The midweek daily fantasy basketball slate has a whopping 11 games on tap and plenty of quality NBA DFS picks to review. After last night’s slate broke evenly around Bruce Brown‘s clunker of a performance for some of us, the new slate should offer numerous low-owned quality plays to roster alongside our building block picks. With 11 games, we will focus on the top overall plays. 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.
James Harden — Brooklyn Nets
DraftKings — $11,300 — PG | FanDuel — $10,900 — SG
Much like last night, Harden leads the slate on both sites again tonight despite an increase in price. With Kyrie Irving sitting out again, the currently questionable Harden stands out atop the board and should be a go-to piece of good chalk again. On last night’s slate, Harden had a huge game, playing 40 minutes and putting up 25 real points to go with 7 rebounds and 17 assists. Assuming he plays on the back-to-back after the heavy workload, Harden should be able to approach similar upside, though the matchup is tougher against the Jazz.
On DraftKings Harden lands as the top play by optimal-lineup rate, landing in that spot in 24.0% of simulated slates. He has a slate-leading 36.4% boom-score probability on the site as well despite the huge salary. Harden simply lands as the prime point guard option. The public will be on him, and he has a -7.1 leverage score on a massive slate with plenty of options, but getting to him at least with the field is advisable.
On FanDuel Harden lands in the optimal lineup in 28.5% of simulated slates, leading the slate on the blue site as well. Harden’s price jumped on the site, but his boom-score probability remains robust, coming in at a healthy 37.6%. Harden has a large ownership share, but it is not too far out of line with his optimal-lineup rate, creating a -4.9 leverage score that is easily playable.
Tyrese Haliburton — Sacramento Kings
DraftKings — $5,700 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $5,700 — SG
With the Rookie of the Year award suddenly back on the table following LaMelo Ball‘s unfortunate injury, there is a lot of buzz around Haliburton. He is averaging 0.96 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, and he will see starter’s minutes for the foreseeable future. In the Kings’ last game, Haliburton saw 36.4 minutes, scoring 28 points on 19.1% usage, though the rest of his line was somewhat empty; he added just a 2.9% rebounding share and an 8.7% assist percentage in that contest. For the season, those numbers are 13.1% and 31.3%, respectively, though he is in a different role.
On FanDuel Haliburton ranks 11th overall on the slate, and fourth among eligible shooting guards by optimal-lineup rate. He lands in that spot in 15.0% of simulated slates, though he will be popular with a -7.2 leverage score. By comparison to other options at the position from a similar salary range, Haliburton comes up more frequently optimal and has a far higher upside, at a 35.6% boom-score probability that ranks second to only Harden. With most of the other residents of his neighborhood on our board coming up with similarly negative leverage scores, Haliburton seems like the best option of the bunch.
On DraftKings the player adds utility by picking up point guard eligibility, and he lands in the optimal lineup in 19.2% of simulated slates. Haliburton has a 24.8% boom-score probability that is among the leaders at either guard spot, though he is trending for a bit more ownership than we want. Ultimately Haliburton ranks as a quality enough play that we can roster him with or somewhat beyond the field, but tempering the degree to which we exceed that mark while spreading the rest of our shares around seems like a smart approach.
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Lauri Markkanen — Chicago Bulls
DraftKings — $5,500 — PF/FanDuel — $5,400 — PF
With the trade deadline looming, Markkanen is firmly on the block, but assuming he is on the court and not dealt before game time, he should be in at least some of our plans on one site. Since returning eight games ago, Markkanen has averaged 29.4 minutes per game, putting up 15.3 real points on 20.8% usage. He adds a 20.1% rebounding percentage but just a 5.3% assist share and only 1.2 stocks per game. Ultimately Markkanen’s utility comes down to his pricing, which is in a nice spot for our purposes tonight.
On DraftKings Markkanen slots in as a strong play from the mid-range, something that should be very valuable on a slate like this. He has a 10.4% optimal-lineup rate that ranks 10th overall on the slate and third among eligible power forwards. Markkanen will be owned by a projected 7.6% of the field, making him a positive leverage play. While he has just a 12.3% boom-score probability against a low salary, Markkanen should be positioned to give us a favorable range of outcomes as a low owned and inexpensive pivot piece across lineups.
On the FanDuel slate Markkanen does not stand out quite as much given his lower optimal-lineup rate against a number of better options. He comes in at just a 7.7% optimal mark, which ranks 44th overall on the slate. Markkanen isn’t irrelevant at that mark, but he is not nearly mandatory. His 18.0% boom-score probability keeps him playable, and the 3.1 leverage score is a plus, but ultimately Markkanen is far more if a mix-and-match piece on the slate.
Victor Oladipo — Houston Rockets
DraftKings — $7,700 — PG/SG/FanDuel — $7,800 — SG
Another player rumored to be on the trading block, the now somewhat overlooked Oladipo should be in line for a full complement of minutes, assuming he is still on the team come game time tonight. Oladipo has averaged 1.10 fantasy points per minute throughout all situations this season. With Houston still somewhat shorthanded, assuming Oladipo plays, we can look to him at a strong leverage mark.
Oladipo lands in the optimal lineup 11.2% of the time in simulated FanDuel contests given a 36.6-minute projection from Awesemo. If he gets that run he has a strong chance at posting an upside score for his somewhat low salary. Oladipo has a 19.1% boom-score probability and will be under-owned by the public at just 5.8% exposure. That leaves him with a 5.4 leverage score that has strong appeal as one of the leading mix-in options. Just stay tuned to the news.
On DraftKings Oladipo slots in as more of an also-ran. He is in the optimal lineup in 6.8% of simulated slates and has just a 13.9% boom-score probability. This doesn’t remove him from play entirely, but it significantly reduces the appeal. Getting to Oladipo in a few shares of your lineups is fine given the 1.4 leverage score, though exceeding the field significantly is not the best approach.
Gordon Hayward — Charlotte Hornets
DraftKings — $7,900 — SF/PF/FanDuel — $7,000 — SF
On the other side of that Rockets game is a Hornets team that has a number of standout options given the absence of Ball and the question mark on Cody Zeller. Depending on Zeller’s status, we could have strong frontcourt value in P.J. Washington and potentially several others, while Hayward should stand out regardless. Hayward has been solid through this season, putting up 1.05 fantasy points per minute across all situations and a team-leading 1.08 without Ball and 1.11 without Ball and Zeller.
On FanDuel Hayward ranks third overall on the slate with his 25.9% optimal-lineup rate. He is the leading small forward option by a wide margin and should be owned at a great clip than the public despite the -7.8 leverage score because of it. With an affordable price that should be due to climb in coming days, Hayward is very relevant tonight and appears to be one of the better pieces of chalk on this slate. Getting to his 35.8% boom-score probability is a smart move for a broad share of your small forward ownership.
On DraftKings Hayward costs far more against a lower cap, coming in with a $900 price difference across sites. While he adds power forward eligibility that helps his utility, Hayward simply loses too much off the top with the higher price. He lands in the optimal lineup in just 9.0% of simulated slates and has only a 13.6% boom-score probability. He will be owned at almost exactly the right rate by the public and can be rostered, we simply don’t gain much for doing so on this site.
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