NBA Preview 23rd January

Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON’s Daily Fantasy Focus.

Below is a breakdown of my top picks at each position 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 – Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers: $12.0 million

Thomas’s price has gone up slightly, but only slightly, and not enough to deter his value as a pick. Getting his game legs back, Isaiah has averaged 29.9 fantasy point over his last performances, and while playing the good-defence, plodding-paced Spurs (and their defensive whiz of a point guard, Dejounte Murray, himself good value at $9.0 million only) might not see him surpass that range tonight, he will not need to to have good value.


Point guard – Alex Caruso, L.A. Lakers: $6.0 million

Shooting guard – Jordan Clarkson, L.A. Lakers: $12.8 million

After an eight game stretch in which he scored in the single figures five times and averaged a mere 16.7 fantasy points,  Clarkson has basically been the X factor in the last two Lakers games. He recorded 33 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds for 47.9 fantasy points in a big win over the Pacers, then followed it up with 29 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals for 59.2 fantasy points in an even bigger win over the Knicks. Clarkson is the reason those wins were so big – he may be a bit shot happy and prone to sporadic defensive effort at best, but Clarkson can be very effective as a sixth man, and the short-handed Lakers have needed him to be. Keep the variance in mind, then decide accordingly.

We suggest Caruso here with more than a dollop of trepidation. Luke Walton has suggested that Caruso ‘might’ start tonight, but has not committed to such a move, and as a two-way player, Caruso could just as easily be a non-factor again. However, in Lonzo Ball’s absence, he has been playing, and in being more aggressive and less risk-averse than Tyler Ennis, he is helping. With a giant 31.8 fantasy points last time out, picking Caruso would be a calculated gamble with legitimate upside.


Shooting guard – Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings: $11.2 million

Bogdanovic has become a very consistent fantasy player. Each of his last nine games has returned between 22,9 and 33.2 fantasy points, each of which is good value at this price. Consistent on a team beset with inconsistency, Bogdanovic’s solid, heady, high IQ offensive player bodes well for the future, but also suits us here in the present.


Small forward – DeMarre Carroll, Brooklyn Nets: $14.8 million

Carroll’s 13.0 points per game this season is a career high, as are his 6.8 rebound and 1.9 assist per game numbers. And while his scoring efficiency does not match the very efficient years he posted on the stacked Atlanta Hawks teams of a few years ago, the player who was so recently traded only as a salary dump has redeemed his value. From a fantasy point of view, Carroll has averaged 33.1 fantasy points over his past six games, and is putting up the same numbers in January that he did at the start of the season, overcoming his brief December blip.


Small forward – Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs: $13.5 million

It has been a while since we picked Anderson in this list, when once we would pick him every night. His price simply went up. However, Anderson’s fantasy value is back. With Rudy Gay and Kawhi Leonard both out due to injury, Anderson is the team’s primary small forward, and he is responding with a bevy of high-value defensive statistics. The 40.2 fantasy points average over the last two games is an eye-catching number.


Power forward – Julius Randle, L.A. Lakers: $14.6 million

Power forward – Larry Nance, L.A. Lakers: $10.3 million

Despite lacking the intangibles and defence that separates Al Horford from the pack, Randle is pretty much posting the same raw numbers as the Celtics All-Star, and, given that we are concerned only with raw numbers in fantasy, this is intriguing to us here. Given plenty of opportunity of late as the team tries to bolster his value in trade, Randle has recorded an average of 32.3 fantasy points over his past five games, burdened with much, much greater variance than most other players in his price range yet also capable of outings in the 40s and 50s that his fantasy peers aren’t.

Meanwhile, backing him up is Nance, who is making a fantasy success of out his own role. Playing in the complete opposite way to Randle, Nance has averaged 34.2 fantasy points over the last four games with his combination of rebounding, defence, running the court and finishing. Nance is not a big scorer, but he does all the high-value stuff, and his fantasy value is strong at this price.


Power forward – Skal Labissiere, Sacramento Kings: $8.2 million

Still a bit wild off the bench, driving into trouble and playing with much more urgency than poise, Labissiere is nevertheless a direct recipient of the Kings’s increased focus on playing their youth. Over the last two games, Labissiere has averaged 29.8 fantasy points; over the last four, he has averaged 27.1; over the last nine, he has averaged 23.4. All of these are good value.


Centre – Bismack Biyombo, Orlando Magic: $8.7 million

We recommend only one centre here today because there is one clearcut truly valuable pick. Biyombo can still occasionally put up a relatively empty line – in the Magic’s last game, the dominant rebounder who had grabbed 10 rebounds in only the first quarter in the previous game somehow went reboundless in a full 21 minutes of action. But that particularly anomaly won’t happen again, and as he continues to start, Biyombo will continue to produce. It might be inconsistent, but it is all of value at this price.

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: Gordon Hayward, Guerschon Yabusele (Boston), Jeremy Lin (Brooklyn), John Holland, Iman Shumpert (Cleveland), Jordan Bell (Golden State), Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (L.A. Lakers), Jonathan Isaac, Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross (Orlando), Frank Mason, Harry Giles (Sacramento), Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Rudy Gay, Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio)

That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!