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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Cam Reddish | Wednesday, Dec. 22

Terry McBride



The Wednesday NBA DFS slate is teetering like a Jenga game in a hurricane, with one game already scrapped and a host of players joining the COVID-19 protocols. And still, the NBA presses onward and all signs are pointing to a slate of at least a few games being played this evening. The board is the typical mix of extreme values and high-end expensive stars, although some new pricing has kicked in and changed the shape of several players in interesting ways that could severely impact public ownership. The mix continues to be very stars-and-scrubs focused, given all the value present on the slate.

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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 and a lot of unpredictability on the board, this article will focus on several of the top plays that are both expected to play and positively leveraged 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.

Cam Reddish: DraftKings — $3,700 — SG/SF | FanDuel — $4,500 — SG/SF

It is almost unbelievable that the Hawks vs Magic game is going to get off the ground this evening, given the weight of players on the unavailable list, but if it plays there are major values on all sides. One player who is not drawing nearly enough attention is Atlanta’s Cam Reddish, who is projected for more than 29 minutes tonight. Reddish has missed time and seen varying minutes during the early part of the season, but he should be reliable for around his projected run. He has played in each of the team’s four games since his return, averaging 21.5 minutes, with 26- and 28-minute nights getting offset by 17- and 15-minute nights. With the currently probable Bogdan Bogdanovic projected to play 28 minutes, Reddish still stands as a strong option on both sites tonight. If his teammate scratches, there will be even more to do. For the season, Reddish is averaging 0.81 fantasy points per minute on 21.3% usage. He has posted a 54.6% true shooting percentage with a 6.4% assist rate and 5.3% rebounding percentage. He will need time to accrue fantasy points, but he should see the necessary minutes to deliver value with the flickering hope of upside on both sites.

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On FanDuel, Reddish is the 11th-most frequently optimal option at any position. At just $4,500 he offers positional flexibility from shooting guard to small forward and he lands in the optimal lineup in 26.5% of Awesemo’s simulated slates in the current afternoon projections. Reddish has a 26.9-point median projection that already works well for the money, leading to a 32.6% boom score probability that sits ninth overall and fourth at both of his eligible positions. Reddish is projected for just 13.8% ownership, which may be somewhat undercut by the expectation of Bogdanovic playing and might increase if the teammate does not play. As it currently stands, Reddish is the most positively leveraged option on the blue site, sitting at a 12.7 mark in the category. If this is anywhere near the same level at lock it would be a strong value and differentiation play on the site.

On the DraftKings slate Reddish is the fourth-most frequently optimal player at any position, falling in behind three slightly more expensive options from the value and low mid-range tiers. Reddish is in line behind Delon Wright and Demarcus Cousins, as well as the now questionable Kevin Love. He is projected for a 27.7-point median fantasy performance tonight and is a firm building block for lineup construction on DraftKings. He comes with a 7.0 leverage score that also sits fourth among all players. Reddish should be targeted for additional shares, pending any slate-changing news.

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Lauri Markkanen: DraftKings — $6,000 — SF/PF| FanDuel — $4,900 — PF/SF

The depleted Cavaliers team will supposedly be facing the even more limited Celtics this evening, though both teams seem to have more players on the inactive list than their respective rosters. Boston is struggling with the roster so much that they took the step of signing Joe Johnson to a 10-day contract despite Johnson having not played in the NBA since 2018, things are that bad around the NBA right now. Among the more reliably healthy options, and particularly in light of the change in status for teammate Kevin Love, Cavaliers forward Lauri Markkanen stands tall on the board on one site and fits in as a solid mid-range option for differentiation on the other. Markkanen has averaged 0.81 fantasy points per minute on 19.2% usage through all situations this season, down significantly from the 0.88 that he put up on 19.7% usage last season. He has just a 6.1% assist percentage and an 8.2% rebounding rate. He has been limited to 26.7 minutes a night over the team’s most recent three games, though one of those was a 32-minute night and another was a 29-minute run. With a 32.3-minute projection this evening, Markkanen has value on both sites, but he looks like a stronger play on FanDuel where he is far less expensive.

On the DraftKings slate Markkanen is priced up at $6,000 and eligible at both forward positions. He retains value despite the inflated cost, partly based on the multi-position eligibility, and he sits 22nd overall with a 14.2% optimal lineup rate that is not many percentage points lower than players ranked several places ahead of him at the same position for worse ownership situations or prices. Markkanen is projected to be owned by just 6.7% of the field, leaving him with a very favorable 7.5 leverage score that can be targeted for additional shares when building DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight. He has a 30-point median projection and even comes with a 21.1% boom score probability, there is very little to dislike about the under-owned quality in this play this evening.

