With five games lined up for Tuesday’s NBA DFS action, the slate is looking like a top-heavy affair with concentrated ownership on a few stars and the prime value plays du jour. As the season winds down we will see more teams playing weaker lineups with significant value plays, while the news will somehow become even more critical as players are rested for the playoffs or for their upcoming summer golf season. The slate includes a pair of scoring targets, with the Bucks – 76ers Eastern Conference showdown drawing a 231.5 with Philadelphia favored by just 1.5 at home. Both teams should be fully healthy, Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is technically only probable to play. With that game offering major scoring potential, significant star power, and a handful of viable mid-range plays, shopping for values and underappreciated upside in other spots will be important. The slate-leading 233.5-point total in the Pistons – Nets game is another prime option for mid-range plays, and a few pieces come with interesting leverage situations. The remaining three games are all at middling totals, with a pair of high-teens games and the 222.5-point total between the Bulls and Wizards. That early game is a potential source of value plays, several key pieces on both sides are questionable to play or already out, which creates opportunities for cheaper options for NBA DFS lineup construction. The short slate that will see the first four games start between 7:00 and 7:30 ET before waiting until 10 ET for the tip of the Jazz – Clippers game that rounds out the evening. That final game has nine players on the injury report, from out to questionable, including Jazz center Rudy Gobert, wing Bojan Bogdanovic, and the two primary Clippers stars whose absence is nothing new. The eventual structure of lineups in this game will have a lot to say about the outcome of NBA DFS tournaments tonight, leaving room for swaps and pivots as the night rolls along will be a key to success in both scoring and lineup differentiation tonight.
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 five games on the slate, this article will focus on the top probability plays that also offer leverage on the NBA DFS 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.
NBA DFS Optimizer Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups
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 optimizer 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.
Saddiq Bey: DK $7,000 — SF | FD $5,500 — SF
At radically different pricing from site to site, Pistons forward Saddiq Bey stands as a high probability play on one side of town, and he makes for a sneakier play with viable upside where he comes at a higher price and lower popularity. Bey has produced a 0.87 fantasy points per minute rate across all situations this season, averaging 33.7 minutes a night in his 75 appearances. The sturdy but unspectacular player has a 52.9% true shooting percentage to go with a 13.5% assist rate and 7.9% rebounding percentage, and he puts up a pedestrian 1.2 stocks per-36. Bey will be paying his usual role in the Pistons’ relatively healthy rotation; he is forecast for a 32.5-minute night and should see his typical 20.6% usage. Overall, the player is not the most inspiring of choices when looking only at the production, but factoring in price, probability, and popularity is a game changer on both sites.
On the FanDuel slate, Bey is simply underpriced. At $5,500 even his median projected 29.98 FanDuel score plays fairly well on a small slate. Bey’s lack of explosiveness is revealed in a boom score probability that sits “only” at 27.65%. While that mark is still strong and plays well in comparison to other positional options on the site, one would expect a larger probability of hitting a salary-adjusted ceiling score for a player as underpriced as Bey appears to be. Bey’s optimal lineup rate ranks him third overall on the site, while his boom score number slips to 10th overall. Interestingly, every player above Bey by boom score probability, with the exception of $3,500 Wenyen Gabriel and $3,600 Tomas Satoransky, is priced more than $2,000 above Bey’s low cost. With that in mind, Bey’s value finds some clarity, he is a strong play from the lower mid-range based on how he stacks up against other options on the slate. Bey is projected for significant popularity, but as things stand in the mid-afternoon, his 32.6% ownership is still leaving a highly targetable 5.2 leverage score, a top-5 leverage score on the slate. Bey should be rostered on the FanDuel slate, he fills a lineup spot with quality, if not extreme upside, but on a five-game slate, his quality should play well at this price.
The benefit to rostering Bey on DraftKings comes not from salary savings, but from an extreme lack of popularity on a short slate. Bey is carrying a single-digit ownership projection because he is priced up to $7,000 on the DraftKings board. That price drops him all the way to 31st overall on the slate, but he is part of a broad plateau of probability, everyone from 10th-ranked Killian Hayes down the board comes at less than a 20% optimal lineup appearance rate, and every player below 19th-ranked Stanley Johnson is less than 15% optimal, while Bey’s rate lands at 11.9%. The Pistons forward can provide quality at a very low ownership mark, the public is projected to roster him merely 8.4% of the time, leaving a 3.5 leverage score on the quality play. Bey has a 31.2-point median projection on the DraftKings slate, leaving him with just a 9.98% boom score probability that once again betrays the fact that he is not a likely candidate for even 50 DraftKings points. Still, on a short slate, differentiation is a critical factor in lineup constructions, Bey has value with his total lack of popularity, it is just important to remember to not get carried away with rostering him. Getting to a few additional shares is a strong approach, Bey should be rostered at or slightly above his optimal lineup rate, which should provide differentiation from the field.
