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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Jalen Brunson | Wednesday, Nov. 17

Terry McBride



A sizable midweek NBA DFS slate sees 11 games and a number of targetable spots for fantasy point-scoring upside. The slate includes three games totaled in the 220s, with the Kings – Timberwolves game reaching lofty 227-point heights. The slate splits with a handful of tightly projected games and a few that are trending toward blowout level. Getting to a solid mix of players from the more obvious scoring spots while keeping an eye on upside and leverage from the board as a whole is a sturdy approach to lineup building. The top optimal plays are targetable for both leverage and upside today, giving the slate a strong set of players who can be considered good chalk from which to build a strong foundation.

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 11 games on the slate, the focus is on the top overall plays on the board. 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 Leverage Leaders Today

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, 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.

Jalen Brunson: DraftKings — $5,700 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $6,500 — PG/SG

With his superstar teammate Luka Doncic getting the night off on Wednesday, Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson is standing tall in Awesemo’s simulations for both sites tonight. Brunson is a solid value play from the midrange, he averages 0.98 fantasy points per minute in his 29.1 minutes per game this season, up from a 0.90 mark last year. He has received slightly more usage in normal situations, up from 19.6% last season to 20.3% this year, but it is the absence of Doncic that will make him truly pop on this slate. Brunson’s usage jumps to 23.6% in games without Doncic since last year. He will also improve on his current 23.5% assist percentage and potentially 7.1% rebounding rate. Brunson is slated for a 36-minute night in Awesemo’s projections, that amount of court time at his NBA DFS salary makes Brunson the standout play of the slate.

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On DraftKings Brunson ranks as the top overall option at any position with a massive 49.2% optimal lineup appearance rate. Landing in the top lineup in that large a share of simulated slates when there are 11 games is truly significant. Brunson has a 41.3-point median projection and a 71.5% boom score probability on the site. His 48.7% ownership projection is also a slate-leading mark among players at any position. That leaves him at just a 0.50 leverage score that is likely to evaporate by lock. Regardless, the point-per-dollar upside seems like a play to reach more often than not, and in shares well ahead of the field.

Brunson stands out as a stronger play on the FanDuel slate where his higher salary is keeping his chin above water in the leverage column. He slots into either position for $6,500 on the blue site, landing him in the optimal lineup in 41.7% of simulated slates. He is carrying a 39.6-point median projection with a slate-leading 51.5% boom score probability, but the public is far behind the curve. Brunson’s 35.1% ownership projection trails the popularity of Thunder guard Josh Giddey, who is less expensive but less frequently optimal and negatively leveraged. Brunson seems like the far better play with a 6.6 leverage score in tow. Brunson is the go-to option on both sites. He can be paired with Giddey on the FanDuel slate if desired, both players have strong optimal rates and the top two boom scores on the slate.

With Brunson standing out as one of the top value plays on the entire slate, the question is, how does he rate out in the models and projections? Alex Hunter breaks down why Brunson is atop the chart in his NBA Daily Fantasy Boom/Bust Plays article.

Al Horford: DraftKings — $7,500 — PF/C | FanDuel — $6,800 — PF/C

One of the standout players of the early part of the season, Boston’s Al Horford has turned back the clock over his first 11 games this year. Horford is averaging 1.25 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, up from the 1.14 mark that he posted on more usage (22.1%) last year than this year’s 19.5% mark. Horford does a bit of everything on the basketball court, he has an excellent 19.1% assist percentage and a sturdy 14.4% rebounding rate to go with his 55.1% true shooting percentage. He averages 29.3 minutes a night, he played 32 coming back from a night off in the team’s most recent game and he had played 30 the game before. Horford is slated for a 30.7-minute projection in Awesemo’s early afternoon updates, but that number could conceivably climb during the game, as the Celtics will be without Robert Williams in the frontcourt. Horford will see plenty of action and he will have a lot to do for his relatively fair salary, he seems like a solid option at positive leverage industrywide.

