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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Ja Morant | Saturday, Nov. 13

Terry McBride



NBA DFS DraftKings FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Optimal lIneups

Saturday NBA DFS action features a six-game slate that has only one game that totals, just barely, above 220. The nightcap between the Timberwolves and Clippers carries that honor, making it an interesting late-night hammer that features some star power and a host of mid-range options. Before we get to that point there are five games on the board starting within an hour of lock that will also be important to success. Getting to a solid mix of premium options from the early games, while leaving room to make adjustments going into the last game of the night where possible makes sense when taking a deliberate approach to lineups. With a six-game slate, there are several avenues to potentially relevant constructions, but a few plays stand out as the core foundation of “good chalk” for tonight’s slate of NBA DFS 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 six games on the slate, the focus is on the most positively leveraged of the highly optimal plays. 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.

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These picks are made utilizing the Boom/Bust Tool, specifically analyzing the optimal lineup rate, leverage score and boom probability. Check out Alex Hunter’s Boom/Bust Tool article, where he breaks down some of the top boom and bust candidates from Awesemo’s expert projections. 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, 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.

Darius Garland: DraftKings — $6,900 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $6,000 — PG/SG

With Collin Sexton injured, fellow guard Darius Garland has the opportunity to seize a major role for NBA DFS scoring production in the Cavaliers offense. However, since Sexton’s injury last Sunday, Garland has seen essentially no uptick in his season average usage rate, nor has his fantasy point per minute rate changed substantially. The guard has seen 35 to 36 minutes in each of the team’s last five games, but he averages 33.5 minutes a night for the season, so that is not anomalous. Garland has produced 0.89 fantasy points per minute this season, down slightly from his 0.92 rate from last year on a usage rate that also ticked down from 23.8% to 22.2%. He has reached that level of production with a 62% true shooting percentage and a 31.5% assist rate, numbers that seem like they should yield more fantasy scoring than Garland has provided. With a pricing discrepancy from site to site there is a difference in the nature of this play across the industry, but the Cavaliers guard seems worth rostering on tonight’s six-game slate.

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On FanDuel, Garland is priced at just $6,000 with eligibility at both guard spots, making him one of the strongest value plays on the board. He has a 33% optimal lineup appearance rate that ranks first overall on the blue site, though his discounted salary has him slated for a significant amount of ownership. Garland is projected for negative leverage on the slate, he is currently at -1.9 with a 34.9% ownership projection that may climb given the bargain basement pricing. The dynamic guard is worth getting to on the site, there are a lack of high quality guard options on the slate in general, and several of the other options are at worse leverage numbers. With a 34.2% boom score probability that also leads the slate at any position, Garland is clearly the best guard option available going into lock, riding along with the public’s projected ownership seems worthwhile.

With his price leaping to $6.900, Garland is a different play against a lower salary cap on DraftKings. He retains his multi-position eligibility on the site and there is plenty of upside in his 25.7% boom score probability and 35.9 median projection. Garland lands in the optimal lineup in 22.1% of simulated slates on this site, another slate-leading mark that sets him far apart from the field. The higher price seems to be keeping the public somewhat at bay on this site, Garland is carrying a 6.8 leverage score that is fifth-best on the board. That mark lands first among eligible point guards, with the players above him filling out a host of shooting guard and forward spots. The two players immediately behind Garland in the leverage column are fellow point guards Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe, creating a rotation of the three on both sites is a strong approach to the position tonight. Across town they can all be included in the same lineup as a foundational core of leverage and value, pushing the star plays to the remaining guard spot and the forward positions while picking off value at power forward and center as well. On DraftKings, the positioning is more strict, only two of the three guards can be rostered at once, though the mix of value plays available on the site adds appealing options to the mix at all positions.

Andre Drummond: DraftKings — $9,000 — C | FanDuel — $8,900 — C

Did 76ers backup center Andre Drummond bump his head on the salary ceiling in the team’s most recent game, or was that simply a product of a shorter than expected run at just 30 minutes? After reaching the 50-point mark in two straight games, Drummond saw significant inflation in the salary column and delivered a mid-30s dud of a game that included just four real points and 12 rebounds, with three assists and four blocked shots. Drummond lost minutes down the stretch in a close game, playing only about four minutes without being in foul trouble. The big man played roughly double that in competitive fourth quarters in the two games prior when he was in the midst of better games. Overall, Drummond has remained consistent at about 1.37 fantasy points per minute while seeing added time. He has a 51.8% true shooting percentage with a 15% assist share and 24.9% rebounding percentage, with a still-high price and coming off a disappointment, it seems that Drummond is getting somewhat overlooked tonight.

