It is opening night of the NBA season, and the excitement in the NBA DFS community is palpable. After a long layoff, it will be exciting to break out Awesemo’s industry-leading tools and get back to business. This daily fantasy basketball article will be a daily feature throughout the season, focusing on the top overall NBA DFS picks from Awesemo’s Boom/Bust Tool and lineup optimizer. As with last year, we will primarily focus on the optimal lineup rates and leverage discussion as relates to several of the key players on the slate. There are considerations given to the popularity of the player in relation to others at his position and how much of a standout value play will be required for victory. Often we will discuss concepts like rostering players well ahead of hefty field ownership that trends into the 50% range and beyond. With just two games on the slate, this article will be somewhat limited in scope today, but as always, the goal is to find under-appreciated players for the frequency with which they land in the optimal lineup in DraftKings and FanDuel DFS NBA projections and simulations.
This article always comes out ahead of lock, and many things will change with these daily fantasy basketball picks. Be sure to follow the @AwesemoNBA Twitter handle for all the latest breaking news (via NewsGod).
NBA DFS Optimizer Picks & Fantasy Lineup Leverage Leaders Tonight
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 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, and bad chalk and shaky investments will be discussed in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
Russell Westbrook — Los Angeles Lakers
DraftKings — $8,600 — PG | FanDuel — $9,500 — PG/SG
The Lakers’ biggest offseason acquisition comes in the form of superstar and walking triple-double Russell Westbrook. There are several notable things about Westbrook in terms of what the two sites are doing this year as well. Primarily, one might notice that FanDuel now features multi-position eligibility, which will be a fun wrinkle this season. The sites also seem to have dramatically undercut pricing on this slate. When he last appeared in an NBA DFS contest at the end of last season, Westbrook’s prices were $12,800 on DraftKings and $12,500 on FanDuel on an eight-game slate. There are a number of differences between that slate and this two-game affair, and Westbrook is in an entirely different situation, but the price difference seems dramatic. Awesemo is projecting him for 35 minutes tonight, a run that should see him easily post numbers that contend for the slate-leading NBA DFS point total. He averaged a triple-double again last year, posting 22.2 real-life points with 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game. He required nearly 30% usage to post those marks, which seems less likely given the needs of the Los Angeles rotation. Still, even with an anticipated haircut, those are spectacular numbers for NBA DFS purposes, and the price has been reduced.
On the DraftKings slate, Westbrook ranks 10th overall with a 37% optimal lineup rate. He has a 44.4% boom score probability and a raw fantasy point projection of 44.6. Westbrook is popular on the slate, but not to the degree of some of his peers, there is positive leverage available across the industry, making him an intriguing play on a short slate. Despite an ownership projection approaching the 40% range, Westbrook seems like a great choice for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups. He comes in with a 5.9 leverage score, the fifth highest on the slate for a player whose 1.54 DraftKings points per minute last season rank second among available players tonight.
On the blue site, Westbrook also lands 10th when sorting by optimal lineup rate. The higher relative salary from site to site has him at a lower boom score probability of just 14.4% with his 42.5 FanDuel point projection. He will be popular on the site, but as with the situation across town. Westbrook comes in with a 6.7 leverage score on the site, his 37.7% optimal lineup rate outpaces his ownership projection. For a player who averaged 1.48 FanDuel points per minute last season, that seems like an ownership bargain. Getting well beyond the field on shares of one of the players most likely to post a massive total is a great approach to short-slate GPP play on both sites.
Paul Millsap — Brooklyn Nets
DraftKings — $3,800 — PF/C | FanDuel — $4,300 — PF/C
The loaded Nets lineup features an interesting mix of veteran big men. Millsap joined Brooklyn this offseason and he will be a part of a frontcourt rotation that also features LaMarcus Aldridge, who has returned from a brief medically inspired retirement, and Blake Griffin, who posted 0.90 fantasy points per minute last season. Millsap averaged 1.01 FanDuel points per minute over the course of last season in 20.8 minutes per game. He provides scoring, rebounding and assist upside and he averaged a solid 1.5 stocks (steals plus blocks) per game in the short run in the 20-21 season. He is an efficient option as well, requiring just 18.4% usage in his frontcourt rotation role last season, with a reasonable expectation for a similar focus this year.
