As the NBA DFS season gradually grinds down to its conclusion, the penultimate Sunday of the year brings a chaotic-looking mess of a six-game slate. With numerous teams vying for contention in the absurd play-in tournament, there are interesting spots up and down the board at all ranges of salary, though we have a slate full of games with low totals and fairly broad point spreads. The goal of the daily Deep Dive article is to dig deep into the NBA slate, instead of simply providing a few picks and moving on. We will be looking at some of the “why” behind a player’s projections or standing on tools like the Boom/Bust. Our hope is that after reading this article, you’ll have a better feel for the slate as a whole. Combining the context from this article with the raw data that is available in Awesemo’s Boom/Bust tool, Projections and Ownership Projections should allow you to build strong lineups and make the best NBA DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel for any format.
Be sure to check out this morning’s Strategy Show featuring Josh Engleman and Rayen “Rynpak” Patnaik
NBA DFS Picks: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | May 9
Note: With six games on deck, we’re going back to the positional breakdown for this week. If you have any questions after reading the article, feel free to DM me in Slack at tmcb74.
Luka Doncic ($11,000 DraftKings/$10,600 FanDuel) seems to have played the past few Sundays and gotten coverage in this space as the top option. His pricing has stayed relatively stable during the Mavericks current surge, which has come largely in the absence of Kristaps Porzingis, while Doncic has carried the team. Doncic has been right on his season average with 1.49 fantasy points per minute over the past two weeks, which is up slightly from the 1.43 in the extended sample back to the March 25th trade deadline. The point guard is expensive but well worth the investment on both sites, for the season he has a team-leading 35.0% usage rate, a terrific 51.9% assist share and a 25.7% rebounding percentage. Doncic is one of the best stat-line stuffers in the league and always a priority play.
LaMelo Ball ($8,600 DraftKings/$7,700 FanDuel) is facing his older brother in an important game for the playoff chances of both teams. The heated sibling rivalry hits the board in interesting ways, with Ball priced higher on DraftKings and lower than his brother on FanDuel. Both of the Ball brothers are in play on both sites, and they rank well on Awesemo’s top stacks board. Ball has been playing relatively well in making it back from his wrist injury. He had a big game the other night scoring the ball, and fills multiple stat categories, but he has struggled with his shot since returning. In the five games since his return, the younger Ball has averaged 15.8 real points in 29.2 minutes per game with six rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.4 stocks per game. He has seen team-leading 29.0% usage in the sample, and his peripheral stats represent a 41.0% assist share and a 20.5% rebounding rate. Ball is an excellent option despite some popularity.
Lonzo Ball ($8,400 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) is in a great position to have a big brother game against his younger rookie sibling. Ball will be running the show for the Pelicans again tonight, with Josh Hart, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram all till on the shelf with injuries. Center Steven Adams may sit as well, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker is expected to be available for the first time in weeks. Ball stands out for the opportunity; he has had a strong season overall and has put up a 1.19 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations since the trade deadline. With Williamson out in the team’s most recent game, Ball saw 28.4% usage, second to Jaxson Hayes who was at 28.8%. Ball scored 18 real points on 6-for-18 shooting but went just 4-13 from three, suggesting some potential for upside should he take a similar volume of shots in this one. The Hornets and Pelicans both have something to play for, this should be a competitive game with several oddball upside spots. Playing the Ball brothers is a straightforward approach to getting to some of the potential scoring.
De’Aaron Fox ($10,200 DraftKings/$9,500 FanDuel) is expected to return for the Kings tonight after clearing the league’s medical protocols earlier in the week. The star point guard averages 1.23 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season and should have plenty of work to do in the 30.9 minutes for which we have him projected. The Kings are without rookie Tyrese Haliburton and potentially Buddy Hield, leaving plenty of minutes and usage available if Fox wants it. For the season, Fox has consumed 30.4% of the team’s usage and returned a 40.1% assist rate and a weak 11.7% rebounding share. The minutes would be the only real question, Fox is pricey on both DraftKings and FanDuel for a player returning from a long absence.
Note: Fox has been ruled out.
