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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Buddy Hield | Monday, Dec. 20

Terry McBride



Monday’s slate of NBA DFS action features one of the most heavily totaled games of the season, with the contest between the Hornets and Jazz carrying a massive 237 on the board in Vegas. That game has the Jazz favored by 12.5, the second-largest point spread of the night, so there is some blowout risk involved for closing run on star players. Every other game falls at least 14.5 points behind that mark, though two of the later games are also carrying targetable totals above 220. COVID-19 chaos has impacted each team’s list of available players once again on Monday, creating a strong list of plays from all tiers of salary. Getting to a blend of high-upside stars and low-cost value players is an easy core to build for lineups that can then rotate through the many quality pieces from the mid-range that project similarly.

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 six games and a lot of unpredictability on the board, this article will focus on a range of different plays on the Boom/Bust Tool. 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.

DraftKings & FanDuel NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Picks

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.

Buddy Hield: DraftKings — $5,800 — SG/SF | FanDuel — $5,100 — SG/SF

The shorthanded Kings have three players at the very top of the board by optimal lineup rate on both sites once again tonight. After featuring Tyrese Haliburton over the weekend, today’s focus is on Buddy Hield who stands out from a lower mid-range salary across the industry. Haliburton looks like a terrific option once again, as does Harrison Barnes, and all three players will be heavily owned. The salary on Hield is drawing the most attention, but he is at worst at efficient and playable popularity. Hield has averaged 0.88 fantasy points per minute over the course of the season in all situations. Over the team’s three most recent games he has been at just 0.80. He is a volatile play, but one that should see significant minutes to deliver point-per-dollar value even at the slow pace at which the points are accrued.

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On the DraftKings slate, Hield lands as the most frequently optimal player at any position. He lands in the top spot in 36% of Awesemo’s simulated slates for just $5,800. The public is projected to include him in 33.2% of lineups, but that leaves a 2.8 leverage score that can still be targeted for underappreciated value. Hield is projected for a 34.5-point median performance and he has a 41.1% boom score probability that also leads the entire slate. By comparison, Barnes costs $6,000 at either forward position and lands with a 38.9% boom score, a 28.5% optimal lineup rate, and a 5.6 leverage score, making him another excellent option. Haliburton, meanwhile, lands fifth by boom score probability at 34.4% while the public is rostering him at a 32.3% clip against a 28.5% optimal rate, leaving him at a -3.8 leverage score. All three Kings have upside and should be rostered frequently, but Hield beats out his teammates by a nose in the probability metrics and he comes at positive leverage, making him very appealing for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups.

On the blue site, Hield is in the optimal lineup in 46.5% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, by far the most frequently appearing player on the slate. The second-most frequently optimal player is Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris, who is underpriced at $7,000 but appears in the optimal lineup almost 11 percentage points (35.8%) less frequently than Hield. He slots into both the shooting guard and small forward spot on this site as well, and he only costs $5,100. The public is noting the discounted price, Hield is more popular on FanDuel than he is across town, coming in with a significant 47.7% ownership projection and -1.2 leverage. That efficient ownership is not overly daunting. The bargain price has this play loaded with a value that can be played even at hefty popularity. Hield is projected for a 32.1-point median night and he has a slate-leading 45.8% boom score probability in his 36.4-minute projection. Hield’s boom score probability outpaces second-place superstar Stephen Curry by 9.9 percentage points.

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Damion Lee: DraftKings — $3,800 — SG/SF| FanDuel — $3,900 — SG

With both Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins on the shelf tonight, it is a fair bet that Damion Lee will see additional run once again. In the team’s most recent outing, Lee saw a major bump to 35 minutes, closing out a game in which the Warriors also rested key players including Stephen Curry. With those pieces in place tonight, it would be more realistic to expect Lee around the 28.4 minutes for which Awesemo has him projected this evening, anything beyond that mark is a nice cherry on the solid play sundae. Lee is averaging just 0.69 fantasy points per minute, and he delivered just a 17.1-point FanDuel score in that 35-minute performance and he has been at a .60 per-minute mark over the last three games. Lee has a 53.1% true shooting percentage with a 6.9% assist rate and 7.2% rebounding percentage. the hope is that minutes will carry this paly to success against his salary.

