The Thursday NBA DFS slate is a short affair, with only five games on the board. The leading game total is just a 216, with the late game between the Spurs and the Trail Blazers winning that honor. With two games totaled below 210, one of which has the Suns at a 12-point spread, there are limited places to turn for expectations of extreme scoring potential. The Boom/Bust Tool for this slate reveals a few excellent plays that the public seems slow to adopt from the top of the board on both sites, which should be a great way to begin lineup construction for DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. The mix of ceiling score potential and value at positive leverage on such a short slate should not be ignored. The key combination to building a tournament-winning entry seems likely to come from a mix of those top-ranked players.
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.
Dejounte Murray: DraftKings — $9,800 — PG | FanDuel — $9,800 — PG/SG
The public is yet to adjust to the ascension of Dejounte Murray. He is a pricey option across the industry this evening, but the salary is keeping his ownership suppressed which makes him stand out as an excellent play on a small slate. Murray has been outstanding to this point in the season, playing 34.7 minutes a night and putting up a 19.1-8.5-8.1 line on average. He has a 25.8% usage rate across all situations and his 33.1% assist percentage is excellent. He adds good rebounding skills for a guard as well, pulling in an 11.4% share. With all of this production, Murray totals to a 1.34 fantasy point per minute rate, an excellent uptick from the 1.11 he delivered across all situations last season. That he has done so with just a 49.7% true shooting percentage leaves room to speculate on the possibility of a degree of lingering upside still to come. Murray is an excellent option who has the second-highest raw projection on both sites tonight, while not being in the top-10 most popular players on either.
Murray is the third-most frequently optimal play on FanDuel, falling in behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jaren Jackson Jr. while coming at a far better leverage score. All three players are currently tracking for positive leverage on the blue site, forming an excellent group that can be played together with access to every position in the lineup. Murray is the lowest owned of the group by 15 percentage points. He has a 25.3% ownership projection and an excellent 11.7 leverage score in the afternoon update. He has eligibility at both guard positions for his $9,800 salary, and his 46.2 point median projection is the second-highest mark on the slate. Murray has a 21.1% boom score probability that ranks 10th overall but sits above Antetokounmpo’s 20.4% and is nearly double several of the other most highly priced players on the board. Given the major advantage in ownership, Murray looks like the top pay-up option on the FanDuel slate.
Murray stands equally tall on the DraftKings board. He appears in the optimal lineup in 30.3% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, but the public is far behind the curve. Murray loses his shooting guard eligibility in the move to this site, but it barely slows him down. He has a 47.1-point median projection and a 22.4% boom score probability on the site, with the public rostering him at just a 21.5% rate. The leverage score is extremely targetable on this site as well, Murray has an 8.8 that sits second to only the 9.9 being pulled in by minimum-price Memphis forward Santi Aldama, whose name everyone just learned. Murray is one of the top options on a slate with limited raw scoring potential. If the field does not want him, be happy to roster him in a large portion of NBA DFS lineups.
Murray is a popular player at Awesemo today, as Eric MacPherson has him locked in as the play of the day in his NBA DFS Building Blocks article.
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Jaren Jackson Jr.: DraftKings — $7,100 — PF/C | FanDuel — $6,900 — PF/C
Thrust into a more prominent role in the absence of Ja Morant, Jackson typically needs only to stay on the court for extended minutes to deliver value on what is a low salary for his capabilities. The question with Jackson frequently comes down to foul trouble, on the surface he sits third in the NBA with 3.48 fouls per game, but he has actually cut his fouls per-36 from a whopping 5.9 last season to 4.7 this year. That rate still keeps him in the “foul trouble” range frequently, but the decrease from last year’s rate is also the difference between being able to stay in the game or not. Jackson delivered a monster performance in the team’s most recent outing, going 8-14 from the field and 4-7 from three-point range with six rebounds and five blocked shots while playing a season-high 34:03. That kind of production for the salary leads to massive expectations. Jackson will be heavily owned on both sites, but the current state of the board suggests that the public is still not there frequently enough for the potential.