Cole Anthony ($6,700 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) lands as a highly owned value play from the midrange on both sites. The field is getting to the Orlando rookie point guard in droves, he is negatively leveraged on both sites while not ranking out as one of the most highly optimal point guard plays on the boom/bust tool. Anthony has had a respectable season, putting up 0.93 fantasy points per minute across all situations. The Magic will once again be without a litany of players, leaving plenty of opportunity on the table for the rookie. Anthony has been at 1.03 fantasy points per minute over the last 30 days and 0.95 over the past two weeks. Anthony is in play in an up tempo easy game against the Timberwolves, but the ownership is difficult to swallow with other options on the board. He is a stronger option on FanDuel where he costs just $5,500, despite the heavy public ownership.
Chris Paul ($7,800 DraftKings/$8,400 FanDuel) has put up 1.20 fantasy points per minute across the season. Paul has his Suns playing sharp basketball and he has meshed well with the team during the year. Since the trade deadline, Paul has been at 1.25 fantasy points per minute, while teammates Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton have both been at 1.11. At his pricing on both sites, Paul appears to be more of a mix-in option than he is a standout, but he is certainly on the board for at least a median-projection game, with limited capacity for a ceiling score.
Coby White ($7,100 DraftKings/$6,100 FanDuel) is pricey on the DraftKings slate but retains some relevance for his lower cost on the blue site. White has a 0.87 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations for the season and 0.90 since the trade deadline. That is simply not enough production in what appears to be an average situation for the Bulls today. The point guard is at best “fine” on the FanDuel slate, but he is not a go-to play.
Alex Caruso ($4,600 DraftKings/$4,700 FanDuel) is slate-relevant given the Lakers injuries and absences. The point guard is a bargain if he sees the 30 minutes we have projected for him tonight, and he is not drawing significant ownership on either site. In 46 minutes without the specific group of Lakers who will be missing tonight, Caruso has put up 0.99 fantasy points per minute, giving him a lot of room for upside at these prices.
Players eligible at point guard on DraftKings but not FanDuel include: D’Angelo Russell, Eric Bledsoe, Jalen Brunson, Terry Rozier, Collin Sexton and Devonte’ Graham.
Additional values include: Frank Jackson, Delon Wright, R.J. Hampton and Killian Hayes.
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Terry Rozier ($8,100 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) has been a wildly popular play in recent games, given the absence of several teammates in the Charlotte backcourt. Rozier has responded with strong performances, averaging 19.3 real points with five rebounds, five assists and a steal over the past three games since Miles Bridges also hit the injured list. Rozier is still inexpensive on FanDuel, but he is priced up to simply mix-in level on the DraftKings slate, it is difficult to justify that salary for what is ultimately a 1.01 fantasy point per minute player.
D’Angelo Russell ($7,600 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel) has been at 1.15 fantasy points per minute over 311 minutes since April 15th, which is a solid rate for the pricing on both sites tonight. The guard has consumed 26.1% of the team’s usage in the sample, sitting third behind Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, who are both in play on this slate. Russell will have the ball in his hands and will drive the team’s offense, over the past 15 games he has a strong 40.7% assist share with his 27.1% usage rate. The public will be on Russell, but the popularity is warranted on both sites tonight.
Devin Booker ($8,400 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) is in the Suns rotation that was mentioned for Chris Paul above. The team is taking on a tough Lakers defense tonight, in what is not one of the highest-paced matchups in the world. He is priced appropriately for his 1.10 fantasy point per minute rate. Booker ranks as a solid but unspectacular play for the price on both sites tonight, and the field is getting to him slightly more than he appears in the optimal lineup in Awesemo’s simulations, putting his upside in question. Booker leads the team with 31.9% usage for the season and is the Suns leading scorer, but he does little else to help fantasy scores, with just a 23.7% assist share and a 13.9% rebounding rate.
Talen Horton-Tucker ($4,100 DraftKings/$4,000 FanDuel) is questionable in the mid-afternoon injury report. The Lakers wing slots in as a small forward on the DraftKings slate, where he stands out for both leverage and upside. If news lands early enough, the public will likely get to the play and forego some of their Caruso shares, but Horton-Tucker has strong upside appeal at his pricing on both sites. He has a 0.92 fantasy point per minute average across all situations this season and would be in-line for increased ball-handling duties and minutes. In 245 minutes since the trade deadline in which Schroder and LeBron James were off the court, Horton-Tucker has a 1.10 fantasy point per minute average, which would be spectacular upside for the money if he plays.