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Horford ranks third overall on the FanDuel slate, landing in the optimal lineup in 22.7% of Awesemo’s simulations for the Wednesday NBA DFS slate. Horford has a $6,800 price tag and he conveniently fits into both the power forward and center spots, making him an appealing option for lineup differentiation as well as scoring upside. Horford is carrying a 36.9-point median projection and his 34.8% boom score probability also ranks third on the board among all players on the blue site. Horford is the top option at both the power forward and center positions, Brunson and Giddey are the two players ahead of him in both categories. He will be under-owned by the unappreciative public, he is slated for just 18.6% popularity, making him the 15th most popular play on the board at any position, and ranking him behind several less appealing options at both of his eligible positions on the site. Horford brings positive leverage to the table in the form of a 4.1 score that ranks 14th overall and third among eligible centers on the site. The plays that land ahead of him positionally can all be rostered at both frontcourt positions, giving the trio of Horford, Bam Adebayo, and Myles Turner massive value on this slate.

On DraftKings Horford ranks 10th overall with an 11.8% optimal lineup rate. He comes with a higher price against a lower overall salary cap, twisting the nature of the play somewhat, but he retains multi-position eligibility, and his optimal lineup rate ranks second among both power forward and centers on the DraftKings slate. Horford has a 36.6-point median projection with a 19.8% boom score probability that slips to 28th overall, due in part to the higher salary on the site. He maintains a strong leverage score, however, with just five percent of the field rostering him at the perceived expensive price tag, Horford lands with a 6.8 leverage score that ranks third at any position and second behind the less viable Kevin Love at power forward and center. Horford should be rostered ahead of the field on this site, it is not difficult to get to double or triple the public’s very low ownership.

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Minnesota Wings

Playing in the most highly totaled game of the night has its benefits. Both Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell are standing out for strong upside at public ownership that is at worst efficient. Both guards are priced fairly, Edwards is an $8,100 option at the small forward and shooting guard spots on both sites, while Russell comes up as a $7,200 shooting guard or point guard on FanDuel and costs $100 more at the same positions across town on DraftKings. Both wings have seen significant action over the course of the season, with Russell averaging 33 minutes a night over the last three and Edwards pulling in a 35-minute average in the same set of recent games. They are projected for a similar run this evening.

Edwards and Russell were both prime stand-out candidates for Adam Scherer, which he wrote about in his NBA DFS Deep Dive for tonight’s massive slate.

Russell is putting up 1.03 fantasy points per minute on just 49.9% true shooting with a 29.3% assist percentage. He has a 26.4% usage rate, so there are plenty of shots available every night, when they happen to fall Russell’s score can inflate quickly. He is projected for a 36.5-point night on FanDuel and a 38.3-point DraftKings outing, with a 24.8% boom score probability on the blue site and a 28% mark on DraftKings. Russell is one of the top options by optimal lineup percentage on the DraftKings slate, he has a 16.2% mark in the category that ranks him fifth overall and one spot behind Edwards. Russell is the third-most frequently optimal point guard option on the DraftKings slate. The public is getting to him in appropriate amounts on the site, he comes in with a -1.5 leverage score that remains highly playable. On FanDuel Russell is the 10th-ranked player overall with a 15.8% optimal lineup rate. That mark trails Edwards by three places on the site, but Russell comes up with a 0.80 leverage score and he is very playable option for upside scoring on this site as well.

Edwards has averaged 1.06 fantasy points per minute on 51.5% true shooting with a 16.9% assist rate and an 8.4% rebounding share. He sees 29.1% usage, up from the 26.4% he received across all situations as a rookie, though the per-minute fantasy scoring is only up slightly from the 1.00 we saw last season. Edwards is projected for a 39.6-point night on FanDuel, where he has a 22.5% boom score probability and lands in the optimal lineup in 17.7% of simulated slates. He has a 0.40 leverage score that makes him easy enough to slot into lineups for scoring potential, after building a sturdy foundation of value and positive leverage. Edwards is a similar play across town, he has a 27.4% boom score probability that sits 10th overall on the slate and third among small forwards. He is projected for a 41.6-point night with a 17.1% optimal lineup appearance rate. That mark trails his ownership slightly, he has a -2.2 leverage score against 19.3% public popularity, but that seems like a mark that can be exceeded for the raw upside potential if so desired. Edwards is not a mandatory play, but he could be a strong last piece of a tournament-winning puzzle.

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

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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