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 – Emmanuel Mudiay, New York Knicks: $7.1 million
We picked Mudiay in this list in advance of last night’s games, and he came through with another 21.0 fantasy point performance. Jarrett Jack, season-long starter hitherto, has been removed from the rotation altogether, and Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina have been very inconsistent behind whoever starts. So even though Mudiay’s own role in the ‘future’ very much remains to be determined, it seems the Knicks right now are very willing to let him play and find out where it lies.
Point guard – Cameron Payne, Chicago Bulls: $5.9 million
Payne made his season debut in Chicago’s last game, and recorded 22.4 fantasy points on the way. It has been nigh-on two very poor years for Payne, who started his rookie season with the Thunder well, but who finished it poorly, then came out much worse as a sophomore, got traded to the Bulls, played even worse, and ultimately only followed it up with a worrying summer league and an injury. He has, for a while now, looked lost and completely lacking in confidence on the court. Nevertheless, perhaps the injury absence can serve as a reset button. What does seem to be the case is that the Bulls are prepared to bench Jerian Grant down the stretch of the season in order to play Payne and see if he can be redeemed as a player. Having traded things of some value to acquire Payne, after all, they need it to work. And so even at this tiny price and with all of one game this season under his belt, Payne may have fantasy value if he continues to get minutes.
Shooting guard – Josh Hart, L.A. Lakers: $7.6 million
A very consistent role player at this point through his rebounding, transition, defence, cuts and hustle, Hart recorded another 20+ fantasy point performance last time out, and should be considered as a pick every night until that price increases significantly.
Shooting guard – Jamal Crawford, Minnesota Timberwolves: $7.9 million
As of the time of writing, it remains unconfirmed officially; nevertheless, it seems very likely that regular starting shooting guard Jimmy Butler will be unable to play tonight, given that he had to be helped from the court in last night’s game due to injury. Crawford, then, is the obvious and correct beneficiary of this (as may also be Andrew Wiggins). Crawford is slowing down with age, but he will still volume shoot with minutes, and if Butler is indeed out, then minutes he shall get.
Small forward – Royce O’Neale, Utah Jazz: $6.1 million
Fears that Jae Crowder’s arrival may push O’Neale out of the rotation have not proven to be realised. With Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood gone, and with Thabo Sefolosha and Dante Exum still out, a wing spot has opened up, and a good shooting solid D few errors fewer dribbles player like O’Neale is primed for the role. O’Neale’s output can be streaky, but in his last eight games, he has three nights of 20+ fantasy points and two of 30+, all of which are great value at this price.
Small forward – Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns: $10.3 million
As always. Jackson recorded 29.9 more fantasy points last night, via another 19 point and 7 rebound performance. That is regular for him now.
Power forward – Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls: $11.7 million
Portis’s phenomenal start to the season saw his price immediately shoot up very high, yet the contest for minutes and shots with Nikola Mirotic saw it slowly drip back down to this range over the next two months or so. With Mirotic now gone, however, Portis is thriving again, and the early indications are that the Bulls’ selective benching of quality players so as to better maximise the tank does not include Portis. He has averaged 37.4 fantasy points over the last three games, and probably exuberantly celebrated every one of them.
Power forward – Julius Randle, L.A. Lakers: $14.2 million
It is increasingly difficult to overlook the contributions of Randle. The power forward spot is the fantasy position that has been most affected by the pre-All-Star break plague of significant injuries, ruling out plenty of the higher-priced options available in the game. The second-tier priced players, then, become more valuable and more important, and of those players, Randle is proving to be the most valuable. He is also one of the most inconsistent, as are the team he is playing on. But when he is playing well, Randle can produce numbers such as the 44.2 fantasy points he has averaged over the last two games.
Centre – JaVale McGee, Golden State Warriors: $5.8 million
McGee had lost his spot to rookie Jordan Bell for much of the season, and was rumoured to be available in trade, even if his contractual situation did not give him much value in potential deals. However, no deal was forthcoming, and Bell is currently out injured. With this in mind, and with the Warriors struggling somewhat (albeit only by their own very relative standards), McGee is not only back in the rotation, but also back in the starting line-up. A 14.2 fantasy point average over his last eight games is certainly not huge, but it is value at a sub-$6 million price.
Centre – Alex Len, Phoenix Suns: $10.3 million
With Tyson Chandler still out with a neck injury and with Greg Monroe now gone, Len is competing for playing time at centre only with Dragan Bender, who, despite flashes, remains unreliable on the court and incredibly raw. This means Len is often putting in big nights, and for a low price. With a fantasy point average of 40.3 over the past two games, he is putting in particularly huge returns for the price of a mediocre reserve, and is worth considering here.
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, Jabari Bird, Aron Baynes (Boston), Robin Lopez, Justin Holiday, Paul Zipser (Chicago), Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Nerlens Noel (Dallas), Jordan Bell, Pat McCaw (Golden State), Channing Frye (L.A. Lakers), Mario Chalmers, Chandler Parsons, Wayne Selden, Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans (Memphis), Dion Waiters, Rodney McGruder. Kelly Olynyk (Miami), Jimmy Butler (Minnesota), Joakim Noah, Ron Baker, Kristaps Porzingis (New York), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Jonathan Isaac, Terrence Ross, Marreese Speights (Orlando), Furkan Korkmaz, Markelle Fultz, Justin Anderson, Demetrius Jackson (Philadelphia), Tyson Chandler, Brandon Knight, Alan Williams (Phoenix), C.J. Wilcox (Portland), Harry Giles, Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos (Sacramento), Georges Niang, Raul Neto, Thabo Sefolosha, Dante Exum (Utah)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!