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Markkanen is a far stronger option on the blue site tonight. He inexplicably costs just $4,900 with eligibility at both forward positions, giving him impressive flexibility and landing him in the optimal lineup in 28.8% of simulated slates, good for 10th overall on the site and fifth at both of his eligible positions. He gains ground on several of those plays by virtue of an extremely low price and a strong 6.5 leverage score that is buoyed by his low 22.3% ownership projection on the five-game slate. Markkanen is projected for a 28.9-point median performance and he has an excellent 34.4% boom score probability. If Love does not play, these numbers could change, particularly on the FanDuel slate where Markkanen is so cheap. Watching the news and subsequent reaction in the leverage column will tell the tale of how many shares of Markkanen are appropriate this evening.

Elvis and other Popular Kings

Did you know that, despite being dubbed “the King of Rock and Roll” and recording over 600 songs, Elvis Presley never wrote a song and only received co-writer credits by contract? And now for the other popular Kings, these being the basketball playing type from Sacramento. The team is once again strapped for players, but three options are drawing significant attention on the board once again today and seem worth examination. These are the same options as when the team last played, namely Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Harrison Barnes. Incidentally, big man Richaun Holmes is questionable once again. If he does not play, there will be increased value for Tristan Thompson once again as well. For now, the focus is on the three players with most stable status.

Haliburton tops the list of Kings options on both sites tonight. He is drawing a 40.3-point FanDuel projection and adds 0.5 to that mark on the DraftKings slate. He will be a popular option who can be rostered at either guard position and is projected to be rostered by about 30% of the public on both sites. The Kings guard stands a strong chance to put up a solid fantasy performance once again and should be far more reliable than the Kingsguard, for any Game of Thrones crossover fans. Haliburton has been returning to form, averaging 1.24 fantasy points per minute in 38.7 minutes per game over the team’s three most recent outings and he has a boom score probability between 25 and 28% across both sites. Haliburton also comes as a positively leveraged play on the FanDuel slate where he lands at a 6.0 score. He is a playable -2.0 leverage option on DraftKings.

Barnes lands second-best on FanDuel with a 35.3% optimal lineup rate and a 32.6% boom score probability, while he slips on DraftKings where he has an 18.2% optimal lineup rate at a dramatically increased $7,100 salary at both forward positions. Barnes is projected for just 13.5% ownership which leaves a strong 4.7 leverage score and makes the uncomfortable salary a bit of an asset for DFS purposes. Barnes has a 7.1 leverage score for just $6,100 at both forward spots on the FanDuel slate. He can be rostered there despite a 28.2% ownership projection.

Buddy Hield was covered in this space the other day and largely delivered. He seems likely to see his number called frequently once again tonight and he stands as the second-best option by optimal lineup rate among Kings players on DraftKings with a 21.1%. Hield costs $6,900 on the site and he has eligibility at shooting guard and small forward, attributes he shares on the FanDuel slate where he is a $5,800 option. Hield has a 33% optimal lineup rate and a 34% boom score probability on that site, outpacing the 28.5% boom score he sees across town. The public is projected to include Hield in 37.6% of lineups on FanDuel and 24.5% on DraftKings, leaving his leverage scores at -4.6 and -3.4 respectively. He can be rostered, but differentiation in other places in a lineup will be a key factor in that chalky play.

Despite planning to punch out after three players, Chimezie Metu is at least worth a mention, particularly on the DraftKings slate where he is already coming up as an option that is competitive with his higher-priced teammates above. Metu costs just $5,800 at the power forward position on the site. He has a 20% optimal lineup rate and a 24.2% boom score probability, but he will also be popular. Metu is projected for a 24.2% ownership share, which could climb further with news on Holmes. He is negatively leveraged already, weighed down by a -4.2 leverage score, but that situation is worse on FanDuel where he is a -7.7 leverage play who has merely a 7.3% optimal lineup rate. Getting into negative leverage land on a play that is optimal in fewer than 10% of simulated slates is rarely a good idea, when the raw ownership is 15% and likely to climb it seems like a strong pass. Metu is a more viable option despite the popularity on the DraftKings slate.

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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 projections DFS. Our NBA FanDuel projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. We also have FanDuel NBA rankings, DraftKings NBA ownership rankings and Yahoo! NBA rankings for today's slate. Looking for more DFS FanDuel picks NBA and the top NBA DFS picks for today? View our FanDuel ownership, our DraftKings NBA ownership and our Yahoo! 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 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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