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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Devin Booker | Wednesday 3/23/22

Terry McBride



Wednesday’s NBA DFS slate sees 22 teams in action, with nine of the night’s 11 games tipping by 8:30 ET and the final two starting on the West Coast 90 minutes later. The two late games are both carrying totals above the 230-point line, the 76ers are in Los Angeles to battle the Lakers in a 230.5-point contest that sees the visitors favored by seven over the reeling home team. The later game is another that could get out of hand quickly, the visiting Spurs are not a team overflowing with premium NBA talent, but they are favored by 9.5 in a 231-point game over the NCAA 16-seed currently masquerading as the Portland Trail Blazers. Both of the late games are going to be slate-relevant, there are too many quality options from every price tier, including significant values and apex stars, for these games to not matter. Planning for them and leaving room to swap into and out of positions is mandatory on this large slate, so be mindful of that when running your NBA optimizer tonight.

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The primary targets for high game totals from the earlier part of the evening include a 235 between the Pacers and Kings, a 237.5 in the Nets – Grizzlies game, and a slate-leading 239.5 in the battle between the Suns and Timberwolves. Of the remaining games, the only lackluster spots are the 216-point total in the otherwise interesting Jazz – Celtics game, and the slate-low 211 in a game that sees the hometown Miami Heat as 7-point favorites over the depleted visiting Warriors. With 11 games on the slate, the topographical map of the slate has only a few obvious high points among wide-ranging plateaus of similar quality. Hewing closely to the optimal lineup appearance rates and using boom score probability and leverage to break evaluation ties is a strong approach to lineup building tonight. On such a large slate, with fairly dispersed ownership, it should be relatively easy to construct unique lineups using premium plays.

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 11 games on the slate, this article will focus on the top overall plays on the NBA DFS 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.

NBA DFS Optimizer Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups

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 optimizer 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.

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Obi Toppin: DK $3,400 — PF  | FD $3,500 — PF

One of the only things that might feel less comfortable than doubling down on the Knicks is doing so on a lottery pick who has not been much of a standout over his first two seasons in the league. Forward Obi Toppin has world-class athleticism, a motor that rarely drops out of high gear and enough talent to keep him in the league. Whether he can seize opportunities to show what he is capable of in larger roles for coach Thibodeau is the ongoing question. Toppin is stuck behind nominal Knicks star Julius Randle at the four, and he has not played his way into a situation where coaches have to force him into the rotation. Toppin sees just 14.9 minutes a night on average, contributing 0.93 fantasy points per minute across all situations. With Randle ailing, Toppin stepped into the starting lineup for New York last night in an important game against the Hawks. He played 24 minutes and posted a disappointing 23.9 FanDuel points for a massive portion of the field on yesterday’s four-game NBA DFS slate. It is important to ignore any recency bias and focus on the opportunity and probability ratings for Toppin on both sites tonight. He is likely to be playing in the same situation, seeing the start in the absence of Randle, who is technically questionable but seems unlikely to play. Just because he failed last night does not mean he will do so again today, the player checks in at extreme value prices for his opportunity across the industry once again tonight.

Obi Toppin is the fourth-most frequently optimal player on the DraftKings slate. He comes in as one of the main value targets on the board with just a $3,400 price tag. Toppin is projected for a 26.7-point median score but he has a massive 55.5% boom score probability for the low price at the power forward position. The players who rank above Toppin by boom score are the same three who land above him by optimal lineup appearance rate, and they all come at easy prices on the site. Dallas guard Spencer Dinwiddie tops the list when sorting by the optimal rate for $6,400 across either guard spot, center Damian Jones ranks second as a $3,700 value, and guard Tyus Jones (no relation) ranks third for $4,600. Each of those players is slightly more optimal than Toppin’s 25.1%, and the 58.08% and 62.76% boom score marks at which Dinwiddie and Damian Jones land exceed Toppin’s 55.5% probability of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score. The Knicks forward compares extremely favorably to those options but he will be at 35% popularity and a -8.5 leverage score, while Damian Jones lands at 29.2% ownership and a 1.4 leverage score, as the best differentiation choice in the group. Toppin was less popular and landed as a positive leverage play in earlier versions of projections, but the public popularity has caught up to the point where he is simply a highly-owned building block, rather than a differentiation point. The Knicks forward should still be owned in a significant number of lineups, he provides access to unique constructions on the site.

