on the boom/bust board. As always, the goal is to find players who are under-appreciated for the frequency with which they land in the optimal lineup in DraftKings and FanDuel NBA DFS projections and simulations.
NBA DFS Optimizer Leverage Leaders Today
These picks are made utilizing the Boom/Bust Tool, specifically analyzing the optimal lineup rate, leverage score and boom probability. The optimal lineup rate represents the frequency at which a player appears in the optimal lineup in Awesemo’s simulated DraftKings NBA and FanDuel NBA slates. The leverage score is the difference between the optimal lineup rate and projected ownership, while the boom probability indicates a player’s likelihood of hitting a ceiling score. It is important to remember that not all of these NBA DFS picks are highlights, at times we will discuss plays that are outright bad or come at such aggressively negative leverage that they are rendered bad in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
Nikola Jokic: DraftKings — $11,800 — C | FanDuel — $11,000 — C
The Nuggets are having issues staying healthy this season, but they got superstar center Nikola Jokic back in the mix for a 33-minute night in his return from a wrist injury, and he looks like a prime contender on tonight’s NBA DFS slate across both sites. The Nuggets will be quite short-handed this evening, with Michael Porter Jr. out indefinitely following surgery, Jamal Murray continually sidelined with his injury, as well as guards Bones Hyland and Austin Rivers hitting the shelf for health and safety protocols. Forward JaMychal Green missed the team’s last game, but he is currently projected for a 16-minute night this evening despite a questionable tag. With the Nuggets rotation down to just a handful of available bodies, there will be significant minutes and plenty to do with them for a player like Jokic, who can fill every stat category. The dearth of ball-handling guards will likely lead to an uptick in potential assists for Jokic, who already has a stellar 33.7% assist percentage. Jokic comes in with a 20.7% rebounding rate and a 67.1% true shooting percentage. He is the league’s top per-minute contributor, with a 1.71 rate on 30.2% usage this season. Even with a top-shelf salary, Jokic is a strong play for raw NBA DFS scoring.
On the DraftKings slate Jokic is the fourth-most frequently optimal player at any position, despite a massive $11,800 salary. He has a 15% optimal lineup appearance rate that falls behind three players who collectively cost $13,700 – those players are Chris Duarte, Wendell Carter Jr., and Cam Reddish, none of whom possess the individual upside that Jokic provides. Jokic slots in at a sizable 55.9-point median projection on the DraftKings slate, and he has a 24.2% boom score probability that also ranks fourth overall. Sorting the board by salary, only Giannis Antetokounmpo is priced above Jokic. Giannis is playing in the most heavily totaled game of the night and he looks like a solid option for the price as well, but Jokic is outpacing his 17.1% boom score probability by a wide margin. He comes at slightly negative leverage, with a -3.9 on 18.9% public ownership, but it is critical to note that no player within $4,000 of Jokic’s salary has a boom score probability above 20% tonight; he is the apex predator of pay-up options on this slate.
On the FanDuel slate Jokic is an $11,000 option that slips slightly in its overall potential while still looking like a playable piece. His 14.5% optimal lineup appearance rate lands 15th overall on the blue site, and he will be owned by a wider swath of the public. Jokic is projected for more than 20% popularity, leaving him with a -6.2 leverage score. He does have an excellent 53.4-point median projection that falls 0.2 FanDuel points short of Antetokounmpo’s for $200 less in salary. Jokic’s boom score checks in at 29.6% to Giannis’ 26.6%. Both stars are in good matchups to shine brightly on this slate, Antetokounmpo suffers from more popularity, his ownership projects over 30% and he has a -15.5 leverage score on the site, making Jokic the clear winner between the two. With Luka Doncic landing more frequently optimal than either and coming in at a positive leverage projection for a lower salary, it is debatable which star is the best option on the FanDuel slate tonight. Getting to fair shares of all three in mixed rotation, along with even cheaper Paul George, who is a veritable lock on the FanDuel slate tonight, is a sound strategy. The pricing of some key pieces on this site allows significant flexibility and creativity in lineup building with these stars for GPP play tonight.
