Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON’s Daily Fantasy Focus.
Below is a breakdown of my favourite 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 – Trey Burke, New York Knicks: $7.1 million
Burke has posted back-to-back 26 point games, good for a giant 42.4 fantasy point average. He fell out of the league on account of the fact that, as a small scoring point guard, he was far too marginal as a primary playmaker and ball handling option, and yet it seems he has gotten back into it by just embracing the scoring. Incredibly aggressive offensively right now, Burke is looking to score every time down, and, through being able to create his own jump shot from both outside and the mid-range, he is often doing so. How sustainable this is remains to be seen. but this is quite the short term burst.
Shooting guard – Josh Hart, L.A. Lakers: $7.6 million
Hart is a reliable fantasy point at this stage of the season. Over the last eight games, he has posted an average of 28.2 fantasy points, doing so through rebounding and defence rather than some transient scoring hot streak.
Small forward – Jae Crowder, Utah Jazz: $8.4 million
Small forward – Royce O’Neale, Utah Jazz: $6.1 million
Along with the steady reliability of Joe Ingles and the much less reliable Alec Burke, Crowder and O’Neale form the Jazz’s wing battery right now. O’Neale has averaged 19.5 fantasy points over the last few games through running the court and spotting up, while Crowder’s time with the Jazz is going much better than his time with the Cavaliers ever did. Averaging 28.4 minutes per game off the bench, Crowder is posting averages of 13.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in that time, and has openly claimed how much he prefers being able to play “within a system”. Catty, but fair.
Small forward – Troy Williams, New York Knicks: $5.5 million
Waived by the Rockets in order to accommodate the signing of Joe Johnson, Williams was picked up by the Knicks, who seemingly will give him a late season audition. Last time out, Williams recorded 21.8 fantasy points through a quick and decisive 14 real points, and looking plenty willing to run with Burke. A good athlete in a great frame for an NBA wing, Williams will play defence and run the court, and although his half-court skill set needs development and nuance, that package alone is worthy of a look. And if he keeps getting looks like that, he will have fantasy points for us here.
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica, Minnesota Timberwolves: $6.1 million
The Timberwolves have had very good fortune with injuries this season, but two games ago, Jimmy Butler signed a torn meniscus and will be out indefinitely. And although they are far from like-for-like replacements, Tom Thibodeau seems to really trust Bjelica, who thus got the start in Butler’s absence (it is not as though there is a great deal of wing depth on the team, to be fair). With his usual high-IQ face-up offensive game, Bjelica recorded 8 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists for 21.4 fantasy points – considering how much Thibodeau plays his starters, any usual bench player who gets moved into the starting line-up immediately has fantasy value, and Bjelica especially does.
Power forward – Noah Vonleh, Chicago Bulls: $5.7 million
Centre – Cristiano Felicio, Chicago Bulls: $5.6 million
As a part of their
strategy of deliberate losing late-season push to play their younger players, the Bulls are starting Felicio at centre, with mixed results. He has averaged 16.4 fantasy points over the last two games doing just that, and although his lack of length, athleticism and outside touch limits him, if he can at least roll to the rim, finish drop-off passes and crash the offensive glass, maybe he can sustain that rate. Meanwhile, as a trade deadline acquisition in a financially motivated transaction, Vonleh has played the last three games as well and averaged 12.8 fantasy points. It is not a huge return, but it has at least increased game on game, and considering Bobby Portis is playing suitably well to be negatively affecting the tank, then maybe Vonleh, as something of a Portis-lite, should get more time.
Centre – Ivica Zubac, L.A. Lakers: $5.5 million
Similarly to the above, Zubac has been getting some NBA time after a season spent mostly in the minors. A legitimate offensive talent from the mid-range and in, with poise, moves and a soft touch, Zubac is a permanent pick-and-pop threat from the mid-range who can also finish around the basket, block some shots, and carry his own on the rebounding glass. He has averaged 19.4 fantasy points over the last three games, and as long as he doesn’t play too well and wreck the tank (the Lakers’s pick protections on their 2018 first will require a very specific late season performance) he should be a value pick for a while.
Centre – Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: $8.9 million
As Allen’s price continues to sneak up, his value is getting slightly lower. It is still there, though – an athlete, shot blocker, floor runner, dunker and permanent pick-and-roll threat, Allen has averaged 27.6 fantasy points over the last nine games, and has no threats to his playing time right now. Nor does his team have a tank to protect.
Centre – Alex Len, Phoenix Suns: $10.3 million
After a quiet spell, Len is very much back. He has averaged 37.9 fantasy points over the last three games, and is back to looking like the offensively-decisive, defensively-committed two-way big man he was earlier in the season.
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: Ersan Ilyasova, De’Andre Bembry, Antonius Cleveland, Tyler Cavanaugh, Malcolm Delaney (Atlanta), Jabari Bird, Aron Baynes, Gordon Hayward (Boston), Jeremy Lin (Brooklyn), Robin Lopez, Justin Holiday, Paul Zipser, Zach LaVine (Chicago), Dorian Finney-Smith, Seth Curry, Nerlens Noel (Dallas), Jon Leuer, Reggie Jackson (Detroit), Jordan Bell, Pat McCaw (Golden State), Eric Gordon (Houston), Darren Collison, Edmond Sumner (Indiana), Channing Frye (L.A. Lakers), Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, Wayne Selden, Tyreke Evans (Memphis), Jimmy Butler (Minnesota), Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca, DeMarcus Cousins, Frank Jackson (New Orleans), Ron Baker, Joakim Noah, Kristaps Porzingis (New York), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Jonathan Isaac, Terrence Ross, Marreese Speights (Orlando), Tyson Chandler, Alan Williams, Brandon Knight (Phoenix), Iman Shumpert, Harry Giles (Sacramento), Lorenzo Brown (Toronto), Raul Neto, Georges Niang, Dante Exum, Thabo Sefolosha (Utah)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!