NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks: Kevin Durant + Pending News Situations (January 21)

Sunday brings an expansive five-game featured slate with a 6 p.m. ET lock time 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, including some intriguing playing time situations that provide steady value options. Let’s dig into the NBA DFS picks and core plays like Kevin Durant.

NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today: Sunday, January 21

Tonight sees the five games tipping off at four different times, with the entire slate window spanning four hours. The Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the Portland Trail Blazers, and this West Coast nightcap will not be underway until 10 p.m. ET. Be sure to monitor news for any late scratches or other injury updates and to not be completely distracted by Sunday Night Football.

Kevin Durant: Phoenix Suns vs. Indiana Pacers

Tonight the Suns are hosting the Indiana Pacers, which means they are welcoming one of the most fantasy-friendly teams into Phoenix. The Pacers play at one of the fastest paces in the league and are shaky on defense, which is one of the key reasons why they just traded for Pascal Siakam. He has been with the team for just one game, so it will take some time for him to gel with a new defensive scheme and figure things out in the frontcourt with Myles Turner.

Kevin Durant is well suited for this game environment, which will provide ample rebounding opportunities, spacing for long-range attempts and, of course, potential assists. The Suns are on a five-game winning streak and have been on a lighter part of their schedule with just three games in the last week. They are playing again tomorrow, though that is an imminently winnable game against the visiting Chicago Bulls.

There are questions and pending news for many other teams right now, but we know that the Suns should be relatively intact, with only reserve Bol Bol (foot) unavailable. Devin Booker also warrants consideration, particularly after he dropped 52 points on the Pelicans in New Orleans on Friday, though there are quite a few interesting guards in the player pool. Bradley Beal and Jusuf Nurkic are secondary tournament options.

Grayson Allen is on a three-game heater and should be able to continue on that trajectory tonight, though he has been assigned a fair salary on DraftKings ($5,800) and FanDuel ($6,200) to curb some of his appeal.

Isaiah Jackson is out for the Pacers, which helps solidify minutes for Jalen Smith, who should be backing up Turner and Siakam. Bruce Brown Jr. and Jordan Nwora were the players sent to Toronto, with James Johnson being waived. That should mean more secure minutes for Bennedict Mathurin, Aaron Nesmith and Andrew Nembhard, but this trio has had trouble staying healthy.

Nembhard (back) is questionable, as is Tyrese Haliburton, though the latter is likely to play. He saw 35 minutes of run on Friday after missing 10 days with a hamstring injury. In the off chance he is out, then T.J. McConnell will become a potential salary saver. Once the dust settles, Haliburton, Siakam and Turner will be the trio to target. Buddy Hield is a lottery ticket for the featured slate, but he is in the mix for the two-game late slate since he could always find his way into the optimal lineup if he is dialed in from long distance.

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Houston Rockets at Boston Celtics

It would not be a surprise to see players resting from both teams tonight. The Rockets won in Houston yesterday, topping the Utah Jazz 127-126 in a thrilling overtime game. Alperen Sengun was amazing, propelling the team to a win after Fred VanVleet fouled out in the extra period. Sengun played 42 minutes, topping 40 for the second consecutive game, so he could get a quick hook tonight against Boston. Jabari Smith tweaked his ankle and is listed as questionable, with Tari Eason (leg) missing his 12th game.

Houston is off until Wednesday, when they wrap up the three-game homestand against Portland.

The Celtics are 11.0-point road favorites tonight, with Jrue Holiday (elbow) and Al Horford (rest) on the injury report as questionable. The team heads to Dallas after tonight’s action for a Monday matchup against the Mavericks. Holiday or even Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown or Kristaps Porzingis could very well get the night off, so keep tabs on the news as this is definitely a potential value opportunity.

Update: Holiday and Horford are out today.

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Denver Nuggets at Washington Wizards

This is a back-to-back for the Wizards, who lost to the Spurs last night 131-127. Denver is 13.5-point road favorites, which is rather hospitable of Washington to facilitate such an easy win for the defending champions. Marvin Bagley III (36) and Deni Avdija (32) were the only Washington players to surpass 30 minutes of court time. If Daniel Gafford (concussion) misses a third game, expect something similar from Bagley tonight; otherwise, there is not much to see beyond grabbing a player or two for tournament differentiation.

