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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Jimmy Butler | Monday 3/7/22

Terry McBride

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NBA DFS DraftKings FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Optimal lIneups

A high octane nine-game Monday slate of NBA DFS action brings the potential for a night of extremely high-scoring lineups. The slate includes four games carrying totals in excess of 230 points on the board in Vegas, with only one game slipping below the 220-point mark. That low total is a 216 in the contest between the Jazz and Mavericks that still looks like a sturdy source of viable options for fantasy scoring at both the star and scrub levels. The night’s highest total is a 235.5 between the Lakers and Spurs, in what should be a game that offers strong options up and down the salary and talent spectrum, while the Bulls vs 76ers, Trail Blazers vs Timberwolves, and Knicks vs Kings games all land between 232 and 233.5 points and provide a wide range of targetable options for lineup building. The games in the 220s all carry strong options from the star and mid-range tiers, this slate is a true bonanza of value and upside, any number of viable lineup combinations could take the top spot, making leverage and boom score probability key factors by which to weigh the value of a lineup on both sites tonight.

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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 nine games on the slate, this article will focus on the top overall 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.

NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Today 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 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.

LeBron James: DK $11,600 — SF | FD $10,200 — SF/PF

Despite checking in as one of the night’s most expensive players on both sites, Lakers superstar LeBron James is coming up as an excellent option across the industry on tonight’s slate. The reigning king of the NBA is arguably too cheap at his FanDuel price, and he is fairly ranked on the DraftKings board, putting him firmly in play for lineup constructions of all types. James is one of the slate’s per-minute leaders, he has been a 1.42 per-minute option across all situations this season, roughly the same production he posted last year on similar usage. Regardless of the imploding situation around him, the superstar continues to get his numbers on a regular basis. After being featured in this space ahead of the team’s most recent game, James posted a massive 71.5-point FanDuel night in 39 minutes, he has a similar upside in tonight’s contest. James consumes 31.2% of his team’s usage, posting a 61.8% true shooting percentage and stuffing the stat sheet with a 29.8% assist rate and 10.8% rebounding percentage. The superstar adds 2.5 stocks per-36 to help fill out his already amazing nightly contributions on the court. Barring the loss of a limb, there seems to be very little slowing down the veteran superstar, he is one of the night’s premium options for NBA DFS lineups on both sites.

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At his heavier price on DraftKings, the $11,600 small forward still checks in as the third-most frequently optimal player on the entire slate. James lands on the board behind an extreme value option, Brandon Williams, the next man up at point guard for the Trail Blazers who lands atop the board for $3,800 and a 44% optimal lineup rate, and mid-range value Jordan Poole, who is a $5,300 28.7% optimal play on the slate. James is easily the most optimal player from the top tier, he is in the optimal lineup in 26.7% of Awesemo’s simulated DraftKings slates, outpacing the 19.9% mark posted by Dejounte Murray for his $11,100 price tag by a fair margin, and well ahead of the 15.4% at which the $12,200 Luka Doncic lands. With room between him and the other star options in the optimal lineup category, James should be pulling more ownership than his projected 27% rate, a mark that leaves him at an efficient -0.3 leverage score that can be pressed for additional shares with ease. James has a 36.24% boom score probability against his 59.7-point median projection on this slate, making him the night’s fifth-most likely option to his his required ceiling score. Again, James compares more favorably to discount and mid-range options, in addition to Poole and Williams, the players above the superstar by boom score include $4,100 Kevon Looney and $4,500 Jonathan Kuminga, clearly making the Warriors a target for value shares tonight. James’ presence in that group at his salary demonstrates the clear value the star can provide for both reliability and upside on this slate. James has the highest median projection on the slate and he is one of the top options by probability metrics, but he is only the sixth-most popular player on the board, adding shares of the superstar is a sound approach to lineup construction on DraftKings tonight.

For a mere $10,200 and with eligibility at either forward position, James is the leading option on the blue site tonight. The league’s best player for the better part of two decades has a slate-leading 49.5% optimal lineup appearance rate for the inexpensive salary. James is the fifth-most expensive player on the slate, with centers Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic as well as Doncic and James Harden landing between $200 and $700 more expensive. James easily outpaces all of those options in every category, including popularity. The Lakers’ star is optimal roughly half of the time and hits his required ceiling score in more than 50% of simulated slates, getting to the required mark 54.87% of the time, to lead the slate in that category as well, provided that we ignore the 66.01% boom score mark carried by minimum-priced Brandon Williams on the blue site. James is projected for heavy ownership, he will be in an estimated 46.1% of public lineups, but that rate would not amount to enough public exposure, leaving James at a 3.4 leverage score. To repeat, an underpriced LeBron James is also under-owned while simultaneously leading the slate in every important metric, if that is not appealing for FanDuel NBA DFS lineups it would be difficult to guess what might be.

Jimmy Butler: DK $8,500 — SF/PF | FD $8,000 — SF/SG

Another star-caliber player who lands at a discounted price is Miami’s Jimmy Butler, who has been toiling in the mid-$8,000s on both sites in recent games. The Heat wing has posted a 1.23 fantasy points per minute rate across all situations this season, a mark that is notably down from the 1.36 mark he put up on similar 25.9% usage last season. Butler is actually doing less with more this year, his usage sits at 26.3% and he is contributing a 57.9% true shooting percentage and a 27.6% assist rate with 9.1% rebounding this season. Heat point guard Kyle Lowry is currently questionable to play this evening, his absence could give a nudge to Butler’s facilitation marks once again on this slate, adding to the salary-based potential across the industry. Butler makes for a popular but easily playable mix and match piece from the upper mid-range, he is a star-quality player priced like a standard rotation piece.