Rui Hachimura: DK $4,600 — PF | FD $4,500 — SF/PF
Anyone who saw Saddiq Bey’s name above and skipped ahead by a section will be sorely disappointed by this lackluster pick. Despite landing in the starting lineup in the absence of surprisingly productive Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma, backup Rui Hachimura has done nothing to win the hearts of NBA DFS players as a semi-popular selection on recent slates. Hachimura has started each of the team’s last five games, playing an average of 26 minutes a night in Kuzma’s absence. Over the three most recent contests, Hachimura has produced a frightful 0.67 fantasy points per minute, a significant drop-off from his 0.84 per-minute average across all situations this season. The forward has a 58.1% true shooting percentage to go with limited peripheral contributions, he has just a 7.8% assist rate and 8.5% rebounding percentage, making him somewhat dependent on seeing a few opportunities to score. Hachimura’s usage rate for the season sits at 20.1%, but it has been reduced to just 18.7% in the five games he has started recently. If he manages to find a few extra opportunities, and actually convert the attempts, Hachimura could find his way into optimal lineup constructions for a cheap price across the NBA DFS industry. While clicking on Hachimura’s name, it is helpful and important to remember that uncomfortable plays win tournaments.
As a $4,600 power forward option, Hachimura sits 14th by optimal lineup appearance rate. The inexpensive forward lands in the top lineup in 18.1% of Awesemo’s simulated slates for the site, but the public is trailing the play by a fair margin. Hachimura is projected for a 25.8-point median score on the site, which is a relatively fair value at his low cost. He has a viable 24.96% boom score probability that ranks 13th overall and stands out as one of the better marks among the lower mid-range values. Hachimura’s boom score probability ranks third among players priced at $5,000 or lower on the DraftKings slate, trailing only $4,000 Gabriel and $3,800 Lakers center Dwight Howard. Hachimura should be rostered at a more frequent pace than that at which the public is including him, his 12.7% ownership projection is too low when looking at either of his probability rates, the public is letting recency bias cloud the issue. Hachimura and his 5.4 leverage score are clear targets for production and differentiation across a wide range of combinations in DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.
As an optimal play 21.4% of the time for a low $4,500 price tag across both forward positions, Hachimura has undeniable value on the FanDuel slate tonight. The Wizards forward lands in the optimal lineup at the 13th-highest rate on the board and he is one of the only players not currently listed as questionable on the injury report to provide positive leverage at that level of probability. Hachimura has a 3.3 leverage score that can be targeted for additional shares in moderation. The forward’s boom score probability compares favorably with most of the top plays on the slate, coming in at a 24.35% likelihood of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score. That rate ranks 17th overall, but it is again one of the leaders in the relevant price tier. With 18.1% of the field getting to him on the blue site, Hachimura is under-owned but not entirely sneaky. It will remain important to create another point of differentiation from the most common construction paths, but Hachimura is at least helpful in departing from the most commonly trod approach to the top of NBA DFS standings on the blue site tonight.
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Bruce Brown Jr.: DK $5,800 — SF | FD $5,800 — SG
A five-game slate dictates that yet another mid-range value play is worthy of exploration in this space. With much of the mid-range coming up as relatively similar values in the probability columns, leverage and raw popularity can become an important factor, combining chalky plays with the more offbeat options that still carry upside and strong playing time projections can be a profitable angle from which to view lineup construction. In this regard, Nets wing Bruce Brown Jr. looks like an interesting option on the slate. Brown is not going to awe anyone with his probability ranks on today’s slate, he is correctly priced across the industry, but he is not drawing significant attention from the field, despite being a firm starter who has a 30.4-minute playing time projection. Brown is a quality contributor who has 0.88 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, and he has been playing at a higher level, posting a 0.98 per-minute mark in 28.7 minutes a night over the team’s three most recent games. Brown comes at a fair price and with quality leverage scores on a slate where differentiation will be paramount, adding him to lineups more frequently than the public is a winning approach to roster construction.
On the DraftKings slate, Brown has an optimal lineup appearance rate that requires one to remember the overall structure of the DraftKings board. At just 9.7% optimal, it seems like Brown would be less than viable, but the large plateau of similarly ranked players tells us that is not the case. With much of the mid-range on this site looking quite similar, it is easy to play the popularity game in pivoting around similar plays. Brown is projected for a 26.8-point median score for $5,800 in the small forward spot, leaving him a 10.8% boom score probability that again falls somewhat short of inspiring, but is approaching twice the rate at which the field is including him in rosters. While this is not a play to lock into 150 lineups, it is a simple proposition to exceed the public’s projected 6.4% ownership mark, Brown should be rostered around twice that rate, he provides clear differentiation and a modicum of underappreciated scoring potential.
