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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Gary Trent Jr. | Tuesday, Dec. 14

Terry McBride

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The tiny Tuesday slate of NBA DFS action features just three games after the NBA postponed the rest of the week for the ailing Chicago Bulls. With a 7:30 p.m. ET start for two matchups, followed by a 2.5-hour gap before the final game of the night tips, there is bound to be additional chaos coming. All three games are totaled below 220. The final game of the night between the Suns and Trail Blazers is the highest on the board at 219 and features several extremely interesting players. The Knicks are 5-point underdogs to the Warriors in New York, the Nets are favored over the Raptors by the same margin across the river in Brooklyn, and the Suns are in front of the Trail Blazers by just 1.5, meaning there should be fantasy point scoring production from all angles on this short slate. The board already features a few strong value plays and a few known question marks, such as the status of Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton, could create several more as the day approaches lock.

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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 three games on the board, this article will focus 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.

Gary Trent Jr.: DraftKings — $5,900 — SG/SF | FanDuel — $6,100 — SG/SF

With reliable minutes in the Raptors rotation, the 37.1-minute projection for Gary Trent Jr. stands out as a quality value on the short slate today. The Toronto starters are all projected for significant action once again this evening, but Trent outpaces his teammates in various probability metrics across the industry, and he is coming in as a clear leverage play. Trent has seen 34.5 minutes per game for the season and 36.3 over the team’s three most recent games, posting 0.91 fantasy points per minute over that stretch and 0.86 on 20% usage across all situations this year. He has a 54.8% true shooting percentage but just an 8.2% assist rate and 4.5% rebounding share. At a fair price, with low relative ownership and multi-position eligibility across the industry, Trent has both value and utility for NBA DFS lineups on both sites tonight.

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Trent is eligible at both shooting guard and small forward for $5,900 on the DraftKings slate. He is projected for a 31.9-point median score and a 21.3% boom score probability that ranks fourth overall on the site and first among eligible small forwards. Trent lands in the optimal lineup in 34.1% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, the fifth-highest mark on the entire slate, second highest among shooting guards and tops at the small forward position. The field is getting to Trent, but not in an outlandish fashion for a slate of this size. Trent is projected for 27.8% ownership, which leaves him with an excellent 6.3 leverage score tonight, making him one of the top options for leverage among players projected for more than a 25% appearance rate in the optimal lineup.

On the FanDuel slate, Trent lands as the second-best option for leverage, coming in with an immense 14.6 in the category. The public is projected to pay his $6,100 price tag only 30.4% of the time, while he lands in the optimal lineup in more than 45% of simulated slates, a gap between quality and exposure that should absolutely not be ignored, considering the quality production. Trent is projected for a 32.4-point median night with a 27.1% that ranks sixth from the top on the blue site. He is second to New York’s Alec Burks, who leads the slate in both boom score and optimal lineup rate with the same multi-positional eligibility between shooting guard and small forward while coming in at a $5,600 price. Burks has a 43.6% ownership share and an 8.2 leverage score, both players are targetable options on the slate tonight, but Trent adds appeal with the raw ownership mark that lands 13 percentage points lower than Burks for a minor salary uptick.


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Deandre Ayton (Q): DraftKings — $7,500 — C | FanDuel — $7,500 — C

A known question mark in the late game on this slate creates opportunity around Deandre Ayton once again this evening. Ayton is underpriced for his quality across the industry, coming in at the same $7,500 price tag with center-only eligibility on both sites. If Ayton’s status is not confirmed until after lock, he stands to be a spectacular play if he takes the court. Ayton comes in sporting 1.12 fantasy points per minute for the season on 21.1% usage. He has a 62.4% true shooting percentage with a 17.6% rebounding rate and a 7.3% assist share. The per-minute mark is a nice step up for a young player from the 1.08 that he produced on 17.9% usage last year, showing Ayton’s overall growth. With the field currently trailing and the potential for the late start time to dramatically impact his overall exposure, Ayton seems like a terrific play to plan for in GPPs across the industry tonight. Rostering shares of him with specific plans for pivots if he is out, or leaving the option to swap into shares of him if he is in should be a part of a strategy for this evening.

On the DraftKings slate, Ayton is projected for a 38-point median projection and a 17.7% boom score probability. The median projection is the ninth-highest overall and second-best among center-eligible plays. He is projected for limited 17% public popularity, a number that will rise if he is confirmed in early, but one that is currently leaving him with a very appealing leverage mark. Ayton is landing in 32.3% of optimal lineups in Awesemo’s simulated slates, making him the sixth-most frequently optimal player at any position, and giving him a 15.3 leverage score that leads all players on the slate. This will tighten regardless of when news breaks, but there is a clear opportunity to leverage shares above the field’s hesitation, with the advantage of being able to late swap out of bad shares if Ayton sits out again it should be an easy play to make.

