Welcome back everyone. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings NBA picks for March 9th, 2018. Tonight, we get back to a full slate with ten games on tap. Be sure to follow all of the injury news tonight, all the way up until the 7:00PM EST lock, 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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SF/PF: Kevin Durant: (8,900) Tonight, with PG Steph Curry (ankle) out, Durant is a must play at this price. Curry only logged two minutes last night before he had to exit the game and afterwards, it was all Durant, scoring 37 points, to go along with 11 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks in the win over The Spurs, while seeing a team high 34.5% usage rate. (66.75 DK points) This high of a rate was expected with Curry off the court, with Durant seeing an average usage of 34.3% in all the time he has logged without Steph this season. Furthermore, this is going to be the 15th game that the PG has missed this year and in the prior 14 contests, Durant averaged 51.34 DK PPG. This evening, him and The Warriors will be on the road, which is good news for him logging full minutes, in a very competitive game setting vs The Blazers. (-1 GSW)
The Blazers are a top ten defense this season (2.18 opponent +/-), but we are talking about reigning Finals MVP right now and in his last two games vs this defense, he is averaging 62.3 DK PPG. He should have no issues getting over 50 DK points tonight, regardless of this not being a perfect matchup. His current Vegas implied score based on his props is 50.4 points, which would put him at an excellent 5.6 value return at this current price. His ceiling is massive with Curry out and don’t be surprised if he scores 65-70 DK points. Even though he will be popular (21-25% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs), I don’t see any reason why Durant shouldn’t be in all your lineups tonight.
SF/PF: Mario Hezonja: (4,200) With PF Aaron Gordon (head) ruled out tonight , Hezonja is expected to enter the starting lineup. Not only will Gordon be sitting this one out, but starting SF Evan Fournier is also out with a knee injury, so it should be Hezonja at the three with Jonathan Isaac at PF. This is going to be Isaac’s fifth game back from missing extended time with an ankle injury and his minutes are still expected to be limited around 20 again tonight. Hezonja should have to play 30-35 minutes as a the starter and per 36 minutes of action, with Gordon, Fournier, and PG Elifrd Payton (traded to PHO) all off the court, he is scoring 32.71 DK points.
There hasn’t been any full games with these three out this season, but in the six that Payton played, with Gordon and Fournier out, Hezonja played 29.7 MPG and averaged 29.2 DK PPG. His matchup could be better tonight vs The Kings (1.61 opponent +/-), but there really isn’t any matchup in the league that would stop me from rostering Hezonja at this cheap of a price. He is averaging 0.91 DK PPM in this situation and with the playing time he should see, he should easily get five times value, with a ceiling around 35-40 DK points. Hezonja is by far the best value available and is a core play for me on Friday night.
PF: Nikola Mirotic: (7,000) The Pelicans will be looking for their 11th straight win, but they will be without both of their star big men, Demarcus Cousins (Achilles) and now Anthony Davis (ankle). After AD left their last game in the third quarter, Mirotic stepped up as the team’s primary big and scored 41.5 DK points in the win over The Kings. There hasn’t been any full games without the two All Stars this season, but with both of them off the court, Mirotic has seen the biggest bumps, with a team high 7.9% usage increase and team high 8% assist percentage jump. With these rates, he is scoring 1.29 DK PPM, which is a notable 0.3 increase from his average for the season and is scoring 46.34 DK points per 36 minutes. He will start at PF tonight vs The Wizards, which is a solid matchup for him at the moment, with this defense currently presenting a opponent +/- of 3.0 points.
He should have to play roughly 35 minutes, barring bad foul trouble, which is unlikely with him averaging 2.7 per 36 minutes. In this kind of playing time with this expanded role, I think Mirotic should outperform this price tag and score 35-40 DK points, with pretty strong upside, depending on how many threes he can hit and if he can put up another double double. His price has gone up $700 since his last game to reflect Davis being out, but he is still slightly underpriced and this is rather good news because it might keep his ownership lower than it should be. (9-12% projected ownership via Fantasy Labs)
PF/C: Larry Nance Jr.: (7,100) His price has reached a career high, but Nance is still a value play that needs to be utilized with starting center Tristan Thompson (ankle) remianing out. In these past two games as The Cavs’ starting center, Nance is averaging 45.25 DK PPG and 34.3 MPG, which results in a great 1.32 DK PPM. He will be taking on The Clippers, who have allowed the fourth most DK points to centers this season. (5.09 opponent +/-) You might think that Clippers starting center Deandre Jordan has a big size advantage over Nance, which is somewhat true at three inches, but Nance should be just fine in this spot and he just proved two games ago that he can go toe to toe with a big center, scoring 47.75 DK points vs Pistons’ starting center Andre Drummond this past Monday night.
