Four of Saturday’s 10 games on the NBA DFS slate are totaled at well over the 230-point mark, giving daily fantasy basketball enthusiasts a wealth of options from which to make their lineup picks today. The slate is loaded with upside plays from every part of the salary spectrum once again. Getting to unique combinations of upside players is relatively easy tonight, and we have a few under-appreciated primary building blocks from which to start our constructions. With 10 games on the slate and so many robust options, this article will focus on the top overall plays on the board. 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.
Kevin Porter Jr. — Houston Rockets
DraftKings — $7,400 — PG | FanDuel — $6,100 — SF
Porter is a strong play on both sites tonight, despite different positioning and wildly different pricing. With most of the Rockets roster on the shelf or questionable in this one, Porter will be in an all-you-can-eat situation in terms of minutes and usage. Awesemo has him projected for 36.5 minutes, which is already displaying major upside on the slate. It is easy enough to envision him playing more than that, increasing the appeal and significant opportunity for a ceiling score. Porter averages a 0.91 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations this year. With this specific set of teammates out since the trade deadline, Porter has a whopping 1.47 fantasy point per minute rate, though it comes in just a 50-minute sample. There is major upside in the player tonight.
On DraftKings, Porter ranks second overall with a 25.7% optimal lineup appearance rate though he is eligible only at point guard on the site. He is priced up to $7,400, but that is barely impacting the 35.1% boom score probability. For the potential per-minute production, Porter has major upside and should be higher priced. He is under-owned by the public on the DraftKings slate, creating an 8.3 leverage score that is the most appealing individual spot on the entire board. Porter should be rostered well beyond the public’s projected 17.4% ownership.
Porter is a small forward on FanDuel, where he costs $6,100 and will be spectacularly popular at 42.6% projected public ownership. That still leaves room for upside. The forward has a 3.1 leverage score and appears in the optimal lineup on the blue site in 45.7% of simulations. He has a 63.1% boom score probability that leads all players on the slate, given the way-too-low price for the potential that approaches 1.5 fantasy points per minute in this situation. Fire away on Porter. At worst, he is excellent chalk, but we still have leverage to work with as of the late afternoon.
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Mo Wagner — Orlando Magic
DraftKings — $3,300 — PF/C | FanDuel — $3,500 — PF
Taking up residence in the frontcourt in Orlando seems to eventually yield minutes regardless of the name on one’s jersey. With several teammates out once again, Wagner will have significant upside. Wagner started in last night’s embarrassing 92-75 loss to the same Grizzlies squad they are taking on tonight. He played 27.7 minutes, putting up five points which all came from the free-throw line. Wagner went 0-7 from the field and 0-3 from three in the effort, but he did grab seven rebounds and block two shots along the way. If more of his shots from the field fall, there is significant upside. Orlando is expected to be in a similar situation tonight, but James Ennis will also be out. Ennis started alongside Wagner last night, so there could be additional run. Wagner also sat the back-end of the fourth quarter in what was a blowout, given more time, there is even more upside.
The public is on the play on the FanDuel slate. Wagner is pulling down a 24.4% ownership projection in the late afternoon, while he has a 19.3% optimal lineup appearance rate as a minimum price power forward option. The -5.1 leverage score is unappealing, but Wagner does not have to do much to make value at the minimum. His 49.6% boom score probability tells us how much upside remains in the play. Wagner would have to trip over the sideline to not at least be a capable play and come in around his median projection tonight, with upside for more.
On the DraftKings slate, Wagner costs $3,300 and picks up center eligibility. he will be owned by a whopping 32.8% of the field on the site, moving him around several positions and rostering him alongside other centers. The 47.0% boom score probability is one of the top marks across any position on the DraftKings slate, and Wagner lands in the optimal lineup more frequently than any other player, coming up 29.9% of the time in simulations. The -2.9 leverage score is worth at least mentioning, but at the fire-sale price, Wagner makes for a strong building block play.
Stephen Curry — Golden State Warriors
DraftKings — $10,600 — PG | FanDuel — $9,700 — PG
Playing on the other side of the G-league Rockets in one of the games totaled above 230 tonight, Curry lands as one of the top star-caliber plays across the industry tonight. One of the best overall players in the league, Curry is somewhat underpriced on the FanDuel slate, while he is at worst appropriately priced on DraftKings. The elite point guard has a 1.38 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations this season, and he could potentially be without both Draymond Green and Kelly Oubre tonight. Losing Green takes a 45.5% assist share off the table for the Warriors, leaving the point guard with some distribution work to do. Curry can simply call his own number and take a massive usage share tonight, which would create major upside.
On the DraftKings slate, Curry ranks seventh overall with his 16.8% optimal lineup appearance rate. That mark comes in fourth among point guards, with the more expensive Luka Doncic standing as the lone pay-up option above him. Curry has upside with a 19.4% boom score probability for the salary, though he will be at a -8.0 leverage score. Rostering Curry or Doncic alongside one of the value guards seems like a common construction while rostering them both with a value play in the utility spot could be an interesting way to absorb the negative leverage on both players, though it could price a build well out of all other high-upside players on the slate. This is an interesting decision point for DraftKings owners tonight. Saving money on Curry in at least some shares of lineups appears to have value, assuming the savings are wisely spent elsewhere.
On the FanDuel slate, the choices are less stark. Curry is simply a stronger option at a $900 discount from his fellow star point guard. Getting to both under the requirement to roster two is more feasible on this site, though it is still an expensive way to approach constructions. Curry is at a -7.1 leverage score while Doncic lands at -6.2 for far more salary. Curry has a 36.3% boom score probability and lands in the optimal lineup in 29.3% of simulated slates, making him the preferred pricey play at the position.
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