New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes
New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes dunks during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Mike Shara

There are seven games in the evening that I’m choosing sneaky picks from this morning – two early afternoon games (Memphis/Houston and Portland/Indiana) aren’t useful for most tournaments (and no one wants to watch those games anyway, do they?), so they get ignored today. Be mindful that three of today’s games tip off at 6pm, so check your updates before you sit down to Sunday dinner. 

JAXSON HAYES, PF/C, New Orleans ($5,200 on DraftKings, $5,600 on FanDuel)
After an absolute beast of a first quarter vs. San Antonio on Friday where he scored 12 points, Hayes kind of trailed off and didn’t do a heck of a lot after that, but the damage had already been done and the game was ostensibly over by that point as the Pelicans won by 33 points. He ended up playing just 28 minutes because of the lopsided score, but he still scored in double-digits for the fourth straight time and over those four games he’s also averaging 1.5 blocks, 5.7 rebounds and .75 steals. Brandon Ingram remains sidelined tonight vs. Atlanta, who remain a “Good Night Waiting to Happen” kind of defensive team for opposing players. As long as Ingram sits, Hayes has proven himself worth rostering – and his price goes down easily on both formats today.

JORDAN CLARKSON, PG/SG, Utah ($5,200 on FanDuel, $6,100 on DraftKings)
I’m still shaking my head because I can’t quite figure Clarkson’s low price on FanDuel out for today. It seems like an oversight. Given that both Mike Conley Jr and Bojan Bogdanovic are out tonight for the Jazz I would recommend rostering him on DraftKings, too – but on FD, where his ability to get steals is worth even more, he’s a must play today. A coach’s dream of a player who can be inserted at any time and instantly energizes his team and who can score and distribute equally efficiently, Clarkson has been terrific filling in as some of Utah’s stars have missed time recently. He lit up the Kings for 45 points a week ago and just had a 20 point, 8 rebound, 5 assist, 2 steal performance against the Clippers on Friday. He’s on a tear lately and his price is absurdly low, especially on FD. He might be somewhat of a chalk play today, but there’s a good reason for that.

ANDREW WIGGINS, SF/PF, Golden State ($7,200 on DraftKings, $6,800 on FanDuel)
After missing the last two games with an illness (non-Covid related), Wiggins is slated to return to the Warriors’ lineup tonight as they host San Antonio. He will be walking into a situation that might suit him perfectly. The Spurs play at a very quick pace (4th-fastest in the NBA) and defend poorly at the other end, ranking in the bottom third in overall defensive rating. They have lost 9 of their last 12 and have not allowed less than 110 points in any of those games. On top of that, Wiggins returns to Golden State’s lineup that has a giant hole in it as Steph Curry is out for the foreseeable future with a foot injury. Wiggins’ usage rates will undoubtedly rise accordingly – the Dubs are also still missing James Wiseman and Gary Payton III, too. The 2022 All-Star had 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting against a tough Milwaukee team a week ago and looks poised to have a comfortable, busy night tonight at a very manageable price on both sites.

MARKELLE FULTZ, PG, Orlando ($5,200 on FanDuel, $4,400 on DraftKings)
This morning it looks possible that rookie point guard Jalen Suggs will miss his third consecutive game for the Magic with an ankle injury. For some unfathomable reason Orlando Head Coach Jamahl Mosley seems intent on keeping R.J. Hampton in the starting lineup to replace him, leaving Fultz (who was, y’know…the #1 pick in the NBA Draft a few years back…) to continue to come off the bench. Hampton is a non-factor on DFS despite his cheap price tag, while Fultz has been a 1.3 DFS points-per-minute player since his return from knee surgery 8 games ago. I suppose Mosley’s caution with Fultz is to protect him, but he’s certainly a higher upside player than almost anyone else Orlando has in their backcourt and tonight they’re at home against a broken down Oklahoma City team that is among the NBA’s very worst at defending opposing point guards. Fultz’s arrow is pointed up and his salary (especially on DK) doesn’t even reflect his floor yet – much less his ceiling tonight.

SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER, PG, Oklahoma City ($9,900 on DraftKings, $10,200 on FanDuel)
I promise I’m not picking him repeatedly because he’s Canadian. I’m recommending him again because he is an absolute beast playing on a team everyone forgets about that is missing several key other players, forcing him to absorb even more of the playing time and volume. Over his last four games, he’s averaging over 53 DFS points per game and his salary still hasn’t ascended to the same range as someone like James Harden – who is averaging about the same DFS totals. Couple SGA’s recent volume and production levels with a matchup against an Orlando team that has allowed 284 points in their last two games and allowed Saddiq Bey to score 51 on Thursday and you have to be salivating a bit on his behalf. Couple that with the fact that the Thunder have a real chance to win tonight for the first time in over two weeks and I’d expect Gilgeous-Alexander to come out flying tonight. He’s questionable again with a troublesome ankle, but he’s been playing through it just fine over the last two games so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. He is Canadian, after all.

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