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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Jalen Brunson | Saturday, Dec. 4

Terry McBride

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Saturday’s late-starting slate of NBA DFS action has several major pieces of chalk drawing all the attention at the top of the board. With six games on the slate and a few stars already scratched, the standout value plays and strength through the mid-range lend themselves to more balanced lineup constructions. That, of course, includes several excellent players who are priced in the $9,000 range, and with one of the remaining superstars landing at positive leverage marks with strong numbers in the optimal lineup and boom score percentages, there are excellent pay-up targets where they are needed. With the mid-range salaries and positional flexibility on a number of key players, it is easy to build a sturdy foundation of high-end plays through which the remaining options can be rotated in varying combinations. This looks like an excellent slate for NBA DFS tournament action on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

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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, the focus is the top overall plays on the 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.

DraftKings & FanDuel NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Picks Tonight

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 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 — $4,900 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $5,000 — PG/SG

This is in no way a secret, Dallas guard Jalen Brunson will have immense value on tonight’s slate. Superstar starter Luka Doncic was ruled out in the mid-afternoon, leading to an explosion in both his optimal lineup and boom score probabilities for Brunson across the industry. Brunson was inexpensive for his upside under normal circumstances, with Doncic out and teammate Kristaps Porzingis questionable, he is the top value we have seen on the boom/bust board in the last few days at least. In 294 minutes without Doncic on the floor this season, Brunson has jumped from an average 21% usage rate to a 26.3% mark, with his fantasy point per minute production making a huge leap from 0.96 to 1.12. In 128 minutes with Porzingis also out, Brunson makes another leap to a 29.1% usage rate and a 1.16 per-minute mark. He is a spectacular play in either circumstance at his low pricing and positional flexibility tonight.

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On DraftKings, Brunson is forecast for a 44.2-point median projection and he costs a bare-bones $4,900 with eligibility at both guard positions. The ridiculously low price has Brunson with the highest boom score probability in recent memory, perhaps the highest mark of the season so far, at 88%. Brunson seemingly only has to take the court to deliver strong value for the salary, he is a fundamental part of lineup construction across the industry tonight, regardless of his ownership projection. He has a massive 59.9% popularity projection on the DraftKings slate, yet he still comes up with a gigantic 20.5 leverage score because he lands in the optimal lineup in 80.4% of simulated slates. This is an unskippable option as the slate currently stands.

Brunson is an equally strong play on the FanDuel slate, he should be in virtually every lineup as a free square at $5,000 with eligibility at both guard positions. He is projected for a 42.1-point median night with a gargantuan 84.6% boom score probability. He is a positive leverage play on the blue site as well, he lands in 77% of lineups, leading the slate by more than 40 percentage points. Despite that ridiculous lead, Brunson comes up with “only” a 59.3% ownership projection, which puts the field well behind the curve. The Dallas guard leads the slate by a mile with a 17.7 leverage score tonight, he is the top play on every imaginable site for NBA DFS purposes this evening.


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Kevin Durant: DraftKings — $11,300 — SF/PF | FanDuel — $10,800 — SF/PF

With a number of strong values available, it is relatively easy to access every star-caliber player on the board, including the option to put more than one into a lineup. With Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant standing tallest among the limited options from the $10,000 and above tier, he is worthy of consideration for shares beyond where the field is getting to him on both sites this evening. Durant is one of the slate’s leading producers with a 1.31 fantasy point per minute rate and a 30.6% usage rate. The superstar forward has a 64.1% true shooting percentage with an excellent 27.3% assist rate and a 10.2% rebounding percentage this season. With the ability to contribute in multiple categories over his projected 37.1-minute projection this evening, Durant looks like a strong option despite the hefty price tag.

Durant comes in with a 28.2% optimal lineup rate and strongly positive leverage as the most expensive play on the FanDuel slate. Durant comes in with eligibility at both forward positions on the blue site, and he is carrying a 46.5-point median projection with a 10.9% boom score probability. The latter mark is deflated by the high salary, but it is the second-highest among players priced above $9,000 tonight. Durant comes in with a 22.6% ownership projection, which leaves him at a highly targetable 5.6 leverage score. With an optimal lineup rate that lands fourth-highest overall, Durant is an excellent pay-up option on this slate, assuming the positive leverage holds firm. There are numerous value plays that help ensure Durant does not come at a significant opportunity cost for other positions, we have the ability and good reason to roster him beyond the public’s projected mark tonight.

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On DraftKings, Durant comes back to the field somewhat. He ranks 13th overall with a 16.6% optimal lineup appearance rate for his slate-leading $11,300 salary. He has flexibility between forward positions on this slate as well, but the price is keeping his appeal in check to a degree. Durant still projects for a 48.7-point median night and he has a clear path to a ceiling score, but his boom score probability falls to just 7.9% with the hefty price tag. Where he can fit into lineups, it is worth booking the prospect of raw fantasy point production, Durant will be owned by roughly 15.9% of the field, giving him a leverage score below 1.0 but still one that checks in above zero, which is something for his superstar status.

DeMar DeRozan: DraftKings — $9,100 — PF | FanDuel — $8,600 — SG/SF

At a lower price than Durant, a slightly lower level of star potential can be easily accessed in the form of Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan. The veteran has had a standout start to his season to this point, but he still comes at a fair price on both sites, giving him significant appeal as a pivot point from more popular stars. DeRozan checks in with a 1.16 fantasy point per minute rate on 29.2% usage and a 59.3% true shooting percentage this season. He has a strong 19.6% assist percentage and a 7.4% rebounding rate to this point, giving him some counting statistic padding in his NBA DFS scoring upside. DeRozan is in the middle of popularity projections across the industry, he will be owned but it seems unlikely that the field gets to the level that the numbers warrant.

On DraftKings, DeRozan is a $9,100 option restricted to the power forward position. He comes in with a 40.8-point median projection and a 9.8% boom score probability that are strong among the options at or above $9,000 on the slate. DeRozan lands in the optimal lineup on DraftKings in 15.3% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. The forward has appeal, just 11.7% of the public will be getting to him, which leaves a strong 3.6 leverage score that should be targeted for ownership shares. Getting to an aggressive amount of DeRozan in lineups that shift focus from players like Durant, Paul George, and Jayson Tatum on the site is a good approach to GPP lineup building.

DeRozan is a leading pay-up option who does not demand quite the level of investment as some of those peers on the blue site tonight. The forward comes in with eligibility at shooting guard and small forward, giving him the appeal of increased flexibility. The biggest selling factor for DeRozan on this site is his discounted $8,600 salary. This leaves the solid 40.3-point median projection with an intriguing 17.8% boom score probability. While that mark ranks 21st overall, it sits third on a surprisingly short list of players priced at $8,000 or more. DeRozan has an excellent 21% optimal lineup appearance rate and he is positively leveraged on this site as well, though he checks in at just a 0.2 score in the category. The public is getting to the play for the discount and flexibility, but there is room to expand beyond an efficient 20.8% projection. It would not be wrong to take up a position on the DeRozan play this evening, his projected ownership compares favorably with most of the options in the $8,000 and above price tier, taking a small number of shares from those players and allocating them to DeRozan is an easy way to get beyond the field’s expected investment in the player.


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