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 – Kobi Simmons, Memphis Grizzlies: $6.1 million
Simmons, who has spent most of the season in the G-League, has begun to receive some big league club minutes of late, and has been a refreshing change. Last night versus the Golden State Warriors, Simmons recorded 17 points, 3 assists and 2 steals in 30 minutes, and although he showed his rawness at times (notably in going under almost every screen, thus repeatedly giving up the three-point shot to guards who wanted exactly that), he also showed the potential that makes him a worthy prospect in the first place.
Crafty, fun, aggressive, decisive, athletic, quick and talented, Simmons’s rawness would probably keep him down in the G-League further if the Grizzlies were playing for anything. Yet in the midst of this 11-25 season, it is precisely the time to be testing out the projects. Simmons has averaged 18.3 fantasy points over the last four games, and is playing his way into a spot rather than out of it.
Point guard – Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves: $7.1 million
Jeff Teague is out, Jones will start, and, as a starter, he averages 10.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 steals, 4.0 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game, alongside a tiny 0.5 turnovers. From a fantasy point perspective, that is a 39.5 fantasy point average. You really do have to take Tyus Jones tonight.
Point guard – Jerian Grant, Chicago Bulls: $11.2 million
Cameron Payne is still out, Kay Felder has been waived, Ryan Arcidiacono is still not an NBA player, and Kris Dunn is unlikely to play with a bad knee. This leaves Jerian Grant as the Bulls’ only point guard, which gives him fantasy value. Last time out, in the same situation, Grant recorded 38.4 fantasy points – if he is the only guard getting assists on this new high-tempo, ball-moving, shot-happy Bulls team, he could well do so again.
Shooting guard – Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers: $11.0 million
Victor Oladipo has missed the last two games, which has allowed Stephenson to step up in terms of both minutes and shots. When given free reign to be a lead guard, Stephenson can be sporadic yet explosive, and in the past two Oladipo-less games, he has done just that. Averaging 38.4 fantasy points over those two games, Stephenson can go off against anybody. It may well help tonight that, as well as Oladipo again being very unlikely to play, the Pacers’ opponent will be the Minnesota Timberwolves, who tend to give up a load of points.
Shooting guard – Garrett Temple, Sacramento Kings: $8.7 million
Amid all the turnover in the Kings’ rotation this year, Temple seems to have carved a relatively steady spot. Over the last seven games, he has averaged 22.0 fantasy points per game, and to pair with his career high 8.0 points per game comes a random development as a shot blocker (0.6 per game). Defensive stats are the most valuable ones available in fantasy, especially at the guard spots, and if Temple the former pass-first point guard is now to be a shot-blocking, spot-up shooting wing player, then that’s OK by us, because the fantasy value is there.
Small forward – Josh Huestis, Oklahoma City Thunder:
Both Paul George and Andre Roberson are out for tonight’s game, opening two starting spots on the wing. Last game out, with only one spot available, Alex Abrines got the start. But he was so ineffective in it that Huestis started in his stead in the second half, and helped the Thunder in an ultimately unsuccessful but still significant comeback. Three years into his NBA career, Huestis still struggles badly to make any impression on an NBA court. But he has proven to be a good defender of both forward spots and a keen helper who will get some rebounds and blocked shots. From a fantasy perspective, Huestis has not done enough to have any value hitherto, even at the minimum price. but if he is to be a starter tonight, he might.
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $7.5 million
It took a while, to the point that he is back now, but Harrell eventually won a share of the power forward minutes made available by Blake Griffin’s injury. He is averaging 21.8 fantasy points over the last seven games, including 30.8 last time out with Griffin back. There is plenty of a role to be had even with Griffin’s return, and Harrell has made it his more than any of the competition have, so consider him here.
Centre – Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: $7.8 million
Centre – Tyler Zeller, Brooklyn Nets: $8.5 million
Zeller starts at centre for the Nets, and Allen backs him up while Jahlil Okafor looks on. They go about their jobs in a very different way. Zeller mostly sticks to the post (save for a new spot-up three that all Nets are asked to learn now), grabs some rebounds, drops some hooks, and stands in the paint with his hands down. Allen meanwhile bounces around everywhere, deflecting shots, dunking the ball, missing layups and generally making a presence of himself. One tries to do too much, the other doesn’t try to do enough. But from a fantasy perspective, both are doing fine – Zeller is averaging 17.5 fantasy points over the last five games, while Allen is averaging 19.7 over the last seven.
Centre – Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: $14.3 million
Cauley-Stein is on a tear. He has averaged 33.4 fantasy points over the past seven games, becoming ever more of an offensive player, seemingly now a fountain of assists as well as scoring a few of his own. Before his last game, I had Cauley-Stein in my line-up before taking him out again, unconvinced he could sustain this play. He then promptly did so. Lesson learned.
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: Semi Ojeleye, Gordon Hayward (Boston), D’Angelo Russell, Jeremy Lin (Boston), Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Zach LaVine, Cameron Payne, Kris Dunn (Chicago), Josh McRoberts, Dorian Finney-Smith, Seth Curry, Nerlens Noel (Dallas), Troy Williams, Nene, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (Houston), Victor Oladipo, Glenn Robinson III, Edmond Sumner (Indiana), Austin Rivers, Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari (L.A. Clippers), Brook Lopez, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lonzo Ball, Tyler Ennis (L.A. Lakers), Wayne Selden, Mike Conley (Memphis), Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota), Andre Roberson, Paul George (Oklahoma City), Furkan Korkmaz, Markelle Fultz, Justin Anderson (Philadelphia), Davon Reed, Alan Williams, Brandon Knight (Phoenix), De’Aaron Fox, Harry Giles (Sacramento), Sheldon Mac (Washington)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your lineups in to tonight’s games.