NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks: Back to the Grind! (February 22)

Thursday brings the return of the NBA regular season, with the major tournaments locking at 7 p.m. ET on DraftKings and FanDuel. There are several options in the player pool worth analyzing to find the top NBA DFS building blocks and NBA DFS picks. Let’s dig into the NBA DFS picks and core plays like Luka Doncic and several Utah Jazz options. We will also have to monitor the availability of several All-Star Weekend participants and others dealing with illness, including Domantas Sabonis, Donovan Mitchell, Paolo Banchero, Kyle Kuzma, Myles Turner and Brandon Ingram. Subscribe today for access to our industry-leading resources, including our lineup generator (available for NFL, NBA, MLB and PGA), our DFS simulation tools (available for NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA and MMA) and our industry-leading projections for every sport.

NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today: Thursday, February 22

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NBA DFS Picks: Building Blocks

Luka Doncic: Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns

Stokastic’s Fantasy Point Projections
DraftKings: 62.66 | FanDuel: 59.31
Stokastic’s Rostership Projections
DraftKings: 6.7% | FanDuel: <5.0%
DFS Salary
DraftKings: $12,100 | FanDuel: $12,600

The key players in this game have had a minimum of three days off with Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker each playing in the All-Star Game on Sunday, while Kyrie Irving, Jusuf Nurkic and the others had a whole week to relax. Bradley Beal is the wild card, as a tender hamstring kept him out of the final game leading into the break and he is currently listed as questionable on the injury report. That will be updated closer to tipoff, so we will have his status in plenty of time to react accordingly.

Doncic is the real gem in this matchup, though his lofty salary will not be quite as daunting as more value plays open up throughout the day. Expectations should be for him to end up on around 20% of all FanDuel rosters and 25% on DraftKings for the large-field tournaments. Do not get too caught up in his pair of dominating performances against Phoenix earlier this season, as Irving was not available in those games.

Though on the flipside, we should not be overly concerned with the Suns’ recent defensive showings over the last month, as they are still in the middle of the pack when looking at the full season. This should be a spirited affair with a 244.5 projected game total and the Mavericks just 1.5-point home favorites. Even when he shares the court with Irving, Doncic is averaging 1.6 fantasy points per minute this season, and this duo will be dominating the usage down the stretch as they look to work their way out of the Play-In Tournament. Currently the Mavs are just one game behind the Suns, so there ought to be motivation on both sides.

Booker, Durant and Irving are all fine options, and if Daniel Gafford retains his starting role, he is the perfect dive man in pick-and-rolls while also a terrific rim runner on fast breaks. He could easily lose that role with both Derreck Lively II and Maximilian Kleber available tonight, so the former Bull/Wizard is far from a set-and-forget recommendation.

There will be DFS detractors throwing shade at Doncic, but it is also good to remember overall context, with Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets 15-point homes favorites against the Wizards, while Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics are approaching double-digit road favorite status in Chicago. Donovan Mitchell is dealing with an illness, and, of course, Tyrese Haliburton seems to have a loose 32- to 34-minute cap, which means there are ample question marks with most of the “spendy” options today.

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Bennedict Mathurin: Indiana Pacers vs. Detroit Pistons

Stokastic’s Fantasy Point Projections
DraftKings: 28.3 | FanDuel: 27.32
Stokastic’s Rostership Projections
DraftKings: 58.0% | FanDuel: 68.1%
DFS Salary
DraftKings: $4,500 | FanDuel: $5,000

The salary is enticing, as is the matchup, but the game logs are terrifying to say the least. Bennedict Mathurin just won the Rising Stars MVP on his home court, so at least he has momentum on his side.

Aaron Nesmith is out and Buddy Hield is now with the 76ers, but T.J. McConnell and Doug McDermott are still around, so there is a decent chance that Mathurin will remain as the first or second option off the bench. If that is the case, it is harder to consider him at this elevated popularity.

If Mathurin starts, he has a clearer path to 30 minutes and fits in everywhere with his dual shooting guard/small forward eligibility, but it is going to take a 35-fantasy point effort before those looking in other directions are going to start to feel like they are missing out. If he starts, play him in cash games (H2Hs, 50/50s, 3-mans, etc.), but know that this is the leverage spot of the day for tournaments. Andrew Nembhard would be the closest thing to a direct pivot from Mathurin.

