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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Kristaps Porzingis | Wednesday 3/16/22

Terry McBride



A midweek mega-slate features 12 NBA games tonight and 80% of the league in action for what looks like a highly interesting set of NBA DFS contests across the industry. The large slate is, so far, short on extreme value plays, creating a rare situation in which no player is in the optimal lineup more than 20% of the time on either site. While this situation is extremely likely to change as players are ruled out closer to lock, the broad pool of options and the largely appropriate pricing has lineup construction in the mid-afternoon leaning toward the more balanced approach, particularly on FanDuel. With a schedule that includes three games above a 240-point total, there are plenty of available targets from every salary tier to plug into the NBA DFS lineup optimizer. The Bucks vs Kings and Lakers vs Timberwolves are both totaled at 241.5, and the Hawks vs Hornets game comes in at a total of 240.5. With the Suns vs Rockets landing at an also robust 235.5, the slate adds another very high total, although Phoenix is favored by 11 in the most lopsided game among the four. The rest of the slate ranges from 215 to 230.5, with options galore up and down the salary spectrum.

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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 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 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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Kristaps Porzingis: DK $3,400 — PG | FD $4,200 — PG

The fully healthy Wizards are at home to take on superstar Nikola Jokic which means new Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis and his frontcourt mates will have their hands full all night long. On the NBA fantasy board, Porzingis looks like a quality play across the industry, partly because he is getting overlooked by the public as current ownership projections stand. Porzingis has been in and out of the lineup as the team manages the fragile star, but he remains a highly productive option when he is on the floor, and he comes at a fair mid-range price across the board. Porzingis has produced a 1.28 fantasy points per minute rate across all situations this season on the back of a 56.9% true shooting percentage, an 11.9% assist percentage and a 12.8% rebounding rate. The big man has been on a recent tear, posting 1.46 fantasy points per minute in 26 minutes a night over his last two games. Porzingis should be in the starting lineup and fully active this evening, giving him plenty of runway to reach the 29.5 minutes for which Awesemo has him slated.

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On the FanDuel slate, Porzingis is the third-most frequently optimal player at any position, and he can be rostered at either power forward or center, extending his utility. At just $7,600 he fits nicely into a number of different configurations of premium lineup constructions on the blue site, landing in the optimal lineup 16% of the time. His 39.75-point median projection is one of the better marks from this tier of salary and the talented veteran has a 32.58% boom score probability that lands eighth overall on the slate and third at either of his eligible positions. Porzingis is under-owned by the field, he has just a 7.1% ownership projection on the large slate, leaving him at a fantastic 8.9 leverage score that can be targeted well beyond the rate at which the field is including him in their lineups. Porzingis has the look of an excellent building block that can also deliver a premium slate-bending score for FanDuel NBA DFS lineups tonight.

On the DraftKings slate, the Washington unicorn has a 16.5% optimal lineup appearance rate that makes him the second-most frequently optimal player on the board behind the lone true extreme value play, $3,100 Rudy Gay. At $7,200 and with the same multi-position eligibility as he has across town, Porzingis checks in as one of the best mid-range options from any angle. He ranks as the most frequently optimal center available on the site, roughly 6.5 percentage points ahead of value play Precious Achiuwa at the position. Ranking third overall by boom score probability, Porzingis has a clear path to a salary-adjusted ceiling score. The Washington star has a 37.7% boom score rate, sitting behind only Devin Booker and LeBron James, with whom it would not be impossible to roster him. At just 12.4% popularity, Porzingis is getting left behind by the public on this site as well. He has a top-notch 4.1 leverage score on the slate, the 11th highest overall and the fourth-highest among power forwards. Every player above Porzingis by leverage score has roughly half the optimal lineup appearance rate, with the leader in that group, currently questionable Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, landing in the top spot 9.7% of the time. Porzingis is a clear target as the slate currently stands, he should be targeted for shares well ahead of the field.

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Devin Booker: DK $9,500 — PG/SG | FD $9,700 — SG

Everything that was true about Suns star Devin Booker in this space yesterday is true about the elite scorer again today, except he comes at a lower cost on both sites on the more robust slate. Booker’s price dropped by a whopping $700 from day-to-day on FanDuel while it came down by $100 on the DraftKings slate. Booker posted a middling 49-point FanDuel outing at the inflated price tags on the short slate on Tuesday, playing just 30 minutes in a game that saw Phoenix rocket to a 131-115 victory. With tonight’s contest also lined up to be a potential blowout, there could be some risk of similarly capped ultimate upside, but Booker still looks too good to pass up on both sites, because much of the field is doing exactly that. Despite landing in the optimal lineup in 11.9% of simulated slates on FanDuel, Booker has a targetable 4.6 leverage score. His 31.85% boom score probability and 48.89-point median projection on the site are prime targets despite his restriction to the shooting guard spot, he should be owned by more than the currently projected 7.3% of the field. On the DraftKings slate, Booker makes for a strong option despite efficient ownership. He will be rostered by roughly 12.7% of the field, which is in-line with his optimal lineup rate but seems to fall short of the overall quality in a 50.3-point median projection and a 38.93% boom score probability. Booker shares can be pushed beyond the field on both sites once again tonight, even with the blowout risk on the table.