Not only has this defense struggled at defending centers all year, but they have really slipped as unit lately, allowing 120 and 121 points in their last two games. The Cavs currently have an implied team total of 114.25 points and this game has the highest O/U game total of this large ten game slate, at 229.5 points. You are going to want some exposure to this contest if you don’t want to watch winnings slowly drop at the end of the night and I think Nance, even at this new higher salary, is still the best value play to attack in this high scoring tilt.
Also Consider: Frank Mason (30.75 DK points in 29.5 minutes last game after Fox got hurt and only played five minutes. Fox has just been ruled out and even though its not clear he will start, Mason is the value to utilize here. This matchup vs The Magic is extremely strong, at a 6.11 opponent +/- and with 30-35 minutes, Mason should easily get 20+ DK points. He is an awesome punt play for this slate), Rajon Rondo (let us down with only 23 DK points on Wednesday night, but he should have to do a little more with AD out and in all the time he has seen without Davis and Boogie, he is scoring 38.85 DK points per 36 minutes. His price is correct, but he is still very much in play vs this Wizards defense that is still without John Wall. Oh, and it’s not center stage, but this game is technically national, with it on NBA TV), Emeka Okafor (GPP viable with AD out, but cant expect too high of minutes), E’Twaun Moore (29.4 DK PPG and 34.7 MPG in his last two and sees a 7.5% usage increase when Davis and Cousins are off the court this season. He should be able to exceed again tonight and is a fine value play that can be used as a SG or SF), Jrue Holiday (been on a tear, averaging 49.2 DK PPG in his last three. He sees a 5.7% usage bump without AD and Cousins and even though the price tag is up, I think he is still a strong play, that could easily get us over 50 DK points), Shelvin Mack (awesome value if Augustin was out. I still think he is in play for GPPs if Augustin is in, because there is a good chance he is still the PG who plays the most, with Augustin dealing with the sprained ankle that forced him to miss the last six minutes of their last game), Nikola Vucevic (usage goes up a massive 11.1% with Payton, Gordon, and Fournier off the floor. He scored 53.5 DK points vs The Lakers last game and this matchup vs The Kings is great with Willie Cauley-Stein out, at a high 5.89 opponent +/-), Draymond Green (is averaging 37.2 DK PPG in the full games without Curry this season and is on the road, where he is averaging 1.5 more DK PPG, going against The Blazers, who he scored 55.5 DK points earlier this season. Plus, Jordan Bell is still out and David West is also questionable, solidifying Green’s minutes. Last night after Curry exited, Green scored 55 DK points in 36 minutes), Shaun Livingston (most likely won’t start for Curry as they like him with the second unit, but he should still see close to 25 minutes off the bench. Sans Curry last night, he scored 29.25 DK points in 24 minutes vs The Spurs. He should be a forgotten man just because he won’t get the starting nod), Nick Young (18.5 DK points in 27 minutes last night Iguodala out. Could be considered at only $3,000 if Igu sits another one out), Isaiah Thomas (34.1 DK PPG in these past four without Hart and this Denver defense has been bad, rating as the third worst defense in the league over their last three games, which is a 3.54 opponent +/-), Kyle Kuzma (will start with Ingram still out. Scored 43 DK points in 42 minutes last game), Kentiavous Caldwell-Pope (for sure will be very low owned after letting everyone down with only 17.5 DK points vs The Magic. This game sucked, but in the prior two without Ingram and Hart, he averaged 40.25 DK PPG and 42 MPG), Kelly Oubre Jr. (would likely start if Porter was out. With Wall and Porter off the floor, Oubre is scoring 30 DK points per 36 minutes), Austin Rivers (Cavs are a high 4.93 opponent +/-), and Lou Williams (40.2 DK PPG in last three and has awesome upside in this elite game environment and matchup, as The Cavs are 4.69 opponent +/-)