Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II
Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II (0) against the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Thursday, April 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PICKS FOR APRIL 9

Mike Shara

There are only four games on the schedule today and the first game (Indiana at Philadelphia) starts at 1pm, so it won’t be available for you in tournaments, leaving you just three games to choose from tonight. I might have normally taken today off because of that very slight schedule but today is the second-last day of the regular season and I’d hate to think of not being able to bet on players from Sacramento again for six months, so I’m jumping in with both feet. With so few options, the ‘sneaky’ part of this column will probably be somewhat misleading today. A few of these picks are hiding in plain sight, but still…

PAUL GEORGE, SG, LA Clippers ($9,300 on DraftKings, $9,000 on FanDuel)
The Clippers’ game tonight vs. Sacramento doesn’t mean anything to either team. Los Angeles is firmly ensconced as the 8th seed in the play-in tournament picture and the Kings are…shitty. Once again, they will conclude the season floating in the netherworld of non-competitiveness but somehow not quite bad enough to have much chance of a top three draft pick in June. Sigh. Sacramento is among the bottom three defensive teams in the league and are sitting several key players today including De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and Terence Davis. PG3 has been averaging about 30 minutes per game since returning to the lineup about 10 days ago and tonight will only be looking to maintain the good rhythm he’s established since his return. You rarely get stat-stuffing monsters like him for less than ten grand any day. On a really small schedule day, he’s a real target at that price.

DAMIAN JONES, C, Sacramento ($5,900 on DraftKings, $6,300 on FanDuel)
One of the few players on Sacramento who is playing well and seeing major minutes during the Kings’ annual limp to the end of the season is Jones. With Sabonis, Alex Len and Richaun Holmes all sitting out he has ascended (survived?) to become their starting center, averaging more than 32 minutes and 40 DFS points per game over the last four. The Clippers aren’t the easiest of matchups for him, but he’s a fifth-year player who is already on his fourth NBA team and he’s getting a chance to play significant minutes. He’s playing like he realizes this may be his last shot to stay in the league. Playing with a little extra desire and desperation in a game where the other team won’t be killing themselves to win might be a good DFS recipe on a lean night for picking players.

GARY PAYTON II, PG/SG, Golden State ($3,700 on DraftKings, $4,100 on FanDuel)
Starting guards Klay Thompson (rest/injury management) and Steph Curry (foot) are both out for the Warriors tonight’s game in San Antonio. Golden State are either going to end up the third or fourth seed in the Western Conference, so they’re being careful with Thompson’s load management. Payton should see an uptick in minutes and shots tonight. He averaged about a DFS point per minute in a blowout win vs. the Lakers two nights ago and is a decent bet to repeat those numbers against another bad defensive team. For a very reasonable investment, he should be a steady return on a night where sure things are few and far between.

JOSH RICHARDSON, SF/SG, San Antonio ($4,600 on DraftKings, $4,700 on FanDuel)
I realized that really what I’m trying to do today is find one player at each position because the pickings are so slim. Richardson is a little more useful today than some others because he qualifies at two spots on both platforms, allowing you some versatility. He is also useful today because San Antonio will be sitting out their four highest scoring DFS players today for their game vs. Golden State. Jakob Poeltl, Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell will all be in street clothes this evening (San Antonio really has nothing to play for as far as playoff position goes) so there should be plenty of minutes in store for players like Richardson, Lonnie Walker IV, Tre Jones and Josh Primo. I’d look at all of those players today and at least consider doing a lineup stack of Spurs because all of those guys are going cheap and will see an unusual surge of activity tonight. Richardson’s versatility stands out a bit, but they’re all good buys (and probably good, solid fellows too).

JA MORANT, PG, Memphis ($9,100 on FanDuel, $9,800 on DraftKings)
Well, here’s the gamble of the day, folks. With such a small number of games to choose from, if Morant does indeed return to the active roster tonight, you have to seriously consider rostering him, even though he’s coming off of a pretty significant knee injury. Grizzlies Head Coach Taylor Jenkins hinted that Ja could return this weekend after missing about three weeks, trying to get him in rhythm for what they hope will be a deep playoff run. His status as I write this at 10:30 a.m. is currently “Questionable”. Check back later in the day and see what the latest reports are, but if he’s playing, you’ll never be able to roster him at a cheaper price again for the next 12 years or so. If you’re going to play DFS tournaments with so few games on the slate, you’ve got to be willing to roll the bones a bit.

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