The Obi Toppin situation is similar on the FanDuel slate tonight. The middling power forward costs the flat minimum on the blue site, his $3,500 salary has him rocketing through his required salary-adjusted ceiling score 52.29% of the time. That ranks Toppin as the fifth-best play for boom score probability on the FanDuel slate, where he again checks in as the lowest-cost high-probability option. Interestingly, the players ranked above Toppin for boom score likelihood are all guards. The list includes Jalen Brunson, Tyus Jones, Dillon Brooks and Davion Mitchell, with Dinwiddie and Alec Burks trailing just behind the power forward. As a positional standout among the high probability plays, Toppin becomes very interesting at the minimum salary. The second-year man has a 26.15-point FanDuel median projection and he is in the optimal lineup in 17.4% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. That rate drops Toppin to 12th overall on the board, but he is undeniably valuable even with a -9.4 leverage score. The minimum salary and potential to hit his necessary ceiling, while providing access to the top star combinations on the slate are the focal points when considering the Toppin play. His raw ownership is not as extremely high as may be expected with his minimum price, however, Toppin lands in just 26.8% of the public’s lineups, just the ninth-most popular player tonight. As the slate stands, Toppin is the only player providing a pathway toward a premium lineup that rosters an extreme value at power forward instead of a guard, making him an easy entry point to premium FanDuel NBA DFS lineups tonight.

Jonathan Kuminga: DK $4,100 — PF | FD $4,400 — SF

Despite playing for the underdog in the matchup with the night’s lowest game total, Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga is looking like an under-appreciated play from the value tier on both sites tonight. Kuminga has had a productive season, playing 16.5 minutes a night on average and posting 0.93 fantasy points per minute. The forward gets his numbers on 22.5% usage under most circumstances, and he has averaged more than 24 minutes over the team’s 10 most recent games. With star guard Stephen Curry injured, and both Draymond Green and Klay Thompson out for rest on the second night of a back-to-back, Kuminga should have plenty of opportunities to see bonus time on the floor. He is expected to start in the frontcourt alongside Kevon Looney and Andrew Wiggins, with Jordan Poole and Gary Payton Jr. rounding out the starting five. In 267 minutes without all of Curry, Green and Thompson on the floor since the beginning of the calendar year, Kuminga has seen a minor uptick to 0.97 fantasy points per minute, with his usage jumping to 25%. The additional looks and minutes should result in a quality NBA DFS scoring performance from the young forward, but the public is not rostering him at overwhelming rates, which makes him an interesting tournament target.

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On the FanDuel slate, the Warriors rookie slides into the small forward spot for just $4,400. Kuminga’s 10.6% optimal lineup appearance rate may not be a number that is impressive on the surface, but the slate drops below the 20% mark with 10th-ranked R.J. Barrett and below the 15% optimal range with 17th-ranked Buddy Hield. Kuminga’s rate of landing in the optimal lineup drops onto a wide plateau of similar options from every price and position. He gains significant value by comparison to the field through a near-total lack of popularity in the current configuration of the FanDuel slate. Kuminga has just a 9.8% popularity projection on FanDuel tonight, making him at worst efficiently owned by the public. As a strong mix and match option, he offers sneaky upside, as evidenced by an excellent 39.74% boom score probability. At that rate of hitting his required salary-adjusted ceiling score, Kuminga ranks 12th overall on the slate and second among small forwards. The positional value is noteworthy, the limited ownership on Kuminga in the position suggests that the field is getting their value plays at other positions, so rostering the Warriors forward at his low price is a potential point of differentiation despite a fairly efficient 0.8 leverage score. Kuminga has upside beyond his 27.76-point median projection on tonight’s slate, he can be rostered enthusiastically on FanDuel.

