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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Donovan Mitchell | Tuesday 4/5/22

Terry McBride



These NBA DFS articles typically begin with copying the recognizable template from the previous day’s draft, setting everything up helps to mentally check in for the process of creating content. Today, after spending far too long trying to figure out what happened to Monday’s column before remembering that there was no NBA action yesterday, it feels like the correct mental state to analyze absurd chaotic atrocious late-season basketball. Tonight’s 12-game slate has all the trappings of the recently upside-down nights of fantasy basketball. The slate includes several obvious plays from the extreme value tier that act as fundamental building blocks for lineups, as well as a massive 244.5-point game total between the Rockets and Nets. That game offers a wide array of premium talent, low-cost bargains, and opportunity-based plays from the mid-range. Getting to a piece of that high-end contest in most lineups is a good idea, the variety of plays provided make it easy to target. The slate also includes five games with totals in the 230s, most notably a huge 238.5 between the Wizards and Timberwolves. The slate has numerous question marks and a lot of players gearing up for golf during the offseason, making an already unpredictable sport basically guesswork several hours from lock. Anything can happen with the known unknowns, such as the status of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, and there are plenty of unknown unknowns that can potentially wipe out all current expectations and completely change the shape of the slate moments before lock. The words “good” and “luck” come to mind.

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Getting to a broad mix of the obvious building-block values, however popular, in combination with a diverse mix of stars and mid-range players in less-than-likely combinations is a strong approach to lineup building on this slate. The options in high-scoring games are plentiful and many quality options are at low raw ownership, if not positive leverage on the slate. Finding the right combination of upside plays that the public is not getting to frequently enough is critical on a slate of this size when everyone is riding the same value 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 12 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.

Tre Jones: DK $4,000 — PG | FD $3,700 — PG

The obvious value play and the day’s most popular first click in NBA DFS lineups is Spurs backup point guard Tre Jones, who will be filling in for star Dejounte Murray once again tonight. Jones plated 34 minutes and produced 39.9 FanDuel points at a near-minimum salary in the team’s most recent game with Murray as a surprise scratch in the late minutes before tip-off. Jones averages 0.89 fantasy points per minute across all situations on just 14.4% usage this season, but he spiked to a 1.01 rate in 28 minutes a game over the team’s three most recent contests, including the big performance the last time out. Jones has a 54.5% true shooting percentage and a 26.6% assist rate in his 15.9 minutes per game this year. More importantly, Jones has produced a 0.92 per minute in 879 minutes without Murray on the floor this season and 1.0 per minute in 259 minutes without the star guard on the floor since the beginning of March. Jones is not nearly priced like a point-per-minute player, he should be in essentially every lineup across the NBA DFS industry.

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On DraftKings, Jones tops the board in every percentage-based category. The $4,000 point guard is projected to land in 60.7% of the public’s lineups, a mark that still falls short of the frequency with which Jones will hit his salary-adjusted required ceiling score. The backup guard reaches that score 65.8% of the time, 13 percentage points ahead of second-best Mo Wagner, a slightly more expensive value play at the forward or center positions. Jones lands in the optimal lineup in a slate-leading 45.6% of Awesemo’s simulated DraftKings slates, he is unavoidable even at a -15 leverage score that is likely to move past -20 before the slate starts. Jones’ value in the slate’s current configuration is simply unrivaled, he allows combinations that are not otherwise accessible. With a 32-point median projection and excellent probability marks, Tre Jones is the core value on tonight’s DraftKings NBA DFS slate.

The same is true on FanDuel tonight. Jones’ price is only $3,700 against the higher salary cap on the blue site, helping him reach the optimal lineup in 42.3% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. Jones is projected for 64.1% popularity, and it would be surprising to see him below 70% if other values do not emerge at similar pricing. Even with that much public weight, Jones is just worthwhile at this price. He is projected for a 31.84-point median score, giving him a 73.66% probability of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling. It will be difficult to replicate that production while maintaining a similarly constructed lineup if not utilizing Jones, his popularity should be disregarded when his probability can be weaponized to this degree, even at a -21.8 leverage score, Jones should be used aggressively on FanDuel tonight.

Donovan Mitchell: DK $8,600 — SG | FD $8,300 — SG/PG

With a number of question marks on major stars around the game, and several already ruled out, productive big names from the next tier down become more appealing on a large slate. This becomes doubly true when the player is available at low raw ownership, even if the probability metrics do not push to the very pinnacle of the board. This leads to Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, a season-long 1.22-point fantasy performer who sees a heavy 32.4% usage rate as his team’s primary scorer. Mitchell has a 57.9% true shooting percentage, and he is a strong facilitator who has a 26.8% assist percentage this year. Mitchell is producing the exact same per-minute fantasy rate as he posted on almost exactly the same usage last year, the Jazz guard profiles as the definition of “is who he is,” which could be more than enough on this slate. Mitchell comes at a fair price on both sites, he is arguably underpriced on one side of town, but he is not drawing the requisite attention, which could play to the benefit of sharp gamers.