Collin Sexton ($9,000 DraftKings/$7,700 FanDuel) is at wildly different pricing across the industry. He lands as solidly playable but over-owned on the FanDuel slate, while his extremely high DraftKings price significantly shrinks his utility and room for upside tonight. Getting to Sexton on the DraftKings slate looks like a near impossibility, given the appeal of better players at other positions. The 0.99 fantasy point per minute contributor for the season has been at just 0.88 in 126 minutes since the trade deadline in situations without the combination of teammates who will be out tonight. This appears to be an overrated spot on the board.
Eric Bledsoe ($5,600 DraftKings/$5,800 FanDuel) is in a similar spot to teammate Lonzo Ball, in that he will have a lot of work to do, given the absence of the team’s two best players. Bledsoe’s production has been down all season, he is at just 0.78 fantasy points per minute this year, after putting up a 1.12 mark across all situations last season. In the team’s most recent game, played in this configuration of a rotation, Bledsoe saw 40 minutes and 21.9% usage, scoring 18 real points despite going just 1-7 from beyond the three point line. He added five rebounds, four assists and two steals to pad his fantasy totals. At the value pricing from the midrange, Bledsoe is in play, though he appears appropriately owned on both sites.
Jalen Brunson ($4,700 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel) slots in as a solid value play, given a 27.6 minute projection in the somewhat depleted Mavericks rotation. Brunson has had a solid season, putting up 0.88 fantasy points per minute but exceeding that with regularity when called upon for more. At his pricing on both site, Brunson should be considered for shares beyond what the public is getting to. He has additional utility given positional flexibility on the DraftKings slate, making him a much stronger play that the public is rostering less frequently on that site.
Zach LaVine ($9,800 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) ranks behind all of the previously mentioned players on the boom/bust tool when sorting by our optimal lineup appearance metric. The Bulls shooting guard is a terrific scorer and has a 1.17 fantasy point per minute rate for the season. Since the trade deadline, LaVine has been down to just 1.13 fantasy points per minute, though he still sees a team-leading 30.8% usage. LaVine is playable as a pricey mix and match option, but there appear to be stronger options for value at the position, and pay-ups at other spots. LaVine provides neither upside nor leverage and simply is who he is on this slate on both sites.
Shooting guard adds Naji Marshall, Alex Caruso, Frank Jackson, Anthony Edwards, R.J. Hampton and others on DraftKings where they are at other positions on FanDuel.
Additional values include: Tim Hardaway Jr., Torrey Craig, Buddy Hield and Hamidou Diallo.
Harrison Barnes ($8,000 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) is one of the top players at an extremely thin small forward position on FanDuel tonight. Barnes is inexpensive on the site, relative to his price across the industry, but he is also questionable to play tonight and has missed recent games with a lower body injury. The Kings forward has put up a solid 0.84 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations this season, and would make for a solid play where we are required to roster two small forwards and he is cheap. He is largely unnecessary, though does carry positive leverage for his extremely low upside on the DraftKings slate.
Naji Marshall ($4,700 DraftKings/$4,800 FanDuel) should see extended run for the Pelicans tonight, Awesemo has him projected for 31.8 minutes, which would be more than enough time for the 0.88 fantasy point per minute player to make his necessary value and put a nice ceiling on these prices. Marshall played 27.0 minutes in the team’s most recent game, seeing 15.2% usage and pulling in an 18.5% rebounding share and 29.4% assist rate. Marshall scored just four real points in the game, but handed out five assists and pulled down five rebounds. He went 2-10 from the field and 0-5 from three point range, so there is upside if the shot is falling. Marshall ranks as a top small forward play on both sites tonight, though the return of Alexander-Walker could cut into his upside if the latter sees an early heat check.
Mikal Bridges ($5,700 DraftKings/$5,900 FanDuel) is fairly priced on this slate for his 0.82 fantasy point per minute rate for the season. Bridges is in an average situation, though the Suns are facing a solid Lakers defense. The forward’s median projection might land as good enough for the FanDuel slate tonight however, the options are simply that thin at the position. On DraftKings, we have more flexibility, so there is less apparent upside. Bridges provides a steady presence for the Suns, but consumes only 14.7% usage and has limited upside.
Anthony Edwards ($8,300 DraftKings/$8,800 FanDuel) is another fairly priced player on both sites. The rookie has had an up and down year, but has been largely productive for NBA DFS purposes. He has a solid 0.98 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations for the year. That mark has been at 1.10 since D’Angelo Russell’s return on April 5th, suggesting the high-volume guard had little negative impact on his teammate; Edwards had been at 1.06 for the month prior to Russell’s return in fact, so the opposite appears to be the case. With money to spend, Edwards is a fine mix-in option on both sites tonight, though he provides no sneakiness and limited shots at a ceiling score for this salary.
