Ahead of another roound of NBA Sunday contests, we’ve looked at some players who should have big game’s for your fantasy teams.
Point guard – Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics: $8.2 million
Point guard – Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics: $16.3 million
Despite his facial damage, Kyrie Irving will only miss one game before returning, or so it seems. Yet this does mean a one game starting stint at point guard for one of this two. [There is an outside shot of the spot going to deep bench player Shane Larkin, though it seems unlikely.]
When Jayson Tatum stayed in the locker room at half time of a recent game, Smart started the second half in his place, which suggests he has the inside track on the spot. Nevertheless, whoever starts, both stand to benefit from Irving’s absence. Both are productive enough anyway – Smart is averaging 9.5 points, 5.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game (fantasy players can ignore his 29% shooting and ambitious shot selection), while Rozier has already featured a couple of times on this list on account of his 9.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game averages.
Plainly, with similar output for half the price, Rozier is the better value of the two, hence why we have mentioned him before and not Smart. But tonight, due to Irving’s injury, it might be a good idea to pick both.
Point guard – Dennis Smith, Dallas Mavericks: $10.0 million
Smith is starting to get it going. With only one aberration (a 3.1 point performance), he has scored a minimum of 20.4 fantasy points in each of his last ten outings, peaking at 48.5 in last night’s game, a game in which he recorded 21 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
This was Smith’s second consecutive game of more than 40 fantasy points, having recorded 44.6 in the previous contest via a 22 point, 8 rebound, 8 assist and 1 steal performance. And in the three games prior to that, Smith scored 18, 16 and 18 actual points for an average of 22.2 fantasy points.
Going nowhere right now, the Mavericks have earmarked Smith as a (or, currently, the) foundational piece for the future, and thus will give him as many minutes and as much on-the-job training as they can. He Is already taking advantage of that, visibly improving with every game, and has a lot more to come.
Shooting guard – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $24.7 million
Stars gonna star, and Harden is now in full stride. Playing the offensive point guard role he has done for the last few years in the continued absence of Chris Paul, Harden has 76.9, 80.7 and 54.8 fantasy performances in his last three games, born out of 29.3 point and 9.6 per game averages on the season. $24.7 million is about as much as you can pay for a player in fantasy, and means spending a quarter of your budget on a seventh of the roster spots. But, tonight, there is no one else better.
Small forward – Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics: $8.4 million
Brown remains productive, averaging 26 fantasy points over the last ten games with striking consistency, yet still being only the twelfth most expensive small forward available on a five-game slate. The aforementioned injury to Irving may impact upon Brown slightly; for all his improvements, he still relies upon a moving ball and a controlled offensive system to score, and Irving and the defensive attention he brings is the foundation of that system. But even if he does take a slight hit in his scoring average, he will still rebound the ball (7.2 per game thus far) and perform above his fantasy value.
Small forward – Reggie Bullock, Detroit Pistons: $6.2 million
This could be a ridiculous pick. We are talking here about a player with a 2.7 points per game average on the season, with only 19 points scored total, and with no history of doing much other than shoot the ball. Bullock has done extremely little.
But what he has done is start. Normally a deep bench player, Bullock has started the last two games for the Pistons in the absences of Stanley Johnson and Jon Leuer, and while he has done little (combining for 13 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and a block), he has averaged 31 minutes per game in the process.
The minutes per game is what might lure us here. It seems very unlikely that either Johnson or Leuer will return today, thus Bullock figures to play as much once more. And while he could throw up yet another ‘nothing’ line, he is normally a spot-up shooter of some worth. A 10 point, 3 rebound, 2 assist, 1 steal type of performance is very much within his capabilities given that many minutes.
Even that is not much. But if you have overspent elsewhere on the star power and need that one piece of extremely cheap filler to pad out the roster, Bullock could be it. He also could not. Let’s see.
Power forward – Thaddeus Young, Indiana Pacers: $16.1 million
Young is having a good season, upping his points per game output to 14.6 from 11.0 last year while keeping the rest of his statistical output almost identical. While he has not changed or improved as a player in some years, the team around him has – the Pacers of 2017/18 have diversified their offence, picked up the pace (first in the league, up from 18th last season), and are attacking downhill a lot more, led by Victor Oladipo. Young has been a beneficiary of this, shooting well from the mid-range and left baseline and getting more opportunities in both the half court and transition.
His $16.1 million fantasy cost is not cheap, and the fourth highest cost of any fantasy power forward tonight. Nevertheless, in recorded no less than 27.5 fantasy points in any of his last seven outings, Young is proving to be worth the cost, and outperforming those of similar cost around him.
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving (Boston), Josh McRoberts (Dallas), Stanley Johnson, Jon Leuer (Detroit), Nene, Chris Paul (Houston), Edmond Sumner, Glenn Robinson III (Indiana), Rodney McGruder (Miami)