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On the FanDuel slate, Mitchell ranks 15th overall with a 14.8% optimal lineup appearance rate with eligibility at either guard position. Mitchell is inexpensive at just $8,300 with established value available against FanDuel’s high salary cap, it is easy to include him in lineups on the blue site tonight. With that in mind, it is surprising to see the productive guard projected for just 15.7% raw ownership. While that technically leaves him at a -0.9 leverage score, Mitchell can be rostered for the low raw total as a potential differentiator with 60-fantasy-point upside. The guard has a 29.87% probability of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score, making him a strong play with a 42.32-point median projection. Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram is carrying a 42.23-point projection, basically the same median production at the small forward position for $300 more. Ingram makes for a strong option for differentiation for the same reason as Mitchell, despite just a 1.9 leverage score, his low raw ownership projection of 12.1% is targetable on this slate. Pairing the productive players in the mid-range is an interesting approach to lineup differentiation in FanDuel NBA DFS lineups tonight.

On DraftKings, Mitchell has an optimal lineup rate of just 10.1%, which seems shockingly low compared to the 45.6% at the top of the board, but actually ranks 17th overall on a board where the sixth-ranked player, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, is just 13.7% optimal. With essentially no real difference between that mark and Mitchell’s 10.1%, it is safe to say he is a strong play based on the 44.5-point median projection for his $8,600 mid-range salary. Mitchell checks in with a 27.93% boom score probability, he has a good chance of creating a necessary score on this slate and he compares favorably with options from all salary tiers. Mitchell is projected for just 10.3% ownership, again rendering him technically a negative leverage play, but low enough to be targeted for differentiation when compared to more popular plays. Ingram is less of a comparison point on the DraftKings slate, the site chose to price him at just $6,700, which makes him a prime target who should be owned aggressively despite a -8.2 leverage score. Ingram has a 34.44% probability of hitting his necessary ceiling score on this slate and he can be rostered inexpensively at either forward position.

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Moses Brown: DK $4,800 — C | FD $4,900 — C

Another strong option from the value tier, center Moses Brown has been a popular name on recent slates. The Cleveland big man is seeing time filling in for the absent Jarret Allen and Evan Mobley, seeing starter’s minutes playing 25.3 a night in his last three appearances. Brown averages 1.13 fantasy points per minute on 20.2% usage across all situations, and he has bounced to a 1.17 rate over the three most recent outings. Brown posted a 21.4-point FanDuel performance in 20 minutes in the team’s most recent game, a bit of a downturn after his productive stretch, but he is projected for 24.5 minutes this evening and he might be slipping under the public radar after the lackluster performance. Brown was in foul trouble in that game, and he saw no fourth quarter run in a competitive spot against Philadelphia, limiting his overall production. In a game against the Magic in which his Cavaliers are favored by 8.5, there should be far less concern for that situation to arise in the fourth quarter tonight.

Brown lands in the optimal lineup in 12.9% of Awesemo’s simulated DraftKings slates, making the center the eighth-most frequently optimal player at any position on the slate. He is projected for a 29.1-point median DraftKings score for the fair $4,800 asking price on the site that allows gamers to include multiple big men in a lineup. Brown has an excellent 34.32% probability of hitting his salary-adjusted ceiling score, the seventh-highest rate among all players and the third highest among eligible centers behind Mo Wagner and Embiid. Moses Brown is projected for just a 9.1% public ownership share, he should be included in rosters more frequently than the public is getting to him right now, Brown has a 3.8 leverage score that should be targeted for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.

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Despite a much lower 4.7% optimal lineup appearance rate, Brown warrants consideration in at least a handful of dart-throw lineups on the blue site. The issue, as always, is the singular center restriction. The opportunity cost in using Brown on this slate is significant, he is a positional blocker to shares of Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Vucevic, and others. Still, just 2.5% of the field is projected to include the big man in their lineups and he still has a 37.08% probability of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score. Brown should not be owned more than any of the star centers listed in this paragraph, but he can be owned at a rate two or three times that of the public without making a mistake. There is just enough opportunity for Brown to turn his 29.24-point median projection into a slate-relevant fantasy score, provided that the stars rostered in place of Embiid, Jokic, and other centers manage to produce equivalent fantasy scores in their place.

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

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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