Haliburton is likely to play in the low-30s as we have seen him play 34 minutes in each of the last two games. That puts him in the mix as a bucks-deluxe option, but keep in mind that the Pacers are 11-point home favorites, and that leaves Haliburton as a longshot to clear 55 fantasy points. Myles Turner is one of many potential center options, so it is hard to give him a fervent endorsement.

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NBA DFS Picks: Key Games

Utah Jazz vs. Charlotte Hornets

LaMelo Ball and Mark Williams remain out for Charlotte, and the lack of dominating stars for both sides has each team offering up intriguing fantasy point-per-dollar options across the various DFS sites. Starting with the home team, the Jazz have a 120.5 implied point total, which is a tick above their standard per game production. Charlotte has the worst defensive efficiency rating on the season, while Utah holds that honor for February.

Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton and Keyonte George are the desired options on DraftKings, with the latter two currently projecting to be among the 20 most rostered players. John Collins looks good on DraftKings, though he stands out as the best Utah play on FanDuel, along with Jordan Clarkson, while Sexton and George are neutral tournament targets.

Walker Kessler is the wild card as there are plenty of center options up and down the pricing list, but he does have multi-block upside, which is tantalizing. Over his last 10 games, he has three or more blocked shots on eight occasions. If he remains in the starting lineup, he can be employed in tournaments, as he should easily rack up 1.1 fantasy points per minute against a woeful Charlotte frontcourt, which does not have many players who can draw fouls. That, of course, is always a lurking issue for Kessler.

Charlotte has won three consecutive games, giving the Hornets the second-longest active streak in the Eastern Conference. Veteran Tre Mann has been outstanding, though he is merely keeping the offense warm for Ball. He is a borderline core play on DraftKings ($5,500) but just an afterthought on FanDuel ($6,600). Cody Martin is garnering interest on both sites; however, just know that the oft-injured guard is likely to cap out around 28 to 30 minutes.

Miles Bridges has the best median projection for the Hornets, while Grant Williams is a strong fantasy point-per-dollar play and, of course, Brandon Miller has been in the zone and the time off should help him avoid the rookie wall.

Today’s Top Sports Betting Pick

Scottie Barnes has had a tremendous season and he is coming of his first All-Star Game, but we can still target against him in the sports wagering market with the under on his 21.5 points prop, which is currently available at odds of -110 on Hard Rock.

This is a good example that demonstrates the power of letting OddsShopper do the heavy lifting when researching favorable bets.

The next-best odds at the most popular books are in the -120 range, with several books posting a -130 line or worse, while FanDuel and bet365 are dropping the threshold down to 20.5 points, without giving much ground on the betting line. Be a savvy shopper!

Per the true odds of -129 (how OddsShopper measures the potential expected ROI of a given wager), this opportunity has a tremendous 7.6% positive expected ROI as a function of the inefficient line.


NBA Bet Pro currently has Barnes projected for 35.8 minutes and 20.85 points. That median projection is below the 21.5 target, but keep in mind a range of outcomes is far different than one specific projection.

The 22-year-old is averaging a career-high 20.1 points per game this season while also posting his best field goal rate, converting at a 47.3% clip and a personal-high 35.3% success rate from beyond the arc. While Fred VanVleet moved on this offseason and Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby were dealt almost a month ago, Barnes has not been consistent with his scoring production.

Over his last 13 games, he is averaging 18.9 points and he has cleared 22 points six (46.2%) times, topping that mark just twice in the last seven games. While the Nets have been struggling as a team on defense, they still have Nic Claxton in the paint and Mikal Bridges as an on-ball option. Plus RJ Barrett, Jakob Poeltl, Gary Trent Jr., Kelly Olynyk and Immanuel Quickley are expected to be back close to full health, which gives the Raptors plenty of options to help Barnes carry the load.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today

Check out the Stokastic NBA Deeper Dive and Live Before Lock Shows starting at 5 p.m. ET on YouTube, breaking down all of the key elements for today’s slate. Brought to you by PrizePicks – new users, use this link to receive a $100 first deposit match AND – ONE FREE MONTH of OddsShopper Premium! Full details here.

Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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