A set of seven games makes up the Friday NBA DFS slate, including five matchups starting between 7:00 and 8:00 ET, before a pair of late-night games tip at 10:00 and 10:30 ET to round out the night’s scoring. Leaving room for swaps into key positions in what should be highly important games for DFS purposes. The Rockets are taking on the Trailblazers in what should be a shootout with options at every price tier, and the 76ers and Clippers have plenty to offer from the upper echelons of salary as well as the mid-range. The early games by the 228.5-point total and star power available in the Jazz – Hornets games, as well as the 228-point quality-laden contest between the Mavericks and Timberwolves. The slate’s low point comes between the Knicks and Heat, in a 214.5-point game that sees visiting Miami favored by 7.5. The shorthanded nature of both lineups will render a number of players relevant; it remains to be seen which those will be with Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, P.J. Tucker, Caleb Martin and Duncan Robinson all listed as questionable on the injury report. The remaining games on the slate can be combined with whichever values emerge from that game, the Hawks, Warriors, Wizards and Pistons will all have viable pieces at a variety of position and pricing fits while providing potential lineup differentiation. Paying close attention to the probability marks in comparison with available leverage at position and price tiers is a key to roster construction on a slate of this nature.
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 seven games on the slate, this article will focus on the top probability 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.
Rui Hachimura: DK $4,600 — PF | FD $4,900 — SF/PF
With forward Kyle Kuzma out and big man Daniel Gafford also unlikely to play, there will be an abundance of available minutes in the frontcourt for the Wizards this evening. The Wizards are on a back-to-back, Gafford played last night but Kuzma did not, resulting in second-unit forward Rui Hachimura joining the starting lineup and seeing 24 minutes of action. Hachimura posted a disappointing 18.4 FanDuel points and was a non-factor in NBA DFS contests after sitting out the entire fourth quarter of his game; he seems poised to make a bigger dent in slates today. Hachimura is projected for a 29.2-minute night; he is a 0.86 fantasy points per minute performer across all situations this season, and he has been a 0.96 contributor in 333 minutes without both Kuzma and Gafford on the court since the start of the calendar year. Hachimura is an extreme hit-and-miss option for NBA DFS gamers, he has a solid 58.8% true shooting percentage but lackluster marks with a 7.8% assist rate and an 8.5% rebounding percentage. While he is somewhat scoring-dependent, the forward is inexpensive on both sites and he is drawing, at worst, efficient ownership across the industry. Hachimura joins teammate Kristaps Porzingis as an interesting frontcourt option this evening, he comes at half the price and half the ownership of his star-caliber teammate, allowing for the pair to be alternated depending on a lineup’s salary requirements.
On FanDuel, Hachimura is projected for a 26.16-point median score for his $4,900 salary across both forward positions. His 12.1% optimal lineup appearance rate is not a slate-leader, that honor goes to Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, who lands in the top lineup in 43.8% of simulated slates. The rates immediately drop after Doncic, however, Kris Dunn checks into second with a 29.2% rate and the board is below the 20% optimal level once it reaches ninth-ranked Terry Rozier at 19.3% optimal. This puts Hachimura well in play at his rate, he ranks 29th overall, but there is a broad plateau of similarly rated plays and he stands out above many of them at his price. Hachimura is carrying a 21.66% boom score probability, vaulting him to 19th most likely to hit his required salary-adjusted ceiling score on the slate. The forward has flexibility and a low price, and he is an easy target for lineup differentiation at just 11% popularity as well. Ignoring players who are currently questionable, Hachimura’s 1.1 leverage score is the top mark available among players in the top-20 by boom score probability on this slate, illustrating the value of booking a few additional shares of a player who helps create purchasing power at other positions.
On the DraftKings slate, Hachimura costs a mere $4,600 but he retains eligibility at only the power forward position. Even with the roster limitation, DraftKings salary and positioning allow Hachimura to land in the optimal lineup in 19.6% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, the third-highest rate on the board at any position. With Porzingis landing one spot ahead of him at 29.5% optimal and with both players coming at efficient ownership on this site, they can be treated as a pure direct swap based on salary needs or even rostered in the same lineup. Hachimura is projected for a 26.8-point median score and he has a highly targetable 29.19% boom score probability. That makes him the fifth-most likely player to hit his salary-adjusted ceiling score at any position and the second-most likely power forward on the board behind Porzingis. Hachimura has just a 0.9 leverage score, but he can be targeted for at least the field’s ownership, if not more. There is nothing wrong with adding shares of the discounted forward, he helps create opportunity in other positions in a lineup, where differentiation and upside can both be tackled.
Kris Dunn: DK $4,500 — PG | FD $4,800 — PG
After he and teammate Drew Eubanks were somehow left out of the FanDuel player pool entirely in the first iteration this morning, Portland value guard Kris Dunn has been added and is back in the lives of NBA DFS gamers across the industry. At a fair price for his expected minutes, Dunn should prove to be a strong contender for lineup shares, he can be combined with Hachimura as a frontcourt play to pick up two quick building blocks for lineup constructions on both sites. Dunn has seen action in six games so far this season, playing 24.8 minutes a night and averaging 0.95 fantasy points per minute on just 15.1% usage. He picks up a significant share of his production through facilitation, coming in with a 27.9% assist percentage in his limited action, and he adds 2.9 steals per-36 (plus a hyper-limited 0.2 blocks for a 3.1 stocks per-36). Dunn has just a 48.7% true shooting percentage and he is a low-usage guard, but if a few extra shots happen to fall it serves to truly elevate his scoring potential on the right night. In the team’s three most recent games, Dunn has been right around his average numbers, putting up 0.96 fantasy points per minute. He looks like a strong contender for lineup shares on both NBA DFS sites tonight.
