Fantasy NBA expert Mark Deeks is here to help you pick the best line up possible. Check out his preview of tonight’s slate before picking your PlayON team.
Point guard – Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics: $8.2 million
There is still a chance that Kyrie Irving, listed as “questionable”, might not play tonight. Regardless of whether he does or not, Rozier is my pick for point guard.
Though he is too small to defend/play anywhere but the point guard spot, and despite Irving and Marcus Smart ostensibly being ahead of him in the rotation, Rozier does too much on the court to be ignored.
Smart’s ability to defend other positions allows the pair to often see the court together, meaning both see steady minutes in every game. While Rozier is neither a reliable half-court point guard nor a consistent outside shooter, his defensive pressure, transition game, slashing abilities and extremely good rebounding for his position all allow him to contribute to the box score.
Rozier averages 24.8 minutes per game even when ranking as the third best point guard on the depth chart. He plays, and plays well, regardless of Kyrie’s injury status. And if Kyrie does not player, he’ll be even better.
Shooting guard – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $24.7 million
Harden does so much with the ball, it is hard to envisage how to take it out of his hands more when Chris Paul returns.
Paul has yet to take the court since opening night, and in his stead, Harden has averaged 30.2 points, 10.2 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. He’s been unstoppable going to the basket, or just raising up and shooting from three, and has been sending a relentless barrage of passes around and to the perimeter right into the shooter’s pocket.
So far Harden has been a relentless offensive freight train, with pretty much nobody performing better for fantasy purposes than him.
Shooting guard – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn Nets: $13.5 million
Hollis-Jefferson continues to start every game he is healthy for, and improves slightly each time.
Aside from a 4 point, 2 rebound outing in which he suffered an injury, RHJ is proving increasingly reliable for recording points totals in the teens, alongside a steady contribution of rebounds, assists and high value defensive statistics.
His season averages of 14.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game speak to this versatility and dependability.
Small forward – Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics: $8.4 million
With or without Irving, Brown is getting it done. He recorded 18 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 30.1 fantasy points in his last game versus the Toronto Raptors, numbers entirely in keeping with his season averages, and identical to his fantasy points average. No other wing player will score you this much for the cheap, and, if you have not been the beneficiary of Brown’s breakout season before this, do so now.
Small forward – Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs: $7.5 million
Anderson continues to provide a very low-cost fantasy contribution.
He recorded 13 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, a steal and 26.1 fantasy points in the last game – admittedly against a listless Bulls team that could not do anything right. He also had a double-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block in the game before that.
Anderson averages 26 fantasy points at a price range you would normally expect players to average about 12. His value here is tremendous.
Power forward – LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs: $19.4 million
With Kawhi Leonard having missed the whole year, Aldridge has been the offensive lynchpin for the Spurs, a task to which he has responded. He has averaged 21.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 blocks per game, taking on a larger share of the load yet also matching the highest true shooting percentage of his career (56.5%).
Aldridge is a reliable presence in the low post and the left elbow, and while the undermanned, over-exposed team has sometimes struggled to score around him, Aldridge is coming through whenever they can get him the ball enough. He is consistent, too, scoring double figures in every game, only once not recording a block, and only twice not recording an assist.
A consistent 20+ points per game plus a healthy and reliable bevy of higher value extra statistics is of stand-out value at this price on a three-game slate.
Centre – Clint Capela, Houston Rockets: $17.8 million
Capela is averaging career highs thus far this season in every major statistical category. He is averaging 13.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.3 assists and 0.9 steals per game, shooting 69.6% from the field and a much-improved 70.3% from the line. His true shooting percentage is 70.8%, his PER is 27.6, and his rise to stardom is almost complete.
At this point, Capela is almost as close is reasonably possible to a surefire double double; in the fourteen games thus far, he has had eight of them, and never being that far away from the other six. And at this price, Capela shines amongst his big man peers. Pau Gaso’s $17.5 million cost yields only 10.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 blocks per game averages, while Serge Ibaka’s $16.7 million returns only 13.3 ppg/5.6 rpg/1.0 bpg.
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward (Boston), D’Angelo Russell, Jeremy Lin, Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn), Devin Harris, Josh McRoberts, Seth Curry (Dallas), Chris Paul. Nene (Houston), Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Derrick White, Danny Green, Joffrey Lauvergne (San Antonio), Norman Powell (Toronto)