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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Bradley Beal | Saturday, Jan. 1

Terry McBride

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Awesemo's free NBA fantasy projections for DraftKings & FanDuel lineups today with expert Boom/Bust DFS optimizer picks tonight 1/5/2022

The first NBA DFS slate of the new year features five games with reasonably high point totals on the board in Vegas. The lowest total on the board comes in the game between the Nets and Clippers and that contest comes in at 219.5. After a first portion of the season with nothing but low totals, this is a great way to start off 2022 and there are interesting pieces for lineup building in every tier. Of course, the list of missing players remains long tonight and there are a number of resulting value opportunities that will be extremely popular. Getting to the correct distribution of value plays that connect and underappreciated options from other salary ranges is the critical difference in unlocking the very top of tournament standings. Tonight’s slate features several star players in excellent situations, but also a broad mid-range that could contribute toward a more evenly built approach to lineups in spite of the massive value plays available.

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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 five games on the slate, this article will focus on several of 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.

Serge Ibaka: DraftKings — $3,300 — PF/C | FanDuel — $4,000 — PF/C

A day after largely failing to impress as a chalky value piece, Serge Ibaka rockets directly back to the top of the probability board on both sites with most of his relevant teammates missing once again. The Clippers big man is projected for a 27.1-minute night and NBA DFS gamers can cling to hope that he will see more than the 18 minutes he received last night. Ibaka has been a 0.88 fantasy point per minute player across all situations over the first 17 games of his season, but he was a 1.07 per-minute man just last year and has been known to produce when on the floor. Over the team’s three most recent games, Ibaka has produced a 1.13 per-minute mark more in line with his past. Even the perceived clunker of a performance last night was only rendered that by the reduced time on the floor, Ibaka was producing more than a fantasy point per minute in that contest.

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On tonight’s FanDuel slate, Ibaka comes in as a $4,000 option at either the power forward or center spot. The cheap price and positional flexibility help him land in the optimal lineup in 42.3% of Awesemo’s simulated slates for the blue site. That rate lands Ibaka second overall on the slate, behind only small forward Saddiq Bey of the Pistons, who will be at -8.0 leverage on the slate. Ibaka comes with an excellent 10.9 leverage score tonight, he is dramatically under-owned for the per-minute potential he provides. With just 31.4% popularity there is good reason to go to the Clippers big man again and again in lineup builds. He comes with a 28.1-point median projection and a 50.4% boom score probability that falls in behind only Daniel Gafford at any position on the slate. Gafford is a center-only play that comes up 26.5% optimal in simulations and is carrying slightly positive leverage, he and Ibaka make for an interesting pair for just $9,900 combined. When choosing between the two, Ibaka’s probability marks, lower price, and fantastic leverage score make the decision easy.

For a mere $3,300 Ibaka is the best value play on the DraftKings slate. The public is aware of him, he is projected for a 45.7% ownership share that makes him the third-most-popular player on the slate behind guards Facundo Campazzo and Derrick White. Both of those players are at concerning negative leverage marks, but Ibaka lands in the optimal lineup in 52% of simulated slates and comes up as a 6.3 leverage play despite his heavy popularity. The price is simply too low for the upside that the player can provide if he meets his expectation of minutes. Ibaka offers positional flexibility between the power forward and center spots on this site as well, and he is projected for a 28.8-point median score. The standout metric on Ibaka’s line this evening is his boom score probability, which breaks through to a slate-leading 71.1%. That rate of success outpaces second-ranked Luka Garza and Gafford both by more than 13 percentage points. Ibaka is a clear building block for success this evening, he simply needs to play the expected amount of time in projections and he will deliver upside for the cost.


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Will Barton: DraftKings — $6,200 — SG | FanDuel — $5,800 — SG/SF

The Nuggets are still lacking a major portion of their rotation and they have several questionable players on the board tonight, with the status of Aaron Gordon and Austin Rivers still undecided. The obvious play from this team is superstar center Nikola Jokic, who is a major go-to option from the top shelf on both sites once again. The Nuggets also yield interesting mid-range options from the pool of players who are expected to be in the lineup. Campazzo is less popular on the FanDuel slate than he is on DraftKings, given a $1,300 price discrepancy between the sites, but he is still at best an efficiently owned mid-range piece. The more interesting option on both sites seems to be Will Barton. The Denver wing is projected to be popular across the industry, he is at an affordable price in the middle of the board and he is coming up as a frequently optimal play on both sites. Barton has produced a 0.91 fantasy point per minute rate this season with a 53.2% true shooting percentage and an 18.7% assist rate. He is projected for a 34.7-minute night, which should provide enough upside at his price even at the 0.89 rate he has provided over the past three games. Barton played 36 minutes the last time out and put up a 34.8-point night on FanDuel. That is underwhelming but not entirely destructive to a lineup’s potential on a five-game slate.