Drummond ranks eighth among players at all positions with an 18.3% optimal lineup rate on the DraftKings slate tonight. That places him second among eligible centers behind only Jonas Valanciunas, who is a good option for NBA DFS point-scoring potential who will be at negative leverage on both sites tonight. Drummond does not have that problem, despite very similar marks to his fellow big man, the Philadelphia center is tracking for just 13.1% ownership, leaving him with a very healthy 5.2 leverage score that is among the top-10 on the slate. Drummond is projected for a 43.3 fantasy point night with clear upside for more. He has a 22.2% boom score probability at his $9,000 salary, this is no bargain play but the ceiling is apparent and Drummond should easily compete for the night’s highest score at his position. With the potential to reach that threshold by a wide margin of points at positive leverage, this remains a strong play that is worth the repeated coverage.

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The 76ers center looks like almost exactly the same play on the FanDuel slate. He lands one spot and 0.3 percentage points behind Valanciunas with an 18.7% optimal lineup rate but he comes at a 5.0 leverage score to his peer’s -7.8 for only $100 salary difference. The centers have similar boom score probabilities on the site as well, Valanciunas is at a 28.2% on a 43.9 median projection while Drummond has a 26.8% with a 43.5 median projection. These are very close plays who are both eligible at only the center spot on the singular center site, meaning we will have a decision to make over and over as lineups are created. Getting to an even split of both is one approach, but with Drummond pulling significantly better leverage scores and Valacniunas looking over-owned despite the obvious quality, it makes sense to push the pivot button more often than not and roster Drummond.

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Ja Morant: DraftKings — $10,200 — PG | FanDuel — $9,800 — PG

With money to spend on both sites, there are numerous directions to go for star power, including Memphis star Ja Morant. The point guard stands out for positive leverage on both sites, the public ownership is trailing his optimal lineup rates by a noteworthy margin, something that is not the case with most of the available players at his price and talent tier. Morant has been excellent this season, climbing from a 1.08 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations last season to a 1.34 mark on the same 31.8% usage. The point guard has a 35.2% assist percentage and an 8.2% rebounding share and he has posted a 56.8% true shooting percentage to this point in the season. Morant is pricey on this slate, bu that is helping to keep the public behind the quality of the play. Both sites provide paths to rostering star plays for raw scoring potential at several positions, though a number of the premium value plays on both sites are guards, making it a slightly more unique build to include Morant in that position.

On FanDuel, Morant lands in the optimal lineup 19.8% of the time. That places him 10th overall and fourth among eligible point guards on the blue site. The Memphis floor general is pulling in a limited 14.3% public popularity projection, leaving him with an excellent 5.5 leverage score that is targetable on a slate where all of the other top leverage options come at negative leverage (with the exception of currently questionable Caris LeVert). Morant has a 44.5 median projection, the second-highest raw NBA DFS point total on the board, and he is carrying a 16.3% boom score probability. That mark drops to 24th overall, but it is reflective of the hefty salary more than the base ceiling potential in the play.

On DraftKings, Morant ranks 18th overall with a 14.1% optimal lineup rate, a mark that gets squashed by a higher salary against a lower cap from site to site. Morant still has value with a 46.7 point projection for raw fantasy scoring, he is difficult to get to at his salary, but that is what drives the 4.6 leverage score that makes him a playable pay-up option. Morant is a player to build toward after rostering a solid foundation of value and optimal lineup appearances, preferably with strong positive leverage marks as well. Morant has a 15.7% boom score probability and he is projected to be in fewer than 10% of public lineups, making him a steady, if unspectacular, option for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.

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View our DraftKings ownership projections, our Yahoo! ownership projections and our FanDuel ownership. Check out our NBA DFS rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA projections FanDuel. We also have DraftKings rankings, FanDuel rankings and Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Looking for more NBA DFS advice for today and the best NBA DFS picks? Our NBA DraftKings 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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