Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview.
Below is a breakdown of my top picks at each position for tonight’s games at PlayON. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to join a game and win some cash.
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Point guard – Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee Bucks: $16.1 million
Malcolm Brogdon’s injury seems to have helped Bledsoe, who has responded with three consecutive fantasy points above the 40+ mark. Averaging 43.2 fantasy points in that span through across-the-board stats born out of plenty of aggression, Bledsoe is one of the better value high price picks available tonight. Now that we are over the hump of the season and hitherto lesser-used players are getting more, due to injuries and plan-changes, there is a lot of value to be found with the cheaper picks on nightly slates, limiting the need for mid- to high-price picks. But when there is value to be hard, like there is here, we are always interested.
Point guard – Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards: $7.4 million
The starter for many more weeks to come, Satoransky’s price has gone up, but only a tiny amount. For that $7.4 million, you will get a tall, disciplined, high IQ and highly talented point guard who has averaged 25.8 fantasy points over the last seven games. It is a good yield for a low price, and it is consistent.
Point guard – D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic: $8.2 million
With Elfrid Payton having been traded to the Phoenix Suns, Augustin is now the starting Magic point guard. And in his one game of doing so, he recorded a giant 41.1 fantasy points. Augustin has had hot streaks as an NBA starter before – give him enough of the ball and enough minutes, and he will be a sneaky-good shooter and driver who will solidly run an offence. So while the 40+ range is an anomaly, the 25+ point range is plenty foreseeable, and if it comes with the occasional 40+ point outing, even better.
Shooting guard – Josh Hart, L.A. Lakers $7.6 million
For as long as Lonzo Ball is out, pick Hart. It is that simple. Hart has averaged 35.1 fantasy points over the last four games, and does not need to touch the ball much to do it. We might even wind up picking him even when Ball returns, so good has he been.
Small forward – Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns: $9.9 million
Functioning as a key playmaker in the absence of Devin Booker and any kind of NBA calibre point guard over the last couple of games has been a bit of a step too far for the surging Jackson, but at least his attempts to do so have seen him still pick up fantasy points. He has averaged 31.2 fantasy points over the last six games, and he would be averaging even more than that if his team stopped getting blown out so badly.
Small forward – Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic: $9.1 million
Hezonja’s price is finally beginning to spike. Nevertheless, over the last seven games, he has averaged 27.2 fantasy points. It will have to go up even more before he loses his status as a regular value pick.
Power forward – Trey Lyles, Denver Nuggets: $12.0 million
Speaking of regular value picks, we hereby pick Lyles again, who has done his thing for a couple of months now despite his price seemingly plateauing. After a brief two-game lull, Lyles is back on the horse and has averaged 30.9 fantasy points over the last three games, the same sort of range as he has lived in since roughly the start of the Paul Millsap injury. With Mason Plumlee now also out, Lyles is getting more time alongside Nikola Jokic, which is exactly what he should be getting. When those two pair up, both deliver, so consider Lyles here.
Centre – Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: $9.2 million
Allen is the breakout player of the second half, and never more so than last time out. He posted a colossal 46.8 fantasy points, flanking a points and rebounds double-double with six assists as he takes an ever more senior and composed role within the team’s offence. With a 32.6 fantasy point average over his last five games, Allen is a near-enough must pick right now, and the price increase is too small to change that.
Centre – Emeka Okafor, New Orleans Pelicans: $6.1 million
Back in the NBA after an amazing four and a half years, Okafor did not take long to make an impact. In only his second game with the team, he recorded 4 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 assists for an impressive 28.6 fantasy points, providing the interior help (and ability to move Anthony Davis away from the constant banging of the centre spot) that he was brought in to do, and that no other Pelican really can. The team’s dearth up front bodes well for a role for Okafor going forward, so keep him in mind.
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: Jeremy Lin, Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Brooklyn), Cameron Payne, Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine (Chicago), Jonathan Motley, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Nerlens Noel (Dallas), Tyler Lydon, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee (Denver),Jordan Bell (Golden State Warriors), Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans, Pat Beverley (L.A. Clippers), Mirza Teletovic, Jabari Parker, John Henson, Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee), Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca, DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans), Jonathan Isaac, Terrence Ross, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon (Orlando), Furkan Korkmaz, Demetrius Jackson, Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia), Alan Williams, Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis, Tyson Chandler (Phoenix), Tony Parker, Dejounte Murray, Kawhi Leonard, Rudy Gay (San Antonio), John Wall (Washington)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!