Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON’s Daily Fantasy Focus.
Below is a breakdown of my line-up for tonight’s game. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
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Point guard – Eric Bledsoe, Milwaukee Bucks: $16.2 million
Averaging 40.1 fantasy points over the last five games, Bledsoe seems to be one of the major beneficiaries of the coaching change that saw Jason Kidd and his struggling offence for Joe Prunty and his greater flexibility on that end. There are plenty of turnovers to go with it, yet Bledsoe is scoring a lot of points, and throwing in contributions in all categories, now that he has gotten his ankle strength back. Exploring the mid-range prices tonight on such a short slate of games (two), Bledsoe’s fantasy value therefore hereby increases.
Shooting guard – Josh Hart, L.A Lakers: $7.6 million
There was one random single game blip, an 11.9 fantasy point performance two games ago. However, the five games around that one for Hart have all been performances in the 30s, and at this price, that is impossible value to pass up, even with the variance risk. Hart is not exactly a point guard, but he is enough to one to be getting by as the starter in the absence of Lonzo Ball, who has opted not to return until after the All-Star break. As a point guard filler option, Hart’s role as a one is mostly defensive. If he can defend the position while throwing in his usual bevy of opportunity scoring and high rebounding, that will do. And that is exactly what he has been doing. Even if you disagree with my other picks, it will be hard to disagree with this one on a two-game slate.
Shooting guard – Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves: $21.9 million
Having an MVP calibre season, Butler is going up tonight against Hart and the L.A. Lakers, before sticking around for the All-Star weekend. The Lakers are a particularly poor defensive team, especially against star wings. It could therefore be a feast.
Small forward – Will Barton, Denver Nuggets: $14.9 million
For whatever reason, Mike Malone has settled into a two-small forward line-up of Wilson Chandler and Will Barton as the remedy for lacking his two favourite starting power forward options Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee. This increase in minutes has benefitted Barton in particular, who has responded with a 34.1 fantasy point average over the last eight games. That average includes one anomalous 14.3 point performance that is dragging the average down; without it there, every other performance was of at least 30. Having essentially played backu power forward for much of the year, Barton has started to get quite good at it, and with his mixture of points and assists, consider him here.
Power forward – Trey Lyles, Denver Nuggets: $12.4 million
The dependable Lyles pick of the last several weeks has become less dependable in this price range. Whereas once he was a surefire cert to at least double his price per million in fantasy points, he is not now due to its increase. However, with Millsap and Plumlee still out as above, Lyles gets the role of the first big off of the bench. And it is still a role that he is good at.
Centre: Thon Maker, Milwaukee Bucks: $6.6 million
Regular starting centre John Henson will miss yet another game due to injury, bestowing Maker a starting spot. Averaging 17.1 fantasy points over the last six games, including these Henson-starts, is decent if unspectacular value at this price. It always pays to know when a starter is this cheap. Maker’s career has yet to take off – his role offensively is unclear, his rebounding mediocre, his defence not well captured by basic statistics – but he is suitably cheap and likely to play tonight that the fantasy value is there anyway.
Centre: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets: $20.4 million
In the Nuggets’ last game against the San Antonio Spurs, Jokic had a triple-double of 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 shots, totalling 57.1 fantasy points. You may have gone to bed that night with Jokic, picked only by your opponents and not you, still to play, and with the quality of his performance to swing the balance of your game. I did, and, if you can’t beat them, join them. Not one for the defensive stats that could propel him to the very top range of fantasy price, Jokic will nevertheless give you plenty of the other three, and has big enough games to have some serious value at this price. Games like that one, for example.
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: Tyler Lydon, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee (Denver), Lonzo Ball (L.A. Lakers), Malcolm Brogdon, Mirza Teletovic, Jabari Parker (Milwaukee)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!