The Wednesday night lineup of NBA games and the shape of the daily fantasy basketball slates are both extremely interesting. With a number of high-octane spots on the board, and with several key players on the shelf or coming back, there are NBA DFS opportunities galore up and down the salary spectrum. There are plenty of stars and the scrubs to help pay for them, but there are a significant number of mid-range plays that stand out for value as well, creating a number of potentially viable approaches to this on both sites. With nine games on the slate, the focus will primarily be on the top overall plays on the board. 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.
P.J. Washington — Charlotte Hornets
DraftKings — $6,100 — PF/C | FanDuel — $5,200 — PF
Gordon Hayward suffered a foot injury that is expected to keep him on the shelf through the end of April at the earliest. Without him in the lineup there is more room for Washington to stand out in the team’s frontcourt. The Hornets will also continue to be without LaMelo Ball, and Malik Monk is on the shelf as well, leaving plenty of usage to spread around. Washington played in foul trouble in the team’s first game without Hayward the last time out, putting up a disastrous 3 points, three rebounds and two assists, but there is significantly more than that in the player.
On the FanDuel slate, Washington ranks as the top overall play by Awesemo’s optimal-lineup rate metric, standing atop the field at 33.4%. He will be a popular play, but the public ownership isn’t backbreaking. Washington comes in with a playable -5.0 leverage score, and the upside he provides is apparent. He lands with a boom-score probability of 44.4% against his low-for-him salary on the blue site, making him a solid option as a building block for which to exceed the field.
On the DraftKings slate, Washington does not pop to the degree he does across sites. He adds center eligibility but lands in the optimal lineup in just 14.7% of simulated slates for the site, though that does still rank him ninth overall. At $6,100 against a lower overall cap, he is not the same value play that he is on FanDuel, but there is still good reason to get to a player with positional flexibility and a 17.6% boom-score probability that ranks 10th on the slate. Washington is firmly in play on both sites, but it will be easier to exceed the field’s ownership on DraftKings where his raw popularity stands at just 14.2%, leaving him at a 0.5 leverage score.
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Miles Bridges – Charlotte Hornets
DraftKings — $5,000 — SF/PF | FanDuel — $5,800 — PF
Far and away the slate leader by optimal-lineup rate on one site, and a strong contender on the other, Bridges stands to benefit even more than Washington does from the absence of Gordon Hayward. Bridges will gain minutes beyond his 26.8 average, and is projected for a 32.8-minute night. Averaging 0.83 fantasy points per minute through the season, Bridges will have the opportunity to do more, though so far he has put up just a 0.74 per-minute mark in 104 minutes without this specific set of teammates and playing alongside higher-usage players.
On the DraftKings slate, Bridges costs $5,000 and picks up eligibility at both forward positions, giving him significant utility on this slate. Bridges is the leader by optimal-lineup rate at any position, landing 8.5 percentage points above runner-up Tony Bradley and more than 15 percentage points above third-ranked Wendell Carter. Bridges has a 32.0% boom-score probability and will be getting some attention from the public; he has a 37.6% ownership share but just a -2.1 leverage score. Ultimately Bridges is a safe choice to roster more than the field, though the degree to which he and Washington can be rostered together should be a bit of a question mark.
On the FanDuel slate, Bridges is priced up to $5,800 and slots in as just a power forward. He has upside on the site, and the position is not the strongest on the board, helping to keep him slate-relevant. Bridges lands in the optimal lineup in 18.3% of simulations for the FanDuel slate, though his -3.5 leverage score stands out when he does not explode to the absolute top of the rankings. Bridges is definitely in play as a mix-in option on the site. He has a 24.3% boom-score probability that ranks 14th overall and helps allay some of the concerns about the public ownership, though coming in with (or even at a slight undercut to) the field may not be the worst idea.
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Svi Mykhailiuk – Oklahoma City Thunder
DraftKings — $5,500 — SG/SF | FanDuel — $3,800 — SG
Mykhailiuk’s FanDuel viability is worth discussing, though on DraftKings he is not necessary. He has been thrust into relevance in his role with his new team and is projected for 30.1 minutes while averaging 0.77 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season. That mark has increased to 0.80 in all situations since joining the Thunder 229 game minutes ago. Mykhailiuk will be playing without a handful of teammates, as is now the standard with the Oklahoma City squad. Given the best guess at the available players, leaving out most of the recognizable names on the team, Mykhailiuk has 21-minute sample in which he has posted 1.06 fantasy points per minute.
Ultimately, this is entirely about the price. On DraftKings, despite getting both guard and forward eligibility, Mykhailiuk is more of an afterthought or mix-in option. He comes up in the optimal lineup in just 10.10% of simulations, ranking him 28th on the slate. His boom-score probability ranks a lowly 32nd overall, coming in at just 8.1% against his $5,500 salary on the site. Plus, there is no leverage available in the play, with the public rostering him at nearly the same rate as he appears optimal.
On the FanDuel slate, on the other hand, Mykhailiuk ranks second overall by optimal-lineup rate, dropping into the optimal in 30.8% of simulated slates. He costs just $3,800 on the site, a complete misprice for the situation. The shooting guard spot on FanDuel is a relatively flat position after the first couple of options on the boom/bust board, giving Mykhailiuk an immense amount of utility and creating a 41.3% boom-score probability against his paltry salary. He will be extremely popular in this situation, however; he lands with a whopping 42.7% ownership projection, pushing him into an abyssal -16.4 leverage score that is beginning to trend toward uncomfortable. The pressure gets intense at those depths, and if Mykhailiuk does not have a ceiling performance your lineups are unlikely to see the surface; but at least half the field will be sunk along with you. In the end, there appears to be more upside and value in using the play as a building block to access upper-echelon players than it does a pass.
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