The popularity situation changes somewhat on the DraftKings slate, where Kuminga is projected to be a 23.9% owned player, but he retains his value even at tight ownership. The $4,100 price tag at power forward has significant value in a variety of lineup combinations on the slate, Kuminga’s ownership is efficient as he lands in the optimal lineup in 23.1% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. That rate sits fifth-overall on the DraftKings board, with Kuminga falling in behind Toppin, Dinwiddie and the Joneses. As the least popular member of that group, the Warriors forward looks like a strong play either in combination with some of the other values in an extreme stars-and-scrubs build or as a lower-owned alternative in a lineup that focuses more on even construction. Kuminga is projected for a median of 28.7 DraftKings points, he has a highly targetable 48.66% boom score probability on the slate, once again the fifth-ranked mark on the board behind the same group of value plays. Among eligible power forwards, Kuminga ranks behind only Toppin in both probability categories. He is within 3 percentage points of the inexpensive Knicks alternative on the upside, and he stands 7.3 percentage points above third-ranked Darius Bazley. Kings mid-range option Harrison Barnes is the only other power forward who lands in the optimal lineup at a double-digit rate, hitting that spot 15% of the time. Every other power forward option on the DraftKings slate – stars included – lands in the optimal lineup in fewer than 10% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. Superstar LeBron James ranks eighth on the board at 6.9% optimal, 1 percentage point lower than fifth-ranked Celtics star Jayson Tatum, with Kevin Durant in the middle. Each of those players has eligibility at another position, they are prime targets from the star tier after rostering the value plays that unlock those doors, but the rates at which getting value is the optimal play at power forward cannot be ignored when building DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight, Kuminga is a big part of that equation.

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Devin Booker: DK $9,300 — PG/SG | FD $9,500 — SG

As the main star and offensive focal point for the Phoenix Suns, guard Devin Booker looks like a standout play in the night’s most highly-totaled contest. Booker will once again be on the court without star point guard Chris Paul, a situation that has resulted in a jump from his average 1.22 fantasy points per minute to a 1.34 per-minute rate in 376 minutes without the veteran star by his side since the start of the calendar year. Booker has been a 1.39 per-minute player in 237 minutes without Paul in the month of March, he is a top-end player who is arguably underpriced even in the low $9,000s on both sites. Booker comes with manageable popularity and good probability rates across the industry, he should be a bigger target than he currently is for the field, getting beyond the public’s ownership numbers seems like a quality approach to lineups on both sites tonight.

At 14.1%, the $9,300 option at either guard position is the 14th-most highly optimal player on the entire DraftKings slate. Booker’s optimal rate compares favorably with any player priced above $7,000, only the value plays are at significantly higher optimal rates, they are the key building blocks to reach premium plays like Booker. The Suns’ guard lands behind fellow stars Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Joel Embiid and Dejounte Murray but he costs $400 less than Gilgeous-Alexander, who may not play, more than $1,000 below the price tags at which we find Embiid and Murray. With a lower price, one would reasonably expect more popularity, but Booker is projected for just 12% ownership on the slate, leaving him at a very playable 2.1 leverage score. The star scorer can be targeted for ownership well beyond the field, he has a 48.9-point median DraftKings projection and a 33.95% boom score probability, the eighth-highest raw fantasy points projection and the 13th-highest boom score mark. Among players priced at more than $9,000, Booker’s boom score probability ranks fourth behind the same three players who outpace him in the optimal lineup category. Only Atlanta’s Trae Young is at better than a 10% optimal rate or a 30% boom score probability after Booker, stars like Karl-Anthony Towns and James Harden are at single-digit optimal rates and boom scores in the low-20s and mid-teens. All of these comparison points make the Suns star pop off the board for his low overall ownership, Booker is a high-quality target for lineup differentiation without sacrificing any upside.

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As a 3.9 leverage score player on the FanDuel slate, Booker appears to have similar value on the blue site. He costs $9,500 and loses his positional flexibility, with FanDuel restricting him to just the shooting guard spot, but Booker still lands in the lineup in 16% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. That rate ranks 14th overall, but sixth among eligible shooting guards, with many of the players above him carrying multi-position eligibility. Booker has an excellent 46.98-point median FanDuel projection, the eighth-highest raw point projection on the site and the third-highest among eligible shooting guards (both Murray and Gilgeous-Alexander have shooting guard eligibility on the blue site). Booker has a 27.9% boom score probability at this price, among players who cost more than $9,000 on FanDuel, Booker’s boom score mark ranks fifth and his optimal lineup rate slips to sixth, but he is the only player in the group who comes at positive leverage. The Suns’ star is projected for just 12.1% popularity on the site, every other star is owned by at least 15% of the field, with the exception of Towns and Kyrie Irving, both of whom are saddled with single-digit optimal lineup rates. Booker is a clear target among the stars, and gamers will benefit from the fact that he is at a notably lower price and is significantly less popular than other options at his position. Adding shares of Booker should be a strong approach to FanDuel NBA DFS lineups tonight.

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

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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