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: $13.6 million
Rubio’s recent tear continues, as he continues to call his own number, attack offensively, and play with a scoring confidence not previously seen. This is peak Rubio, the one we have hoped to see for all these years, and long may it continue. Utah’s trade yesterday might only help with this, as with Rodney Hood switched out for Jae Crowder, Utah lost a key halfcourt scorer. They don’t have many. And so if Rubio is now one, it will only help him sustain this hot streak.
Point guard – Ish Smith, Detroit Pistons: $11.3 million
In his last five games, Smith has averaged 28,9 fantasy points, and the Pistons’s deadline day trade for Jameer Nelson will not change that. The trade for Nelson was done to shore up the point guard position behind Smith, where all of Dwight Buycks, Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway had been taking turns to limited effect. But the marginal improvements in the quality of the backup point guard play will not change anything from Smith and the fantasy point of view – he will still get as many minutes as he can handle anyway, and produces within them.
Shooting guard – Avery Bradley, L.A. Clippers: $10.8 million
Bradley’s recent absences combine with his generally-down numbers to have lowered his price on the season thus far to this point, a point at which he should now have fantasy value. He will do, at least, if his first game as a Clipper (26.6 fantasy points) is anything to go by. Bolstering Bradley’s candidacy here is the myriad of injuries that the Clippers currently have at the guard spot – all of Pat Beverley, Austin Rivers, Milos Teodosic and Jawun Evans are set to miss the game, leaving Bradley and Lou Williams as the only two available senior guards. Consider them both with this in mind.
Shooting guard – Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: $12.9 million
Over his last five games, LaVine has averaged 28.6 fantasy points, mostly via the plentiful scoring of real points. He is finding his scoring touch and offensive flow again, and while it is never the easiest thing to do that after such a serious injury, especially when also changing to a completely new team, the signs are there for LaVine fitting back into the fold offensively. Defensively, he is one of the worst wings in the game right now, but fantasy does not capture that well, and luckily, Chicago are committed to playing him anyway.
Shooting guard – Tyler Dorsey, Atlanta Hawks: $5.9 million
As we enter the final third of the season, we are reaching the point where teams of the playoff running air out their hitherto little-used reserves and youngsters, in order to evaluate whether they will be a piece of things going forward. Dorsey, the Hawks’s 2017 second round pick, is one such honoree, and with a 20.5 fantasy point average over the last three games, he is giving us good value at this time. Be advised that senior shooting guard Marco Belinelli was NOT in fact traded despite expectations, and will return tonight, thus possibly affecting Dorsey’s playing time in the short time. But with Belinelli now a buyout candidate instead, it might not be for long.
Small forward – Torrey Craig, Denver Nuggets: $6.0 million
Note that Craig is nursing a slight hamstring strain and is not certain to play, although it is likely that he will. If he does, he will put up the same low-cost, decent-yield three-and-D wing role playing numbers that he has done for a while, with a 17.4 fantasy point average over the past four games.
Small forward – Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons: $9.8 million
With a 30.1 fantasy point average over his past six games, Johnson is breaking out. He is attacking off the dribble more, getting out and running the court, showing poise and improved decision making, and living up to a draft billing he has only ever previously approached in spurts. This too might only be a spurt, but boy does he look good doing it, and with most of his playing time rivals either traded or injured, consider him here.
Power forward – Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Houston Rockets: $7.9 million
Mbah A Moute continues to start at small forward, where he has recorded a fantasy point average of 22.0 fantasy points over the last four games. Each and every one of those four games has seen him return 20.6 and 23.4 fantasy points. It does not get more consistent than that, so know what you are buying here.
Centre – Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics: $7.3 million
The arrival of Greg Monroe has not yet (as of one game, at least) taken away from Theis’s minutes and purpose on the court. With a 19.4 fantasy point average over the past six games, Theis gives the Celtics a rebounding and paint defensive presence. The latter of which Monroe might need alongside him anyway.
Centre – Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers: $8.2 million
Whatever form the Cavaliers take after their deadline day activity, Thompson figures to be a part of it, especially with Kevin Love. He is still not back to his best as a player, reacting slower, losing the ball more, and just down on his general activity level. But he is getting there. And with a 22.9 fantasy point average over the last three games, the value is already there.
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: De’Andre Bembry, Tyler Cavanaugh (Atlanta), Shane Larkin, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward (Boston), Cameron Payne, Kris Dunn, Tony Allen (Chicago), Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, George Hill, Kevin Love, Larry Nance (Cleveland), Tyler Lydon, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee (Denver), Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer (Detroit), Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Zhou Qi, Trevor Ariza (Houston), Darren Collison, Glenn Robinson, T.J.Leaf (Indiana), Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans, Pat Beverley, Austin Rivers (L.A. Clippers), Kelly Olynyk, Rodney McGruder, Dion Waiters (Miami), Mirza Teletovic, Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee), Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca, DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans), Furkan Korkmaz, Demetrius Jackson, Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia), Evan Turner, C.J. Wilcox (Portland), Joe Johnson, Harry Giles, Skal Labissiere, Garrett Temple, De’Aaron Fox, Frank Mason (Sacramento), Thabo Sefolosha, Dante Exum, Jae Crowder (Utah)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!