Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON. Below is a breakdown of my favourite picks at each position for tonight’s game.
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Point guard – Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards: $7.5 million
Satoransky continues to be the ultimate point guard fantasy pick right now. An 8 point, 6 assist, 2 rebound performance yesterday formed the basis for a 19.4 fantasy point performance, and while that sort of range is kind of the low end of what Satoransky is expected to produce right now, it is still good value at this price.
Point guard – Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs: $10.2 million
Murray got back to his explosive best last time out, recording 52.3 fantasy points on account of a quite amazing stat line. He posted 13 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks, numbers akin to a bad shooting night for Giannis Antetokounmpo moreso than any starting point guard. To play Murray is to essentially play an extra big man, regardless of his size. And to play Murray in fantasy is absolutely the right move tonight.
Point guard – D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic: $8.5 million
Also starting for his team at point guard for a bench player’s price is Augustin, who has averaged 24.9 fantasy points over the last three games. The Magic are one of the protagonists in this year’s spectacularly competitive race to the bottom, so if Augustin plays too well, he will likely be unsubtly benched. For now, though, he is doing OK, not well enough to ruin the tank, but well enough to have fantasy value.
Shooting guard – Nic Batum, Charlotte Hornets: $13.3 million
So it continues for Batum, whose season-long improvements continue. Batum posted another 42.4 fantasy points last night through a near-triple double performance, and while it came against the tanking Chicago Bulls (deliberately playing without their best wing defender Justin Holiday), and while tonight’s matchup is instead against the contending Boston Celtics, Batum is playing suitably well of late that we can have some degree of confidence that this is his new level of production, rather than a brief aberration. And also, for whatever reason, the Hornets are still playing to win.
Small forward – Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns: $10.3 million
Phoenix’s tank has seen Jackson become a much more important player in the second half of the season than he was in the first half, and also a much more productive one. Notwithstanding some variance, Jackson is having some big performances – his 20 point, 12 rebound, 38.9 fantasy point performance last time out is still not his biggest – and with production coming in every category except assists, he has great fantasy value currently.
Power forward – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans: $26.2 million
The tear that Davis has been on is impossible to ignore. In his last seven games, Davis has recorded three fantasy point performances in the nineties; at a time that his team needs everything from him, Davis is proving that he really can provide everything.
Given this dominant stretch, you can rest assured that pretty much everyone else in your games tonight will pick him, which gives rise to two options. One school of thought says going against the grain could be the way to winning – given that so many others will pick him, if Davis has an average or below average night, a lot of other fantasy teams will suffer given how hefty his price tag is, leaving the door wide open. The other school of thought says to ride the same gravy train because it would be terminal to miss out on another Davis game. I’m subscribing to the latter.
Power forward – Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors: $8.7 million
The Raptors have been piling in the heavy wins lately, allowing them to further utilise the great depth they were already working to incorporate down the stretch of the regular season. Siakam has been one such beneficiary, averaging 28.2 fantasy points over the last three games. He has even hit 33.3% of his threes for this month, shooting 5-15 in 10 games. It is a bit of a worry that that counts as improvement, but after a 1-27 December, it all counts as progress.
Power forward – Jarrell Martin, Memphis Grizzlies: $7.7 million
Given their lack of incentive to win, the Grizzlies continue to be very liberal when it comes to sitting players out due to injury. Chandler Parsons has played only one of the last 24 games, Tyreke Evans only four of the last 13, and Mike Conley none of the last 46. With this in mind, young players like Martin are getting the opportunities to prove themselves, and Martin has begun to show a little something. Specifically, he has begun to show a little floor spacing potential, which, considering his very poor rebounding rates and his inability to defend without fouling, might be the best way to keep himself in the league. From a fantasy point of view, Martin – currently starting at small forward to test his viability at the position going forward – has averaged 21.1 fantasy points over the past five games. It is something.
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, Tyler Cavanaugh, Antonius Cleveland, Malcolm Delaney, Ersan Ilyasova (Atlanta), Jabari Bird, Gordon Hayward (Boston), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Dorian Finney-Smith, Seth Curry (Dallas), Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer (Detroit), Pat McCaw (Golden State), Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela, Brandan Wright (Houston), Darren Collison (Indiana), Jawun Evans, Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley (L.A. Clippers), Wayne Selden, Chandler Parsons, Mike Conley, Deyonta Davis, Tyreke Evans (Memphis), Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic, Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee), Alexis Ajinca, DeMarcus Cousins, Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill (New Orleans), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Aaron Gordon, Terrence Ross, Marreese Speights (Orlando), Alan Williams, Brandon Knight, Tyson Chandler (Phoenix), Pau Gasol, Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), Lorenzo Brown (Toronto), John Wall (Washington)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!