Saddiq Bey ($6,900 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) is one of the few names who will reliably take the floor for the Pistons tonight. Bey has been stalwart, playing in all but two of the team’s games this season, while putting up 0.80 fantasy points per minute across all situations on a terrible team as a rookie. Bey has a 19.1% rebounding share and a 9.7% assist rate on the season, but consumes just 17.8% of the team’s usage to get to his 11.8 points in 26.6 minutes per game. Bey has been at 0.93 fantasy points per minute over the last two weeks, regardless of the unpredictable configuration of teammates with which he finds himself playing.
Cedi Osman ($5,800 DraftKings/$5,700 FanDuel) slots in as a play who will be largely over-owned on both sites. Osman is likely to be a feature in the Cavaliers weakened frontcourt, presuming that Kevin Love does not play tonight. Osman has a 0.81 fantasy point per minute rate for the season and can be productive in the right spots, but he is a player who is better rostered when he appears highly optimal or has strong leverage, neither of which is the case tonight. Osman could gain ground given firm news, but with a 32.3 minute projection he does not stand out. In 127 minutes since the deadline without Love, Nance and Garland on the floor, Osman has posted a respectable 0.97 fantasy point per minute rate, were it not for heavy public ownership he would have appeal. If that shifts, Osman gains ground in our esteem.
On DraftKings we add Doncic, James Johnson, Horton-Tucker, Gary Harris, Hardaway and Diallo to the position, among others.
Additional values include: Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Richardson, Patrick Williams, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ignas Brazdeikis.
Anthony Davis ($10,300 DraftKings/$10,100) is priced back up on both sites for the superstar that he is. As by far the biggest name at the position Davis is drawing his fair share of public ownership and is trending into the negatives for leverage on our boom/bust tool. Still, this is far and away the best player available at the position and one of the better stars on the slate. Davis offers a 1.33 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations this season, though he has been at just 1.24 since his return on April 22nd. With James and Schroder both off the court, we have a 114 minute sample in which Davis produced 1.23 points per minute since his return. These are borderline marks for the salary, but we know there is significant upside to the player and he will have significant work to do with Kyle Kuzma also likely to sit this one out.
James Johnson ($3,800 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) is a prime beneficiary of Williamson’s absence in the New Orleans frontcourt, though it was Hayes who really popped for NBA DFS owners at extremely low exposure in the team’s most recent game. Johnson started that game and essentially split time with Hayes, with Johnson seeing 26.8 minutes to Hayes’ 23.8. Johnson saw just 13.6% usage but came up with 10 real points, adding four rebounds and an assist as well as two blocks. There is upside for more in the counting stats department and Johnson is cheap and highly ranked on both sites, with a bit of leverage remaining in the mid-afternoon.
Jarred Vanderbilt ($4,100 DraftKings/$5,100 FanDuel) is in line for around 30 minutes of action as a value-based forward play tonight. He is a stronger option on the DraftKings slate, where he costs just $4,100 and adds center eligibility, while going significantly under-owned for the frequency with which he lands in the optimal lineup in our boom/bust simulations. Vanderbilt has been productive when called upon, putting up a 1.03 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations this season. He has averaged 26.5 minutes per game over the team’s last three, trending upward as the Timberwolves deal with various ailments in the frontcourt. The forward has posted an 8.3 real points per game scoring average in the stretch, seeing just 7.8% usage while contributing a 35.3% rebounding share that translates to eight rebounds per game. He added 4.0 stocks per game to his totals in the stretch, which would be highly appealing at these prices.
P.J. Washington ($7,200 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) has a 0.97 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations. He has been at 1.13 since the trade deadline in games without the specific set of teammates who are likely out for tonight, most specifically Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges. Washington is fairly priced for his standard production, but could have a little value left to be squeezed given the uptick. The power forward is getting attention around the level at which we find him in the optimal lineup on both sites, but the raw ownership numbers are not difficult to exceed.
Isaiah Stewart ($6,700 DraftKings/$6,100 FanDuel) is a center on the DraftKings slate and a power forward on the blue site. Stewart has been productive in his role with the Pistons, delivering 1.02 fantasy points per minute for the season. He is likely one of the healthy bodies for the Pistons, which gives him value in and of itself. With Mason Plumlee out, Stewart has seen 606 minutes since the trade deadline, putting up 1.08 fantasy points per minute and 1.10 without the full list of missing Pistons, though that becomes just a 48 minute sample. Stewart has upside for the money as a mix-in play from the mid-range but he is not someone to go out of our way to roster.