Millsap is a non-star on a slate loaded with options from the bright lights tier of the board. The reason Millsap comes up for quality is his slate-leading leverage score on both DraftKings and FanDuel, while filling both power forward and center roles across the industry. On the DraftKings slate, Millsap comes up with a 14.4 leverage score. He is an optimal play more than 32% of the time but will be owned at less than a 20% clip, making him a standout play. Millsap has a 19.4% boom score probability in our current projections while carrying a 20-point raw DraftKings total after averaging 0.99 points per minute last season in the site’s scoring. If he sees a few more minutes than the 21 for which we have him projected, Millsap’s utility as a value play could skyrocket.
It is a similar story on the FanDuel slate. The new multi-position eligibility gives Millsap added utility for his low cost. He lands in the optimal lineup 33.8% of the time in Awesemo’s simulations, but he will be owned at only a 17.1% rate, creating a 16.7 leverage score that is the highest mark on either site tonight. Millsap is projected for just 20 FanDuel points as well, and he has only a 9.4% boom score probability, but the overall leverage in a value play that comes up so frequently optimal should not be ignored. Millsap is not a standout for production or massive upside, but he is an easy plug-and-play value that not enough of the public is plugging or playing
Stephen Curry — Golden State Warriors
DraftKings — $9,400 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $9,800 — PG
On a night that features abundant stars, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Westbrook, and Anthony Davis, it is Curry who draws the eye in the boom/bust tool for our final spot. He is one of the truly special talents in the NBA, seemingly capable of scoring from the snack stands if he wanted to. Curry comes at a discount to several of the other stars listed here, adding to his appeal on this slate. He is also the lone option who does not have the luxury of deferring to a star teammate on the floor. With apologies to Draymond Green and Otto Porter Jr., Curry simply is the Warriors’ offense, as he goes so go their chances of success. He averaged 34.2 minutes per game last season, posting a 32-point scoring average while shooting 42.1% from beyond the three-point line. Curry saw 33.1% usage in an offense that remains largely unchanged from last year. He simply needs to capitalize by making shots to deliver major upside for NBA DFS gamers.
On the DraftKings slate, Curry ranks fourth overall, with a 45.2% optimal lineup rate. That mark trails the whopping 62.4% projected for Harden and the 53% for Antetokounmpo, but Curry is projected for just 42.3% ownership compared to their 57.9% and 52.8% respectively. He is $100 more expensive than Harden but comes at a discount of $600 from Antetokounmpo. Curry is carrying a raw 50.5-point projection after averaging 1.50 DraftKings points per minute last season. He has a 54.7% boom score probability and a 2.9 leverage score that puts him well in play on the site.
Curry is potentially more appealing for FanDuel players. He comes in with a 5.5 leverage score that is second to only Westbrook’s mark among players who could reasonably be considered stars. Curry has a far higher optimal lineup rate than Westbrook. He comes in at a 52.7% mark that ranks fourth overall on the site, but he will be owned at just a 47% clip. He also ranks fourth by boom score probability, coming in with a 24.2% mark in the category. Curry averaged 1.40 FanDuel points per minute last season. He is projected for a 35.5-minute run that he could easily exceed if the game stays within reach, making him an excellent play on the blue site tonight.
Thanks for reading to the end of this article! If you appreciate this free content and want to see more of it every day, you can help us out by sharing this article on social media!Check out our NBA fantasy rankings today for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own daily fantasy basketball projections. Looking for more DraftKings NBA DFS picks and the best NBA DFS picks? Our NBA projections DFS are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. We also have DraftKings NBA ownership rankings, Yahoo! rankings and FanDuel rankings for today's slate. View our Yahoo! NBA ownership, our FanDuel NBA ownership projections and our DraftKings NBA ownership projections.
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