Dunn is the most frequently optimal player on the board on the DraftKings slate. He checks into the optimal lineup in 30.3% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, but his ownership is not as stratospheric as recent value plays have been. Dunn is projected for a reasonable 32.5% ownership share, leaving him as a -2.2 leverage play that can still be deployed in a wide cross-section of lineups without much concern, as long as one focuses on differentiation at another position. Dunn is projected for a 29.4-point median DraftKings score and he has a 44.69% boom score probability that also leads the slate at every position. The point guard is an excellent source of value, his ownership should most likely be higher, even if it climbs and his negative leverage situation gets worse, Dunn is an intriguing option. If additional values emerge at similar or better prices at his position, the situation could change, but as it stands, Dunn is the key foundational building block of the night on DraftKings.
At 29.2% optimal, Dunn sits behind only Doncic, who is at a ridiculous $10,400 price point despite his 1.47 fantasy points per minute this season. While Doncic will be extremely popular, and rightfully so, Dunn is also drawing appropriate attention from the field at 31.8%. This does not render the Portland point guard unplayable, even at -2.6 leverage, Dunn is a strong value for the price. The inexpensive point guard can and should be rostered alongside Doncic in a fair number of FanDuel lineups tonight. At 44.79%, Dunn’s boom score probability is the slate’s leading mark by more than 7 percentage points. Dunn stands one spot above Doncic, with Porzingis in third, followed by the slate’s other major superstar, Philadelphia center Joel Embiid, who comes in with a 30.1% probability of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score, despite carrying an $11,200 salary. Getting star power into lineups is going to be key with Doncic and Embiid at these levels, Dunn affords a portion of the salary required to get to the far more expensive options, he should be rostered aggressively despite the public ownership situation, unless things change with emergent value as lock approaches.
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Christian Wood: DK $8,200 — C | FD $8,400 — PF/C
On a slate that angles toward two key superstars and has good but not extreme value plays available — so far — a few mid-range options with upside will be necessary to reach the upper levels of fantasy scoring tonight. From that tier of players, one of the more noteworthy options appears to be Rockets big man Christian Wood, who has been a 1.20 fantasy points per minute player across all situations for the rebuilding Rockets. The team has awarded Wood with 30.9 minutes a night and a major role, he sees 23.3% usage while contributing a 59.4% true shooting percentage, in addition to high-quality ancillary statistics, with a 12.3% assist rate and 15.8% rebounding percentage. Wood is efficiently owned across both sites, but his projected rates amount to low raw totals, despite what technically amounts to negative leverage. At fair prices and with strong projections, Wood is a good target. He was a disappointment in the team’s most recent outing, posting just 27.5 FanDuel points in 27 minutes, perhaps injecting a bit of recency bias into the public perception.
As an $8,200 center on the DraftKings slate, Wood appears in the optimal lineup a fair 13.7% of the time. With the slope of DraftKings optimal rates dropping from Dunn’s 30.3% to Wood’s 13.7% after just 13 options, the quality of the player is apparent. Wood has eligibility only at the center spot, but with the site’s utility position he can be rostered in combination with Embiid, eliminating concerns about opportunity cost in most situations. The big man is carrying a sturdy 40.3-point median projection and a targetable 22.7% boom score probability. At that rate of hitting his ceiling score, Wood is the 17th option from the top of the board, with six options ahead of him at the center spot, but he will be owned by less of the field than everyone except Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, who is forecast to be in just 9.4% of the public’s lineups. Towns is a terrific option on both sites as well, he has just a $9,800 salary on DraftKings and lands in the optimal lineup in 12.7% of simulated slates at a 3.3 leverage score. Wood is a comparative target based on the $1,600 salary savings created when opting for him over Towns, but as a pure differentiation option, where he can be afforded, pivoting to the lower-owned Minnesota star is a strong decision. Wood can be utilized in every lineup that does not have the money for that pivot, the low 15.2% raw ownership is attractive despite a -1.5 leverage score.
Wood costs $8,400 and gains power forward eligibility in addition to playing the center position on the singular center site. The forward eligibility allows for Wood to be utilized alongside most of the other top options at the center position, he lands in the optimal lineup in 14.1% of simulated slates. While that technically lands him at a -1.6 leverage score, the low 15.7% raw ownership projection remains a target on FanDuel slates. Wood has a 38.77-point median projection, third among power forwards and fifth among centers on the site. His boom score probability stands at 16.57%, slightly ahead of his popularity but behind a number of other options, his primary attribute is again coming at lower raw ownership than many of the comparable plays on the slate. Wood is projected to be 8 to 10 percentage points less popular than most of the other top frontcourt players from the mid-range and star tiers of salary, he can be rostered at or ahead of his public popularity projection in FanDuel NBA DFS lineups tonight. At $9,700, Karl-Anthony Towns presents an interesting option on the blue site, however, the Timberwolves star is inexpensive for his talent, he has a 45.21-point median projection, a 20.28% boom score probability, and he lands in the optimal lineup in 13.5% of simulated slates at a 4.2 leverage score. Towns is a terrific target for differentiation, but where available salary falls short of his price, Wood makes for a sharp pivot. The Rockets big man also helps reach premium plays at other positions that are unavailable when rostering Towns on the slate. Of course, with Wood’s power forward eligibility, there is not necessarily a reason to have to decide between the two.
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