Hopefully all the newly minted NBA digital moment millionaires remember to take a break for some daily fantasy basketball now and then. If so, they’ll find a loaded Monday schedule with six games of varying NBA DFS appeal. We have value all over the board once again, as well as several stars just leaping off the top of the board and into our lineups. With money to spend, the only question comes down to which of the slate’s very best daily fantasy basketball picks do we choose? With six games, we’ll be looking at some of those interesting plays with frequent appearances in the optimal lineup in simulations. We are always looking for players who are under-appreciated for the frequency with which they land in optimized lineups 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).
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. 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.
Eric Gordon — Houston Rockets
DraftKings — $6,300 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $5,300 — SG
One of the more polarizing figures in daily fantasy basketball, Gordon thrusts himself into relevance when he is expected to receive a prominent role in the offense, soaking up more usage. He typically needs only the opportunity, and he has produced 0.91 fantasy points per minute so far in all situations this season. The Rockets are playing this game without most of their primary options, including Christian Wood, Victor Oladipo and whatever is left of DeMarcus Cousins (who was expected to play despite his imminent dismissal from the team before scratching mid-afternoon Monday). John Wall and Gordon will carry the load for the Rockets tonight.
Gordon will be massively popular on both sites. On DraftKings he has eligibility at both guard spots and ranks third on the entire site by optimal-lineup rate at 25.1%. The players above him are Wall and LeBron James. Gordon has a heavier salary on the site than he does with the competition, which is keeping his relative ownership low, but he will be popular within the framework of the slate, coming in with a -6.4 leverage score. Still, it makes a lot of sense to get beyond the field on a play this likely to come up necessary.
On FanDuel Gordon picks up a massive slice of popularity, leaping from his 25.1% ownership projection on DraftKings all the way to a 50.8% share on the blue site. This one comes down to construction and what Gordon’s affordable price helps us achieve in pursuit of the optimal path. Building him in, despite the popularity, picks up a building block that is 41.1% likely to be mandatory to access the top of GPP standings on the night. Gordon seems more requirement than luxury or fade despite the -9.7 leverage score. I want him in more than half of my lineups; it will take that to get beyond the field on a great play.
LeBron James — Los Angeles Lakers
DraftKings — $10,400 — PG/SF / FanDuel — $10,400 — SF
We are not going to take a lot of time here despite this being the very best play on the board. Not much has changed about the situation beyond some price increases, and James looks even better in spite of them. He cracks the top of the FanDuel board again with a 65.7% optimal-lineup rate that is bordering on absurd. He currently has a 15.0 leverage score; the field is nowhere near where they should be on James. On DraftKings he ranks atop the board as well, nearly doubling the next highest optimal-lineup rate. James’ 46.4% in that category is a virtual lock for all constructions tonight. He has a 51.3% boom-score probability on the slate, and nothing about the matchup against the Wizards suggests he will have difficulty getting there. Don’t overthink things or go looking for reasons to get off of good plays. Play LeBron.
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Danuel House — Houston Rockets
DraftKings — $4,700 — SF/PF / FanDuel — $4,500 — SF
Heading right back to the Rockets thinned-out corps of players, we land on an immediately uncomfortable play that is not getting enough love for the situation. House has been the bane of daily fantasy basketball value hunters through most of his career. He is typically low-priced and tends to stand out in situations where he is due for additional run and usage; anecdotally, he disappoints a lot. His 0.69 fantasy points per minute this season and 0.71 the year before are part of the reason why. For tonight, however, with the lack of options in the rotation, Awesemo has House projected for a full 31 minutes. He could easily exceed that amount whether he is having a good game or not, and after a point this is simply about ratios over time.
House ranks out as an option on both sites based on his expected production, but even more for his total lack of popularity by comparison. On FanDuel House appears in the optimal lineup in 22.1% of simulations, good for seventh on the slate at any position. He comes up with a 32.1% boom-score probability for his $4,500 at the small forward, where he slots in quite well next to a chalky LeBron. The 10.4 leverage score with House next to James’ quality leverage score sets us on a path that looks both optimal and contrarian.
House is in play on the other site as well. In 21.8% of DraftKings slate simulations, House comes up as an optimal play at one of the forward spots. His $4,700 salary is simply too low for the anticipated production in the role created by all of the Rockets absences. House has a 19.1% boom-score probability and an ostentatious 13.6% leverage score. He leaps from the boom/bust tool into optimal constructions with ease. Get your opinion out of your process and get House into your lineup.
Zach LaVine — Chicago Bulls
DraftKings — $9,500 — SG / FanDuel — $9,800 — SG
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to LaVine for referring to him as “not quite a star” in this space about two weeks ago. LaVine has done everything to disprove that statement with his play this season and has been nothing short of spectacular. He is priced up accordingly on both sites and still looks like a strong option for this slate. LaVine is producing 1.24 fantasy points per minute, well up from his 1.15 per-minute rate last season. LaVine’s numbers are eye-popping: 64.7% true shooting percentage and 30.5% of the team’s usage with 17.1% rebounding and 26.4% assists. LaVine can rack up fantasy points in a hurry and looks to be in a good spot to do just that tonight.
On DraftKings he is not going unnoticed, coming in with slightly negative leverage at -2.5. It would be entirely justifiable to get beyond the field on LaVine in this spot given the value available and the upside for raw scoring potential. LaVine has a 17.2% boom-score probability on his hefty salary and lands in the optimal lineup in 11.8% of simulations. He is a good play but not a true standout on DraftKings.
On FanDuel LaVine lands with a splashier 17.9% optimal-lineup rate and contributes a 20.0% boom-score probability to owners who include him among their daily fantasy basketball picks. LaVine will not be overly popular, coming in with a healthy 4.4 leverage score, meaning the public is behind the curve on the play on the blue site. I am happy to pay up for additional shares of LaVine in FanDuel GPPs tonight.
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