Houston Rockets center Christian Wood
Houston Rockets center Christian Wood (35) is defended by Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PICKS FOR JAN. 28

Mike Shara

After the starters for the NBA All-Star Game were announced yesterday, I am feeling vindicated. Several of the players named to start the game have been guys I’ve relied heavily on in DFS this year. I’m glad they’re being rewarded for winning me a bit of cash this season. This way, everyone wins. Maybe the players I’m looking at for today’s games will be named as All-Star reserves tomorrow. I mean, if Andrew Wiggins can be an All-Star game starter, then anything is possible.

STANLEY JOHNSON, PF, LA Lakers ($3,400 on DraftKings)
After nearly falling out of the league following two years buried on a deep roster in Toronto, Johnson is slowly resurfacing with a Lakers team that is desperate for cheap depth. He played on three(!) consecutive 10-day contracts for L.A. before they finally caved and signed him to a full contract for this season and next. Tonight, the Lakers are playing their second road game in two nights and may again have to play it without Lebron James. I also wouldn’t feel too confident that Anthony Davis will play huge minutes again tonight so soon after returning from a knee injury that forced him to miss more than a month. Yesterday the Stanimal didn’t exactly light it up, but he does check a lot of statistical boxes and he’s likely going to play serious minutes against a fast-paced Charlotte team. That means value that you can spread around to acquire sexier players elsewhere.

MGM NBA Offer

NORMAN POWELL, SF/SG, Portland ($6,100 on DraftKings)
Still costing less than the average salary on DraftKings despite being a key part of Portland’s injury-depleted offensive squad, Norm remains undervalued after returning from an absence that lasted more than two weeks due to COVID and personal matters. Against Dallas on Wednesday, he averaged nearly a DFS point per minute – and played 36 minutes (10 more than his first game back), so he’s returning a nice combination of volume and economy. The Blazers play in Houston tonight against a Rockets team that is dead last in opponents’ scoring, plays at a really high pace and turns the ball over a ton, so there seems to be some strong cost efficiency opportunities here.

ROYCE O’NEAL, PF. Utah ($4,700 on DraftKings)
Despite remaining in first place in the Northwest Division, the Jazz are in a bit of a freefall lately, losing 9 of their last 11. Injuries are a significant part of that streak, and they will continue to be shorthanded tonight in Memphis against the Grizz (yikes). All-world defender Rudy Gobert (calf) is out for sure and all-around star Donovan Mitchell is questionable with concussion symptoms. Without Gobert and his inhuman ability to protect the paint all by himself, Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder will be forced to use O’Neal more – if for no other reason than he might be the only other above average defender on the team. He will never be much of a scorer and won’t blow you away on a given night, but he seems a good bet to play serious minutes tonight at a nice price.

CHRISTIAN WOOD, C, Houston ($8,200 on DraftKings)
Wood has quietly been a very consistent producer this year on a struggling, young Rockets team – he’s averaging over 17 points, 10 rebounds and 2 assists per game while also starting to block shots more frequently. Tonight, he faces an ideal lineup for him to stuff the box score in his favorite categories. The Blazers are dead last in rebounding in the NBA and rank a stinky 27th in opponents’ scoring average against. Plus, there is a decent chance they’ll be missing center/power forward Robert Covington’s steady, savvy defense tonight as he’s questionable with a wonky knee. Wood has averaged nearly 40 DFS points per game in his last three and those games were all against tougher, healthier opponents than he’ll see tonight at home.

LANCE STEPHENSON, PG, Indiana ($3,900 on DraftKings)
Let’s be honest – love him or hate him, the NBA is way more fun with Stephenson playing in it. With one of the top ten nicknames of all time (“Born Ready”) and now officially giving zero shits about any distractions on a Pacers team that is going nowhere, he’s back to his old slightly unhinged self and basketball fans are better off for it. What his antics can disguise somewhat is serious productivity for a very reasonable cost. In Malcolm Brogdon’s continued absence, Lance is a serious rotational player for Indiana and two nights ago he put up 14 points, 10 assists (just one turnover) and 6 rebounds in just 28 minutes. This evening his Pacers are in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder have been allowing the second most points per game to point guards in the NBA over the last couple of months. Indiana is looking for a spark from anywhere or anyone at this point and I think Rick Carlisle is going to continue to give him some run. (God, wouldn’t it be awesome if he somehow did get to play in the All-Star Game?) He could be the captain of a Team Entropy!

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