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On FanDuel Lee ranks 17th overall with a 17.5% optimal lineup rate this season. He is more limited on FanDuel because he fits at only the shooting guard position, but that also has a limiting effect on his ownership, which lands at merely 5.8%. That lack of attention lands Lee at an 11.7 leverage score that is highly appealing when weighed against the 24.2% boom score probability and a 22.7-point median projection. Lee is an uncomfortable play given the rates at which he produces fantasy points, but that is the type of NBA DFS pick that can be embraced because it creates an inefficiency in the public’s exposure unless the minutes projection slips toward Lee’s average of just 20.5 minutes per game.

Lee lands fourth on the DraftKings slate with an excellent 23.3% optimal lineup rate. He costs just $3,800 and fits into both shooting guard and small forward on the slate, which gives him significant flexibility for lineup construction. He is carrying a 24-point median projection and a targetable 32.1% boom score probability. The public ownership is projected for just 7.1% which pales in comparison to the rate at which he lands in the optimal lineup. Lee has the top leverage score on the DraftKings slate at 16.2. He is one of the top options from the value tier and the public is entirely overlooking him.

DeMar DeRozan: DraftKings — $9,300 — PF | FanDuel — $8,900 — SG/SF

Several Bulls have gone through the NBA’s health and safety protocols and returned to the lineup, but many of the role players on the team are still on the shelf, which should lead to an opportunity for additional minutes for the primary core of starters. Among this group, DeMar DeRozan stands out as one of the more frequently optimal high-priced players on both sites. He has had a strong year for fantasy point production, coming in at a 1.17 per-minute mark after delivering 1.14 on less usage last season. He has a 59.3% true shooting percentage with a 20% assist share and 7.3% rebounding rate. DeRozan produced at a 1.52 per-minute clip over the team’s most recent three games, posting a 51.8-point outing in 34 minutes last time out.

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On FanDuel DeRozan is the fifth-most frequently optimal player on the board at a 30.5% probability in simulated slates. He stands as a strong option despite reasonably high ownership. The public is projected to get to him 33.1% of the time, which leaves a -2.6 leverage score, but there is raw scoring appeal in his 44.6-point median projection on the blue site. DeRozan is carrying a 28.3% boom score probability that also ranks fifth overall on this site and third at both of his eligible positions. He is the second-best pay-up option on the board behind Curry, who comes in with a 35.9% boom score mark and a 34.7% optimal rate, but Curry will be owned by nearly 50% of the field and has a slate-worst -14.9 leverage score. By comparison, DeRozan’s ownership is far easier to work with when building NBA DFS lineups.

DeRozan is strong on DraftKings as well. DeRozan lands in sixth when sorting by optimal lineup rate, falling into place in the winning lineup in 22.2% of simulated slates. He has a 45.3-point median projection and a 23.2% boom score probability that both have major appeal despite the pricing at $9,300 and the fact that he is positioned at just the power forward spot. DeRozan is projected for just 23.7% ownership, leaving him at a playable -1.5 leverage score on the DraftKings slate. He is a strong piece to move around the board in a variety of lineup constructions.

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View our Yahoo! ownership, our FanDuel ownership and our DraftKings NBA ownership projections. Check out our NBA DraftKings rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA daily projections. We also have FanDuel NBA ownership rankings, DraftKings NBA rankings and Yahoo! NBA rankings for today's slate. Looking for more NBA DFS help tonight and the top NBA DFS picks for today? Our basketball DFS projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks.

Terry used to do other things, now he writes words on the internet. He hopes his more than 20 years’ experience in season-long and daily fantasy sports and his custom models for MLB, NBA, and NFL don't steer you too wrong when he writes columns and makes picks on A lifetime of experience keeping odd hours make Terry ideal to cover KBO baseball overnight until the world returns to normal. Most of those late night hours have been spent on the couch watching sports, T.V., and movies; just try to shut him up about any of the above. You can find his pop-culture ramblings and more on Sideaction.

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