NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks: Kawhi Leonard is Thursday’s Top Play (March 23)

Thursday’s NBA action brings a brief four-game main slate beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on both 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 for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups, including Kawhi Leonard.

NBA DFS Picks Today: Thursday, March 23

Core Play of the Day — Kawhi Leonard: Los Angeles Clippers-Oklahoma City Thunder

Tonight we can join The Masses in flocking to Kawhi Leonard as the top fantasy option. Paul George is likely out for the remainder of the regular season with a sprained knee, so Leonard is going to have to carry the load as the Clippers try to stay above the Play-In Tournament scrum.

This season has been a strong one for Leonard, who has returned to fantasy prominence. In his last dozen games, all alongside George, Leonard has averaged 37.8 minutes and 18.3 field goal attempts with a stellar 53.9% conversion rate, including a 50.7% success rate on 5.8 3-point attempts. This has culminated in 28.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.2 combined blocks and steals for just over 45 fantasy points per appearance.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the perfect pivot away from Leonard; however, this is the front end of a back-to-back for the Thunder, who take on the Lakers Friday. Gilgeous-Alexander is unlikely to play both games, but he should see 35 to 37 minutes in whichever one he suits up for.

The absence of George should give Terance Mann a direct boost as well as a trickledown to Eric Gordon, Marcus Morris Sr. and Nicolas Batum for additional minutes. Russell Westbrook also is likely to get a few more field goal attempts, and now he will see minutes without one of Leonard or George, which means he can go back to his ball-dominant ways with the second unit.

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Jalen Brunson: New York Knicks-Orlando Magic

After missing significant time with a foot issue, Jalen Brunson looks to be back at full strength. In each of his last two games, he logged 37 minutes and had 40-fantasy-point efforts. The DraftKings salary algorithm is lagging, but FanDuel got a jump on elevating Brunson’s salary. Of course, this in turn is keeping his projected popularity in check, making the former Maverick an intriguing “pay to be contrarian” option in tournaments on the Blue site, with just four games on the docket.

Additional NBA DFS Building Blocks Pick — Sports Betting Opportunities

Mitchell Robinson is worthy of our consideration in the sports wagering market, with his 7.5 rebounds prop. This season, he is averaging a career-high 9.0 rebounds per game in 27.2 minutes. Over the last two seasons, he has averaged nearly 12 rebounds per 36 minutes, and throughout his five seasons in the league, he has been active on the boards, with 11.4 rebounds per 36 minutes.

NBA Bet Pro has the 24-year-old projected for 26.3 minutes and 8.16 rebounds. Though his projection is just above tonight’s milestone, there is a 63% probability that Robinson surpasses this threshold, and the -150 line at BetMGM leads to a decent 3% expected ROI.

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Charlotte Hornets-New Orleans Pelicans

Though Charlotte knocked off the Indiana Pacers 115-109 on Monday, the Hornets have been officially eliminated from the postseason. They are all but assured of finishing with the fourth-worst record this year. LaMelo Ball is out for the rest of the season, and rookie Mark Williams has missed nearly two weeks with a thumb injury, and he is out again tonight.

Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington and Kelly Oubre Jr. are likely to see low-30s minutes, which keep them in contention as solid secondary tournament options on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Nick Richards has been inconsistent, with a pair of sub-20-point fantasy performances in his last five starts. However, he also has a pair of 42-fantasy-point efforts, and with eight straight multi-block games, he has available fantasy upside.

Kai Jones has picked up extra minutes as the backup center, though he is a better option on DraftKings, where he also has power forward eligibility. Dennis Smith Jr. is the wild card, and if his shot is falling, he could make some noise as well. In his last two games, he converted only three of 21 field goal attempts, which is dismal even for a career 40.3% shooter. There is positive regression that should benefit him in the long run.

Gordon Hayward is also in play, though he does not have a lot of upside and needs to get by on efficiency. In his last 10 games, he has produced over 30 fantasy points three times, with one of those outings ending in a trip above the 40-fantasy-point plateau.

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Brandon Ingram stands out as one of the better options on DraftKings and FanDuel, and he was in the running for core play of the day. CJ McCollum has been inconsistent, but he does possess a reasonable path to 40 fantasy points, particularly against the abysmal Charlotte defense.

It appears that Jonas Valanciunas is back in the good graces of coach Willie Green. In the last three games, the Lithuanian has averaged 31.7 minutes and 12.7 field goal attempts with a stellar 63.2% conversion rate. This has worked out to 20.7 points, 14.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.3 combined blocks and steals. There are several centers who have similar salaries and fantasy projections; so as long as JoVal continues to have the same forecasted popularity as Jarrett Allen, Nicolas Claxton, Wendell Carter Jr. and Ivica Zubac, he is an excellent tournament play.

Trey Murphy III, Herbert Jones and Josh Richardson are mix-and-match options, though their utility varies by DFS sites and is driven by salary and position eligibility requirements.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Picks Building Blocks Today

Once again, we have a frontloaded slate with three games getting underway in the first hour, followed by the second game of the NBA TV doubleheader at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Get ready for the slate with all of the latest analysis and information by tuning in to the Stokastic Deeper Dive and Live Before Lock shows at 5 p.m. ET on YouTube, brought to you by Bet365.

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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