A pint-sized Thursday three-game slate leaves much to be desired in terms of flexibility of lineup construction for NBA DFS. With only a handful of viable options at each lineup spot, there are only a few critical inflection points on the slate, typically surrounding the stars or value plays, while much of the small mid-range looks quite similar. Tournament play for a slate of this nature demands attention be paid to the leverage scores and ownership projections for all types of players, making sound leverage-based pivots in a variety of tiers for either point projections or salary. The rotation of upside pieces through a base of positively leveraged frequently optimal plays is a strong foundation for construction, getting ahead of the field in a few well-chosen areas can the move that unlocks the top of standings.
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 only three games on the slate, the focus is on the top leverage 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
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 — $9,700 — PG | FanDuel — $9,800 — PG/SG
Regular readers could be forgiven for mistakenly thinking that Spurs’ point guard Dejounte Murray is this writer’s favorite player in the NBA. While that may become the case if the Knicks pry him away from San Antonio via trade, the simple fact is that Murray has been written up in this space so frequently this season purely because of his outstanding play and strong probability marks on slate after slate. Murray has posted a fantastic 1.33 fantasy point per minute rate this season, a major leap from the 1.11 that he posted last year. He has seen an uptick from 23.1% to 25.2% usage in early action and he is up to a 50.3% true shooting percentage with a 34.6% assist percentage. Murray is an excellent multi-category contributor who also has an 11.3% rebounding rate and averages 2.4 stocks per game. Murray is priced up on both sites for his performance to this point in the season, but he falls under the five-figure mark, which gives him strong appeal at the star level. He will be popular on both sites, but there is room to work with given the rates at which we find Murray in the optimal lineup across the industry.
Murray comes in as a $9,700 option at only the point guard position on the DraftKings slate. He is projected for a 48.4-point median night with an excellent 35.2% boom score probability. That mark lands second overall on the slate, two percentage points behind midrange value Dillon Brooks and above expensive superstar Nikola Jokic. Murray will be owned by roughly 30% of the field, but his optimal lineup rate exceeds that mark dramatically, giving him an excellent 11.2 leverage score that can be targeted with ease. There is great NBA DFS lineup construction value in getting to a player who comes up in the optimal lineup in 40.9% of simulated slates while the public is that far behind the curve, Murray is a top pay-up option on the limited slate, he is also advantageous for having a lower salary than comparable stars, he is easily one of the best options on the DraftKings slate.
The Spurs point guard ranks even better on the FanDuel slate. He has a 59.3% optimal lineup appearance rate on the blue site while carrying a 47.2-point median projection, making him the second-most frequently optimal player available after Brooks. Murray has multi-position eligibility at both guard spots for $9,800, he is pricey but well worth the salary on the site, his 24.6% boom score probability ranks third overall on the site and he is projected for 40.2% ownership. While that mark seems high, it is far lower than the 59.7% projected for boom score probability leader Jaren Jackson Jr. or the 54.7% projected for Brooks. At that level of ownership, Murray still carries a highly targetable 11.0 leverage score on the slate, it is worth leaving room for him in lineup constructions of all types on the FanDuel NBA DFS slate tonight.
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Rudy Gobert: DraftKings — $8,400 — C | FanDuel — $8,900 — C
Another star-caliber player who comes at a bit of a discount from some of the apex options on the board, Utah’s Rudy Gobert stands as a strong option from site to site. The Jazz center has posted a 1.29 fantasy point per minute rate on just 16.1% usage this season, dominating the boards with a 22.2% rebounding percentage and putting up a slate-leading 74.6% true shooting percentage. Gobert is a brilliant multi-category contributor who racks up 3.1 stocks per game while averaging 14.5 rebounds and 14.8 points per game. He is lacking in public attention on this slate with much of the focus on Jokic or a range of value plays at the position on both sites. The underappreciated big man should be rostered aggressively, getting to him beyond the field’s projected number is both easy and potentially valuable.
