Thursday’s small daily fantasy basketball slate would normally be a bit of a reprieve after last night’s chaotic massive offering; with the NBA trade deadline landing in the late afternoon, however, it’s anything but. There has been a flurry of small moves around the league, with more announcements coming. Stay tuned closely to the news for anything that breaks after this is written, and be sure to consider what players departing from teams does to their rotations. With five games, we will focus on plays from every part of the board for tonight’s daily fantasy basketball slate. We are always looking for under-appreciated players for the frequency with which they land in the optimal lineup in DraftKings and FanDuel NBA simulations.
As always, this article comes out ahead of lock, and many things will change with our daily fantasy basketball picks. Be sure to follow the @AwesemoNBA Twitter handle for all the latest breaking news (via our NewsGod).
NBA Daily Fantasy Basketball: Optimals + Leverage Leaders
These picks are made utilizing the boom/bust tool, specifically analyzing the optimized-lineup rate, leverage score, and boom probability. The optimized-lineup rate represents the frequency at which a player appears 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, and we will also be discussing bad chalk and shaky investments in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
Bam Adebayo — Miami Heat
DraftKings — $8,000 — C | FanDuel — $8,000 — PF
With several teammates outbound from Miami in exchange for Victor Oladipo in a deal done right at the NBA trade deadline, Adebayo should be the main and only focal point in the frontcourt for the Heat tonight. Miami typically revolves much of its offense around Adebayo, who averages 1.24 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season. With the traded Kelly Olynyk removed from the lineup, that rate jumps slightly, and it takes a big leap to 1.32 if the questionable Jimmy Butler does not play.
On DraftKings Adebayo is a center whose 13.5% optimal-lineup rate ranks him 23rd on the slate, seventh among centers. Adebayo ranks in the upper end of salary among eligible choices at the position, and his boom-score probability of 12.8% ranks seventh at the position. Despite the relatively low indicators, Adebayo is drawing some ownership, pushing him to a -3.4 leverage score that is beginning to look questionable considering some of the other options. It makes sense to consider undercutting the field and viewing Adebayo as more of a mix-and-match play on DraftKings tonight.
At $8,000 on FanDuel, Adebayo is nearly vital, at least on the surface. He has a 31.7% optimal-lineup rate that ranks him fourth overall on the slate and third at the position. Power forward on FanDuel is top heavy on the small slate, with Adebayo, Draymond Green and Julius Randle occupying the spot in the optimal lineup in a combined 104.5% of simulated slates. If we include the 23.9% mark on Robert Covington and 20.8% share for Tobias Harris, we’re dealing with 150% of the shares distributed across these five players, leaving very little room for value plays at the position tonight. Paying up to the top options seems to be the best move, though of all five players Adebayo has the worst leverage score at -4.6. Overall, it makes sense to roster Adebayo in a wide array of lineups tonight, but giving a moment’s consideration to undercutting the field on him and applying additional ownership to potentially undervalued plays like Covington for less salary, lower aggregate ownership and a better leverage score is at least worth the time.
Tyrese Haliburton — Sacramento Kings
DraftKings — $6,000 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $5,700 — SG
Haliburton appears in this section once again because he stands out atop the boom/bust board on both sites when sorting for optimal-lineup rate. DraftKings gave him a slight northward nudge in salary, while FanDuel held firm to their underprice — he remains too cheap on both sites. Haliburton has produced 0.96 fantasy points per minute through the season and will be a focal point for the Kings once again. The team just dealt away backup point guard Cory Joseph and forward Nemanja Bjelica in separate deadline deals, and Marvin Bagley remains on the shelf, leaving the Kings with just 10 bodies, only several of which are relevant NBA players.
Haliburton is projected for 36.6 minutes of action in Awesemo’s latest update. After being featured in this space yesterday, Haliburton put up 17 real points on just 19.8% usage across his 35.6 minutes, shooting 6-for-12 from the field (2-for-4 from 3-point range). He added 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 stocks, some of which was negated by his four turnovers. Ultimately there is significant demonstrable upside in Haliburton, and getting to him is advisable.
On FanDuel Haliburton leads a tightly packed top of the list, coming in with a 40.9% optimal-lineup rate. His 50.2% boom-score probability is also slate-leading at all positions, while he provides significant utility at the weak shooting guard spot. He will be owned by approximately 36.5% of the public, but that mark falls well short of his optimal rate, leaving us with a user-friendly 4.4 leverage score on the top play of the night.
On DraftKings Haliburton stands alone once again. The slate-leading 31.9% is further removed from the nearest competition on this site, while his ownership is more tightly tied to his optimal-lineup rate. Haliburton still lands with an easily playable 2.6 leverage score, meaning the public is behind the curve on a player that we can flex between both guard spots while carrying his 31.1% boom-score probability from lineup to lineup. This is a play on which we should be pressing past the field’s ownership on a five-game slate unless something changes radically between now and lock.
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Robert Covington — Portland Trail Blazers
DraftKings — $5,700 — PF/C | FanDuel — $6,100 — PF
The Trail Blazers shipped out two players of their own on Thursday afternoon, sending Gary Harris and Rodney Hood to the Raptors for Norman Powell, which should leave a small void in the team’s rotation. While Covington was already receiving 32.3 minutes per game across all situations this season, he could be in for a brief uptick in his meager 12% usage rate and shows utility and upside on both sites tonight.
On DraftKings Covington ranks 12th overall with a 17.2% optimal-lineup rate. He does not stand out in any way with just an 8.3% boom-score probability, but the 3.5 leverage score gives us a little room to work with. Covington is a reasonable mix-in option where we need to find surprise center value. He provides more utility and value than he does raw upside, but he has his uses for NBA DFS purposes on this slate.
On FanDuel Covington ranks a little better for upside, coming in with a 15.0% FanDuel boom-score probability. He has a 3.4 leverage score that works nicely with his 23.9% optimal-lineup rate, and he is someone we can get to with some of our power forward shares. Remembering the board from when we analyzed the Adebayo play, Covington makes for a quality ownership and salary pivot while not wholly selling out the frequency with which we are rostering an optimal play.
Enes Kanter — Portland Trail Blazers
DraftKings — $6,600 — C | FanDuel — $6,800 — C
The Kanter NBA DFS play has an expiration date, which is quite likely to be upon us in the coming days. The imminent return of center Jusuf Nurkic to the Portland rotation will push Kanter back to reserve duties, dramatically limiting his upside until his salary deflates to a reasonable range. For tonight, however, we have one more run with his 1.14 fantasy points per minute. Landing in a similar situation to teammate Covington, Kanter will not exactly see a changing role based on some of his former teammates absence, but those touches and that usage will end up somewhere. For the money and the minutes projection, Kanter shines on this slate.
On FanDuel he stands as the fourth-ranked center and the only top option with a positive leverage score. That mark lands at 6.3, meaning Kanter is coming up in our optimal lineup far more frequently — 14.5% of the time — than the public is getting to him in their constructions. Getting over the field on a player with a 32.5% boom-score probability is typically a good idea. At a position as stark as center on FanDuel, pressing up on the Kanter play tonight seems like a great plan.
On DraftKings Kanter lands with a firm 21.9% optimal-lineup rate, ranking him fifth overall on the slate and third among centers. Rostering him alongside Montrezl Harrell or Ivica Zubac as a center tandem could be a good start toward a construction that is both on track with the optimal path and somewhat contrarian from a leverage perspective. Getting additional shares of Kanter’s 25.6% boom-score probability should be a boost to a broad range of our lineups in DraftKings contests once again tonight.
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