Atlanta Hawks Trae Young
Atlanta Hawks Trae Young (11) dribbles during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PICKS FOR JAN. 15

Mike Shara

A veritable DFS feast on tap for today, with 10 games on the NBA schedule. After last night’s 9-game slate, a lot of teams will be playing the second half of back-to-back games, meaning there may be some playing time opportunities and thus some interesting plays for DFS sharps to get an edge today. Let’s have a look and see if we can find a few of those, shall we? (It’s rhetorical. You’re already here reading this, so…)

NASSIR LITTLE, SF/SG, Portland ($5,800 on DraftKings, $5,400 on FanDuel)
This dude isn’t as much of a steal as he was a week ago (his salary was $1,000 less 10 days ago), before every player the Trailblazers were counting on this season all began missing games at the same time. He is still a value play, though, because he’s young (21), just in his third NBA season and Portland is officially now in ‘let’s see what we’ve got here’ mode. Little was a late first-round pick out of North Carolina in 2019 and has just begun starting games consistently in 2021-22. He’s averaging over 25 DFS points over his last three games and is only going to be given more opportunities going forward and tonight he’s facing a defense in Washington that is among the league’s cellar dwellers. That’s a good combo pack for the modest price.

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KEVIN DURANT, PF, Brooklyn ($11,000 on DraftKings, $10,900 on FanDuel)
Let me quote you these numbers and then you decide if he’s worth the high salary: 30.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1 block, 1.4 steals and just 2 turnovers. That’s what The Durantala has averaged over his last 5 games. He sat out the Nets’ Thursday night game vs. his former Oklahoma City Thunder team for rest (I’m sure Thunder fans just loved that decision), so he should be primed to go tonight vs. a bad New Orleans defense. Adding to his appeal this evening is that his usage numbers might increase, as Kyrie Irving will be out of the lineup on the road again, LaMarcus Aldridge is injured, and Nicolas Claxton is questionable. Buy KD stock today and enjoy watching the points totals accumulate.

TRAE YOUNG, PG, Atlanta ($9,900 on DraftKings, $9,700 on FanDuel)
His salary has gone below 10 grand tonight for the first time in a long time after he had his first bad-shooting game in ages vs. Miami on Wednesday night. He was better against the Heat last night, accumulating over 40 DFS points, yet his salary went down again. I’m not sure why that is, especially when Young and his Atlanta Hawks are facing the Knicks tonight and the entire country saw in last year’s playoffs how much Young enjoyed feasting on the bones of New York’s “defense”. Tonight’s game isn’t at Madison Square Garden, I know, so Young won’t be putting on his villain hat for the crowd, but the flight last night from Miami to Atlanta is a short one, he’s still a premium category stuffer and he’s facing an opponent he’s had a lot of success against.

THOMAS BRYANT, C, Washington ($3,800 on DraftKings, $3,700 on FanDuel)
Bryant had not played in over a year until taking the floor for just 11 minutes Wednesday night against Orlando. He had just six points, a rebound and an assist in his brief return. Tonight, he faces a seriously depleted Portland team in D.C. and has had three days of rest so he will in all likelihood see some playing time again tonight. He’ll still be finding his rhythm and his conditioning, he won’t start, and he won’t play big minutes – the Wizards are going to be careful with him, but he’s still very young (24) and his per-minute fantasy points will make him worth the relatively modest investment. In his last healthy season, he averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds in less than 25 minutes, so if he plays 15 or even 18 tonight – that cheap salary is a deal.

JALEN BRUNSON, PG, SG, Dallas ($7,400 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel)
A big discrepancy between the two DFS formats on this guy tonight – which is always a sign that something big could be happening. Apparently, the good folks at FanDuel missed the fact that last night Brunson absolutely roasted the hottest team in the NBA, with 15 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals(!) against the Grizzlies in Memphis, ending their 11-game win streak. Yes, the Mavs are playing the second half of a back-to-back tonight, but so are the Orlando Magic, their opponent in Dallas. Yes, that Orlando Magic – the worst team in the NBA who have won one of their last 11 games and whose opponents are averaging over 112 points per game on the season. Last night wasn’t Brunson’s first good game, either – he is averaging over 35 DFS points on both formats over his last 4 and tonight he’s in a prime position to eclipse that total. Dallas is likely to be more careful about minutes with Luka Doncic, who’s just returned from an ankle injury, against a bad opponent on a back-to-back, which might give Brunson even more running room. Especially on FanDuel, Brunson is a must-buy.

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