What’s going on everyone. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings NBA picks for March 17th, 2017. Tonight we get a full slate with eight games on tap. From now on I will be including an expensive player I like with my sleeper/value picks. Be sure to follow all the injury news up until the 7:00 PM EST lock tonight, to see if any new injury news comes up. As always if any of these picks help you win or if you need any advice, let me know on Twitter. Hunta512.
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PG: Rajon Rondo: (6,500) Rondo has been great as a starter, averaging 40.8 DK points over the last two games. Rondo is no scorer, but he has been more aggressive on offense in these games, scoring 20 points vs The Hornets and 17 points vs The Grizzlies, with a 22.2% usage rate, which is a 4.7% jump from his average this season. (1.11 DK points per minute) He will remain a starter and should take on an even bigger role going forward, with starting SG Dwayne Wade out for the rest of the season with an elbow injury. It’s hard to evaluate his rates this season with Wade off the court because Rondo has played mostly with the second unit this year, but it’s hard not seeing his usage rise with Wade now gone from this starting five.
Backup PG Cameron Payne will also be out tonight with a sore right foot, which should push Rondo to playing 35-40 minutes tonight vs The Wizards. (15th vs PGs) With this kind of playing time and hopefully even bigger boost in usage from what he has already seen since he was entered into the starting lineup, he should hit value with 40 point upside tonight. His price has obviously gone up from his $5,300 salary we saw in his last game, but at $6,500 he is still a very strong play with his new starting role.
PG/SG: Marcus Smart: (4,900) Smart’s price drop to $4,900, has happened at the perfect time with starting PG Isaiah Thomas confirmed out tonight with a bone bruise in his knee. With IT out, Smart is the next man up and is expected to start at PG tonight in a dream matchup vs a terrible Nets team, that plays at the fastest pace in the league and allows the 3rd most DK points to PGs this season. So far this year Smart has always stepped up when Thomas has been off the floor, seeing a 5% usage bump, leading this team with a 4.2 DK points increase, and averaging 26.13 DK points in the four full games Thomas has been out.
In these four full games his minutes have also been higher averaging 32.8 minutes compared to his normal 30.5 minutes off the bench. We all know the story with this Nets defense, and with a starting role, Smart should play 30-35 minutes tonight, and put up 25-30 points with nice upside in this matchup. Obviously everyone is going to jump on Smart in this situation, but at only $4,900, he is a very hard player to ignore especially with his SG eligibility on DraftKings.
PG: Tyler Ulis: (5,700) Another PG, who is in a very nice spot to produce tonight, is Suns rookie PG Tyler Ulis. With The Suns sitting with the second worst record in The West, they have basically called the season and have shut down veteran PGs Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight for the rest of the year. Knight was barely even playing and is now refusing to play, but with Bledsoe out of the picture, Ulis will be this team starting PG for the rest of the season. With these two guards out last game, Ulis was terrific as The Suns’ starting PG, scoring 41.25 DK points in a very high 39 minutes vs The Kings. DraftKings is smart and increased his price $1,000 since his last time out, but he still has a great chance of returning value with the minutes and usage he should handle.
In the 395 minutes this year that Ulis has been on the floor without Bledsoe and Knight, he is posting a 21.9% usage rate, a 34% assist percentage, and is scoring 30.31 DK points per 36 minutes of action. He should play right around 36 minutes tonight in an average matchup vs The Magic, who currently have an opponent +/- of 0.9 points. But regardless of this neutral matchup, this is one of the best games of the night to target with its 219.5 point O/U Vegas total and tight spread of 2.5 points. With the workload I am expecting for him, Ulis should score 30-35 DK points and I am comfortable with him in all formats on Friday night.
C: Montrezl Harrell: (3,000) Harrell has slowly been worked out of this Rockets rotation, but with Nene being rested, he should play close to 20 minutes tonight off the bench. This isn’t the first time Nene has been rested this season, and in the other 11 games that Harrell has been available with the veteran out, he is averaging a solid 21.27 DK points in 22.6 minutes off the bench. This obviously isn’t that much playing time, but with a projection of 20 minutes, Harrell should meet value, with him scoring 0.93 DK points per minute this season.
The matchup is also a boost for him going against The Pelicans that are allowing the 3rd most DK points to opposing centers, with a solid current opponent +/- of 1.17 points vs back up centers. I am not expecting a huge night out of Harrell, but at a bare minimum $3,000, Harrell is a viable punt play that gives you exposure to this Rockets-Pelicans game that has the highest total of the night at 229.5 points.
Also Consider: Terry Rozier, Shabbazz Muhammad, Clint Capela, Avery Bradley, Greg Monroe, Robin Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, Jae Crowder, Denzel Valentine/Paul Zipser, Ivica Zubac (only played 10 minutes last game which is a huge concern, but he is worth a dart, if he stays a starter, with his low expected ownership of 5-8%), Kelly Olynyk, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Jeremy Lin.