Monday sees NBA DFS roar back into action with a fun-looking nine-game slate lined up. With more to choose from on tonight’s slate, we should have better paths toward lineup constructions that will inspire a modicum of confidence, at least as compared to yesterday’s bizarre slate. There are several big pay-up options on the board and a number of quality players in mix-in situations, any of which could explode for a ceiling score. It is looking like a nice day to get broad with exposures and capture a wide range of outcomes. With just nine games on the slate, this article will focus on primarily on the top overall plays on the boom/bust tool. As always, the goal is to find under-appreciated players for the frequency with which they land in the optimal lineup in DraftKings and FanDuel NBA simulations.
This article always comes out ahead of lock, and many things will change with these daily fantasy basketball picks. Be sure to follow the @AwesemoNBA Twitter handle for all the latest breaking news (via NewsGod).
NBA Daily Fantasy Basketball: Optimal + 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 bad chalk and shaky investments will be discussed in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
Xavier Tillman — Memphis Grizzlies
DraftKings — $3,400 — PF/C | FanDuel — $3,500 — PF
Tillman has had a productive season in somewhat limited minutes. He sees just 18.3 minutes per game across all situations this season, averaging 6.6 real-life points on just 14.3% usage. He has made seven starts this season, averaging 24.6 minutes, 9 points, 6.7 rebounds, a 53.6% true shooting percentage and 16.4% usage. Expected to start in this one, Tillman is very much in the conversation given his low pricing on both sites, but the upside could be in question.
On FanDuel, Tillman lands with just an 11.6% optimal-lineup rate, ranking 25th overall and sixth among power forwards on the blue site. He has a strong 38.0% boom-score probability given the minimum salary, so there is significant room for upside on the play. The issue is the frequency with which Tillman finds that ceiling score. He is unlikely to hurt a lineup, but he may not be the explosive upside play that he seems. Tillman will be significantly negatively leveraged at a -15.4 mark, and there appear to be several other options at all ranges of salary. He is not a bad play, but he might not be the best play on FanDuel.
On the DraftKings slate, Tillman ranks third overall with a 20.2% optimal-lineup rate. That lands him first among power forwards and centers, and he has a strong 27.6% boom-score probability on the site. Tillman will be highly popular, but he fits as more of a building block on this site than he does on FanDuel. There are simply no similar options available for the upside at this price on the DraftKings slate. Tillman has a -15.4 leverage score and 35.6% projected public ownership, it seems to make sense to get to at least that mark, if not more.
Ben Simmons (Q) — Philadelphia 76ers
DraftKings — $7,800 — PG | FanDuel — $7,100 — PG
Simmons is simply underpriced on at least one site tonight. His overall per-minute fantasy production has been down for the year, at a 1.15 mark following last season’s 1.19, but this is an overcorrection on FanDuel. Simmons is also currently questionable with an illness, but a number of his teammates are potentially missing this game as well. That list includes Seth Curry and Tobias Harris, which would leave more for Simmons to do if they sit and he plays. Without those two, Simmons has produced 1.27 fantasy points per minute this season. He would be dramatically underpriced for that production if he plays.
Simmons costs $7,800 on the DraftKings slate, where he can be rostered at only the point guard spot. He has an optimal-lineup rate that tempers expectations somewhat, coming in at just an 8.10% mark. His boom-score probability stands at 10.10%; those marks stand 11th and 13th, respectively, among eligible point guards. Simmons is more of a mix-and-match option on the DraftKings slate, and he will be slightly over-owned, coming up with a -1.3 leverage score. Pending news, there could be additional upside for Simmons, or he may not play. Keep an eye out — if things break right Simmons may jump up the board as we lock approaches.
On the FanDuel slate, the point guard costs just $7,100 and looks like a far stronger play for it. Simmons comes up in the optimal lineup in 20.8% of simulations, ranking seventh overall on the slate and second among point guards. He is an easy selection at this price. There is major upside if he plays without Curry and Harris, and he still carries a 31.1% boom-score probability with those teammates projected to play. There is every reason to expect upside on a play that is popular, but at a reasonably playable -7.8 leverage score. If Simmons trends further into negative leverage territory, then it may be worth moving off of shares to undercut the field’s exposure, but he seems like a premium point guard play on the slate tonight.
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Jimmy Butler (Q) — Miami Heat
DraftKings — $9,600 — SF | FanDuel — $9,300 — SF
Butler is another player who is a different play across sites given the pricing discrepancy. He is a star who is slightly underpriced on the FanDuel slate, and he slots in as one of the top overall options on that site. He produces 1.37 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, seeing 25.9% usage and pulling in 23.6% of the team’s rebounds while doling out 38.3% of their assists. Butler is a strong across the board player for daily fantasy basketball, and he can be rostered with confidence in most situations. The Heat will be without all of Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo, while Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala are both questionable. Without the trio that is confirmed out, Butler has averaged a 1.69 fantasy points per minute over a limited 52-minute sample. There is major upside available here at a discounted price.
On DraftKings, Butler is priced appropriately for his normal production at $9,600, but he has upside given the situation and still maintains a 24.7% boom-score probability. Despite just a 10.9% optimal-lineup rate, Butler looks like an interesting play for GPPs given the 8.1 leverage score on a player with a 50.8 raw DraftKings points projection. Butler is currently projected for just 2.8% public exposure, and gamers can exceed the field on the play with relative ease.
He looks stronger on the FanDuel slate where he is priced down to an underserved $9,300. With a 35-minute projection from Awesemo, Butler should have little trouble smashing through the ceiling score needed for that price — the upside is massive. Butler has a 46.1% boom-score probability on the discounted price, and he comes up in the optimal lineup in 33.8% of simulated slates. With the public at only 24% overall exposure, there is plenty of room to work in shares of Butler. His 9.8 leverage score is one of the most appealing data points on the entire slate.
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