Sacramento Kings forward Chimezie Metu
Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) and Sacramento Kings forward Chimezie Metu (7) battle for position under the basket in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)


Mike Shara

It’s Groundhog Day, everyone! With any luck the players I’m looking for tonight will see their own reflections today, making it a successful one for your bets and DFS activity that will be repeated over and over again for the next six weeks. Maybe there will be a little less snow in the East, too, possibly? Anyhoodles, here are five players we’ll count on to be our personal Wiarton Willies or whatever the hell the little furball’s name is. (If these picks look bad after tonight’s games are concluded, I may just keep picking the same five players for six straight weeks until it finally does work.)


MALIK MONK, PG/SG, LA Lakers ($5,300 on DraftKings)
Look, I’m as sick of hearing about the Lakers as everyone else in North America are. The Russ experiment is proving more laughably unwatchable every game, they’re an under .500 team that’s still somehow on national TV three times a week and they just recently revoked Jerry West’s season tickets via text message. Yeah, that Jerry West. THE NBA LOGO guy, the absolute legend who played his entire Hall of Fame career for your team! Anyway, Lebron James is out tonight for a home game against a short-handed Portland team which means a lot more of the offense will run through Monk tonight. Despite being questionable with groin discomfort (who hasn’t been there?), he played and scored 33 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists vs. Atlanta on Sunday. The groin should feel better after a few days of rest (that sounds weird to say) and the Blazers are a good matchup for him tonight, especially when he’s still $1,000 under the average salary.

MIKE CONLEY JR, PG, Utah ($7,000 on DraftKings)
Conley will not come as cheaply as Monk, but with Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles all out for Utah’s game vs. Denver tonight, he’s a lock to have the ball in his hands even more than usual. Conley is quietly having nearly as good of a season as he had last year, when he made the first NBA All-Star Game appearance of his excellent career. He’s averaging over 35 DFS points per game since his two All-Star level compatriots have been away. He and Monk together in your backcourt will average out to about an average player cost and both are likely to return better-than-average results tonight.

CHIMEZIE METU, PF, Sacramento ($3,800 on DraftKings)
Seriously – Is there a more invisible role for an NBA player than being a reserve power forward for the Sacramento Kings? A former second round pick of the Spurs a few years back, Metu has been kicking around the league for a few seasons now and hasn’t really done much to distinguish himself, either so maybe he gets the ignominy he deserves. Tonight though, the Kings face the Nets in Sac Town, with Brooklyn coming off a tough loss to Golden State last night. Starting PF Marvin Bagley Jr is out tonight and Metu will be at full strength again after struggling with a knee ailment. He’s a bit of a dart throw, admittedly, but if you want to pay the next guy on this list…

JOEL EMBIID, C, Philadelphia ($12,000 on DraftKings)
The exact opposite of a DFS dart throw plays center in Philadelphia. He’s literally the second-most expensive player available today in DFS, so once again the “Sneaky” part of this article is kind of a blatant lie here. I just can’t see not picking him again today. He is averaging about 68 DFS points per game over his last six, is coming off a week’s rest (just maintenance – not an injury) and is at home facing a Washington Wizards team that is currently in a free fall. The Wiz don’t defend, don’t rebound and don’t score and have no one on their roster who seems like a remote possibility to slow The Process down. He’s currently the MVP favorite in my books and I keep recommending him for a reason – because he’s awesome. 

ISIAH JACKSON, PF/C, Indiana ($5,400 on DraftKings)
Yet another part of the bounty the Lakers surrendered in the already ill-fated Russell Westbrook trade, the rookie from Kentucky is among the very few healthy bigs that the Pacers have on their team right now. He’s beginning to take serious advantage of others’ absences, making L.A.’s recent management decisions look worse with every game (really hammering the Lakers today, aren’t I? Screw ‘em – they deserve it.) In his first career NBA start on Sunday against the Clippers, he went off, with 26 points, 10 rebounds a block and a steal in less than 30 minutes. Head Coach Rick Carlisle and the Pacers’ brass are probably going to be looking to rebuild around a core of young players over the next few years, and Jackson might get a lot of room to show he can be one of them. A home game against the Magic seems like a good place to start.

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