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 – Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves: $7.2 million
In his second stint as a starter, Jones hasn’t exploded statistically in quite the way he did first time. That said, he has still been solid. In the six games he has started in this stint, Jones has averaged 21.1 fantasy points per game, and, considering his knack for racking up steals, there is always the potential for a 30+ point night in there. It is not as though Aaron Brooks is doing anything to encroach on his minutes.
Point guard – Delon Wright, Utah Jazz: $9.5 million
Wright is on an absolute tear. Two games ago, he achieved the remarkable feat of recorded a 20/10 game from the bench, but he certainly did not just barely get there; he recorded 25 points and 13 rebounds, along with 5 assists and 4 steals, for an amazing 61.1 fantasy points. He did this as a backup point guard. And while it was an anomaly to go quite that high, Wright has value even at his regular level of play, averaging 36.4 fantasy points over his past two games with no performance of less than 20 in that time. Wright’s versatility and knack for the defensive stats is hugely valuable in fantasy, and so despite all the other good point guard options available right now, very much consider him here.
Point guard – Dwight Buycks, Detroit Pistons: $6.0 million
Point guard – Ish Smith, Detroit Pistons: $10.6 million
Shooting guard – Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons: $6.5 million
This trio represent pretty much all of the healthy guards that the Pistons have right now, and certainly the current rotation.
Smith starts the game at point guard, and although the script on him is well documented now after so many NBA seasons, his speed and relentlessness make him difficult to stop. Thriving on pushing the ball when he can but also sneaking into the paint in the half-court, Smith has good fantasy value on any night in which he can hit enough of the pull-up two pointers jumpers that the defence give him to outweigh the limitations on spacing he otherwise imposes on the team. In the five games since Reggie Jackson went down, he has averaged 29.4 fantasy points, and represents good mid-range value.
The dirt-cheap value comes from Buycks, who has responded to his call-up into Smith’s normal backup role with aplomb. Recording three straight 20+ fantasy point games, Buycks has averaged 18.9 in this four game stretch, and looks every inch the NBA scorer. Strong, aggressive, able to create off the dribble as well as catch-and-shoot from outside, Buycks is drawing defensive attention when he wasn’t even in the league at Christmas. He is to draw your attention here too.
Alongside them both, Kennard has averaged 19.0 fantasy points over the last four games. He also pulled off quite a rare feat last time out when he recorded 15.5 fantasy points despite not scoring a single actual point. Kennard did so via two steals, five rebounds and three assists – if he can continue to post versatile numbers like that while also getting back to dropping the three-pointers for which he is mostly in the game, then he could have very strong fantasy value going forward.
Shooting guard – Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets: $8.6 million
Harris is outplaying Allen Crabbe in front of him. Mixing in his primary weapon of his steady and efficient three-point stroke with some timely driving and crafty finishing considering his lack of elite athleticism, Harris is now a key bench performer for the injured Nets and has recorded an average of 21.7 fantasy points over the last five games.
Small forward – Gerald Green, Houston Rockets: $6.0 million
Green is now up to 16.5 points per game on the season, a number that includes his 0 points on debut. Even though he took 14 shots to get them, he recorded another 15 points last time out, gunning up the shots as only he does and not doing a whole bunch else. He does not need to do a whole bunch else for fantasy purposes, and nor does fantasy record or care about the efficiency they come on. For the minimum possible fantasy price, Green is currently an absolute steal.
Small forward – Reggie Bullock, Detroit Pistons: $6.9 million
Bullock’s balance as a shooter, even when catching on the move, is enviable and rare, and gives him value as a shooter as long as he can get shots and minutes. He is proving to be similarly balanced as a fantasy option, with six of his last seven performances recording between 18.5 and 26.4 fantasy points, all very good value at this price. The other game was a mere 7.2 point performance in a blowout loss. But everyone has a bad game every once in a while, and for such a cheap player, Bullock is having very, very few.
Power forward – Trey Lyles, Denver Nuggets: $9.5 million
In what is our thirteenth consecutive recommendation of Lyles, we hereby recommend Trey Lyles as a pick. He is good every game – ridiculously solid again last time out with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 29.8 fantasy points – and will surely go up in price once the algorithms come back from their long Christmas break. If you don’t pick, OK, but rare is the line-up into which he doesn’t fit, both in real life and in fantasy play.
Power forward – Eric Moreland, Detroit Pistons: $6.1 million
In our fantasy picks round-up of three days ago, we suggested Pistons third string centre Boban Marjanovic as a pick after he had started the previous game in the absence of Andre Drummond. Drummond promptly returned, but then went out again last time out, still struggling with painful ribs. This time however it was Moreland who got the start, and he produces. Athletic and long limbed if rail thin, Moreland has been Drummond’s primary backup at centre the whole year, and while his small minutes and non-existent scoring numbers normally prohibit any kind of fantasy value for him even at this price, it seems that changes if ever he gets starters minutes. An irritating defender on the interior who can also step up on switches, Moreland recorded 8 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block for 31.6 fantasy points – keep your eyes on whether Drummond is able to play tonight right up until the deadline, and if he is not, this might be worth the risk.
Centre – Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers: $6.7 million
Thompson continues his improved play of late. Over the last four games he has averaged 21.8 fantasy points, starving to carve back out the place in the Cavaliers’ rotation that he had lost due to both injury and small ball. He is averaging 9.0 points and 7.3 rebounds over that span, almost back to where he was at his peak, while the price still reflects what he is at his lowest. Take advantage.
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, De’Andre Bembry (Atlanta), Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert (Brooklyn), Zach LaVine, Cameron Payne (Chicago), Iman Shumpert, John Holland, Derrick Rose (Cleveland), Paul Millsap (Denver), Jon Leuer, Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson (Detroit), Kevin Durant, Chris Boucher (Golden State), James Harden, Troy Williams, Nene, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (Houston), Edmond Sumner, Glenn Robinson III, Bojan Bogdanovic (Indiana), Danilo Gallinari, Austin Rivers, Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic (L.A. Clippers), Mirza Teletovic, Jabari Parker (Milwaukee), Jeff Teague (Minnesota), Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca, Tony Allen (New Orleans), Harry Giles, Frank Mason, Zach Randolph, George Hill (Sacramento), Rudy Gay, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in to tonight’s games.