If that section seems short, it is partly because Booker was featured in this space yesterday, and also in part because it is a make-good for DraftKings gamers who will get little use out of:

Russell Westbrook: DK $8,900 — PG | FD $7,200 — PG

Former superstar and currently struggling role player Russell Westbrook is a go-to option on FanDuel, but he is basically off the board on DraftKings with his inflated salary for the current production. With the two sites comically far apart, and with Westbrook pulling in just a 1.8% optimal lineup on the DraftKings slate, this short section is for FanDuel gamers only. Westbrook is no one’s idea of a fun player to roster this season, but at these prices he is difficult to resist even based on current-year production, if not the endless upside that still exists somewhere in the player. The deeply flawed fit with the Lakers has been apparent all year, Westbrook’s production has dropped from a 1.48 fantasy points per minute rate last season to a lowly 1.09 mark this year, and he has been at just 0.77 over the team’s last three games. And yet, with a 33.3-minute projection, the point guard still stands tall at the FanDuel price. Westbrook is landing in the optimal lineup in 15.1% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, making him a prime target for lineup combinations of all types. The fair price makes the point guard easy to roster, but the field is leaving him on the shelf to overwhelming degrees. Westbrook has a 10.4 leverage score, the highest mark among viable players on the FanDuel slate who are confirmed to be playing this evening. With a 38.08-point median projection and a 31.07% boom score probability, Westbrook is worth the extension beyond the field’s single-digit ownership, which is easy with the public at just 4.7%. Adding shares of the highly optimal and under-owned guard is a strong approach to lineup building on the blue site this evening.

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The Value Tier

As things currently stand, values on this slate are tight and premium plays from the bottom rungs of the salary ladder are few and far between. While low-cost options are almost sure to emerge as lock approaches, it is worthwhile to consider the existing potential value plays, their utility, and any potential pivots, extensions, or fades that may be appropriate when looking at the probability metrics. From the very top of the DraftKings board, $3,100 power forward Rudy Gay is landing in the optimal lineup in 18.8% of simulated slates but comes with just a 20.1-point median projection. Gay has a 28.31% boom score probability and a 22.9-minute projection, if nothing were to change he would be one of only a few available building block values on the board on this site, and his heavy ownership would be justifiable. As things stand, 34.3% of the DraftKings public is expected to roster the forward, leaving him at a -15.5 leverage score. Every other player under the $4,000 salary threshold that has a comparable boom score probability comes from the center position, and only Precious Achiuwa lands at an optimal rate above 10%. Every other option in the salary tier falls short of the probability marks that Gay sees on the DraftKings slate, at his position the nearest pivot point is $3,400 Rui Hachimura, who has a 17.41% boom score probability and lands in the optimal lineup in 8.8% of simulated slates at -2.5 leverage and an 11.3% ownership rate. For roughly a third of the ownership, it makes sense to explore a limited number of pivots, but the less expensive Gay is the primary value target on DraftKings at his position and overall.

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On FanDuel, Gay is priced at the minimum $3,500, but he lands in the optimal lineup just 9.8% of the time, which makes him the 28th most optimal player overall, ninth among power forwards and 10th among small forwards. The availability of a broad base of options from the mid-range of salary negate the need to press the value button on Gay’s minimum cost, the majority of premium FanDuel constructions on this slate – so far – feature one star and a mix of quality players from the $6,000-$7,000 price range, while a number of quality choices in the $4,000s and $5,000s can also be included to handle the limited value requirements that the slate’s current configuration dictates. All of this could easily be negated by the emergence of additional values at other positions, of course, meaning news will be critical on this massive slate.

The top overall play for value on the FanDuel slate will make veteran NBA DFS gamers flinch, Evan Fournier is priced at just $4,500 with eligibility at small forward and shooting guard in his 32.1-minute role in the Knicks starting lineup. Fournier has been atrocious this season, putting up a meager 0.76 fantasy points per game across all situations after signing in New York off of a 0.96 per-minute season between Orlando and Boston last year. The bargain price has him landing in the optimal lineup in 19.4% of simulated slates, with the field rostering him 26.1% of the time. Fournier has a 26.6-point median projection with a strong 31.74% boom score probability, he joins teammate RJ Barrett as a strong option in both respects on the FanDuel slate, but like Barrett, he comes in at a negative leverage score. At -6.7, Fournier can be rostered, but there is little ground to be gained on the field and other options exist at a variety of price points at Fournier’s two eligible positions. The over-owned season-long disappointment is a tough ask, but his probability metrics warrant ownership in line with his optimal rate at least, if not to the degree at which the public is including Fournier. A viable alternative on the blue site could be $3,800 small forward C.J. Elleby on the other side of the same contest. Elleby is positively leveraged, lands in the optimal lineup 13.8% of the time, and saves several hundred salary dollars to spend in other positions.

On the DraftKings slate, Fournier ranks second behind Gay as a $4,900 five-position option who comes up optimal 15.5% of the time. He will be owned by 17.1% of the field, a somewhat more manageable rate than the FanDuel projection, putting Fournier at just a -1.6 leverage score that is more playable for the higher cost. At a glance, $4,500 power forward Danilo Gallinari presents a reasonable alternative, however. Gallinari is less expensive and lands in the optimal lineup in 10.5% of simulations for the site with a 25.8-point median projection that sits 2.1 behind the Fournier number. Gallinari offers a similar upside with a 26.32% boom score probability, but he is also negatively leveraged and it comes at a greater ownership cost with 19.5% of the field on him and a -9 leverage score. At least one of Gay, Fournier, or Gallinari seems likely to be in the majority of DraftKings lineups tonight, they can all be rostered as DraftKings building blocks as things currently stand, but differentiation of other selections will be paramount when they are used.

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