On DraftKings, Barton is a $6,200 option at only the shooting guard position. He is a popular play who will be in a projected 32.3% of public lineups tonight. That surprisingly high rate of exposure leaves Barton as a -0.3 leverage play on the site, he lands in the optimal lineup in an excellent 32% of Awesemo’s simulated slates despite the single position eligibility, but the public is getting to him with efficient frequency, and it would be conceivable to see him over-exposed by the time lock arrives. The 35.8-point median projection is appealing for the cost, however, and Barton still carries a strong 43.9% boom score probability, displaying a clear path to a ceiling score that would suddenly become a requirement for the upper-tier of contest standings. By boom score probability, Barton ranks 10th overall on the slate, but fourth among shooting guards, all of whom are at least equally popular and as negatively leveraged or worse.

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Barton is a stronger play on the blue site tonight. He costs just $5,800 and has eligibility at both small forward and shooting guard. This flexibility and discounted price help Barton land in the optimal lineup in an impressive 41.8% of simulated slates, the fourth-highest rate on the board and the second-highest among players who are also positively leveraged, behind only Ibaka. Barton is projected for 38.3% ownership, which leaves him at a solidly playable 3.5 leverage score on the FanDuel slate. He is carrying a 34.3-point median projection that would probably be a reasonable score on its own on this slate but there is upside for more apparent in his 41.9% boom score probability. That rate sits sixth overall on the site but second at both of Barton’s eligible positions. He lands one spot ahead of similarly positioned Hamidou Diallo, who is $1,000 more expensive and 12 percentage points more popular, but just 0.2 percentage points more frequently optimal. That drops Diallo into action with an ugly -8.2 leverage score, as basically the same play for far less cost, lower ownership, and better leverage, Barton seems the clear choice in a head-to-head decision.

Bradley Beal: DraftKings — $10,300 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $8,700 — SG

With apologies to Stephen Curry, who looks like a spectacular play on FanDuel but just a good one on DraftKings, this spot goes to Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who may have finally gotten his legs under him for the season. After coming in as one of the favorites to lead the league in scoring, Beal has struggled mightily to start the campaign, posting just a 1.07 fantasy point per minute mark on 30.4% usage. While getting 33.1% usage alongside Russell Westbrook last season, Beal posted a 1.26 per-minute mark and was a top scorer. Beal has been back for one game after a three-game absence, last time out he posted an encouraging 52.2 fantasy point performance in just 34 minutes, a 1.54 per-minute mark. The Wizards guard looks like a quality pay-up option on both sites this evening. He can be the highwater salary in a balanced build or one of several premium players in a stars-and-scrubs approach to NBA DFS lineup construction tonight.

On FanDuel, Beal lands as the ninth-most frequently optimal player, 0.5 percentage points ahead of the rate at which we find Curry in the optimal lineup in Awesemo’s simulated slates. Both stars are excellent options on the blue site tonight, but Beal outpaces Curry by boom score probability as well, coming in with a 24.3% mark to his peer’s 13.1%, although this is where Curry’s $10,300 salary on the site comes into play, Beal is simply at a different tier when he is priced at just $8,700. The Wizards star is projected for a 42.5-point median score, only trailing Curry by three fantasy points. Beal is a positively leveraged option on the FanDuel slate, the field is projected to roster him 27.4% of the time, leaving a 2.4 leverage score on one of the top guards of the day. Curry comes in at lower overall ownership, just 18% of the field is forecasted to include him, which leaves him with a titanic 11.3 leverage score that should absolutely not be ignored. Both of these guards are excellent plays on FanDuel, they should both be rostered ahead of the field.

On DraftKings, Curry is a positively leveraged play, but only to the tune of a 5.2 score. He lands in the optimal lineup just 9.5% of the time for his $11,800 salary against a lower cap, although only 4.3% of the field seems willing to pay that rate for the Warriors superstar. Beal is the better buy even at an also-inflated $10,300. He offers multi-position eligibility between point guard and shooting guard that Curry lacks and he will fall in the optimal lineup in 14.4% of simulated slates while remaining in single-digit ownership. Beal is carrying a 44.7-point median projection and a 14.1% boom score probability. The boom score is not high compared to the value plays on the board, it is also outpaced by a few mid-range options including $7,000 Derrick White and most of the players mentioned above. All of those are inexpensive options that will require raw fantasy point scoring from players like Beal and Curry to make a lineup work. In this case, it is Beal who seems like the stronger play for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups in tournaments tonight, although both he and Curry look like quality options where gamers can pay up to be different.


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