Jaxson Hayes ($4,200 DraftKings/$5,000 FanDuel) lands at the center spot on the DraftKings slate and as a power forward on FanDuel, where he is priced up after an unexpected big game. Hayes had a team-leading 19 real points and added eight rebounds, three assists and four stocks in just 23.8 minutes of action in that contest, and he was barely owned by the field. He will likely be more popular at a higher price, while still providing a wildly unpredictable range of outcomes on this slate. Hayes is in play for mix and match shares on both sites, but getting too excited and over-rostering him based on the recent outlier game would be a mistake.
The slate on DraftKings has the luxury of adding Naz Reid, Cedi Osman, Torrey Craig, Harrison Barnes, Williams and Brazdeikis at power forward.
Additional power forward plays include: Daniel Theis, Moritz Wagner, Darius Bazley, Isaiah Roby and Aleksej Pokusevski.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,700 DraftKings/$9,800 FanDuel) stands as the top big name center on the board and one of the better ways to spend our star-allocated NBA DFS dollars on both sites tonight. The Timberwolves alpha has a 1.38 fantasy point per minute rate, while doing some different things on the court this season. The center is kicking in a 23.6% assist share to go with his 35.1% rebounding rate, while consuming 28.6% of the team’s usage to get to his team-leading 24.8 real points per game. Towns is a superstar and someone who is always worth rostering for less than $10,000 on FanDuel. He is one of the top options on the DraftKings board as well, given the salary offsets and positional flexibility available on the site.
Nikola Vucevic ($10,600 DraftKings/$9,700 FanDuel) has led the Bulls, producing 1.41 fantasy points per minute since joining the club at the trade deadline. The former Magic center is at similar pricing to where we find Towns, coming in less expensive on FanDuel and significantly higher priced on the DraftKings slate. Vucevic is worth the investment and is going under-owned on both sites, as the crowd is trending toward Towns or some of the value-based options on the slate. The center offers more leverage to DraftKings owners but is easier to get to across the industry.
Richaun Holmes ($6,800 DraftKings/$6,400 FanDuel) seems fairly priced for his per-minute production, but possibly a bit cheap for his potential 30-minute night. Holmes has seen his minutes average spike to that level over the team’s most recent five games, while he was at 27 minutes per night prior. With the shuffling of deck chairs in the rotation for the Kings, he could easily see that run and increased production tonight, particularly if Harrison Barnes sits and leaves more frontcourt time and usage on the table. Holmes is a fantasy-point-per-minute producer across the last 30 days in all situations.
Andre Drummond ($6,500 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) is another strong per-minute producer, putting up a 1.37 rate for the season across all situations in Cleveland and Los Angeles. Drummond has been at a 1.18 per-minute rate since joining Los Angeles, 1.15 in games without LeBron James over the last 30 days. The center has significant upside if he should see enough time in this contest, the public is playing him at less than 10% on FanDuel and only slightly more on DraftKings, giving him some offbeat appeal, though those marks outstrip his optimal lineup rate on both sites.
Jarrett Allen ($7,400 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) has been at just 0.97 fantasy points per minute since the trade deadline, a mark that stays consistent regardless of the mix of teammates over the sample. At these prices, Allen is a bit of a question mark, considering the decline from the 1.09 fantasy point per minute player who earned those prices through the season. There is reasonable thought toward upside, and Allen is playable as a mix-and-match, but he is not a target for significant shares without changing news.
Mohamed Bamba ($7,000 DraftKings/$8,200 FanDuel) is a player whose salary would make you do a double-take were you to see today’s value at the start of this season. Bamba has been productive for the Magic, putting up 1.30 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season. Since the departure of Vucevic at the trade deadline, the big man has seen 438 minutes, posting a 1.33 per-minute rate. He pulls in 18.5% of the team’s total rebounding opportunities in the sample and has produced 3.0 stocks per-100 possessions. Bamba is a strong option for production in a vacuum, but he is pricey and popular on this slate.
The DraftKings slate also includes Jarred Vanderbilt, Isaiah Roby, P.J. Washington, Anthony Davis, Jaxson Hayes, Daniel Theis and Moritz Wagner as center options.
Additional center values include: Deandre Ayton, Steven Adams and Moses Brown,
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