Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter
Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) defends against a pass by Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in New York. The Nets defeated the Hawks 145-141. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PLAYS FOR JAN. 26

Mike Shara

Alright…so apparently the shrunken schedule on Monday night wasn’t the only reason my DFS picks didn’t click. After a really good week last week I fear I may be on a bit of a cold streak. I had a pretty big slate of games to choose from last night and was still wide right on a few picks. But…shooters shoot, right? Hell, even Steph Curry isn’t shooting the ball very well right now, but does anyone doubt he’s going to get on one of those streaks where he goes absolutely crazy and starts making threes from the employee parking lot? After all, it was just a few short days ago where every shot I took went in, so I’m going to keep shooting. Here are five pretty good shots. Some are bunnies from two feet away and one or two are halfcourt heaves.

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CARIS LEVERT, PG/SG, Indiana ($8,600 on DraftKings)
The Pacers’ lineup is in disarray. They are currently missing approximately 19 rotation players and are relying very much on a lot of players you don’t know a lot about. Maybe they could put in a call to 36-year-old Monta Ellis – they’re still somehow paying him $2.2 million this season to put his feet up on the coffee table at home. Oof. The key injury in Levert’s case is Malcolm Brogdon. As long as the former Rookie of the Year is currently shut down with an ominous achilles injury, Levert will be Indiana’s main dude at the point going forward. Two nights ago vs. New Orleans he had 19 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds and tonight he’ll face a Hornets team that allowed the Raptors to score 125 points last night without Fred Vanvleet or Scottie Barnes in the lineup, and only arrived in Indy late early this morning. Charlotte plays indifferent team defense at the best of times and a late January game in Indianapolis on the second game of a road back-to-back is not the best of times. Levert’s salary is also mysteriously slightly down from where it was two nights ago, too.

TERANCE MANN, SF/PF ($3,700 on DraftKings)
The Clippers’ roster is also besieged by chaos these days. Last night in D.C. they managed one of the biggest comeback wins in NBA history despite getting major minutes from players like Isaiah Hartenstein, Justise Winslow and Brandon Boston. Mann, the third-year pro from Florida State, also made a major contribution last night, with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in 32 minutes. He’s had an up and down season thus far and it’s not likely he repeats that stat line tonight in the second game of a back-to-back.  Then again, the Clippers are playing Orlando – so it’s also possible that he scores 50 points in the first quarter. His surprisingly affordable salary makes his high floor/high potential ceiling for tonight almost irresistible.

CHUMA OKEKE, PF/SF, Orlando ($4,300 on DraftKings)
He’s very quietly been averaging 25 DFS points per game over his last five and on Sunday he recorded a very nice stat line of 11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and a steal with just one turnover against a good Chicago team. Tonight, he faces a road-weary Clippers team whose roster is thin and are on the second half of a back-to-back. L.A. needed to squeeze every bit of juice out of their lineup last night for a last-second win vs. Washington, then boarded a plane to Orlando. The Magic have been home for five days now and have had two full days off, so look for Okeke and his teammates to have good legs tonight and try to run a tired team off the court. For the price, I like the odds of him paying off.

BAM ADEBAYO, C, Miami ($7,700 on DraftKings)
In his last four games since returning from a two-month absence as a result of thumb surgery, Adebayo has shown zero rust. He’s averaging 32 minutes, 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1.5 blocks in that time despite the Heat playing without several of their better playmakers in that time. Tonight, Miami faces the Knicks at home, with New York possibly missing big men Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson with injuries. Even if those two play they aren’t going to be 100%, the Knicks are in the midst of a very disappointing season and have lost 4 of their last 5 on the road. Adebayo’s salary still hasn’t quite caught up with his production levels, so take advantage while that lasts.

DE’ANDRE HUNTER, SF/PF, Atlanta ($5,500 on DraftKings)
He’s played seven games now since returning from a wrist injury that caused him to miss a month of action. In each of his last four he has recorded at least 31.5 DFS points. Tonight, the Hawks are home to a terrible Sacramento team that was absolutely crushed last night in Boston, with their leading scorer having just 11 points in the game. Hunter is listed as Questionable tonight with a sore back, so make sure you check on his status before you submit your lineup, but he should be good to go – Atlanta hasn’t played since Sunday – and if he is, his salary/scoring ratios are worthy of an investment.

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