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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Christian Wood | Monday, Nov. 2

Terry McBride



Tuesday’s five-game NBA DFS slate presents a somewhat challenging board for roster construction. With a lack of standout value plays on FanDuel as of the afternoon, this seems like a slate that is going to trend more toward builds that include a host of players from the mid-range on that site, as opposed to the stars and scrubs constructions we have so frequently seen with the major salary discounts across the industry early in the year. Across town, however, there are several significant value plays available, casting the slate in a different light from site to site. Of course, one piece of breaking news could change the shape of the entire slate on both sites, so it will be critical to monitor any changes coming into lock tonight. Until then, focusing on the most highly optimal plays that will also provide a modicum of leverage against the projected public popularity is the approach toward winning lineup construction on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

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, this will be a close look at several of the positive leverage options, as well as the slate’s big conversation piece. 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.

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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.

Jordan Nwora: DraftKings — $4,500 | FanDuel — $4,500

This column is clearing one of the few FanDuel value plays off the board early because it is the one no one wants to discuss. The Bucks’ Jordan Nwora has been a value play several times early in the season and has not delivered frequent success for NBA DFS gamers who have included him in lineups. Most particularly, Nwora disappointed everyone as a highly popular play in posting just two real points, with a pair of assists and one rebound, as well as two turnovers, in 23 minutes in his last outing. He has returned three straight games below 20 fantasy points and has been below 10 in his last two outings. He is carrying a 44.7% true shooting percentage with a 9.9% assist rate and 7.8% rebounding percentage. He has averaged just 0.76 fantasy points per minute through the first seven games of the season, seeing 22.6 minutes and 18.2% usage each night. Nwora posted 1.11 fantasy points per minute on the exact same usage last season. The banged-up Bucks could use a boost from Nwora, particularly with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo nursing a sore knee but expected to play again.

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On the FanDuel slate, Nwora lands as the seventh-highest ranked player at any position with a 25.8% optimal lineup rate in Awesemo’s simulations. He is the third-highest-ranked player at both forward positions. Nwora is projected for 26.7 minutes and a 24.2 median FanDuel score, with a 20.5% boom score probability, and he will be under-owned by the public. He is projected for around 20% popularity, leaving him with a highly targetable 5.0 leverage score on the blue site. Getting to shares of Nwora once again is an uncomfortable proposition for most, which is likely to suppress his ownership regardless of the conditions going into lock this evening, which makes him a more appealing GPP play for those willing to embrace a bit of risk and ignore the flawed view of recent game output.

The situation is largely the same on the DraftKings slate, though Nwora ranks a bit further down the board, with several players from the $3,000 tier leaping toward the top of the column. Nwora’s 18.7% optimal rate lands 15th overall on the slate, putting him behind a number of other viable options at both forward positions. He should still be in the mix for lineup shares, however, given his 22.9% boom score probability and the overall lack of ownership. Nwora is projected for just 13.3% popularity, which leaves him with a 5.4 leverage score that is sixth-best at any position and fourth among eligible forwards. If his play had been more consistent over these last few games, Nwora would be a more popular steady play on this slate, taking advantage of the field’s reluctance could pay dividends tonight.

Cade Cunningham: DraftKings — $3,600 | FanDuel — $5,000

Pistons’ rookie first overall pick Cade Cunningham made his NBA debut on Saturday and promptly joined an undistinguished list of players who scored two or fewer points in their NBA debut. Cunningham is a highly talented player who will produce in the NBA, and his ugly start has kept his price way down on the DraftKings slate tonight, making him one of the top available values in the industry. Cunningham did post an 18.2% assist rate and 15.6% rebounding percentage in his 18.9-minute debut, and he received 20% usage out of the gate on a bad shooting night. It is safe to assume that he will be highly involved in everything that happens on the floor and if he is going right, or even slightly better. He should be in line to see increased minutes quickly, as the go-nowhere Pistons are focused entirely on the development of their young core.

Cunningham is a $5,000 somewhat inconsequential play on the FanDuel slate. He is not off the board by any means, but he lands in the optimal lineup in just 14.2% of simulated slates while pulling in a 15% ownership projection that will likely climb as people hear his name mentioned around the industry, without accounting for the major pricing difference. Cunningham has just a 7.3% boom score probability and a 22.3 median FanDuel projection. He is negatively leveraged, though not by much, making him playable at either guard spot but only in a limited fashion. Exceeding the slate’s projected ownership on the blue site does not seem like a sharp play tonight.

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Across town on DraftKings, Cunningham is one of the major go-to plays of the slate. He slots into either guard spot for just $3,600, giving him significant utility and value for lineup construction. He has a 34% boom score probability and a 23.1 median projection. He is no secret at this price, but he is the second-ranked player at any position with a 36.1% optimal lineup rate on the site. Pushing beyond the field’s projected 40% ownership seems like a viable option for the standout value in spite of the -4.8 leverage score, though Cunningham is not the only guard play in this price tier who is drawing favorable optimal lineup rates. The other play who is near the top of the board, falling in third with a 30.9% optimal rate, is George Hill, who slots in at the same positions and has a 3.3 leverage score. Rostering both is viable to stack value in guard positions, but consideration should be given to raw scoring in lineups of that nature, there is a give and take to buying leverage by sacrificing scoring upside.

Christian Wood: DraftKings — $8,300 | FanDuel — $7,900

Christian Wood has been involved in NBA DFS lineups across the industry through the team’s first six games. He frequently comes up with strong scores in all probability metrics but typically draws attention when he does so. Tonight seems to be an exception, Wood is carrying positive leverage along with his significant scoring marks across both DraftKings and FanDuel projections on the Boom/Bust Tool this evening, making him a potentially sharp play. He has had a strong start to his season, putting up 1.16 fantasy points per minute on 23.6% usage, though he was more efficient with the same opportunity last year when he put up a 1.21 rate. Wood has a 10.5% assist percentage and a 15.8%, and he is averaging 11.5 rebounds and 19.2 points a night on 55.1% true shooting.

Wood ranks eighth overall with a 23.6% optimal lineup rate on the DraftKings slate tonight. That mark lands him fourth among eligible centers, with one of the players ranked above him also carrying power forward eligibility. Rostering Wood in combination with that superstar as well as one of the other highly optimal and positively leveraged center plays builds a solid foundation for lineups on the slate tonight. Wood has a 45.7 median projection for the DraftKings slate, and he is carrying a monster 45% boom score probability but drawing merely 14.9% public ownership. His 8.7 leverage score is second-highest at any position on the site.

Wood appears in the top lineup in Awesemo’s simulations of the FanDuel slate 39% of the time, ranking him third overall at any position. He has eligibility across both power forward and center on the site, giving him increased utility at a reduced price of just $7,900. He has a 43.6-point median projection and a 41.6% boom score probability that also ranks third. He combines very well with the same players that intrigue in reviewing lineup construction across the industry, namely Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert, the two players who rank above him in optimal lineup rate. The trio slots into positioning differently, with forward eligibility and the lack of a flex spot, but they can be rostered together on both sites, creating a strong leverage and upside foundation. Wood’s 7.3 leverage score on FanDuel is the third-highest on the slate.

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

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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