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 games. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight. If you’re new to PlayON, be sure to take advantage of their first-time depositor’s bonus, where a deposit of $20 will get you a FREE $22 entry.
Point guard – Shabazz Napier, Portland Trail Blazers: $9.5 million
Napier only has tremendous fantasy value if Damian Lillard doesn’t play, and we cannot say for sure yet whether that will happen or not. At the time of writing, Lillard is listed as “questionable”, so keep your eyes peeled until the deadline on whether he plays or not. And if he doesn’t, strongly consider Napier, who has a striking 36.8 fantasy point average in the three games Dame has missed.
Point guard – Ish Smith, Detroit Pistons: $10.2 million
There was some discussion, externally at least, as to whether Smith or Langston Galloway would start at point guard in Reggie Jackson’s absence, given how effective Smith has been at running the second unit and how his own lack of spacing may affect the starters. Smith is very effective when pushing the ball in transition or semi-transition, but less effective in the halfcourt, when his lack of ability to space the floor c an bog everything down. But Smith powered out of any such quagmires last time out by aggressively seeking scoring opportunities, taking lots of mid-range pull-ups and bankers, and kicking the ball as and when he could. It all resulted in a hefty 38.9 fantasy points, and if Smith is going to keep starting going forwards, he is going to keep performing above his cost until such time as it goes up. Get in there before it does.
Shooting guard – Tyreke Evans, Memphis Grizzlies: $18.0 million
Evans is the Grizzlies’ only consistent half court creator right now, and is having a tremendous season. He is leading the league in layups made while also shooting 40.9% from three-point range. The ability to get to wherever he wants with the ball is vintage Tyreke, but the ability to make shots from all areas is a new and exciting development. He is moving the ball better than ever before, picking his spots better, scoring far more efficiently yet just as heavily, and is in the middle of by far and away the best season of his career, averaging 19.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. From a fantasy point of view, he is playing like a $22.0 million player without costing that much. Buy him now before Mike Conley comes back.
Small forward – Reggie Bullock, Detroit Pistons: $6.7 million
Bullock continues to perform as a starter, and perhaps will flourish further given that he is now again paired with Ish Smith. Smith knows where to find Bullock – in the corners and on the wings – and is always looking for spot-up shooters just as much as Bullock is looking for spot-up opportunities. Averaging 21.7 fantasy points over his past six games, with only one anomalous 5.5 point performance breaking up an otherwise appealing stretch of games, it seems as though Bullock will be a low price, decent yield fantasy pick for a while yet.
Small forward – Maurice Harkless, Portland Trail Blazers: $7.8 million
Harkless started the first 18 games of the season, but lost his outside shot to the point that he became a complete non-factor offensively, and eventually lost his rotation spot. In wake of Lillard’s injury, however, Harkless has been back in it the last three games, and has delivered. He has averaged 23.2 fantasy points per game in that time, looking spry and engaged offensively rather than unthreatening and disenfranchised – should it continue, his rotation spot going forward is very winnable once again. After all, it is not as though Evan Turner’s play has exactly shut the door on it.
Power forward – Jarell Martin, Memphis Grizzlies: $6.9 million
With JaMychal Green struggling due to injury, Martin, who has been in and out of the line-up all season, is back in it. He is playing better this time around, too, averaging 20.6 fantasy points over his last six games, hustling around, crashing the glass, getting open for shots, and sticking some mid-rangers. Martin has never quite found his niche at the NBA level and hasn’t been the smooth, skilled, stretch big Trey Lyles-type that favourable projections had him being out of LSU. But if he starts to play consistently the way he has played over his last fortnight, that niche will keep him around and keep up the fantasy value.
Centre – Bismack Biyombo, Orlando Magic: $7.0 million
Centre – Marreese Speights, Orlando Magic: $6.5 million
In the absence of Nikola Vucevic, these two will be the Magic’s two-headed centre rotation, and in the last game, both showed what value they bring to it.
The eternally unafraid Speights took on the Pistons’ centres at every opportunity, casting up outside jump shots when guarded on the perimeter by the laterally slow Andre Drummond and taking the quicker but slighter Eric Moreland into the post. Fantasy always rewards volume scorers, and with 13 shots and 16 points in only 15 minutes, Speights posted 25.5 fantasy points to go with 21.2 the game prior.
Meanwhile, Biyombo had his best performance of the season, recording 12 points, 13 rebounds and 33.1 fantasy points. He crashed the glass, got open for catches and dunks, and even confidently rose up to take – and make – a baseline jumper. Either player, then, has fantasy value at this price, and they only have each other as playing time rivals.
Centre – Deyonta Davis, Memphis Grizzlies: $6.3 million
Our third Grizzlies pick of the day is Davis, who, when Brandan Wright is out (as he so often is) seems to be the backup centre of choice at the moment. Last time out, Davis used a steady diet of paint feeds and open dunks to record 14 points, to go along with 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 24.4 fantasy points. Davis’s length and athleticism are his main skills at the moment, as he still works to develop strength, skills and poise. But he will get minutes tonight and costs a pittance, thus proving fantasy value should you not fancy either of the Biyombo/Speights duo.
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: DeWayne Dedmon, Mike Muscala (Atlanta), Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, John Holland, Iman Shumpert (Cleveland), Paul Millsap, Juancho Hernangomez, Malik Beasley (Denver), Jon Leuer, Avery Bradley, Reggie Jackson (Detroit), Stephen Curry, Omri Casspi, Chris Boucher (Golden State), Mike Conley, Wayne Selden, JaMychal Green, Brandan Wright (Memphis), Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Okaro White, Justise Winslow (Miami), Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca, Tony Allen (New Orleans), Tim Hardaway Jr (New York), Jonathan Isaac, Terrence Ross, Nikola Vucrevic (Orlando), Markelle Fultz, Justin Anderson, Furkan Korkmaz, Robert Covington (Philadelphia), Wade Baldwin, Damian Lillard, C.J. Wilcox (Portland), Rudy Gay (San Antonio), Raul Neto, Rudy Gobert, Dante Exum (Utah)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your lineups in to tonight’s games.