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 – Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs: $9.0 million
Having been named the starter ahead of Tony Parker, Murray’s breakout has begun. A very unique point guard who gets into the pain to contest every rebound and who freeroams around for steals wherever he can get them, whose lack of outside shot is catered for with athleticism, agility, handle and a passion for getting in the paint, Murray has averaged 41.5 fantasy points since the switch. You really must pick Murray tonight.
Point guard – Jerian Grant, Chicago Bulls: $10.1 million
In the absence of Kris Dunn due to injury, Grant played almost every minute of the Bulls’s last game, a double overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. And while he played a fair bit worse than his final stat-line of 22 points, 13 assists and 5 rebounds would suggest, with bad late-game decisions that ultimately threw away a late ten-point lead, this concerns us not in fantasy, where we instead merely enjoy the giant 50.5 fantasy points that stat-line yielded. With Dunn out again, Grant is again a very strong fantasy candidate, especially now that the Bulls are fast and dynamic offensively, which serves any point guard well.
Shooting guard – Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Philadelphia 76ers: $6.2 million
Luwawu-Cabarrot has done a solid job filling in for J.J. Redick over the last two games, with two remarkably similar postings of 22.6 and 23.0 fantasy points to show for it. Further aiding his fantasy candidacy tonight is the fact that both T.J. McConnell and Jerryd Bayless both look likely to miss the game – while neither is a directly interchangeable piece for TLC, any lack of team guard depth can only increase his minutes.
Small forward – Davis Bertans, San Antonio Spurs: $6.3 million
Small forward – Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs: $13.5 million
With Rudy Gay and Kawhi Leonard, these two form the entirety of the Spurs’s small forward battery, and with Pau Gasol also currently out, Bertans has been starting at power forward. His defensive hustle and floor spacing make him a useful depth option, and in his start last night, Bertans came through with a 26.5 fantasy point performance that he could well do again. Anderson meanwhile was exceptional in his role, and has been for three games, in which he has averaged 39.6 fantasy points. His cerebral play, great help, good rebounding, extra-passing and sneaky-slow cuts are very utilitarian skills against any opponent, and with minutes like he is currently getting, he is great fantasy value.
Small forward – Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves: $16.2 million
Moved to shooting guard for the last two games in the absence of Jimmy Butler, and moved to the role of wing go-to scorer for the same reason, Wiggins has responded with averages of 34.5 actual points and 42.1 fantasy points in that time. It has mostly been a very poor year for Wiggins, who has watched Butler take much of what was his role without having the skills on the ball to do the same sort of thing as regularly himself, not improving as an outside shooter, and seemingly not as determined to be as big of a force on the rebounding glass and on defence as he could be. But if he can sustain this level for the short term, he will give us fantasy value for at least one more night
Small forward – Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies: $7.8 million
Amid all the injuries and illnesses of late for the Grizzlies – plus their deliberate lack of urgency in getting their better players back considering their lack of short-term objectives – a mini-resurgence from Brooks stands out. Averaging 24.4 fantasy points over the last five games, Brooks is an ever-present on a team that has no idea at the moment what rotation it will present each night, and while his adjustments to the NBA three-point line continues, so does his generally high IQ play. At that level of production, he has fantasy value.
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $8.0 million
Harrell’s recent burst continued with a 32.2 fantasy point performance last time out that has raised his six game average to 29.8. He is something of a must-pick at this point for as long as DeAndre Jordan is out. And it appears as though he will be tonight.
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica, Minnesota Timberwolves: $6.2 million
In Jimmy Butler’s absence, Bjelica has gotten the last two starts, with Andrew Wiggins bumped down a position to shooting guard and with Bjelica starting as a big small forward. Given Tom Thibodeau’s consistent huge minutes disparity between his starters and his bench players, any spot starter for the Timberwolves usually has good fantasy value, and Bjelica has been no different. Averaging 27.5 fantasy points over those two games, Bjelica’s high IQ and floor spacing games are very snug fits as a fifth starter, which, if Butler misses tonight’s game as well, he will be once again.
Centre – Ed Davis, Portland Trail Blazers: $8.4 million
Davis fell out of the rotation at one point, losing time to Noah Vonleh and doses of Caleb Swanigan, but has made his way back in with his strong recent play and a pretty solid natural pairing with Zach Collins. Averaging 27.5 fantasy points over the last two games has given him fantasy value again – playing tonight against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that does not clean the glass very well should suit him.
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: De’Andre Bembry (Atlanta), Gordon Hayward, Guerschon Yabusele (Boston), Jeremy Lin (Brooklyn), Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Cameron Payne, Kris Dunn (Chicago), Devin Harris, Nerlens Noel, Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith (Dallas), Reggie Jackson, Reggie Bullock, Jon Leuer (Detroit), Zhou Qi, Chinanu Onuaku (Houston), Myles Turner, Glenn Robinson III (Indiana), Patrick Beverley, Austin Rivers, DeAndre Jordon, Danilo Gallinari, Jawun Evans, C.J. Williams (L.A. Clippers), Mike Conley, James Ennis, JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin, Chandler Parsons (Memphis), Jimmy Butler, Jamal Crawford (Minnesota), Frank Jackson, Alexis Ajinca, Solomon Hill, Tony Allen (New Orleans), Furkan Korkmaz, Markelle Fultz, J.J. Redick, T.J. McConnell, James Young, Jerryd Bayless (Philadelphia), Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, Alan Williams (Phoenix), C.J. Wilcox (Portland). Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Rudy Gay, Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), Rodney Hood, Thabo Sefolosha, Dante Exum (Utah), Sheldon Mac (Washington)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!