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 – Ricky Rubio, Utah Jazz: $14.6 million
It has been a streaky year for Rubio, who started very slowly as he adjusted to a new team and a new season, then at one point went on a career-best tear, before going through a recent slump. He now however looks to be out of that slump, and as his Jazz team crescendo nicely in the fight for a playoff spot, Rubio is right there leading the way. With a 41.2 fantasy point average over his last three games, Rubio is a good value mid-range pick here.
Point guard – Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards: $9.0 million
Satoransky’s recent status as a must-pick fantasy value player is in jeopardy right now, not because he has lost any value of his own (he will have it for as long as he costs less than $10 million and John Wall is out), but because the late-season injuries and deliberate rotation adjustments now see so many value picks at varying positions, particularly point guard. Satoransky has averaged 28.0 fantasy points over his last three games, so certainly keep him in mind, but other options (including ones not listed here; Cameron Payne, D’Angelo Russell, Trey Burke, D.J. Augustin) are available.
Point guard – Isaiah Thomas, L.A. Lakers: $11.7 million
Had it mattered more, the Lakers would have been the story of the second half, their late-season resurgence a refreshing break from the tanking epidemic that has consumed half of the NBA currently. They have been able to be so resurgent by being high tempo and aggressive offensively, and that certainly suits a shot-happy player like Thomas. He has averaged 30.2 fantasy points over the last six games, and it seems to matter not that he comes off the bench behind Lonzo Ball.
Small forward – Corey Brewer, Oklahoma City Thunder: $5.9 million
Bought out by the Lakers, Brewer has joined the Thunder and his former college coach Billy Donovan, immediately sliding into a prominent role. When Andre Roberson went out for the season with injury, the Thunder tried various options in his spot (Alex Abrines, Terrence Ferguson, Josh Huestis) before being able to source superior outside help. Starting the last three games, Brewer has recorded a 26.5 fantasy point average in that span, being able to provide some of Roberson’s defence while also shooting better than his predecessor ever has. This starting role will surely now be his for the remainder of the season, and thus Brewer should be a good fantasy pick for at least a month.
Small forward – Taurean Prince, Atlanta Hawks: $11.4 million
Prince was a regular pick in this space earlier in the season, and indeed for the tail end of last season. A sophomore slump however coupled with incremental but sufficient price increases for us to delist him over time. Now, though, with the Hawks going nowhere, buying out veterans and benching various other rotation cogs due to minor injuries that are sufficient to not run afoul of the league’s resting rules, Prince is getting the offensive freedom to see what he’s made of. And he has responded, to the tune of a 32.5 fantasy point average over the season. Talent, freedom and cheap price makes for a strong fantasy combination.
Power forward – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans: $28.2 million
So it continues for Davis, who was supposed to be a game-time decision last time out, yet who rode out that uncertainty with a mammoth triple-double. Yet another 79.7 points for Davis takes his average over the last 11 games to a colossal 70.4 fantasy points. To say that he is the best fantasy player in the game right now rather sells him short.
Power forward – Larry Nance, Cleveland Cavaliers: $12.8 million
Nance’s last game marked the lowest fantasy point total he has had since moving into the starting line-up, a 25.1 point performance in which he recorded no defensive stats. That said, in his four games since becoming a starter, Nance has still averaged 38.3 fantasy points, a big return on his price and still something of a must-pick at this point.
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica, Minnesota Timberwolves: $7.6 million
Make room for three power forwards in your teams tonight, because you cannot ignore Bjelica either. Continuing to start and continuing to be an excellent fantasy value pick, Bjelica followed up his 45.4 fantasy point performance two games ago with a 38.4 performance last time out. For the prices we are talking about here, that is can’t-miss production.
Centre: Brook Lopez, L.A. Lakers: $10.5 million
Even more resurgent than the Lakers as a team is Lopez as an individual. Amid a poor year, he has very much gotten his mojo back of late, averaging 40.2 fantasy points over the last four games. Lopez has taken 18 shots in each of the last three games, his highest total since November 3rd, and they haven’t all been from outside, either, as he has rediscovered the value of paint touches. With a low price reflecting his slow year to date, Lopez now boasts extremely good fantasy value and should definitely be considered here.
Centre: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets: $21.5 million
After being taken out of a game and benched for a lack of hustle, Jokic has seemingly responded to the embarrassment. Over the last three games, the walking triple-double threat has recorded a fantasy point average of 50.3 per game, including a triple-double last time out. Whatever it took to get him going again, we stand to benefit from a fantasy perspective.
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: Kent Bazemore, DeAndre Bembry, Antonius Cleveland, Malcolm Delaney, Jaylen Morris (Atlanta), Jeremy Lin, Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn), Michael Carter-Williams, Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Paul Zipser (Chicago), Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, Rodney Hood (Cleveland), Seth Curry, Salah Mejri, Wes Matthews (Dallas), Tyler Lydon (Denver), Jon Leuer, Stanley Johnson, Reggie Jackson, Dwight Buycks, Reggie Bullock (Detroit), Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley (L.A. Clippers), Channing Frye, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart (L.A. Lakers), Jimmy Butler (Minnesota), Alexis Ajinca, DeMarcus Cousins, Solomon Hill, Frank Jackson (New Orleans), Ron Baker, Kristaps Porzingis, Joakim Noah (New York), Steven Adams, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Terrence Ross (Orlando), Furkan Korkmaz, Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia), Brandon Knight, Alan Williams, T.J. Warren, Tyson Chandler (Phoenix), LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), OG Anunoby, Lorenzo Brown, Delon Wright (Toronto), Dante Exum, Raul Neto, Thabo Sefolosha (Utah), John Wall (Washington)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!