New Orleans Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez
New Orleans Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez (9) prepares to shoot while defended by Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, rear, during the second half of the NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. The Kings won 112-99. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PICKS FOR JAN. 29

Mike Shara

Six games tonight. I debated sitting this one out, because last time I pushed it a bit on a small schedule of games and the results were abysmal, frankly (but keep reading – it gets better). That was on Monday, when there were only four-games slated. Tonight, there are six games, so by my calculations, that works out to an 835% better chance of picking a winning lineup tonight. Trust me – that B- in tenth grade math is about to pay off, big time.

JALEN BRUNSON, PG/SG, Dallas ($6,100 on DraftKings)
Dallas have won 13 of their last 17 games, partly because Head Coach Jason Kidd appears to have finally figured out that using Jalen Brunson and Maxi Kleiber in the same starting lineup along with Luka and Porzingis is a formidable formula. Brunson as a second ball-handler/screener for Doncic has actually made both of them deadlier, allowing Luka to prey upon mismatches when they happen (he loves those) and Brunson’s burst can make teams pay if they switch, even shooting the three a little bit. He’s also been hot lately (20 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds vs. Portland on Wednesday). Tonight, the well-rested Mavs play an injury-depleted Indiana team playing their third game in four days after a hard-fought win in OKC last night. Brunson’s salary is still below the average on DK. I’m buying.

MGM NBA Offer

MAXI KLEIBER, C, Dallas ($3,800 on DraftKings)
I know, it’s a bit of a cheat – I just mentioned his momentum above, but he’s available at such a great price and Dallas would appear to have a real mismatch on their hands tonight at home. He’s now the starter in Big D, with Dwight Powell working very well with the second unit and he’s playing at least 25 minutes per game. After laying a goose egg ten days ago vs. Toronto (0 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists), he has been steadily improving with his promotion, yet he remains eminently affordable to the point of being a no-brainer. The Pacers are in the bottom third of the NBA defensively even when they’re healthy – and they’re not remotely healthy yet, with big men Myles Turner, TJ Warren and Goga Bitadze all likely out again tonight. Domantis Sabonis is a great player and a tough matchup for any center, but he can only do so much.

WILLY HERNANGOMEZ, C, New Orleans ($5,100 on DraftKings)
With Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas all out of the lineup, a lot of people (myself included) thought it might be an opportunity for third year pro Jaxson Hayes – a Pelicans lottery pick in 2020 – to get a bit more court time to show what he can do. Instead, the Spanish seven-footer has leapt into the fray, giving New Orleans the minutes and production, they have desperately needed the last few games (and averaging 48.5 DFS points in his last two games!). He was buried on the bench before this latest rash of absences, so once JV and Ingram return, his minutes will likely suffer significant shrinkage, but you have to think he’s earned at least a rotation spot over Hayes at this point. Check the Pelicans’ injury updates today before you decide.

MATISSE THYBULLE, SF/PF, Philadelphia ($3,800 on DraftKings)
The Sixers are playing very well right now, especially at home. Their road weary opponents tonight, the Sacramento Kings, have not played well lately (ok…for approximately two decades). Truth be told, Thybulle hasn’t exactly been lighting it up during his two games since returning from a shoulder injury (0 for 5 from behind the three-point line) – and that’s reflected in his low salary tonight. The thing is, he is already an elite NBA defender so he’s going to play sizable minutes every night – and eventually, his shot will start to fall. Once he finds his scoring touch again, his salary becomes even more of a bargain at his current price. Sacramento is a good team to make a low risk bet on a ‘get-well game’ against.

JA MORANT, PG, Memphis ($10,300 on DraftKings)
What? I can’t just keep picking cheap players every time. What’s the point in bargain bin shopping elsewhere if I can’t reward myself by drafting perhaps the most unguardable player in the NBA right now to anchor my DFS team? That’s fun! Seriously, is there anyone in the league who can stay in front of Morant? Maybe, but whoever they are, they certainly don’t play for the Wizards. Rookie Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr.’s first season started well (they were 10-3 in mid-November), but they’ve come thudding back to earth since, winning just 13 of their last 35 and ranking near the bottom in most key defensive categories. Morant is averaging over 62 DFS points per game in his last 5, all of those games against much better teams than Washington. Spend the draft capital you save by using the players listed above on Ja and enjoy the spoils tonight.

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