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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Pascal Siakam | Thursday, Nov. 18

Terry McBride



The Thursday six-game slate for NBA DFS today starts a half hour late, with a 7:30 p.m. ET tip on both sites. The slate includes four games with point spreads above 7 and two games that are projected to be tightly contested. Only the Clippers – Grizzlies game stretches to more than a 220-point game total, coming in at 221, outpacing Spurs – Timberwolves by a point and a half. The next-highest game falls another 5 points down the board, making the prime scoring targets somewhat clear cut in terms of the Vegas board. Getting to a broad mix of stars and value plays seems like a sound approach given the available options across the six-game NBA DFS slate on 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 several of the prime options for both scoring upside and leverage. 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.

Ja Morant: DraftKings — $10,000 — PG | FanDuel — $10,000 — PG

Ja Morant will lead his team into the game with the highest total on the Vegas board, which should seemingly lead him to more public popularity than he is currently drawing. He costs $10,000 on both sites and lacks roster flexibility, but he provides a terrific median projection and excellent upside across the NBA DFS industry. Morant is averaging 34.4 minutes and 30.9% usage per game over his first 14 contests this season. He has 1.36 fantasy points per minute, which is up significantly from the 1.08 he posted last year. This season, Morant has a 57.8% true shooting percentage with a 35.4% assist share and 9.1% rebounding percentage. He has been terrific throughout and his production dips only slightly to 1.31 fantasy points per minute with teammate Dillon Brooks back in the fold.

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Morant is one of the leading options on the DraftKings slate. He ranks fifth among players at any position and second among eligible point guards with a 20.2% optimal lineup rate. Morant has a 48.4-point median projection that is the second highest among the players in the top-five by optimal lineup rate, and his 24.9% boom score probability sits in seventh out of players at any position and third among point guards. The two players ranked ahead of Morant at the position are both value options, with Patrick Beverly landing a 47.3% boom score probability for his $4,200 salary and Raul Neto coming in at a 26.3% mark for $3,200. Morant is an easy pay-up option, but his 11.5% ownership projection is leaving an excellent 8.7 leverage score that leads the DraftKings slate.

On FanDuel, Morant remains a standout option with even less total public ownership projected. He comes in with just a 9.2% popularity mark despite an optimal lineup rate that lands more than double that at 18.8%. That ranks Morant 14th among all players on the site and seventh among point guards, but he is easily the best leverage play in the group. Morant is projected for a 36.4-minute night and 46.4 FanDuel points in his median projection. He has an 18.8% boom score probability, and he is coming in with an excellent 9.6 leverage score on the site. Morant is a prime point guard option on the FanDuel NBA DFS slate tonight.

When running lineups on our NBA DFS lineup optimizer, Morant was showing up as a great tournament play. For all of our free NBA DFS picks tonight, check out our DraftKings NBA cheat sheet and FanDuel NBA cheat sheet.

Pascal Siakam: DraftKings — $7,900 — PF/C | FanDuel — $8,100 — PF

With the Raptors losing all four games for which Pascal Siakam has been available this season, the frustration in Toronto seems to be growing. The Raptors have a number of capable pieces, but they are struggling to find offensive harmony. For his part, Siakam has contributed a 59.9% true shooting percentage with a solid 20.2% assist percentage and 12% rebounding share in his 32.2 minutes per game so far. He has posted 1.10 fantasy points per minute on just 22.7% usage. Siakam provided roughly the same scoring rate on 26.1% usage last year, so there could clearly be quality to come. Siakam is not expensive for his talent, particularly with multi-position eligibility on one site. He is pulling in reasonably interesting leverage scores across the industry and seems worthy of attention given a 33.3-minute projection from Awesemo.

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On the blue site, Siakam lands in the optimal lineup in 15.7% of simulated slates. ranking him 20th overall and sixth among eligible power forwards. While there are options that are more frequently optimal, several of them also carry center eligibility and most are at lower value level pricing and upside. Siakam has a 35.6-point median projection and a 12.4% boom score probability on the FanDuel slate. The key to making the play worthwhile is a lack of overall popularity. Siakam is projected for just 13.6% ownership on the slate, giving him a sturdy 2.1 leverage score that can provide a foundation for lineup building. Getting ahead of the field’s low ownership should be easy and worthwhile.

Siakam picks up center eligibility and climbs to 15th overall by optimal lineup rate on the DraftKings slate. He appears in the optimal lineup in 14.3% of simulated slates but the public is behind the curve, leaving a 2.2 leverage score. With such a small portion of the field intending to roster the slate’s third-most frequently optimal power forward play, getting to additional shares of Siakam on this site seems like a solid proposition as well. Siakam is carrying a 36.3-point median projection and a 16% boom score probability on the slate. At just 12.1% ownership it should be easy to see the value in exceeding the field’s projected exposure.

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Denver Frontcourt

The three members of Denver’s expected starting frontcourt are coming up as relevant plays on tonight’s slate industrywide. The leader of the pack, as always, is Nikola Jokic, who stands as the highest-priced player on both sites at $11,600 on FanDuel and $12,000 against a lower cap on DraftKings. Jokic is projected for a 59.3-point night on the latter site, giving him an excellent 28.5% optimal lineup rate that ranks him third among players at all positions despite his hefty cost. Jokic is a similarly strong play on FanDuel, where his 26.8% optimal rate ranks fourth overall. Jokic has a 56.3-point median projection and a 31.1% boom score probability on the blue site, with the boom score trending higher across town where he comes in at 34.7% and ranks second among all players. Jokic has a -0.7 score on DraftKings and a -3.1 on FanDuel, but both marks are playable. Jokic should be rostered at or around the field’s projected ownership at the least.

Adam Scherer is focusing in on Jokic and the Denver bigs tonight, which he outlines in his NBA DFS Deep Dive today.

Both Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green are coming up as valuable plays on the slate as well. Gordon ranks eighth overall with a 24.3% boom score probability on DraftKings, where he also has a 20.7% optimal lineup rate and a 28.3-point median projection for just $5,300 at the power forward position. Green comes up just a few spots later, ranking 12th overall at a 22.9% boom score probability and a 21.9 median projection, and he costs a mere $3,800 at both forward positions. Green has a 16.6% optimal lineup rate, but his 20% public popularity pushes him to a -3.4 leverage score. Gordon has a -3.5 mark on the DraftKings slate. Both forwards can be slotted in for value as lineups are being built. They should be rostered around the field’s level, but an undercut to either would not be entirely unwarranted.

Gordon is the second-most negatively leveraged play on the FanDuel slate, his -13.3 mark trails only Bradley Beal who comes in with a -14.3. Gordon is projected for 43% ownership with just a $5,100 price tag at the power forward position. He lands in the optimal lineup in a slate-leading 29.7% of simulations for the site and his 26.2% boom score probability ranks fifth overall and first among eligible power forwards. Gordon warrants inclusion in lineups at those rates, but the popularity is daunting. Green, meanwhile, lands as more of an also-ran play on the FanDuel slate. He picks up eligibility at both forward positions, but his $4,400 price is not particularly special. Green is in the optimal lineup in 12.5% of simulated slates, and he has a -4.5 leverage score with just an 11% boom score probability. He is fine as a mix and match option for a fair price, but he is not a go-to option on the blue site tonight.

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