Kevin Durant
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Sunday, March 6, 2022, in Boston. The Celtics won 126-120 over the Nets. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PICKS FOR MARCH 18

Mike Shara

There was only one game in the NBA last night and Saddiq Bey of the Detroit Pistons went off for 51 points, so I’m going to recommend him tonight and count it as part of my strategy for today, ok? I mean, I know you can’t actually use it but it’ll make me feel smarter, because I’m 45% sure I would have gotten to him a lot yesterday if there were any DFS tournaments to play. That’s sound logic, right? 

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KEVIN DURANT, PF/SF, Brooklyn ($10,500 on DraftKings, $11,000 on FanDuel)
Why mess around? Let’s start today off with a big one. Durant has ‘struggled’ relatively in his last two games, averaging only 40 DFS points over that span, but one of those games was Kyrie Irving’s 60 point barrage vs. Orlando where every other Nets player just became a spectator in that game. He was closer to his normal self Wednesday night vs. Dallas, but his salary has come down again (especially on DK) to the point where he’s a good value tonight with no Kyrie, no LaMarcus Aldridge again and possibly no Seth Curry again. Brooklyn faces the worst defensive team in the NBA (Portland) tonight at home, are predicted to score around 120 points and KD is a bit cheaper than the other superstars on the slate tonight so I’m going to start off here. 

TORREY CRAIG, C/PF, Phoenix ($4,000 on DraftKings, $4,400 on FanDuel)
Starting forward Jae Crowder missed the Suns’ last game with a groin injury, thrusting Craig into a higher usage role against a bad Houston team two nights ago. There really isn’t any reason for the Suns to rush Crowder back – they’re looking to make a deep playoff run and he’s a (not young) vital part of that so they’ll likely be cautious, which should mean Craig sees more court time again tonight. You’d be foolish to expect a repeat of Wednesday’s 21 point, 14 rebound performance – the Bulls are a much more formidable opponent than the Rockets – but getting a guy who’ll play 32-34 minutes in a high-octane offense like this for that low cost is looking like a savvy play even in this crowded slate of games. 

JORDAN CLARKSON, SG/PG, Utah ($5,800 on DraftKings, $5,000 on FanDuel)
The reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year has another chance to showcase why he won the award last year tonight. The Jazz’ leading scorer Donovan Mitchell will be sitting this one out due to a right calf contusion, meaning Clarkson will enter the starting lineup and definitely log over 30 (maybe 35) minutes in the Spider’s stead. Bojan Bogdonavic is out for Utah tonight as  well, all but guaranteeing that Clarkson’s usage rates will have to be high. In his last game vs. the Clippers he was a 1.1 DFS points per minute player and that was as part of a full lineup. The short-handed Jazz will be relying on him heavily tonight, L.A. is poor defensively against opposing guards and he’s still available at a below average salary. Dig in.

JONAS VALANCIUNAS, C, New Orleans ($8,400 on DraftKings, $8,000 on FanDuel)
The Pelicans travel to San Antonio tonight to face a Spurs team that J.V. has dominated in their previous two meetings this season, averaging 17 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and a block against them so far this year. He put those numbers up alongside Brandon Ingram, who  will be missing another game tonight with a strained hamstring – as will backup center Larry Nance Jr -, meaning Valanciunas will be levied with more responsibility tonight against the Spurs, who defend opposing centers terribly. CJ McCollum will return for New Orleans tonight, too, which may open up a little space for him in the middle. He’s not going to be a chalk play tonight because his price isn’t cheap, but he may still get you more than you paid for – and if he’s under-rostered in tournament play tonight, all the better for you. 

KEVIN PORTER JR., PG/SF, Houston ($6,400 on DraftKings and FanDuel)
Consistency has been an issue this season for both Porter and his young Rockets team. The late first round pick out of USC in 2019 has started to stabilize a bit more lately, though. He has started every game he’s played in for Houston this season and is averaging over 30 minutes per game. Over his last 8 games he is averaging 16.3 points, 6 assists and 4.6 rebounds with only one or two DFS duds among them. Tonight his team hosts a bad Indiana ‘defense’ that has earned those quotation marks I just gave it. They’re among the bottom-dwellers in the NBA against opposing point guards and have allowed 127 points or more in four of their last five. He’s not a bargain (and, frankly he’s the pick today I’m most hesitant about today), but you could do a lot worse for around league average price with a decent ceiling. 

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