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Kevin Porter Jr.: DraftKings — $7,400 — PG | FanDuel — $6,800 — SF/PG
With a higher salary on DraftKings the headline may lead one to expect that Porter is another case of a better play for FanDuel, but he actually looks far stronger on the site that holds him in higher esteem at this point in the afternoon. Porter is a solid play across the industry, but the pricing is keeping the public at bay on the DraftKings slate, while he falls into negative leverage land on FanDuel. Porter is averaging 31.9 minutes a night and is in line for 34.6 in Awesemo’s projections this evening. He has a 28.9% assist rate and a 6.9% rebounding percentage this season and has produced 0.91 fantasy points per minute on 24.4% usage, in spite of a pathetic 46.1% true shooting percentage. Porter is an interesting piece from site to site this evening.
On the FanDuel slate Porter is playable at both small forward and point guard, giving him truly unique positional flexibility. This and a fair $6,800 price are keeping him highly relevant when he receives this type of minutes projection. Porter is currently landing in the optimal lineup in 17.2% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. That rate drops him in seventh overall on the site, but he is coming in at a 22.9% ownership projection that deflates his value to a -5.7 leverage score. With the need to find values and leverage in some of these plays, Porter becomes a slightly challenging proposition at those ownership marks. He should absolutely be rostered, but there are numerous players in his price tier at both positions who project similarly and are carrying less raw popularity. Porter’s boom score probability of 21.2% is a highly playable number, but again there are pivot points available at the salary on the site.
On DraftKings Porter provides some breathing room at his higher price. He comes in with a 3.3 leverage score against just 7.7% popularity. That mark falls well short of the 11% rate at which Porter lands in the optimal lineup in simulated slates. That ranks Porter 15th overall on the slate, but his 36.1-point median projection and 17.9% boom score probability still stand out at the point guard position and only three options at the spot are ahead of Porter by optimal rate. With positive leverage on the slate, Porter can be rostered well ahead of the field, it is easy to double-up his single-digit ownership mark without damaging a portfolio of lineups with over-exposure in the event that his bubble bursts.
Adam Scherer also loves Porter Jr. as an option tonight on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Check out who else he has as great plays in his NBA DFS Deep Dive.
Paul George: DraftKings — $10,200 — SF/PF | FanDuel — $8,600 — SG/SF
Update: Within moments of this column publishing, it was announced that George is sitting out for rest this evening, to the great dismay of FanDuel gamers everywhere.
With apologies to the denizens of DraftKings, the downright delirious pricing at which Clippers star Paul George is priced on the FanDuel slate warrants discussion this afternoon. George has produced fantasy points at a 1.26 per-minute rate on the blue site while seeing 34% usage in leading his team this season. Both of those marks are up significantly from last season, and George is contributing a 26.5% assist share with a 9.7% rebounding percentage. He has a 54% true shooting percentage for the season and he is projected for exactly his 35.5-minute average in a wide-open contest against the Kings. For all of these extremely appealing attributes, the randomly selected man on the street who assigns FanDuel’s salaries each day decided the Clippers’ wing belonged at an $8,600 price tonight. Presumably while laughing hysterically, DraftKings assigned a far more appropriate $10,200 price against their lower salary cap. George is fine as a pay-up option on the DraftKings slate. He has a 47.7-point median fantasy point projection on the site, ranking him fourth overall behind only the more expensive superstars. George has an 18.6% boom score probability and he lands in the optimal lineup in 11.3% of Awesemo’s simulated slates for the site, though he does fall to a -2.3 leverage mark with more than 13.5% of the field on the play. George is more of a steady option for raw points than he is a probability or point-per-dollar play, the price is simply correct, as is the ownership. He has positional flexibility at both forward spots on the site, he can be rostered frequently as one of the players to build toward, but he is not a first-click building block option in the typical construction. Paul George is a fundamental piece for lineup construction on the FanDuel slate. His price is simply incorrect at $8,600. Looking to Fantasy Cruncher, George is featured in either the shooting guard or small forward position in 544 of the first 547 lineups (99.5%) off the top of the deck with no forced changes or randomness, including the pure projected optimal lineup. More than 400 of those lineups feature either Jokic or Antetokounmpo in addition to George, there is extreme value in getting to a star player who is mispriced by about $2,000 on the slate. George will be popular, he is projected for 34.8% ownership, the highest mark on the slate. His optimal lineup appearance rate falls below that mark at 26.8%, but that is enough to lead the FanDuel slate by 1.8 percentage points. George has a 44.9-point median projection and a 34.5% boom score probability. His salary allows massive point-scoring upside in multi-star lineup configurations.
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