Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON. Below is a breakdown of my top picks at each position for tonight’s game.
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Point guard – Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards: $8.7 million
Admittedly buoyed by a period of overtime, Satoransky’s last performance was back more in keeping with what has been his usual level of production since taking over as a regular starter for the injured John Wall. He recorded 19 points and 7 assists on his way to 34.1 fantasy points, and once again looked the high IQ and versatile guard refreshingly not overmatched in such a senior role. If this is to be the norm for his production again, then Satoransky’s status as a fantasy value pick will also become the norm again.
Point guard – Isaiah Thomas, L.A. Lakers: $11.6 million
Even though it was only last season, it has been hard to remember Isaiah at his best considering the struggles (both getting on the court in the first place, and his play once on it) that have befallen him since that time. But prime Isaiah was a very aggressive scorer and shotmaker, be it from outside the arc or on his various floaters around the rim. And although this year’s Isaiah is still yet to get back to that sheer bloody mindedness and uncontrollable scoring bursts, he is at least staying aggressive with his shot selection and putting in the points. Over the last seven games, he has averaged 28.4 fantasy points, and the number keeps creeping up higher.
Point guard – Kobi Simmons, Memphis Grizzlies: $6.0 million
Shooting guard – Ben McLemore, Memphis Grizzlies: $6.3 million
Small forward – Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies: $8.8 million
In the Grizzlies’ last game, they trailed big against the Chicago Bulls, down 20 going into the forth quarter. They did not want to come back. So they put together a line-up featuring these three in the backcourt and on the wings, with Ivan Rabb and Deyonta Davis up front. That line-up ended up coming back to almost win the game against the team’s will – Brooks (39.2 fantasy points) made almost every jump shot he put up from the left wing, Simmons (25.1) put on defensive pressure and ran at every opportunity, and although the always inconsistent McLemore was particularly wild on the night, recording six turnovers, he still put up 31.4 fantasy points on account of his shooting ability. And through these three, the Grizzlies nearly mounted an unlikely, unwanted comeback.
That, then, is the major merit of playing these three players in fantasy right now. If the team wants to ‘play its younger players’, this is the trio that will get the bulk of the time made available. And if they want to try and stay competitive in a game when behind….it’s the same unit, All are cheap and all are getting starters minutes right from. From a fantasy point of view, it matters not why – it matters only that we capitalise on their value.
Small forward – Justin Jackson, Sacramento Kings: $6.6 million
Power forward – Skal Labissiere, Sacramento Kings: $10.5 million
The forward duo of Jackson and Labissiere are two of the younger players that the coded language they used to disguise their tanking – ‘we are evaluating other players’ – directly benefits. Labissiere even got the opportunity to attempt a game-winning shot this past week, and, perhaps causing conflicting emotions within his own team’s management structure, made it.
From a fantasy point of view, Labissiere is further along than Jackson, his fairly smooth face-up offensive game yielding an average of 25.7 fantasy points in the eight games since his return. Jackson, meanwhile, is now a regular starter on the wing, and while his skills are less developed and his game far less smooth, he nevertheless is doing enough to stay out on the court long enough to return a 19.0 fantasy point average over his last six.
Power forward – Larry Nance, Cleveland Cavaliers: $12.0 million
Two games ago – 22 points, 15 rebounds, 47.5 fantasy points. Last time out – 13 points, 13 rebounds, 4 steals, 44.1 fantasy points. Status of Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love – both still out. Conclusion – pick Larry Nance tonight.
Centre – Kosta Koufos, Sacramento Kings: $9.3 million
The caveat to be careful and monitor Koufos’s ability right up until line-ups close is in play once again – the Kings are still benching their veterans for certain games at times, however healthy they are, and it may be Koufos’s turn next. Nevertheless, when he does play, he provides a consistent value – each of his last four games have seen him record between 21.1 and 28.2 fantasy points. So monitor the press releases and keep him in mind tonight.
Centre – Brook Lopez, L.A Lakers: $10.1 million
Amid the more generalised resurgence of the Lakers has been Lopez’s own brief flurry of activity. What has been a generally down year for him (the game looks to have become too quick for him at times, and as much as the addition of a high volume decent efficiency three-point stroke has helped developed his skill set, he now seems to want to do little else, very much limiting himself as a player. Still, when they go in, he has a new kind of usage at a now-low price. And with a 26.7 fantasy point average over his last six games, that price provides value to us here.
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!