The Bruce Brown Jr. play grows in quality on the FanDuel slate. As a $5,800 shooting guard, he lands in the optimal lineup in 14.6% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, 26th overall and 11th among eligible shooting guards. Brown’s salary is lower than most of the options above him by optimal lineup appearance rate at the position. The notable exceptions are Alex Caruso, who fits into either guard position for $4,800, Dorian Finney-Smith who is a small forward or shooting guard for $4,500, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who checks in one spot above Brown for $5,200 at either wing position. Brown is a strong contender for lineup shares, he is the only player in this group who comes at positive leverage, the public is projected for just an 8.8% ownership share, leaving the quality wing at a 5.8 leverage score that should be targeted aggressively in lineup constructions for this site. Brown’s limited 14.66% boom score probability can be offset by that lack of popularity, to a degree. While he is not a player to get overly excited about, Brown can provide underappreciated quality while making a lineup different enough to compete for a unique victory in FanDuel NBA DFS tournaments tonight.
Bonus: The Good Players
On a day where all three of the featured players come from the mid-range as potential differentiation options, it is helpful to remember the premium plays that those options help pay for in other positions. On tonight’s slate, a range of stars and upper mid-range options is available for a variety of lineup combinations. Paramount among them, assuming he plays, is Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. The top per-minute contributor on the slate at 1.73, Antetokounmpo needs only to take the floor to immediately become one of the top spend-up plays of the night. On the FanDuel slate, the superstar is projected for a 55.71-point median, landing him in the optimal lineup in 36.9% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. Antetokounmpo is carrying a 5.2 leverage score at the moment, but his ownership is under-projected based on unconfirmed status. If he is confirmed in, the leverage is likely to disappear, but the star quality remains. The multi-position forward has a 31.61% boom score probability on the FanDuel slate and can be rostered aggressively in all situations. On DraftKings, he checks in at an $11,700 salary at both forward spots, while maintaining a 29.95% boom score probability and landing ninth overall with a 20.9% optimal lineup rate. Antetokounmpo is already at efficient ownership on DraftKings, when he is confirmed as active he will likely slip into negative leverage land, but it barely matters with the quality of the player. Where he is affordable, Antetokounmpo is a go-to option; where he is unaffordable, a fair percentage of lineups should be changed to accommodate him.
The most frequently optimal star on either site is Mavericks superstar guard Luka Doncic, who checks in with a 28.4% optimal rate on DraftKings and a slate-leading 37.8% mark on the FanDuel side of town. On DraftKings, Doncic trails only Washington’s Kristaps Porzingis, who is a strong $8,500 forward or center play on the site at 28.7% optimal and a 38% boom score mark. Doncic falls in just behind Porzingis, and several spots ahead of center Joel Embiid from the upper range of salary. Embiid lands in the optimal lineup in 21% of DraftKings simulations, but he surpasses Doncic in the probability of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score. Embiid leads the DraftKings slate with a 41.26% boom score probability, while Doncic checks in fourth with a 36.71% mark. It is difficult to roster both superstars, but it is well worth the effort to include at least one in most lineups, it is highly probable that one of Doncic or Embiid will be in a winning DraftKings lineup tonight.
On the FanDuel slate, Doncic leads the way by optimal rate, but he comes with a 42.1% popularity projection that has him at a -4.3 leverage score. The raw quality outweighs most ownership concerns at this level, playing Doncic or other similarly negatively leveraged stars is more a matter of booking points for salary, differentiation comes into play in the mid-range and value plays more frequently than at the top tier of salary. Doncic’s leverage score will likely align with Antetokounmpo’s on the site when the Bucks star is confirmed as active. It is Embiid who becomes more interesting on the FanDuel slate. The 76ers center lands eighth overall with a 26% optimal lineup appearance rate and he is projected for just an efficient level of ownership and a -0.3 leverage score. Embiid has a slate-leading 39.59% boom score probability, the public is not rostering him frequently enough despite the similarity between his optimal rate and ownership, the potential for a dominant ceiling score at the singular center cannot be ignored in this situation.
Other stars, including Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, rank out with optimal lineup rates in the low twenties or upper teens, making them playable pieces on the board on FanDuel as well. Each of those options is projected for efficient ownership, they can be rostered at or around their public ownership as they do not stand out quite to the degree that the other stars do. On DraftKings, those three players drop to lower optimal lineup rates and boom score probabilities. Irving is a $10,800 point guard, $1,000 more than he costs against a higher salary cap across town. This results in the Nets point guard dropping to just a 5.5% optimal lineup rate and a 7.49% boom score probability on DraftKings, rendering him borderline unplayable. Durant and Harden both check in with similarly reduced probability metrics, they are playable but less so than the previously featured stars.
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