Philadelphia 76ers' Matisse Thybulle
Philadelphia 76ers' Matisse Thybulle, right, leaps as he tries to defend against Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, front left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


Mike Shara

Today is the pain-in-the-ass staggered schedule, where you probably won’t be able to put all of the bargains you find in the same tournament lineup. So, make sure as you’re sorting out your budget that you are picking from the right games. Pay attention to things today, as you know, Sundays in the NBA are often crazy and strange things seem to happen roster-wise.  I’ll try to mostly focus on the later games here, so you have time to assess things and get updated before sending your final lineup in.


CADE CUNNINGHAM, PG/SG/SF, Detroit ($6,300 on FanDuel, $7,100 on DraftKings)
He is especially valuable on FanDuel, where he is not only below the average salary – absurd on its own – but his Pistons are also facing a Hornets team that doesn’t care to stop anyone, even the downtrodden Pistons. Cunningham did not have a good game vs. the Hornets the last time the two teams met, but that was his first game back after missing five straight games with an injury and he saw just 21 minutes of court time. He’s now officially back in Rookie of the Year form – against Boston last night he had 25 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists (and just 2 turnovers) in just 27 minutes. Charlotte should provide a better (less defensively inclined) opponent even if Detroit is playing the second half of a back-to-back tonight. Getting a team’s primary distribution/scoring option for around league average salary is a boon – and his multi-positional versatility on both formats adds unique value for him, too.

MATISSE THYBULLE, Philadelphia, PF/SF ($3,800 on DraftKings, $4,300 on FanDuel)
He only played 21 minutes in the first game that James Harden and Joel Embiid played together, which might worry folks coming into today’s game. It is important to note that he left the game with a few minutes left in the third quarter and then just didn’t return because things got out of hand as the 76ers continued to just pound on Minnesota in an absolute blowout. I think he’s more likely to continue seeing 25-27 minutes even with Harden in the lineup. Remember, the Sixers lost Seth Curry’s minutes in that trade, too – and Embiid is likely to rest a bit more down the stretch, so there will be minutes available for Matisse. Thybulle might be even more useful today on FanDuel – he’s an absolute ball hawk and FD awards more points for steals, and he’ll be facing a questionable New York Knicks backcourt that’s more vulnerable to his defensive prowess than most. 

KELLY OLYNYK, C/PF, Detroit ($3,700 on DraftKings, $4,000 on FanDuel)
He won’t have a high ownership today – he’s currently looking like he’s at about 6 or 7% depending on which format you’re on, and he should provide good value at low cost today. He’s usually a solid point-per-minute player, though he’s struggled lately since returning from a knee injury. Two factors increased my interest in him tonight, though – 1) newly acquired power forward Marvin Bagley Jr left last night’s game vs. Boston with an Achilles injury and did not return and 2) Detroit is facing a Hornets team that isn’t great defensively and plays at a frenetic pace, which leads to more opportunities. I’m not expecting a monster night from Olynyk, but he may be in line for more minutes than usual and he’s facing a team that could let him get going a bit. At that price, he’s great value today.

ISAIAH HARTENSTEIN, C, LA Clippers ($4,700 on DraftKings, $5,800 on FanDuel)
Despite the fact that the Clippers recently acquired veteran center Robert Covington to help them make a late push towards the postseason, Hartenstein’s minutes haven’t dissipated. In the Clippers’ last game vs. the Lakers, he saw 28 minutes and had 11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks despite not starting the game.  At one point he even played 16 minutes in a row – and the game was close the entire way, so it’s not like he was accumulating only at garbage time. He’s got a better matchup tonight against a weak Houston team and his salary is easily affordable. On DraftKings tonight he’s a particularly good play, especially with just five evening games to choose from.

NIKOLA JOKIC, C, Denver ($12,500 on DraftKings, $11,700 on FanDuel)
Last night he had a triple/double (18 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) in a surprisingly close home game vs. the Kings, but he only played 34 minutes so playing the second game of a back-to-back tonight shouldn’t be too much of a factor. This matchup is impossible to resist, though, even if he is a bit weary. The Blazers can’t defend the center position very well on the best of nights and will be without Jusuf Nurkic (plantar fasciitis) for the next while, meaning center minutes will be shared between Trendon Watford, Greg Brown and Drew Eubanks (yikes). Normally I might look into recommending one or two of those no-names as potential under the radar bargains tonight, but all of their ownership is a little too high already for my liking, especially considering their unreliable production and minute distribution. Rather than bet on the underdogs being thrust into the spotlight tonight, just take the spotlight himself. Try to envision anyone on Portland’s active roster tonight giving Jokic any trouble at all. You can’t do it, can you? On a small slate, put the big dog in and let him eat.

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