Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview.
Below is a breakdown of my top picks at each position for tonight’s games at PlayON. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to join a game and win some cash.
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Point guard – Ricky Rubio, Utah Jazz: $13.4 million
Amid a generally down year adjusting to his new team and its slower, more deliberate offence, Rubio has started to find his way. Playing much more decisively than usual has seen him average 39.6 fantasy points over the last six games, doing so improved scoring output of his own. Rubio has forgone the off-the-dribble shooting he attempted earlier in the year in favour of driving to pass, and hitting more open looks than usual. If it continues, he will have strong fantasy value for a while, as the struggles earlier on have kept his price down.
Point guard – Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs: $9.6 million
Murray has not kicked on from the productive start to his career as a regular NBA starting point guard, recording only 18.0 and 19.7 fantasy points in his last two games. Nevertheless, with a 30.4 fantasy point average since taking the gig, he is still one to consider here on a point guard slate that nevertheless has quite a few options.
Point guard – Joe Young, Indiana Pacers: $5.6 million
Shooting guard – Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers: $10.4 million
Victor Oladipo has been out for a couple of games through illness, and his absence is all that is ever needed to make Stephenson (34.8 fantasy point average in that time) a valuable pick. But at point guard, Darren Collison will be out a while long, and although the starting spot has fallen to Cory Joseph ($9.1 million), he has not done much with it. Certainly, he has done little more than Young, a small shooter rather than a pure point who nevertheless recorded 22.4 fantasy points last time out. It may have been a one-off, but the opportunity came about for a reason, and so at least keep an eye on Young here.
Shooting guard – Ian Clark, New Orleans Pelicans: $6.0 million
The knock-on effect of the DeMarcus Cousins injury has been even more small ball than before for the already-small Pelicans, and Clark has become a beneficiary of that. Averaging 18.1 fantasy points, Clark has been a useful addition off the bench, and although he is neither a point guard, nor a defender, nor an efficient or consistent shooter, he does have some good bench scoring stretches like this, so consider him here.
Shooting guard – Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons: $6.1 million
Small forward – Reggie Bullock, Detroit Pistons: $7.6 million
Whereas we normally laud Bullock for the consistency of his output, and say how he always does something if never having any big games, he just had a big game. Bullock recorded 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals last time out for a total of 33.7 fantasy points, and while the latter three columns are anomalies, the first one isn’t. That is what Bullock does not, and it gives him fantasy value even without the other numbers.
Galloway, meanwhile, has finally been entrusted with some playing time. Averaging 21.6 fantasy points over the last two games, Galloway – who previously has had to sit behind two-way contract player Dwight Buycks, despite being such a coveted and pricy offseason acquisition himself – has been given a bit more of a chance as Stan Van Gundy shuffles his options without Reggie Jackson. Neither Galloway or Buycks has proven themselves as being an NBA point guard, so whoever scores the best should get the job, and for now, it is decided that this is Galloway.
Small forward – Royce O’Neale, Utah Jazz: $6.0 million
O’Neale in the Jazz rotation is currently a thing, and he has averaged 29.5 fantasy points over the last three games. He has done so through spotting up, rebounding a bit, moving the ball and being an incisive extra-passer, high IQ stuff that is not new to him for this season. It should therefore continue for as long as his minutes do.
Small forward – Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns: $9.5 million
Despite still being a rookie, Jackson is an increasingly senior presence on the Suns. Indeed, with Devin Booker out last night, he became the main backcourt scorer. With another 16 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, Jackson recorded another 32.5 fantasy points. There is still a lot of nuance to add to his game, not least of which is around reading traps and shot selection, but Jackson’s fantasy value is indisputable right now.
Power forward – Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans: $5.7 million
In DeMarcus Cousins’s absence, the Pelicans have amazingly little big man depth, meaning they have had to turn back to Diallo, who had been out of the rotation in the middle part of the season. Diallo has responded with a 19.8 fantasy point average over the last three games, including one double-double. A capable interior finisher and mid-range shooter, Diallo fouls too much to be reliable, but does have potential – more importantly right now, he does not have much competition for time.
Centre – Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: $8.3 million
Last night was a bit quieter for Allen than the rest of his recent form, as he recorded only 22.9 fantasy points. Yet even that is good value at this price, and it sustains his recent average at 25.6 fantasy points over the past eight games. This is Allen’s nightly range now, it seems, and with Tyler Zeller gone, he should start the season from here on out.
Centre – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: $22.8 million
Over the past six games, Drummond has averaged a whopping 61 fantasy points per game. He puts up plenty of both types of defensive stat, leads the league in rebounds, records nearly four assists per game, and is scoring ever-more as well, already showing good chemistry in linking up with Blake Griffin as a high-low/pick-and-roll option. Drummond was on a storm already before the Griffin deal. but is on even more of one now, and is the highest top-price player in fantasy currently. Very much consider him here.
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: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Quincy Acy, Jeremy Lin (Brooklyn), John Holland, Kevin Love (Cleveland), Jon Leuer, Reggie Jackson, Willie Reed, Dwight Buycks (Detroit), Zhou Qi, Trevor Ariza (Houston), Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Glenn Robinson III (Indiana), Chandler Parsons, Deyonta Davis, Tyreke Evans, Mike Conley (Memphis), Rodney McGruder, Okaro White, Dion Waiters (Miami), Frank Jackson, Alexis Ajinca, Solomon Hill, DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans), Brandon Knight, Alan Williams, Devin Booker, Isaiah Canaan (Phoenix), Rudy Gay, Kawhi Leonard, Brandon Paul (San Antonio), Thabo Sefolosha, Dante Exum (Utah)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!