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San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (5) passes in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PICKS FOR MARCH 5

Mike Shara

Tonight’s slate is a weird one and, even more than usual, might end up being a true “Stars and Scrubs” situation for your roster because of limited options. Because today’s Kings/Mavericks game has a strange 5 pm start time, there will probably only be 5 games available for you to choose from in tournament play. That means you and I are going to have to do some deeper digging in the nooks and crannies to find value. I’m up for it if you are. There are a lot of potential injury opportunities tonight (so check the updates before you lock anyone in), but also a lot of potential blowout games, meaning that high priced players could miss time later in games. You can’t really strategize for that, because you never know what will happen.  A few nights ago there were 4 games with double-digit point spreads and none of the favorites even remotely covered the spread, so you can’t hedge your DFS bets based on that.

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BEN MCLEMORE, SF/SG, Portland ($3,300 on DraftKings, $3,900 on FanDuel)
The tanking period is officially beginning in Rip City, folks. The Trail Blazers, who already shed Robert Covington and Norman Powell’s contracts a few weeks back, will be missing Damian Lillard, Justise Winslow, Josh Hart, Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Dennis Smith Jr. and Eric Bledsoe for tonight’s game at Minnesota. That’s seven rotation players missing from what was already a bad NBA team. Somebody has to play substantial minutes tonight, and McLemore is one of the few active players on Portland’s team that has a few years of NBA experience. He doesn’t have much of a future with Portland, who will start a serious rebuild in the offseason, but he’s fighting to stay in the league and tonight is a chance for him to showcase himself. At that price, especially on DK, you probably can’t lose.

DEJOUNTE MURRAY, PG/SG, San Antonio ($9,600 on FanDuel, $10,800 on DraftKings)
He’s projected to be nearly 50 per cent owned today on FD because that price tag is frankly ridiculous, but it is very difficult to see any way around owning him today, especially with so few other options available. Don’t overthink this one – his salary on FD is clearly a mistake. In addition to the error, the Spurs could be missing either Devin Vassell and/or Lonnie Walker for tonight’s game in Charlotte, meaning that even more of their offensive volume could go through Murray than usual – and his usage is usually really high anyway. There’s about a 50% chance he could also be involved in your optimal lineup today. The multi-position versatility that makes him even more valuable is only on FanDuel, making him even more of a must-play tonight against a fast-paced, soft defense Hornets team. Head Coach Gregg Popovich runs a deep bench so a lot of other San Antonio players are more of a guess. Murray is not. 

LAMELO BALL, PG, Charlotte ($8,000 on FanDuel, $8,500 on DraftKings)
Ball has appeared to have cooled down over the last month or so, and his price has dropped commensurately over that time. He was over a thousand dollars higher in salary just a week or so ago. Just before the All-Star break, Ball at these prices would have been the absolute chalk play of the day. To be fair, his ‘slump’ still has him averaging over 1.2 DFS points per minute on DK, while still maintaining a 30% assist rate. His only spectacular dud came when he ran into foul trouble against Cleveland on Wednesday night and played just 8 minutes, contributing almost nothing on the stat sheet. I’d look for a rebound tonight. He’s played just those 8 minutes in about a week and is facing a Spurs team among the bottom five in the NBA against opposing point guards. His price tonight is going to be the lowest it’ll be all season long. Take advantage. 

BAM ADEBAYO, C, Miami ($8,900 on DraftKings, $9,900 on FanDuel)
Statistically speaking, the Sixers are a tough matchup for the Heat and Adebayo tonight, but remember that the 76ers played a tough home game last night vs. Cleveland and then had to travel to Miami for tonight’s game. The Heat’s starting lineup tonight is generally a giant question mark everywhere  – there are a lot of players listed as Questionable including Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin, P.J. Tucker and Max Strus, but the only one who is a lock to play is Bam. He’s pretty much a lock to play 33-35 minutes and has been averaging 1.4 DFS points per game over the last two weeks, no matter who has been in Miami’s lineup with him. His price on DraftKings doesn’t accurately represent how good he’s been lately. 

MO BAMBA, C, Orlando ($4,600 on FanDuel, $5,300 on DraftKings)
Another player coming off of a bad game who is being undervalued because of serious recency bias. Last night Bamba got into some foul trouble against Toronto but still managed to play 25 minutes and average nearly a DFS point per minute. Tonight Wendell Carter Jr. (non-Covid illness) has already been confirmed as being out for the game in Memphis, meaning Bamba will presumably see more court time and his usage rates are elite when Carter isn’t playing, too. The Grizzlies are clearly a better team, but they have struggled to defend opposing centers and Bamba’s cost today, especially on FD is a value play with a solid floor and a high ceiling. 

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