The NBA schedule makers didn’t scrimp on this week’s Thursday slate, with a solid seven-gamer on tap for daily fantasy basketball fans. There are two or three standout game totals lined up, with a few extremely low-totaled games also on the board, meaning gamers have to carefully thread the needle with our NBA DFS picks. With seven games on the slate, the focus will primarily be on the top overall plays on the board, but we will dip into the leverage pool for some lower-owned considerations as well. 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.
As always, this article 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.
Luka Doncic — Dallas Mavericks
DraftKings — $10,900 — PG | FanDuel — $10,300 — PG/SF
When one of the best players in the league explodes to the top of the leaderboard in the boom/bust tool, don’t ask a lot of questions — just start adding him to lineups. Doncic is in a great spot in the second-highest total of the night. He averages 1.48 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season and is at a low-for-him price of $10,300 on FanDuel. Doncic is a known commodity with an extremely high floor and ceiling. He averages 35 minutes per game, putting up 28.5 real points on 35.3% usage. He should be with most of the usual weapons alongside him tonight, though forward Maxi Kleber is questionable. Doncic pulls in a 25.9% rebounding percentage and a 52.2% assist share on his team. He is one of the better multi-category daily fantasy basketball point scorers in the league, someone players can always go out of the way to pay for.
On FanDuel, Doncic stands atop the board with a massive 45.4% optimal-lineup rate rarely seen on such an expensive price tag. He has a whopping 37.1% boom-score probability against that same price, suggesting there is potential for a gigantic-upside game, considering he has a 52.8 raw projection already. The public will be on Doncic to the tune of nearly 40% popularity, but that is not enough, leaving him at a 6.2 leverage score and someone to exceed the field for on the blue site.
On DraftKings, Doncic slots into both the point guard and small forward positions, giving him massive utility and keeping him afloat against a price that is far higher relative to the cap. He lands in the optimal lineup in 28.5% of simulated slates for the site, and he has a 4.1 leverage score for the night. There is ample room to go beyond the field for the Doncic play, and even the heavy salary should not be an obstacle. Doncic has a 23.7% boom-score probability that stands fifth overall on the slate and first among anyone at either guard spot. He is a valuable spend-up option on both sites.
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Bobby Portis — Milwaukee Bucks
DraftKings — $5,300 — PF/C | FanDuel — $5,800 — PF
On the other side of the Mavericks – Bucks game, Portis is popping on both sites. He is expected to land in the starting lineup and see significant run tonight, filling in for the currently questionable Giannis Antetokounmpo. In 545 minutes without Giannis on the court this year, Portis averaged 1.13 fantasy points per minute, but he is not properly priced for that production on either site.
Portis ranks at the top of the DraftKings board with a 42.8% optimal-lineup rate, 14 percentage points higher than the next-highest-ranked player at any position. The boom-score probability is through the roof at 46.7%, and Portis has multi-position eligibility at center and power forward on the site, adding to the appeal and utility. While the public will be rostering him at a 32.6% clip, this is not nearly enough, giving Portis one of the most appealing leverage scores on the slate at 10.2. He is an absolute lock-and-load play in this situation, unless his superstar teammate decides to give it a go that is.
On FanDuel, Portis ranks third overall on the slate with a 28.8% optimal-lineup rate, landing just behind Isaiah Hartenstein at the power forward position. Portis has a 40.9% boom-score probability against his $5,800 salary, again second only to Hartenstein and his $4,000 salary at the position. Portis will be under-owned on FanDuel as well; he has a 5.4 leverage score, with just 23.4% of the field adding him to lineups as of the late-afternoon update. The public is well behind the field on several key plays from atop the board on the blue site, making for some easy early constructions.
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Donovan Mitchell — Utah Jazz
DraftKings — $8,600 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $7,800 — SG
Mitchell is a name that has not appeared frequently in this space through the season. He is often very fairly priced for his 1.20 fantasy points per minute and does not typically stand out in Awesemo’s optimal-lineup rates or boom score probabilities because of it. He also plays for a Jazz team that is one of the more functional and well-balanced organizations, limiting the overall upside on most nights unless an injury situation emerges or the prices land at a low point. For tonight’s game, Jordan Clarkson is the only relevant member of the Jazz who is not expected to play. In more than 1,000 minutes without Clarkson on the floor this year, Mitchell climbs slightly to 1.23 fantasy points per minute, but he emerges on the board based on a low price on at least one site and some utility on the other.
On DraftKings, Mitchell ranks seventh with a 22.2% optimal-lineup rate. He has a solid 17.4% boom-score probability for the $8,600 price tag. There is not much discount baked into that number, but Mitchell provides utility between the guard spots and makes for a reasonable play. However, the public is ahead of the success rate on him, and there are other appealing plays of similar value at his position. Mitchell is at just a -4.0 leverage score that would be playable in many situations, but he is not explosively ahead of many other options, making him more of a mix-in option than he may seem based on just the other categories.
On FanDuel, Mitchell will be even more popular given the low $7,800 price at the shooting guard spot. He stands out for a 28.5% optimal-lineup rate that ranks fifth overall on the slate and first among shooting guards by about 3 percentage points. There is a less expensive lower-owned cluster of players at the position who all compare favorably to Mitchell in terms of probability of success, including Zach LaVine, Collin Sexton and Paul George. Josh Jackson is in that range of the board from the value end of the pool as well. All of those players are at better leverage marks than Mitchell, who stands out for his -9.9 leverage score and 38.4% public ownership. This seems to be a prime spot to undercut the field and allocate some ownership to similarly ranked plays at the position.
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