NBA DFS Leverage Picks & Optimizer Plays: The Lauri Markkanen All-NBA Trek Continues

On the calendar for Friday is a nine-game slate, and with Stokastic’s NBA DFS ownership projections, NBA DFS players can examine leverage data from Stokastic’s Boom/Bust Tool to find the best high- and low-owned players to help build lineups capable of shooting to the top of the GPP leaderboards. These are the top NBA DFS picks for leverage on Friday.

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NBA DFS Picks Leverage & Optimizer Plays | Jan. 20

High-End Tier

For tonight’s nine-game slate, both Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic are expected to be around 20% owned on both DraftKings and FanDuel according to Stokastic’s projections. In this situation, taking the discount with Jokic is a no brainer. He has posted a triple-double in five of his past six starts and will be at home tonight in a gorgeous spot against the Pacers. Jokic has been notably 10.1 DraftKings points per game better on his home floor than when on the road this season and Indiana ranks 18th in defensive efficiency, seventh in pace and fifth in most rebounds allowed. The Nuggets carry the highest implied team total on the slate (125.5 points) and this game’s total is the third largest on the board (240 points). In totals of at least 235 points at home this season, Jokic has destroyed his opponents for 67 DraftKings points per game (six games).

Update: Jokic (hamstring) has been downgraded to questionable for Friday. Stokastic is now slating him for single-digit ownership on both DraftKings and FanDuel. If Jokic ends up inactive, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon will be great targets. With Jokic off the floor this season, Murray and Gordon’s production upgrades to 1.2 and 1.1 DraftKings PPM, respectively. Notably, Murray’s usage increases 4.5 percentage points to a team-high 30% with Jokic off the floor. 

Doncic on the other hand is popular tonight because Christian Wood (thumb) is out for the Mavericks. While one would expect this to translate into an even larger role for Doncic, his usage only rises 0.1 percentage points with Wood off the floor this season. Plus, Doncic has been playing through a sprained ankle that is clearly affecting him, with the MVP candidate scoring less than 50 DraftKings points in back-to-back starts, despite seeing a full workload in both games, and this is a brutal matchup for him Friday, going against the Heat. This season, Miami ranks fifth in defensive efficiency and second-to-last in pace. This contest’s total is the lowest on the slate by six points (219.5 points) and expecting Doncic to out produce his $12,000 price tags tonight is an unreasonable ask.

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Slated for low ownership tonight – notably only projected to be roughly 1% owned on DraftKings according to Stokastic’s projectionsLauri Markkanen is an excellent option for GPPs. In his return from a two-game absence due to a hip injury Wednesday, Markkanen showed no signs of rust and delivered 61 DraftKings points in a tough matchup against the Clippers, who rank top 10 in defensive efficiency and bottom 10 in pace. He has now eclipsed 50 DraftKings points in eight of his past 13 starts. Tonight, Markkanen faces a Nets team that is on the second night of a back-to-back. This tilt’s total is the sixth highest on the slate (229.5 points) and Utah boasts the seventh largest implied team total on the board (118.5 points). Furthermore, Kelly Olynyk (ankle) and Collin Sexton (rest) will be out for Utah. With these two off the floor this season, Markkanen sees small upgrades to all his rates, lifting him to a team-best 1.3 DraftKings points per minute. For the fourth consecutive game, Markkanen should top 50 DraftKings points tonight.

Value Tier

With Mitchell Robinson (thumb) out tonight, Isaiah Hartenstein is the chalk value play of the night, with him projecting to be the most rostered player on both DraftKings and FanDuel in Stokastic’s projections. Particularly on FanDuel, where you can only roster on center and Hartenstein is expected to be owned by more than half the field, fading him is the right move for GPPs. After Robinson exited in the first half Wednesday, Hartenstein started the second half in his place, but only saw five minutes of work for the rest of the game. He only finished with nine DraftKings points in 12.5 minutes in the loss to the Wizards and has scored less than 20 DraftKings points in five of the eight full games Robinson has missed this season.

While Hartenstein didn’t see an expanded role after Robinson exited Wednesday, Immanuel Quickley benefited with the Knicks mostly going with smaller lineups with Julius Randle at center. Quickley posted 26.8 DraftKings points across 31 minutes and notably didn’t leave the floor for the fourth quarter. His production increases to 1 DraftKings point per minute with Robinson off the court this season and should be his current salaries with ease if New York ends up trusting their small ball lineups again tonight against the Hawks. Quickley is projected for minimal ownership according to Stokastic’s projections and is an outstanding way to gain leverage off a chalky Hartenstein tonight.

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Remaining under $6,000 on DraftKings, T.J. McConnell is in play again tonight, even after he disappointed with only 22 DraftKings points Wednesday. Before this, McConnell had been superb with Tyrese Haliburton (knee/elbow) sidelined, generating 43.3 DraftKings points in 26.5 minutes per game in his previous four. With a massive 44.1% assist rate, McConnell supplies 1.1 DraftKings points per minute with Haliburton off the floor this season and as noted above, tonight’s matchup with the Nuggets is an elite setting, with this contest presenting the third highest total on the slate (240.5 points). McConnell should get back on track with a showing of at least 30 DraftKings points and will hopefully come with a sub 20% ownership after letting down many DFS players Wednesday.

Situations to Monitor

Donovan Mitchell (groin) is questionable and appears likely to miss his second straight. Per Danny Cunningham of ESPN, Mitchell was at shootaround this morning, but wasn’t wearing a practice jersey that the starters wear. Instead, Caris LeVert was wearing a practice jersey, indicating him will be getting his second straight start in place of Mitchell. With the starting role Wednesday, LeVert posted 41 DraftKings points against the Grizzlies and their league-best defense in a team-high 41.3 minutes. He is averaging 34.4 DraftKings points per game with Mitchell inactive this season (six games) and will be a steal at less than $6,000 on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight if Mitchell remains sidelined.

Also, Darius Garland would have to be considered. He went off for 58.3 DraftKings points with Mitchell absent Wednesday and Garland’s usage increases 3.1 percentage points to a team-high 29.6% with Mitchell off the floor this season, resulting in 1.2 DraftKings points per minute.

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Opposite of the Cavaliers, Klay Thompson is guaranteed to be rested for the Warriors, and don’t be surprised if Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green are also rested, after Golden State lost in overtime to the Celtics last night. If this situation unfolds, Jordan Poole would see a massive role as the Warriors’ top option and players like Anthony Lamb and Ty Jerome would be very appealing punts.

Domantas Sabonis (questionable, illness) missed Wednesday’s win over the Lakers and was unable to practice Thursday. If he sits again, De’Aaron Fox would be an elite high spend and Richaun Holmes would be a tremendous punt in this matchup with the Thunder that carries the second highest total on the slate (241.5 points). With Sabonis unavailable Wednesday, Fox finished with 45.75 DraftKings points across 39.1 minutes. Overall, with Sabonis off the court this season, Fox’s usage rises 1.6 percentage points to 30.3% and he provides 1.3 DraftKings points per minute.

As for Holmes, he got the start at center with Sabonis sidelined Wednesday and was a key piece to the Kings defeating the Lakers, recording a double-double of 31.75 DraftKings points in 30.5 minutes, both of which set season highs. While Holmes has been buried on the bench this season, he was a productive player as Sacramento’s starting center last season before Sabonis was acquired. Holmes’ salary got all the way up to over $7,000 on DraftKings last season, and he should absolutely destroy his near minimum salaries if Sabonis remains unavailable. This is a beautiful matchup against an Oklahoma City club that is giving up the most rebounds in the league.

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