The large Friday NBA DFS slate is interestingly shaped for daily fantasy basketball upside. After a week that seemed to feature multiple games with extremely large totals and NBA odds, tonight’s slate seems somewhat lacking given just the Rockets – Bucks game (232) is totaled over 230. With most of the action packed into the 220s, scoring could go any number of ways, making tools like the Boom/Bust Tool and Awesemo’s slate simulations invaluable. With 10 games on the slate, this article will focus on the top overall DFS basketball picks 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 DFS NBA projections and simulations.
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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.
Terry Rozier — Charlotte Hornets
DraftKings — $8,000 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $6,200 — SG
The short-handed Hornets will once again be without Devonte’ Graham, Cody Martin, Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward on Friday night, a situation that has thrust Rozier into prominence over the team’s recent stretch. Over the team’s last two games played in this configuration, Rozier has led the way with a 27.9% usage rate while seeing 32.6 minutes a night. He has averaged 15 real points with a 22.5% assist share and a 15.4% rebounding rate in the small sample, producing 0.94 fantasy points per minute. With a 36.5-minute projection from Awesemo, Rozier appears to have upside on this slate and value on both sites, though his pricing is wildly different across the industry.
On DraftKings, Rozier slots in at both guard positions but costs $8,000. That salary has him pulling in a 10.2% boom-score probability and a 9.9% optimal-lineup rate. Neither of those is off the table, but they rank him simply as a middling mix-and-match play rather than one of the go-to NBA DFS lineup picks today. The leverage score is at a -1.3, suggesting the public is too enthusiastic about paying full price for Rozier on this slate. Rostering him is not a mistake, but pressing the field’s ownership likely could be.
On the FanDuel slate, Rozier seems likely be entirely necessary. The shooting guard costs just $6,200 on the blue site, giving him extreme upside and a 44.5% boom-score probability. He will be owned at 53.0% by the field, surpassing his optimal-lineup rate, which leads the slate at 38.9%. Even with a -14.1 leverage score, this seems like more of a quality building block than something to avoid. Rostering Rozier frequently alongside a rotation of the other options at the position seems viable given the differential between his probability of success and that of the field. The shooting guard position is relatively thin, and the stars do not rate out well by optimal-lineup appearances in simulations, suggesting it is a good spot to pay down. Rozier is a strong option for that approach despite the popularity.
Jordan Clarkson — Utah Jazz
DraftKings — $7,500 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $7,200 — SG
On a slate littered with mid-range options who rank out similarly, Clarkson has a slight edge on most of the opposition by virtue of his lack of popularity. He is priced fairly for his current role, playing in the absence of both Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, so he is not a major value play, but there is some juice still to be squeezed here if the public is not getting to the play frequently enough. Clarkson averages 1.04 fantasy point per minute; in 305 minutes without his two fellow guards since the trade deadline, he has been steady at 1.06.
Clarkson is a shooting guard on FanDuel. He lands in the optimal lineup in 13.1% of simulated slates but will be undervalued by the field. He has a 17.6% boom-score probability that falls to 32nd overall on the slate but ranks fourth among shooting guards on a site where two are required. Among that group, Clarkson’s 4.7 leverage score is the most favorable mark by far, while his optimal-lineup rate is tightly packed in a group of five choices between 14.2% and 13.0% in the category. With a lack of popularity, there is good reason to take shots on Clarkson in GPPs.
On DraftKings, Clarkson adds utility by picking up point guard eligibility. This comes with a salary boost, of course, which levels the field. Clarkson lands in the optimal lineup in 10.2% of simulated slates on the site, but he will be under-owned to a larger degree, coming up with a 6.0 leverage score. While there is not much positional scarcity on this site, there are still appealing reasons to look to Clarkson at least in excess of the field’s low 4.2% ownership; doubling up on Clarkson is an easy, low-risk move.
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Alex Caruso — Los Angeles Lakers
DraftKings — $4,000 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $5,000 — PG
Caruso is another player who looks different across NBA DFS sites tonight. With a low salary on DraftKings and a high-for-him mark on the FanDuel slate, Caruso will be looked at in very different ways on opposite sides of the industry. The Lakers will be without LeBron James, Dennis Schroder and Talen Horton-Tucker, leaving Caruso as the primary ball handler and most likely option to start at point guard once again. Caruso started last game, playing 28 minutes before sitting the entire fourth quarter in what was a Clippers rout. In a regular competitive game, he likely cracks the 35-minute mark. Caruso saw 17.6% usage in that contest, scoring 8 points, dishing out seven assists and contributing two steals.
On the FanDuel slate, Caruso is priced up to the mid-range, which puts a major cap on his value. He has a 15.0% optimal-lineup rate, so he is on the board, but the field will be getting to him appropriately, compounding the problem by leaving just a 0.40 leverage score on an already pricey play. With a 28.6% boom-score probability, there still appears to be upside, so getting to Caruso at or even slightly above the field could be a good move. However, there are several high-priced plays with strong value at the point guard spot on this site.
On DraftKings, Caruso is second among all players, landing in the optimal lineup in 28.6% of simulated slates. That stands first among all guards, with only Luka Doncic within what could reasonably be considered close range at 22.7% but a salary approaching triple the $4,000 Caruso costs. Of course, Doncic’s median projection is double that of Caruso, so there is a give and take to the value conversation. Caruso has a 40.9% boom-score probability on the slate, yet the public is trailing the ownership rate at just 26.4%, leaving a 2.2 leverage score that makes Caruso all the more appealing. Rostering Caruso well over the field is a smart play unless there is changing news that alters positional values.
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