NBA expert Mark Deeks makes his picks for tonight’s slate. Make sure you read what he has to say before picking your line ups.
Point guard – Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves: $6.6 million
Jones has featured here before each of his last two games, and paid immense dividends each time.
He followed a giant 51.3 fantasy point outing two games ago with another plus 30 outing last night. While Jeff Teague (who warmed up last night before being a late scratch with his Achilles problem) may return tonight, Jones has done enough to enjoy a big role even when Teague returns.
Should Tom Thibodeau’s rotations permit it, Jones should now be a regular on court. He seems to have massively improved defensively.
Point guard – Tyler Ulis, Phoenix Suns: $8.6 million
The major benefactor of Eric Bledsoe’s departure, four of Ulis’s last six games have seen fantasy outings between 25 and 29.1 fantasy points. Any of those nights would represent very good value at this price.
The other two nights of 8.0 and 13.8 points, not so much. Yet even with the risk of a poor night taken into account, Ulis is a big minute starter, producing like one, and available for the fantasy cost of a limited minute backup.
He is probing the defence, getting to the rim, hunting his shot, and acknowledging when it isn’t there, all while making good decisions. The bad start to the season seems to be behind him.
Shooting guard – Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers: $18.9 million
The Pacers are younger, quicker and better than before the Paul George trade, and the resurgence of Oladipo is why.
Slimmer and faster than last year, Oladipo is shooting well and getting his shot. He’s also handling up top, driving around screens, hustling on defence and leaking out whenever possible.
In the Pacers’ last game, Oladipo made his first ten shots on his way to a 26 point night. When combined with his other basic stats, made for a 53.7 fantasy point night.
With three other 40+ fantasy point outings in his last eight games, Oladipo is producing like one of the most expensive players in the game without being one.
Shooting guard – Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers: $8.5 million
Oladipo’s backup is also playing well enough that the Pacers are finding opportunities for the two to play together.
A 36.8 fantasy point outing in his last showing was the highlight of an eight-game stretch where, if we (generously) discount one rogue 8.5 point performance, he has averaged 27.3.
Lance can be streaky, but this is very much a hot streak right now.
Small forward – Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons: $7.6 million
Under considerably more control this season, Johnson seems to see the game better and slower, and his consistency and scoring efficiency are reaping the benefits.
Without ever putting up big nights – it is not likely that he ever will, as a wing player who does not create offence himself – Johnson has steadily put up an average of 18.1 fantasy points over the past five games, with all outings between 14.6 and 23.0. It is a small but steady return for a suitably small price.
Small forward – Omri Casspi, Golden State Warriors: $7.0 million
Casspi’s 15.3 fantasy point outing in his last game was his lowest output in his last five games. Yet at this price, even that comparative low point represents a decent value pick.
Casspi has averaged 21.6 fantasy points over that span; his off-ball, cutting, running and spotting-up game is very ideally suited to the Warriors’ floor spacing and ball movement, and he is enjoying the rewards of the talent around him. Of course, the absence of Kevin Durant has helped, and he won’t be gone forever.
Power forward – Thaddeus Young, Indiana Pacers: $6.7 million
For whatever reason, the algorithms have decided that Young’s fantasy price should tumble to $6.7 million seemingly overnight.
This despite average 28 fantasy points over his last ten games. Absolutely buy on this – Thaddeus Young is a quality NBA forward and valuable starter amid possibly the best season of his career, and he should cost more than double this.
Power forward – Larry Nance Jr, L.A. Lakers: $12.6 million
Nance is back from his hand injury and hit the ground straight away in his return. He scored 9 points to go along with 8 rebounds, 4 steals and a block, all of which combined for a strong 33.6 fantasy point night.
Nance’s scrappy, opportunistic, defence-first game lends itself well to fantasy value picking and the consistency it seeks to capitalise on – he always does something, and often it is the higher-value stuff.
Centre – Tyler Zeller, Brooklyn Nets: $6.0 million
Zeller continues to start for the Nets. While the 10 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, 1 block performance he had in the last game does not exactly wow, it does mean 18.7 fantasy points for the minimum price.
Combined with the fact that the centre spot is the hardest one to find great fantasy value at, and that you might not want to spend big money on the star bigs, and Zeller is thus a noteworthy cheap pick.
Centre – Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets: $6.7 million
Going from starting to coming off the bench has driven Cody’s fantasy price down further and further over the course of the season to the point that it is only $0.7 million above both the minimum and his brother.
Despite reduced minutes in light of the acquisition (and strong play) of Dwight Howard, Zeller is arguably having the best season of his career, blocking far more shots than ever while also putting up more than 150% of his career offensive rebounding rate.
Even in lesser minutes, Zeller’s averages of 7.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game should cost much more than this.
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: Allen Crabbe, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Yakuba Ouattara, D’Angelo Russell, Jeremy Lin (Brookyn), Kemba Walker, Julyan Stone (Charlotte), Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh McRoberts (Dallas), Jon Leuer (Detroit), Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Chris Boucher (Golden State), Nene, Zhou Qi (Houston), Glenn Robinson III, Edmond Sumner (Indiana), Brandan Wright, Wayne Selden, Mike Conley, Mario Chalmers (Memphis), Rodney McGruder, Okaro White (Miami), Jeff Teague, Nemanja Bjelica, Justin Patton (Minnesota), Tony Allen, Alexis Ajinca, Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill (New Orleans), Jonathan Isaac, Adreian Payne (Orlando), Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Nik Stauskas, Justin Anderson (Philadelphia), Brandon Wright, Davon Reed, Alan Williams (Phoenix), Kawhi Leonard, Derrick White (San Antonio), Delon Wright (Toronto), John Wall, Sheldon Mac (Washington)