On the FanDuel slate, Gobert is projected for a 40.1-point median night and he lands in the optimal lineup in 21% of simulated slates on the singular center site. That mark lands 16th overall but fourth among eligible centers and second to only Jokic among players who are exclusively centers. The opportunity cost between those two players is likely the biggest downside in opting to play Gobert, but the $2,200 salary savings can buy back a lot of that upside for NBA DFS point-scoring at other positions. Gobert’s 15% boom score probability ranks 10th overall on the slate and third among eligible centers, with both Jokic and Jakob Poeltl jumping ahead of him by a few percentage points. Gobert is still an excellent option, particularly given just a 13.2% ownership projection that leaves him with an excellent 7.8 leverage score. With the other viable centers on the FanDuel slate coming in at negative leverage, Gobert’s value becomes clear, he should be targeted for more ownership than he is drawing.
On the DraftKings slate, the center lands in the optimal lineup in 26.6% of simulations. He costs merely $8,400 on the site, giving him a $3,400 value advantage over Jokic, though the latter option has a median projection that is 14.3 points higher than the 40.1-point night for which we have Gobert projected. The Jazz center has the fifth-highest boom score probability on the slate, coming in with a 24.3% rate that exceeds every center but the Rocky Mountain superstar in the middle for Denver. Gobert is projected for a 19.5% ownership share, giving him a 7.1 leverage score that far outpaces the 0.30 leverage at which we find Jokic, which creates enough of an advantage that it should be considered for additional ownership shares. The ability to leverage the flex spot to roster both centers on this site is another major advantage for lineup construction on the DraftKings NBA DFS slate.
Aaron Gordon: DraftKings — $6,100 — SF/PF | FanDuel — $5,500 — PF
The public’s attention is squarely on Jokic in the Nuggets frontcourt, deservedly so considering the monster line that the center put up against this Spurs squad in their most recent game and how well he projects for this evening. There is trickle-down attention being paid to fellow Denver big man Aaron Gordon on this slate too, the forward comes in at a fair price and strong probability marks across the industry and is a viable option for both upside and leverage across the industry. Gordon’s production has been down overall through the first part of the season, he has a 0.82 fantasy point per minute rate on 17.9% usage after posting a 0.94 per-minute mark with 20.4% usage across all situations and two teams last season. Gordon has contributed a 59.2% true shooting percentage and a 9.3% assist rate with a 9.1% rebounding percentage this season, and his production has concerningly taken another step back in recent weeks, he has averaged just 0.77 fantasy points per minute since November 15th and 0.66 in 144 minutes since December 1st. Still, Gordon has compelling talent and enough of a role to carve out relevance on this slate.
Gordon is less expensive and, consequently, far more popular on the FanDuel slate. He only has power forward eligibility on the site but that is not slowing 35% of the field from including him in lineup constructions in early projections. There is still value beyond that mark, however, for just $5,500, Gordon is projected for a 28.7-point median projection and he has a 21.9% boom score probability that ranks fifth overall on the site. He is still drawing positive leverage despite the high ownership. The Denver forward lands in the optimal lineup in 38.3% of simulated slates, leaving him with a 3.3 leverage score that props the play up against the weight of popularity. Adding shares of Gordon, particularly in lineups that skip Jokic for Gobert, could be a strong pivot on the site, though it is not one that will be a true lineup differentiator, leaving more than a third of the slate in direct competition. Gordon is a good but not spectacular option on the blue site.
The forward stands out on DraftKings where his price tag jumps to $6,100 on the site and he picks up eligibility at small forward, enhancing the value and utility of the player while decreasing the public exposure to just a 15.5% rate. Gordon is projected for a 29.4-point median score and he has a 17.9% boom score probability while landing in the optimal lineup in 24.1% of simulated slates. That advantage over his ownership number makes Gordon very appealing at his 8.6 leverage score, he is a prime mid-range option on the DraftKings slate, he can be rostered in multiple configurations, and his probability of a slate-relevant night far exceeds the rate to which the public is rostering him. Getting to Gordon ahead of a turnaround, or just a strong night, could yield significant returns on a three-game slate, he is an excellent option on this side of the slate locking.
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Check out our NBA DFS rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA FanDuel projections. Our NBA daily projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more NBA DFS tonight and the best NBA DFS tools? View our DraftKings ownership, our Yahoo! NBA ownership and our FanDuel NBA ownership projections. We also have Yahoo! ownership rankings, FanDuel NBA ownership rankings and DraftKings ownership rankings for today's slate.
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