Mark Deeks has picked his team for tonight’s SuperGame, read who he likes before picking yours.
Point guard – Andrew Harrison, Memphis Grizzlies: $6.6 million
Harrison is benefitting from the injuries around him. The sophomore guard is a relative senior in the team’s backcourt at this moment in terms of both his years of experience and his time spent as a Grizzly, and thus has averaged 21.7 minutes in the month of December when a relatively veteran hand has been needed.
He is contributing, too, averaging 19.9 fantasy points over his past seven games, and doing so in a variety of ways not requiring much scoring. Even his most recent outing, in which he shot 1-8 from the field for only three points, yielded 18.6 fantasy points by virtue of his all-around contribution.
Harrison has done this for long enough now that we can expect him to keep doing it until Mike Conley returns, and this return, while approaching, will not be tonight.
Point guard – Shaun Livingston, Golden State Warriors: $6.5 million
With Stephen Curry out, Livingston will be the starter for a while. It is not in his nature to put up explosive scoring nights, and it is not in his team’s design for one player to dominate the assists column. But it is entirely within the remit and make-up of both Livingston and the team for him to put up 10 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal on any given outing in which he is given starter’s minutes. And should he do this, he would be very solid fantasy value tonight.
Shooting guard – Lou Williams, L.A. Clippers: $16.6 million
While expensive, Williams continues to outperform his slot. Playing both primary scorer and primary playmaker, Williams has four 40+ fantasy point performances in his last six games, averaging 38.9 points in that time, an amount that normally costs upwards of $20 million. He has also proven over his career that he is capable of particularly big individual nights, thus making him even more worthy of buying tonight.
Small forward – Dante Cunningham, New Orleans Pelicans: $7.7 million
Cunningham, a player who usually records his best contributions outside of the box score, is on a relative tear. He has averaged 20.6 fantasy points over the last four games, far in excess of his usual average, an increase borne out of recording two of his only three double-figure scoring games all season in that span. The Pelicans desperately need productivity from Cunningham’s small forward position, one they have tried to paper over all season, and Cunningham will therefore certainly get the opportunity to keep this up.
Small forward – Treveon Graham, Charlotte Hornets: $6.3 million
The Hornets are very thin on the wing, especially when it comes to scoring. This will be particularly true tonight if Jeremy Lamb and Nic Batum, both questionable to play at the time of writing, are unavailable. Losing Frank Kaminsky up front hurts, too. Someone outside of Kemba Walker will have to score. And part of that responsibility might fall unto Graham, who, if not a volume scorer, will at least eat up some minutes. Graham has played 58 minutes over the last three games, scoring 24 points in that time with a 13.9 fantasy point average. It’s not much, but it’s some low value with potential for more.
Power forward – Johnny O’Bryant, Charlotte Hornets: $6.1 million
In the absences of Cody Zeller (long term) and Frank Kaminsky (game-to-game, including being listed as “questionable” tonight), O’Bryant has defaulted to being the full time backup centre in the last two games. The first of these two games was a nothing performance; 2 points, 2 turnovers, 4.2 fantasy points only. But in the second game, O’Bryant posted 11 points, 7 rebounds and 26.9 fantasy points to show what he is capable of. Although a regular rotation role is rare for him, O’Bryant survives in the NBA by knowing that he has to get back on offence what he gives up defensively. This means the shots are going to keep going up, which, combined with his likely minutes and tiny cost, gives him fantasy value tonight.
Power forward – Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers: $6.4 million
The Blazers have lots of young and/or athletic options in their front court, and Leonard has often been the odd man out thus far. Coming off two bad years in which he sought to do little else but shoot jump shots, and not helped by injuries to begin the year, Leonard is currently out of the rotation when everyone is healthy. But everyone isn’t healthy; regular starting centre Jusuf Nurkic missed the last game through injury, and is expected to miss tonight as well. Leonard started in his place last time out, and recorded 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists on his way to 18.8 fantasy points. This is plenty foreseeable again, despite his limitations.
Power forward – Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors: $13.8 million
Ibaka, overpriced in fantasy all season long, has both come down in price over time and hit a hot streak. Three of his last four games have seen him record between 28.6 and 29.9 fantasy points, any one night of which would be above average for the season, while the fourth game in that span was a sizeable 39.7 point performance. Ibaka is a poor rebounder whose shot block numbers it seems will never get back where they were – the foot speed looks increasingly like it’s gone for good. But even if his game has changed considerably and his production waned, production is still there. Even if he is mostly a streak shooter now, this is a hot streak.
Centre – Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics: $6.9 million
Marcus Morris will not play tonight. When Morris does not play, Aron Baynes starts. And when Aron Baynes starts, Theis plays more, and plays well. In the two most recent Morris-less games, Theis has totalled 50.2 fantasy points as one of the three bigs in a three-big rotation. He does it via the rebounds and the defensive stats, all high value stats of their own which give him value tonight, if not yet every night.
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: Marcus Morris, Gordon Hayward (Boston), Nic Batum, Frank Kaminsky, Cody Zeller, Jeremy Lamb (Charlotte), Zach LaVine, Cameron Payne (Chicago), Pat McCaw, Stephen Curry, Chris Boucher, Zaza Pachulia (Golden State), Troy Williams, Zhoi Qi (Houston), Blake Griffin, Pat Beverley, Milos Teodosic (L.A. Clippers), Mike Conley, Wayne Selden, Brandan Wright (Memphis), Okaro White, Rodney McGruder, Hassan Whiteside (Miami), Jameer Nelson, Solomon Hill, Frank Jackson, Alexis Ajinca, Tony Allen (New Orleans), Jusuf Nurkic, Mo Harkless, C.J. Wilcox, Wade Baldwin (Portland), Lucas Nogueira, Delon Wright (Toronto)