Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham
Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) defends Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PICKS FOR JAN. 8

Mike Shara

Six games on the slate tonight with some interesting angles to play and a few stories within the story that could affect the DFS story. Make sure you check your lineups right up to the whistle. (I know I say this every day, but I’m doing it to remind myself, too. Last night I read that Royce O’Neal had participated in the shootaround and assumed he would play in the game for a shorthanded Jazz team. I was wrong and it cost me. I hate when that happens, especially when I’ve been nice enough to warn other people about it and then don’t even follow my own advice.)

Some players to consider tonight:

CADE CUNNINGHAM, PG, Detroit ($6,700 on FanDuel)
In the Pistons’ last game vs. Memphis, Cunningham struggled with just 12 points on 5-for-19 shooting, but still chipped in with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and just 1 turnover. The 2021 first overall draft pick’s season statistical averages aren’t amazing (yet), but remember that he didn’t play in the preseason and missed a bunch of early season games due to an ankle injury. The game is starting to slow down for him lately and he’s showing why Detroit wanted him so much. He is a stat stuffer in every category whose needle continues to be pointed upward, despite the odd hiccup game. He’s a better bargain on FanDuel tonight, with his salary being basically the league average despite facing a terrible Orlando squad.

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AL HORFORD, C, Boston ($6,300 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel)
He hasn’t been putting up impressive DFS numbers in his last couple of games, but he is still averaging over 30 fantasy points per game over his last six. Look for him to be a leader and his Celtics to be playing with a renewed commitment in a rematch vs. the Knicks tonight after an embarrassing loss on Friday at MSG, where they blew a 25 point lead and lost the game on a buzzer beater. Horford is a spectacularly un-sexy player at this point in his career, but at a salary that is below the average on both formats tonight and at his lowest in a long time, he starts to look valuable again.

MO BAMBA, C, Orlando ($6,100 on FanDuel, $5,500 on DraftKings)
In his third game after returning from the NBA’s Covid Healthy and Safety Protocols (God, it will be a pleasure never to use that phrase ever again…someday), Bamba was a force. He finished Wednesday’s game vs. Philadelphia with 19 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals and an assist and he did it matched up vs. Joel Embiid. Tonight he’s facing a much less daunting opponent in the Pistons’ big men. Detroit is still missing Kelly Olynyk in the  middle, whose experience, savvy and rotational skill would be helpful on an otherwise very young team. Look for Bamba to take advantage of some mismatches tonight in a game where his cost is very welcoming in both formats.

ERIC PASCHALL, PF/C, Utah ($4,300 on FanDuel, $3,100 on DraftKings)
I picked him as a nice sleeper play on Wednesday night and he did almost nothing. I didn’t mention him last night because I was huffy about it and he went off : 29 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists in 36 minutes. Nothing about Utah’s roster woes seems likely to change much tonight (although you might want to consider Royce O’Neal tonight, too, because I picked him last night and he didn’t even play!), so Paschall seems like a good bet to repeat his minutes, if nothing else. At his discounted rate, he’s pretty close to a must play tonight against Indiana.

CHRIS PAUL, PG, Phoenix ($8,300 on FanDuel, $7,800 on DraftKings)
You may not have noticed this (apparently the folks who set his salary on DFS still haven’t), but Chris Paul has had a pretty good NBA career that shows no signs of slowing down. On Thursday against one of his 29 former teams (the Clippers) he recorded his first triple/double of the season with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists as well as 2 steals and a block while committing just 1 turnover. That is extraordinary production for such a minimal salary. While it’s unlikely he has the same level of production tonight against a good Miami defense, the Heat are still scrambling with injury questions and conditioning and Covid inactives, so CP3 still seems to be a great value tonight – especially on DraftKings.

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