The Nuggets beat the Celtics in Boston 102-100 on Friday, and they still have two more games on their East Coast swing, with the Pacers on Tuesday and the Knicks on Thursday. This is another spot where someone could get the night off, or at a minimum the starters should get some in-game rest if they take care of business early.

Washington is just not equipped to deal with Nikola Jokic, who could easily conjure up a triple-double in 25 minutes. Jamal Murray should also be in line for a strong showing, with little to no rim protection awaiting him on drives to the bucket. For those looking at the blowout angle, Reggie Jackson, Peyton Watson and Christian Braun could each get an extra/extended rotation in the final frame, which would bode well for their prospects as discount dandies.

Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers

Shaedon Sharpe is out, and Scoot Henderson (nose) and Anfernee Simons (illness) are questionable. Jerami Grant has been on a tear over the last two games, scoring 37 and 30 points and leading the team to surprising wins over Indiana and Brooklyn. Deandre Ayton returned after missing close to a month with knee soreness, and he was moderately effective against the Pacers, with 12 points, eight rebounds, an assist and a block in 30 minutes. Jabari Walker still saw 41 minutes, so he looks like a decent option for the two-game late slate.

If Simons or Henderson are out, Malcolm Brogdon will be a core play, but that news may not be unveiled until all the other games have locked. If Simons plays, he and Grant are the main options for the featured-slate tournaments.

LeBron James is questionable, and this could be a potential rest spot, with an important matchup against the Clippers looming on Tuesday. However, after the loss to Brooklyn on Friday, the Lakers are now 21-22 and really need to bank some wins before embarking on a six-game road trip next Saturday.

There are plenty of ways to create contingency plans for James sitting by working out the salary and positional constraints of swapping to Anthony Davis. The latter is $700 more on DraftKings, though they both share power forward eligibility. On FanDuel, Davis is $1,700 more, but this duo has power forward eligibility on the blue site as well. The $700 difference on DraftKings is not really an issue to leave the wiggle room, but on FanDuel, this looks like a two-player situation to maximize all of the salary cap if news is still pending when the fourth game locks tonight.

D’Angelo Russell looks like a good option, and he has had four strong games since rejoining the first five. Taurean Prince (knee) and Cam Reddish (knee) are questionable, and if they miss, more minutes will be available for the likes of Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt and Christian Wood. Though, this trio would really benefit from James or Davis being out; otherwise, we are looking at median projections of 15 to 17 fantasy points.

Additional NBA DFS Pick — Sports Betting Opportunities

Jusuf Nurkic is someone to look to in the sports wagering market tonight, with the under on his under 11.5 rebounds prop. The line is currently available at +110, and per the true odds of -102 (how OddsShopper measures the potential expected ROI of a given wager), this opportunity has a spectacular 6% expected ROI as a function of the inefficient line.

It is crucial to take advantage of OddsShopper to look at all the available lines since that can easily be worth another 2% to 3% for your ROI, even on perfectly neutral bets, based on how the different books value things. To demonstrate this very concept, look below — you can see that sharp book Pinnacle has the 11.5 priced at -114, which is a dramatic difference compared to the plus money currently available on DraftKings, PointsBet and Fanatics.

This season, Nurkic is averaging 10.6 rebounds per game in 28.0 minutes. This is his second-best rebounding rate of his career and the second-most minutes he has averaged in his last six healthy seasons. His per-36-minute rebounding rate is 13.6, but the Bosnian Bear has played 32 minutes or more in just nine of his 39 (23.1%) appearances.

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NBA Bet Pro currently has the 29-year-old projected for 27.8 minutes and 11.29 rebounds. The pace of play will lead to more possessions and field goal attempts than the standard baseline, which creates more potential rebounding opportunities. Over the last 10 games, Indiana has been slightly below average from a rebounding perspective, but Nurkic will be battling with Turner, Siakam and his own teammates for errant caroms.

This season he has 12 or more rebounds in 19 of his 39 (48.7%) outings, which is why it is crucial to get this wager at the +110 offering.

Here is a terrific article from Dave “Loughy” Loughran on OddsShopper breaking down why it is important to consider wagering on unders.

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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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