Ahead of another NBA SuperGame Qualifier, read who Mark Deeks wants in his daily fantasy line-up tonight.
Point guard – Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors: $7.0 million
VanVleet has been the full-time back-up point guard since the injury to Delon Wright, and has been consistently good at it. This has been particularly true lately, having averaged 24.6 fantasy points over the last five games. Despite a slight uptick in his cost, it is so slight as to have been irrelevant, and his production has increased far more than it has.
Shooting guard – Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets: $15.6 million
Harris has been on a tear recently, with his last two games both recording fantasy point totals of a healthy 38.6, and the game before that being an even healthier 41.1. He has been a 20+ real point scorer in each outing, taking on some of the offensive responsibility in the absences of Paul Millsap and (in particular) Nikola Jokic.
Through his own shot-making talents and his almost unrivalled passing ability, Jokic is vital to the Nuggets’ offence, finding every possible cutter whether he is facing the basket or facing away from it, and whether he is standing still or running with the ball. Yet Harris’s own offensive skills have begun to develop beyond the point where he needs setting up for everything. Harris is a creator now, not just a finisher, and while this short-term boon might not last long, it is not a fluke, so buy now.
Small forward – JaKarr Sampson, Sacramento Kings: $6.1 million
Having only played in two of the Kings’ first 22 games, Sampson has played 58 minutes combined over the last two, included a start in the last game in which he recorded 6 points, a steal, and a striking 16 rebounds. Sampson was energetic both on the glass and on defence, using his top-tier athleticism to body up anyone and everyone, including LeBron James, as well as being self-evidently active on the glass.
While his offensive skill is mostly limited to the big dunk at this point, that energy and athleticism was a huge boost to a Kings team that has lacked for both. The Kings’ rotation has been in massive flux all season, but in Sampson, they have found something work sticking with for at least a short while. Sampson will therefore surely be a featured piece in the immediate future.
Small forward – Will Barton, Denver Nuggets: $16.4 million
The Nuggets’ power forward spot is in flux in the absence of Paul Millsap, and despite ostensibly playing the adjacent position, Barton started the last game alongside small forward counterpart Wilson Chandler, who was bumped down a spot. Like Harris above, as one of the Nuggets’ main offensive players, Barton has seen an uptick in his production necessitated by these injuries. He has three 40+ fantasy points in his last six outings, including two in his last three, and a has an average of 31.7 points over the span.
Be warned that there is some variance there. Barton also has two games of only fantasy output in the teens in that span, and as a volume scorer often coming off of the bench, he is only as good on any given night as his shot is. If he is not scoring, then other more well-rounded line-ups are available for his team. So if you risk it, do so with caution.
Power forward – Trey Lyles, Denver Nuggets: $6.5 million
The fact that Barton may have gotten the most recent start does not diminish how well Lyles has begun to play, and how important he now is. Lyles was always good; he only didn’t play at the beginning of the year because of the quality options in front of him. But they aren’t in front of him right now, and Lyles is showing his quality. He has averaged 19.7 fantasy points over the last 8 games, rising to 26,4 over the last three, contributing in every aspect of the stats column.
Power forward – Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks: $6.3 million
We suggested Maxi Kleber as a fantasy pick a few games ago, back when he was just about nudging the low teens in fantasy point outings. We picked him on account of the fact that, by starting every game and bettering the team in doing so if not recording much statistically, his minutes played meant breakout individual games would come individually.
They have now. In his last four games, Kleber has games of 26.4 and 37.5 fantasy points, recording an average of 22.4 fantasy points in that time. Kleber is also largely doing it of late by way of the blocked shot, the joint-highest scoring value one can record in fantasy. If he keeps putting those in on this price, keep buying for a while. And if the three-pointers continue to come too, even better.
Power forward – Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks: $9.0 million
Having squeezed Nerlens Noel (also now injured) out of the rotation, Powell has locked up the third big man spot in what is only a three-man rotation. His numbers on the season (5.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game) are very much on a par with his careers numbers, and he has still yet to realise the stretch potential that will take his game up a level. But the always-productive Powell is on a hot streak right now, averaging 23.8 fantasy points over the last five games. That average would be a lot tastier were it not for a 9.4 point outing last time, but such variance is the risk of any player this cheap. The overall trend is nonetheless good.
Centre – Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics: $6.6 million
Theis is productive in whatever minutes he gets. The only question is how many he gets. And the truthful answer is that, right now, it isn’t a lot. But even in only a few minutes, Theis is producing. He has three 20+ fantasy point outings in the last six games, for an average of 18.4 per game. At the spot that is consistently the most difficult to find cheap value fantasy steals at, he is one.
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown (Boston), Frank Kaminsky, Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Zach LaVine, Cameron Payne, Nikola Mirotic (Chicago), Tristan Thompson, Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert (Cleveland), Seth Curry, Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh McRoberts, Nerlens Noel (Dallas), Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic (Denver), Jon Leuer (Detroit), Chris Boucher, Stephen Curry, Patrick McCaw, Zaza Pachulia (Golden State), Edmond Sumner, Glenn Robinson III, Cory Joseph, Myles Turner (Indiana), Wayne Selden, Mike Conley, Brandan Wright (Memphis), Jabari Parker, Mirza Teletovic, Matthew Dellavedova, Jason Terry (Milwaukee), Alexis Ajinca, Anthony Davis, Solomon Hill, Frank Jackson (New Orleans), Adreian Payne, Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac (Orlando), Willie Cauley-Stein, Harry Giles (Sacramento), Kawhi Leonard, Joffrey Lauvergne, Kyle Anderson (San Antonio), Delon Wright, Lucas Nogueira (Toronto).