Los Angeles Lakers' Stanley Johnson
Los Angeles Lakers' Stanley Johnson (14) loses control of the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PICKS FOR MARCH 31

Mike Shara

Tomorrow is April Fool’s Day and who knows what ungodly mayhem will ensue with those notorious pranksters in Vegas on that day (just kidding – they don’t joke around…like, ever.) Overall it’s been a positive month with one pretty rough week in the middle of it, but we’re looking pretty good to come out ahead overall. That’s probably a good way to judge your gambling/betting situation, by the way. Look at your balances at the start of every month and see where you are at the end of it. If you’re noticing that every month you’re losing money, you may want to reevaluate how you’re going about things. As always, be smart and play within your means, ok? Ok. Here endeth the lesson. Now let’s dig in and have some fun.

STANLEY JOHNSON, PF, LA Lakers ($3,800 on DraftKings, $4,500 on FanDuel)
The Lakers are without Lebron James (ankle) again tonight for their game at Utah, leaving perhaps the biggest lineup hole for any team missing one player in the entire NBA. He’s not going to win the MVP award because his team isn’t very good (don’t get me started on how stupid that rationale is), but there isn’t any player in the league more integral to his team’s ‘success’ than LBJ, even at age 37. His seismic absence cracks open a wide window of opportunity for players that might normally not even crack the Lakers’ rotation. Johnson, who only signed with L.A. in late December after being waived by the Bulls, has been in the starting lineup a lot lately, and except for one bad game against New Orleans, he’s been approximately a point-per-minute player on DFS. The Jazz are a tough defensive matchup, but he’s so cheap on a night with only five games that he’s hard to get away from (try as I might).

MOSES BROWN, C, Cleveland ($3,200 on DraftKings, $4,300 on FanDuel)
He’s an absolute must-play on DK today and I can see using him a lot on FanDuel too, despite his higher price tag there. Already on his fourth NBA team in his third season, Brown recently had his ten day contract converted to a full two-way contract by the Cavs, meaning he will be around Cleveland at least the rest of this season. With star rookie big man Evan Mobley sidelined with a bad ankle for at least the next few games, Brown was inserted into the starting lineup last night vs. Dallas and fared pretty well, thank you very much, finishing with 12 points and 9 rebounds over 21 minutes. He was 5-for-5 shooting from the field – which won’t happen again tonight – but if he sees 20+ minutes again (he almost certainly will), he also almost certainly can’t help but accumulate against a bad Hawks defense that played last night. At that price, at least on DK, it’s hard to lose. 

ROBERT COVINGTON, C/PF/SF, LA Clippers ($4,200 on DraftKings, $5,300 on FanDuel)
Once again we have a player being pretty undervalued on DraftKings in comparison with FanDuel, but we’ll happily use him and Brown as our center/power forward combo on DK in order to spend some bigger money elsewhere. Covington is coming off of a lackluster game on Tuesday in a tough matchup vs. Rudy Gobert and the Jazz, but tonight he’ll face Chicago, easily one of the NBA’s best matchups for opposing big men.  He’s been a pretty steady producer since returning from a hand injury five games ago, and had averaged over 28 FanDuel DFS points per game before the stinker vs. the Jazz. He has the rare triple position versatility between the two platforms, too – making him extra valuable with such a small number of games tonight. 

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO, SF/C/PF, Milwaukee ($11,900 on FanDuel, $11,800 on DraftKings)
Another player whose triple position eligibility is extra valuable tonight, the Greek Freak is currently “Questionable” with a balky knee, but he’s had that designation for a few games now and has been playing through it without incident. He’s registered huge DFS games in tough games vs. Philadelphia, Memphis and Chicago over his last three, so he seems to be fine. Tonight his Bucks are in for another important matchup in Brooklyn and it seems unlikely he’ll miss any time or be on any minutes limitations, especially as these two championship hopefuls size each other up just before the playoffs commence. He hasn’t had less than 57 DFS points in any of his last five games and Brooklyn’s team defense doesn’t present any formidable reason to doubt that trend will continue. If you’re feeling kooky, use him as your small forward on FanDuel, just for the fun of saying you did so. 

RUSSELL WESTBROOK, PG, LA Lakers, ($8,000 on FanDuel, $8,600 on DraftKings)
Despite the Lakers’ season fading quickly (although after San Antonio’s last-second loss last night, L.A. currently holds the 10th and final spot in the ‘competition’ for the play-in tournament), Westbrook has been rehabilitating his difficult season somewhat. With Lebron and Anthony Davis missing time recently, the ball has been in his hands more and he’s been putting up numbers we’re used to seeing from him over the years, averaging over 22 points, almost 8 assists and 8 rebounds and .75 steals per game during his last five games. Tonight it looks like AD and LBJ will be out again, so he’ll have to try to continue his run against a Utah team that is middle-of-the-road against opposing point guards. His salary is the lowest it’s been in that five game stretch, too, so I’m buying. Westbrook’s fit on a team with Davis and James was always a curious one to me. Without them in the lineup the team isn’t nearly as good, but his role makes much more sense. 

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