Jackson is the second-highest ranked player by optimal lineup appearance rate on DraftKings tonight. He is rostered at either power forward or center in the top lineup in 32.5% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, and he deserves significant consideration as one of the leading assets, regardless of his popularity. Jackson will be rostered by 27.6% of the field, but that still leaves an excellent 4.9 leverage score that stands out at his position and among all players. For the fair price, Jackson is projected to post a 37.8-point median DraftKings score, the 10th-highest raw projection on the board. He has a 31.3% boom score probability that outpaces eight of the nine players above him by raw projection by at least six percentage points. The lone player who falls above him for both projection and the likelihood of a ceiling score is fellow big man Jusuf Nurkic, who is a center-only play. The ability to play the pair together, utilizing either the utility spot or Jackson’s power forward flexibility, creates a strong path to unique lineups that are highly projected and carry ceiling potential.
The lower price against a higher salary cap makes Jackson the leading play on the blue site tonight. Jackson has a 46.3% optimal lineup appearance rate on FanDuel, outpacing the stars mentioned in the Murray section above by at least three percentage points. He is carrying positive leverage, landing at a 5.6 despite his projected 40.7% ownership on the site. Jackson has power forward and center eligibility for just $6,900 on the site tonight, which is far too low for his projected 39.2 median fantasy point score. Because of this, Jackson leads the FanDuel slate with a 42.2% boom score probability. Getting to this type of production potential with positive leverage is the play to make again and again when building lineups.
With Jackson showing up as such a strong play all over our NBA DFS lineup optimizer, it might be worth checking on his NBA player prop bets in the market tonight.
Mikal Bridges: DraftKings — $5,700 — SG/SF | FanDuel — $5,900 — SF/PF
With the eyes of the NBA DFS world looking to Chris Paul, Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson in the absence of Devin Booker, it is Mikal Bridges who stands out as an interesting play from the lower-owned pool of potential values. Bridges falls firmly into the mid-range, but he carries positional flexibility across both sites. He comes up as a frequently optimal play with some ceiling potential, and he will be owned under 15% on both sites on a five-game slate while falling third overall with a 36.9-minute projection. Bridges averages just 0.74 fantasy points per minute on 13.3% usage for the season, and he sees even fewer shots in this specific roster configuration. Bridges contributes 2.1 stocks per game in his 34.5 minutes a night, and he has a 7% assist percentage and a 5.3% rebounding rate. He needs to play significant minutes to pots a strong score, but he is likely to see that type of run tonight on a short slate, giving him some underappreciated value from site to site.
On DraftKings, Bridges lands as the 22nd most frequently optimal play at a 13.5% optimal lineup appearance rate. With the 10th-ranked player at just a 19.1% rate, that is a negligible difference, particularly when accounting for Bridges’ low 10.5% ownership and targetable 3.0 leverage score. He is not a play for towering upside, but with flexibility between shooting guard and small forward and a 27.7-point median projection, Bridges is capable of contributing sturdy reliability to a lineup. He has a 14.1% boom score probability on the DraftKings NBA DFS slate, ranking him 26th overall, but sixth among players with a positive leverage score on the site. This is not an exciting play filled with massive scoring upside, but Bridges should be mixed into his fair share of lineups, exceeding the public’s projection is an easy task and could return value from an unexpected source.
Bridges ranks 14th overall on the FanDuel slate, where he is a more valuable commodity for NBA DFS purposes. The production is roughly the same; Bridges is projected for a 28.6-point median score for his $5,900 salary, with eligibility at both forward spots on the site. His 15.2% boom score probability is the 23rd highest on the board, which is not nearly as exciting as his excellent 7.4 leverage score. Bridges will be owned by just 13.1% of the public despite landing in the optimal lineup in 20.5% of Awesemo’s simulations for the FanDuel slate. He may be unspectacular, but with a bonus stock or two, there is still ceiling score potential in a player that the public simply refuses to roster where he should be.
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View our FanDuel ownership projections, our Yahoo! ownership projections and our DraftKings ownership projections. Our NBA DFS projections tonight are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more DFS NBA tips and the top NBA DFS picks tonight? Check out our NBA daily fantasy sports rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own DFS basketball projections. We also have Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings, FanDuel ownership rankings and DraftKings rankings for today's slate.
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