Butler fills either forward position on the DraftKings slate, where he costs $8,500 and lands in the optimal lineup in 21.3% of simulated slates. That rate has Butler standing sixth overall on the board by optimal rate, and it puts him on a tier by himself when examining optimal rate for salary angles. Among the top-16 options by optimal rate, Butler is the only player who can accurately be described as a mid-range option. Every other piece in that group costs either less than $6,300 or more than $10,200. The 17th and 18th most frequently optimal players on the board are $8,000 RJ Barrett, and $8,100 Russell Westbrook, who are 12.6% and 11.9% optimal respectively. Butler has a significant advantage over everyone else in his price range, he should be rostered aggressively based on that alone, but there is also appeal in his 30.15% boom score probability and 44.1-point median projection on the site. Butler is under-owned, the field is projected to include him in just 21% of lineups, leaving him at an efficient 0.3 leverage score that can be pushed based on how the forward compares to every other option by salary. Butler is a top target and an important piece of DraftKings NBA DFS lineup construction tonight.

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On the FanDuel slate, the wing can be rostered at either small forward or shooting guard and he costs a ludicrously low $8,000. Butler lands in the optimal lineup in 37% of simulated slates for the blue site, ranking him fourth overall behind James, Murray, and Brandon Williams. The value paradigm is much the same as across town, Butler’s optimal rate is on an island in his price tier, every other player in the top-17 by optimal rate costs more than $9,200 or less than $6,900. The next-most frequently optimal player from the $8,000s is New York’s Julius Randle who checks in as a 14.9% optimal player for $8,400 at the power forward and center positions. For less salary, Butler is clearly the better option in the price tier. He has a 45.95% boom score probability and a 44.97-point median projection on the slate but still comes with nearly inexplicable positive leverage. Butler has a 6.5 leverage score with just 30.5% of the field projected to include him in lineups. That mark is key, while the raw ownership will dictate the need to differentiate lineups in other spots, the sheer quality of scoring potential that Butler brings for the price is worth getting to added shares of when the public is behind the probability projections.


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Russell Westbrook: DK $8,100 — PG | FD $6,900 — PG

Don’t look at me like that, I’m serious. No, this play is not for the faint of heart, but no we’re not losing our minds either. Since joining the Lakers in the offseason, former superstar point guard Russell Westbrook has been relegated to third-wheel status by the presence of other high-usage stars and then to role-player by his own performance. Westbrook has had a disastrous season by comparison to the triple-double machine that was once one of the most dominant NBA DFS options on any given slate, regardless of his actual value to an NBA team. Westbrook has put up just 1.11 fantasy points per minute on 26.7% usage, a tragic decline from the 1.48 per-minute mark at which he performed on 29.5% usage throughout all situations last season. Westbrook has a lowly 50% true shooting percentage with a 32.3% assist percentage and 10.4% rebounding rate, he is still capable of contributing across the various scoring categories, he has just not done so throughout the year with any sense of reliability. Of course, with his lackluster performance, the sites are no longer asking for $12,000 or more in salary for the guard. With one site nearing the point at which his salary would truly be halved from where we saw him last year, Westbrook has longshot any-given-slate value from night to night, but the public is clearly disinterested in including him at this point, creating a nice opportunity for NBA DFS tournaments across the industry.

DraftKings has not been as quick to drop Westbrook’s salary off of the $8,000 cliff, the point guard is still priced at $8,100 on the site, which serves to somewhat limit the quality of the value play by comparison to the slate across town. At the price and with eligibility only at point guard, Westbrook lands in the optimal lineup in 11.9% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. That rate lands the Lakers’ guard 18th overall by optimal rate, which likely defies the expectation of much of the general public. With that hidden quality, Westbrook’s limited 5.7% ownership projection at his mid-range cost becomes appealing. The point guard is the seventh-best option by leverage score at a 6.2, trailing options like Doug McDermottElijah HughesNikola Vucevic, and Tobias Harris in the category. Westbrook still has a higher ceiling score potential than any other player on that list, despite the lack of reliability when compared to a premium option like Vucevic. With a 39.9-point median projection, Westbrook is pushing a 19.83% boom score probability, the 21st ranked rate of hitting his required ceiling score at any position, and eighth among point guards. Westbrook has better leverage than any of the other point guard options, most notably the discounted choices atop the board are both negatively leveraged to the extremes. Brandon Williams has a -14.9 leverage score, while Jordan Poole is the most negatively leveraged player at -25.1. Despite the miserable season, Westbrook has value at his price and positioning on this slate, he should not be ignored completely when it is an easy proposition to exceed the field’s single-digit ownership, there is still tournament-winning upside in the point guard, even as he plummets from orbit and bursts into flame before crashing completely back to Earth.

For just $6,900 on the FanDuel slate, Westbrook’s situation is borderline comical. The former superstar is drawing some attention at the absurdly low price. While the salary does actually align somewhat with the season-long production, it just seems wrong to see this player at this price. A projected 16.5% of the field agrees with that assessment but at such a low cost that is not nearly enough public popularity. Westbrook has a 22.2% optimal lineup appearance rate on the blue site tonight, making him a targetable option when he lands at a 5.7 leverage score. The point guard is an uncomfortable play, but he is well worth including in more lineups than the rate at which the public is projected, it would be shocking to see Westbrook completely fail at this price, he is projected for a 37.55-point median score and he has a strong 34.36% boom score probability that ranks 15th on the site at any position. Westbrook compares favorably to both star and mid-range players by boom score, he is under-owned and makes for an excellent tournament play in FanDuel NBA DFS lineups at these popularity and probability marks.

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