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 – Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets: $13.7 million
Albeit more than likely on his way to stardom as a scoring combo guard, there have been some bumps in the road along the way for Murray, whose is still somewhat inconsistent on the court. Nevertheless, the hot streaks are nice, and with a 37.3 fantasy point average over the last three games buoyed by a 20.0 real point average, he is on one right now. Generally, when Nikola Jokic plays well, so does Murray.
Point guard – Cory Joseph, Indiana Pacers: $9.8 million
In the absence of Darren Collison recently, Cory Joseph was, for three weeks, a starter. However, from a fantasy point of view, he did not contribute enough to be worthy of much mention in this space. It, weirdly, has been since Collison’s return that Joseph has started to have value for us. Over the last seven games, and fuelled by a bevy of steals, Joseph has averaged 27.4 fantasy points per game. His case is one worth monitoring.
Point guard – Cameron Payne, Chicago Bulls: $5.7 million
Payne is finding his feet as an NBA player again, particularly defensively. With an enviable combination of size and speed at his position, Payne is doing a good job on opposing point guards, something reflected best his steals per game numbers. And although he needs to further work on his outside jump shot and halfcourt decision making, defence and transition alone are proving good enough to have averaged 21.0 fantasy points over his last five games.
Shooting guard – Ben McLemore, Memphis Grizzlies: $7.1 million
Over the last six games, McLemore has averaged 26.1 fantasy points. He is currently in that sweet spot between too bad to play, too good to bench, not so good as to need to bench, young enough to be worth “getting a look”, under contract for long enough that he may still have a role on the team worth evaluating, and healthy enough that there is no sellable reason to sit him. Any time a Grizzly meets those criteria, we are interested.
Small forward – John Holland, Cleveland Cavaliers: $5.6 million
In the Cavaliers’ last game, Holland, who has spent much of the year with Cleveland’s G-League affiliate the Canton Charge, was the first player off of the bench. Same with the game beforehand. And although his shot has been somewhat off thus far, Holland has nevertheless responded with a fantasy point average of 17.4 over those two games. If this continues, colour us intrigued.
Small forward – Jared Dudley, Phoenix Suns: $5.6 million
Hitherto, Dudley has been paid quite a lot of money to not be a part of the Suns’ rotation. However, even a tanking team like the Suns has to play somebody. And so, for the second year in a row shutting down their quality players at every opportunity, the Suns have given Dudley some time finally lately. He has responded with a 23.7 fantasy point average over the past two games. Let’s see if it sustains.
Power forward – Eric Moreland, Detroit Pistons: $5.9 million
As the Pistons have wobbled, Moreland has been a refreshing change of pace from the bench. He has averaged 25.6 fantasy points per game over the last three games, using his endless length and good mobility to be everywhere on the interior. Moreland is still entrusted with no offensive responsibility outside of the open dunk and scrapping for finishes, but he wins possessions, and those possessions count big for us here.
Power forward – Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls: $12.5 million
Power forward – Noah Vonleh, Chicago Bulls: $6.0 million
Usual power forward starter Lauri Markkanen is struggling with a worrying-for-a-rookie back complaint, and will be out again tonight. Last time out, this meant a spot start for Vonleh, a trade deadline acquisition who, for reasons of both tanking and prospect evaluation, will likely get the start again as the Bulls try and determine if he has any future as a stretch-and-board forward. This however does not diminish the strong recent play of Portis, who has averaged 30.1 fantasy points over the last twelve. By far the Bulls’ most talented frontcourt player, the team has yet to find a reason to take him out of the line-up, and thus nor should we.
Centre – Ante Zizic, Cleveland Cavaliers: $5.5 million
The Cavaliers are struggling and are very short up front, which is directly beneficial to Zizic, getting his first significant NBA run. With Larry Nance Jr nursing a hamstring strain in the last game, Zizic recorded 11 points and 4 rebounds on his way to 17.3 fantasy points, following up a 28.4 fantasy point performance in the game before. Zizic cannot fix the Cavaliers’ defensive problems, but he does help the team, and will be needed at least until either of Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson are back from injury. Which hasn’t happened yet.
Centre – Kyle O’Quinn, New York Knicks: $10.3 million
Much as the Knicks have (somewhat deliberately, at least since Kristaps Porzingis’s injury) seen the bottom fall out of their season, it is still working for O’Quinn. He has averaged 31,7 fantasy points over the last five games, with a healthy all-around diet of blocks (2.6 per game) and assists (3.8 per game) on the way. Alway a decent shotblocker and excellent pick-and-roll passer, only the presence of Enes Kanter ahead of him has kept O’Quinn down hitherto – he’s quite good, and we are currently seeing that. Take advantage,
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), Michael Carter-Williams, Cody Zeller, Jeremy Lamb (Charlotte), Paul Zipser, Lauri Markkanen (Chicago), Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance (Cleveland), Tyler Lydon (Denver), Jon Leuer, Reggie Jackson, Dwight Buycks, Reggie Bullock (Detroit), Ryan Anderson, Brandan Wright, Zhou Qi (Houston), Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley (L.A. Clippers), Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans, Mario Chalmers, Andrew Harrison (Memphis), Alexis Ajinca, DeMarcus Cousins, Solomon Hill, Frank Jackson (New Orleans), Ron Baker, Kristaps Porzingis, Joakim Noah, Tim Hardaway, Lance Thomas (New York), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Furkan Korkmaz, Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia), Brandon Knight, Alan Williams (Phoenix), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), OG Anunoby, Norman Powell (Toronto), Tony Bradley, Raul Neto, Thabo Sefolosha (Utah)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!