Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON’s Daily Fantasy Focus.
Below is a breakdown of my top picks at each position for tonight’s games – one expensive, one cheap. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
THE PRICY: Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans: $18.5 million
THE CHEAP: Raymond Felton, Oklahoma City Thunder: $7.5 million
Holiday’s recent hot streak has been longer than most. Over the last ten games, Holiday is averaging 41.4 fantasy points, . The Pelicans in general are struggling with mediocre results, not helped by a lack of depth, but they are trying to play in a higher tempo-threes centric way that benefits Holiday directly, and he is capable of big nights.
In contrast, Felton provides a steadying hand off the bench for the Thunder, and has been particularly useful in their recent uptick in form. Over the last five games, Felton has averaged 16.6 fantasy points, and while there are no big games forthcoming from him, he is a solid pick if you need a cheap point guard.
THE PRICY: Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks: $15.6 million
THE CHEAP: Josh Hart, L.A. Lakers: $6.3 million
While he is always highly variable in his production given his frenetic playing style, Bazemore is on an overall hot streak right now. He is averaging 38.6 fantasy points over his past five games, and 36.5 over his last seven. And while that stretch has featured games ranging from 16.4 fantasy points to 53.5 – despite averaging in the 30s, not one single game in that stretch has been in that range – the overall average is impressive for his cost, and to win our competitive games, you will need these bigger games from somebody.
Hart, meanwhile, has been big in two out of his last three games. Those two games have come as starts in the absence of regular starter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and those two absences are not a coincidence – Caldwell-Pope is to miss Lakers road games as a part of a criminal plea deal. With the Lakers on the road tonight, KCP will again be absent, so Hart should there again start and thrive, averaging 29.4 fantasy point sin those two starts. The steady ball-sharing, rebounding and defending rebounding Ying to Caldwell-Pope’s trying-to-be-Kobe-in-a-contrac
THE PRICY: Josh Richardson, Miami Heat: $11.9 million
THE CHEAP: Torrey Craig, Denver Nuggets: $6.0 million
Miami has won five of their last seven games, and Richardson stepping up has been key to this. After averaging only 7.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 31.3 minutes per game in November, Richardson has jumped to 34.4 minutes, 17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 10 December games, buoyed by 54.2% field goal shooting after two months of being sub-40%. Richardson has had to step up as the team is suffering myriad injuries, and when he scores like this, he has tremendous fantasy value, averaging 39.9 fantasy points over the last four games in particular.
Craig has only played three NBA games, the last three, all of which have been starts. And he’s been good, averaging 20.7 fantasy points while available for the minimum price, and doing so consistently. Initially getting the start only due to multiple other injuries on the wing, Craig’s three-and-D potential may keep him a role going forwards, despite only being on a two-way contract. After all, he is keeping first round pick Tyler Lydon off of the court.
THE PRICY: Kyle Kuzma, L.A. Lakers: $15.0 million
THE CHEAP: Jordan Mickey, Miami Heat: $6.6 million
Even on a ten-game slate, an alarming amount of the higher-cost power forwards in tonight’s game are unavailable. Blake Griffin, Jabari Parker, Paul Millsap and Aaron Gordon are all out, while Draymond Green and Kristaps Porzingis should play in their own returns from injury, yet also might not be at their best. Porzingis certainly wasn’t last night. We therefore turn to Kuzma, the eleventh most expensive power forward on the slate, as our star pick. And with some merit. Kuzma, a rookie of the year candidate, is absolutely on fire offensively, using a bevy of jumpers and drives to average 37.5 fantasy points over his last five outings. It helps that fantasy does not capture his poor defence and tells only the good side of the story.
Conversely, Mickey is in to defend and board, and is doing it well. Promoted to the rotation given the aforementioned Heat injuries, particularly to James Johnson, Mickey’s length and athleticism see him mix it up on the glass and record some high-value defensive statistics, along with some scoring borne out of the opportunities that physical profile gives him. This has worked out to a 23.5 fantasy point average over the last four games, very good value for a low-end bench filler pick.
THE PRICY: Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic: $20.2 million
THE CHEAP: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat: $8.1 million
Vucevic is on a very impressive streak currently. Stepping up to lead his ailing team, he has averaged a striking 52.1 fantasy points over the last nine games, fuelled by a 22.9 real point average , itself flanked by 12.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. If you were thinking of picking the freshly healthy Nikola Jokic ($20.0 million), don’t – take Vucevic instead.
On the other end and making it three picks for the Heat tonight, Adebayo does the opposite of what Vucevic does. He is the long armed, paint-centric finisher, defender and rebounder to Vooch’s focal scorer, getting rotation minutes in the absence of Hassan Whiteside. Over the last ten games, Adebayo has averaged 20.3 fantasy points, and doing so consistently enough that expecting him to do so again tonight is perfectly reasonable.
As with all NBA slates, we need to be sure to avoid certain players each night.
Here’s who you should steer clear of.
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: Dennis Schroder, Mike Muscala, DeWayne Dedmon (Atlanta), Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell (Brooklyn), Treveon Graham, Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Josh McRoberts, Nerlens Noel, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith (Dallas), Paul Millsap, Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris (Denver), Avery Bradley, Jon Leuer (Detroit), Shaun Livingston, Stephen Curry, Chris Boucher, Andre Iguodala, Zaza Pachulia (Golden State), Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (Houston), Wesley Johnson, Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley, Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers), Brook Lopez (L.A. Lakers), Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Okaro White, Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow (Miami), Mirza Teletovic, Jabari Parker (Milwaukee), Tony Allen, Frank Jackson, Alexis Ajinca, Solomon Hill (New Orleans), Tim Hardaway Jr (New York), Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, Jonathan Isaac (Orlando), Damian Lillard, C.J. Wilcox, Wade Baldwin (Portland), Otto Porter, Sheldon Mac (Washington)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your lineups in to tonight’s games, and look out for our “Beat Mark Deeks” double-up, where you can win an extra $5 cash on top of the regular prizes just for finishing ahead of me.