Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON. Below is a breakdown of my top picks at each position for tonight’s game.
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Point guard – Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards: $9.0 million
After a brief blip, Satoransky has been back to his best over his last two performances. He has recorded a 33.3 fantasy point average in that span, attacking on both ends without ever being reckless. The price increases have been so small that his status as a regular fantasy pick is unaffected.
Point guard – Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs: $11.6 million
In his last five games, Murray has had games of 11.8, 28.9, 29.0, 40.3 and 52.3 fantasy point performances. Quite the range, and thus, as his price continues to sneak upwards, increasingly larger of a risk. But the potential results are there, and a four out of five good value game success rate should peak our collective interests.
Point guard – Kobi Simmons, Memphis Grizzlies: $7.1 million
Shooting guard – Ben McLemore, Memphis Grizzlies: $6.7 million
We picked both Simmons and McLemore in advance of last night’s Grizzlies game on account of the fact that, despite their relative inexperience and lack of consistency and talent, they currently form the team’s starting backcourt. [Consistency and talent do not hugely matter for the tanking Grizzlies at this point.] Unfortunately, said limitations also massively handicapped the team’s offence last time out as Memphis struggled to only 78 points in a lopsided loss, which in turn affected the fantasy point production of both Simmons (12.1) and McLemore (17.8). Nevertheless, in getting some air time for their young players and their projects, while also losing, the Grizzlies got what they needed out of that ugly defeat. So the status quo should continue.
Small forward – Davis Bertans, San Antonio Spurs: $7.9 million
Bertans has a 22.6 fantasy point average over the last four games as an important front-court floor spacing option. And although he has been in and out of the rotation all season, this latest band has come in quite a tight range – a 19.9 performance, a 20.0 performance, a 21.1 performance, and a 29.3 performance. All four of those are value at this price, and if that is the range that Bertans is operating in, then we are interested.
Small forward – Justise Winslow, Miami Heat: $9.9 million
It has taken a while for Winslow to figure out his role in the NBA, and injuries have not helped. But he has started to do so. Winslow is succeeding as a tough and versatile defender who also handles the ball in transition and, increasingly often, up top in the half court. He rebounds the ball, spots up slightly better than before, and gets to the rim if the seas part. From a fantasy point of view, this has meant an average of 25.9 points over the last seven games, a good return on this price and with more to come.
Power forward – Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: $12.7 million
Dirk can still get it done. His lateral mobility has gone, his leap has gone, his give-it-to-me-and-clear-out possessions have gone, but the jump shot itself has not. Dirk can still make a basket with every catch, and has been doing so of late. Despite not playing end-game minutes as the Mavericks try to end his career with a series of defeats, Dirk has averaged 28.9 fantasy points over the last nine games. Perhaps more important than that is the consistency – Nowitzki has not recorded less than 20 fantasy points in any outing since January.
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $10.7 million
Power forward – Tobias Harris, L.A. Clippers: $16.0 million
Centre – DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers: $17.8 million
The Clippers have put together a strong recent surge lately, winning 11 out of their last 16 games, and with the five losses all being to quality opposition (Warriors, Rockets, Pelicans, Blazers, 76ers). They have been able to do so because of the play of their frontcourt rotation, and, save for the occasional foray for Boban Marjanovic, these three take up all of the available minutes.
Harrell (28.8 fantasy points over the last six games) has been playing well ever since first getting significant opportunities mid-season, using his combination of athleticism, bloody-mindedness and good court awareness to make impacts in the paint on both ends. Harris (41.4 over nine) has played even better as a Clipper than he was during his already career-best season as a Piston, shooting just as well from the outside as before, getting some post touches, and running at every opportunity on a team playing at a fast pace. And Jordan (46.7 over four) is running just as much, while using all the extra possessions to rebound the ball at a rate that is impressive even for him.
Any of the three would be a good fantasy value pick at these prices, and so would any combination of the two.
Centre – Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat: $11.4 million
The Heat’s centre spot is in a bit of a state of flux. Hassan Whiteside has somewhat lost his former vice-like grip on the spot due to a bad knee that has affected him all year, one which severely limits his impact in higher tempo games, at which point the similar-but-healthy rookie Bam Adebayo takes over. But Olynyk, the third option, has instead found his uses at power forward. An important floor-spacing option who also provides defensive energy and important dribble hand-offs, Olynyk has quietly averaged 28.4 fantasy points over the last four games.
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: Michael Carter-Williams (Charlotte), Nerlens Noel, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith (Dallas), Avery Bradley, Jawun Evans, Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari (L.A. Clippers), Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, Mike Conley, Mario Chalmers (Memphis), Dion Waiters (Miami), Andre Roberson, Terrence Ferguson (Oklahoma City), Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon (Orlando), Alan Williams, Brandon Knight, T.J. Warren, Devin Booker, Tyson Chandler, Josh Jackson (Phoenix), Kawhi Leonard, Pau Gasol (San Antonio), John Wall (Washington)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!