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Ayton comes with a far lower leverage score on the FanDuel slate, but the field is still trailing his potential. His optimal lineup appearance rate suffers from the site’s singular center stipulation, but he still pops up 23.3% of the time in simulated slate, the 17th-highest mark on the board. There are several centers ranked ahead of him on the board, but only Jusuf Nurkic lacks power forward eligibility among that group of players. Ayton’s 36.7-point median projection ranks ninth overall on the slate and his sturdy 20.9% boom score probability is the 10th-highest, but fifth among eligible centers. Ayton is projected for 20.3% ownership, leaving a playable amount of leverage at a 3.0 on the blue site, but he is not the prime target that he is across town. Assuming he plays at all, Ayton should be rostered with a plan on the FanDuel NBA DFS slate, but extending far beyond the field may not have significant value.

With all of the late-breaking injury updates and news, check out Adam Scherer and Greg Ehrenberg as they break down the NBA DFS Injury Report Today, with all of the information you need regarding Kevin Durant, the rest of the Nets and the Knicks.

New York State of Mind

With chaos in the rotations for both the Knicks and Nets, there are significant values on both teams. The Nets announced that all of DeAndre Bembry, LaMarcus Aldridge, James Johnson, and Jevon Carter will miss the game after entering the league’s health and safety protocols, and they are listing Kevin Durant as questionable. With Durant projected to play 38.2 minutes in what is looking like a very short rotation, there are already major values available in the Nets’ expected rotation. If he misses the game, the situation will simply explode for value. Already Nicolas Claxton is ranked second from the top on the DraftKings slate with a 41.1% optimal lineup appearance rate as a $3,100 center. He is projected for a whopping 43.5% ownership share, leaving him at a -2.4 leverage score that is still very playable given the cost and probability metrics. Claxton has a 24.2-point median projection and a 46.1% boom score probability on DraftKings. On FanDuel he is a $4,400 option who adds power forward eligibility. His optimal lineup rate drops to 28.5% but his ownership slips to 25.5%, leaving him positively leveraged at 3.7. With a 24.9-point median projection and a 25.5% boom score probability, Claxton is a strong option on this site as well.

In addition to Claxton, Durant and James Harden are both obvious targets if they take the court. Other notable Nets for this slate could be Bruce Brown, who costs just $4,100 as a FanDuel shooting guard and $4,300 as a shooting guard or small forward on the DraftKings slate. Brown has a 22.3% optimal lineup rate at -3.3 leverage on the blue site and a 14.2% rate at -4.5 leverage on DraftKings, but his value will climb significantly if the Nets scratch Durant. That situation would yield additional minutes for players like Cameron Thomas and Blake Griffin as well, while others will see increased run and potential to provide points-per-dollar value on the slate.

In Manhattan the Knicks are dealing with the same situation, as an outbreak between 32nd and 34th street has a handful of rotation players on the restricted list and out once again. The Knicks will be getting Alec Burks back tonight, while rookie Quentin Grimes joins the list of players who will miss the game. Grimes picked up major minutes filling in during the last game, in the absence of Burks, R.J. Barrett, and Obi Toppin, with Kevin Knox also seeing a rare extended appearance. Knox saw 29 minutes, nearly 22 more than his average across just seven appearances this season, and he returned 28.5 fantasy points. He is on the board but does not rate well in probability marks despite a 25.4-minute projection for just $3,600 with multi-position eligibility on both sites. Knox has a 3.8% optimal lineup rate at -2.2 leverage (6% ownership) on FanDuel and a 6.7% optimal lineup rate with -2.4 leverage (9.1% ownership) on DraftKings.

Knicks players who top the board include more obvious and far higher quality names like Derrick Rose, Julius Randle and Alec Burks. Rose has a massive 49% optimal lineup rate as a $5,000 option at either guard position on DraftKings and he comes with an 8.7 leverage score. On FanDuel he is eligible at both spots and costs just $6,200, leaving him in 40.5% of optimal lineups, which trails Randle’s 41.5% slightly. It is Burks who takes the top spot on the FanDuel board, landing in 51.8% of optimal lineups as a $5,600 shooting guard or small forward. Burks is underpriced and under-owned, even at a 43.9% rate on the FanDuel slate. On DraftKings, however, he is over-exposed at his $6,300 price tag even with eligibility between point guard and small forward. Burks lands in the optimal lineup 27% of the time but is projected for a 32.3% ownership share, leaving him at a -5.3 leverage mark. The final Knick of note is Immanuel Quickley, who is projected for 30.2 minutes and an 18% optimal lineup rate on FanDuel, with a 23.2% mark on DraftKings. Quickley tends to get hot-hand minutes when he is going well, which is true for many Knicks, but with the team short-handed we should reasonably expect him to reach the projected allocation. He is projected for ownership into the mid-20% range on both sites, however, making it a difficult proposition for him to reach value in unique lineups. Evan Fournier has reliable minutes though he has done little with them in his first season in New York.


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

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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