Welcome to Friday Night in the NBA! Below I’ve given you some of my favorite plays at varying price ranges. And as a side note, remember that the NBA is volatile as far as injuries and lineup changes, so always be sure to keep up with the latest news so you don’t get stuck with a dud. I prefer to use Twitter for my up to the second information. Here’s a very short list of fantasy basketball people I follow who update that kind of information.
Goran Dragic ($7,900) Phx vs Dal
With Eric Bledsoe out of the lineup, “Scorin’ Goran Dragic” is the man in Phoenix right now. Since Bledsoe’s absence, Dragic has averaged 38 fantasy points per game, slightly exceeding his 32.4 fppg average on the season. Expect this trend to continue against a subpar defensive team in Dallas, who gives up an average of 102 points per game (21st in the league).
Tony Parker ($6,900) SA vs Por
Parker is a guy I recommended on Wednesday, and he came through with 39 fantasy points. He has really turned it on in the last four games, and the San Antonio offense now runs through him. That sets up nicely for a matchup with Portland, where Parker should be able to take advantage Damian Lillard’s flighty defense. In an early season contest with the Blazers, TP went for 17 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds (35.5 fantasy points), which I would consider his baseline on Friday.
Raymond Felton ($5,600) NYK vs LAC
Admittedly, this is sort of an “outside the box” pick, but hear me out on this. Since returning from injury, Felton has hit 23-24 fantasy points in every game, logging heavy minutes along the way. Darren Collison, who has taken over the Clippers’ starting PG duties in lieu of Chris Paul, is a shaky defender. In fact, since CP3 went down, the Clippers rank 23rd in defensive efficiency allowed to opposing point guards. The door should be open for Felton to make a fantasy splash.
DeMar DeRozan ($8,200) Tor vs Min
His price has soared all the way to the top of the SG standings, but don’t let that keep you away from Toronto’s budding superstar. Once known as a spotty jump-shooter, DeRozan has transformed his game to consist of rebounds, assists, steals, and free throws to go along with his silky smooth jumper. He is averaging a super-consistent 41 fppg in the month of January, which is actually in the same range as All-Stars like Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James.
Gerald Green ($5,400) Phx vs Dal
He has been pretty inconsistent since handed a starting role earlier this month, but Green is the type of player that can cash in on a good matchup. A likely high-scoring affair with the Mavericks definitely falls into that category. Dallas ranks 19th in defensive efficiency allowed to shooting guards (last 10 games), and Green can take advantage of that (and the pace of this game) with plenty of transition buckets and corner threes.
Courtney Lee ($4,600) Mem vs Sac
Lee has had a roller-coaster of a week so far, hitting 33 fantasy points on Tuesday, then only chipping in a measly 9 on Wednesday. Some people may shy away from him due to that single digit effort, but that could be a mistake against a very generous Sacramento defense. The Kings rank 27th in defensive efficiency versus shooting guards, and Lee should see a full compliment of starters minutes if Tony Allen is ruled out once again.
Josh Smith ($8,400) Det vs Uta
Smith has been stepping up his fantasy game (and real-life game at that) by posting 20 points and 10 rebounds in three of his past four. He’s also a solid bet for 5+ assists and somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 combined blocks and steals. Add that all up, and you have a fantasy monster that has 40-60 fppg potential, especially against a Utah team that ranks in the bottom ten at defending small forwards.
Luol Deng ($7,200) Cle @ Den
After dealing with a nagging Achilles injury, Deng finally looks healthy and ready to take on a huge role for his new team in Cleveland. Luol has hit 39 and 38 fantasy points respectively in his past two games, seeing a steep increase in minutes and shot attempts along the way. I’m thinking we’ll see more of the same when Cleveland takes on the fast-paced Nuggets.
Richard Jefferson ($4,000) Uta @ Det
I’m sticking with Jefferson as my cheap small forward pick, and why not? He posted 31 fantasy points Wednesday against the Spurs, upping his two week average to 25 fppg. He’s in the starting lineup, his minutes don’t fluctuate much below 30-35 per game, and he rarely lays a complete dud. That’s enough for me to be looking Jefferson’s way for some salary relief.
Zach Randolph ($8,400) Mem vs Sac
Z-Bo is coming off one of his worst performances of the season, but he should be ready to capitalize on a stellar matchup against the Kings. Randolph was on a remarkable hotstreak before struggling on Wednesday, and he already torched Sacramento for 22 points and 10 rebounds earlier this season. Odds are that Z-Bo will be starting a new hotstreak on Friday.
J.J. Hickson ($6,100) Den vs Cle
Denver’s frontcourt has been a revolving door this season. Wait; scratch that. They’ve been more like an ipod shuffle: randomly picking a player to seize a lion’s share of the production. However, as of late, JJ Hickson has been playing on repeat with three straight beastly games. With Hickson’s stat lines trending higher and higher (an increasing 35 fppg in his last five), you may want to take this opportunity to get him at a discount, especially against the inefficient Cleveland frontcourt.
Jared Sullinger ($5,400) Bos vs LAL
Speaking of “frontcourt shuffles” (not to be confused with truffle shuffles), Boston is seemingly in the same predicament. First it was Bass, then Humphries, and now it is Sullinger who has the hot (albeit somewhat injured) hand for the Celtics’ bigs. Sully has grabbed double-digit rebounds in his past four games, including a 25 point 20 rebound effort on Wednesday. You can’t always count on his scoring ability, but the boards should be there against a Lakers team that ranks second to last in rebounding rate.
Joakim Noah ($8,400) Chi @ Was
His matchup against Washington is very mediocre, but his recent play cannot be characterized in the same light. Noah has always been a “high motor” player, and he has really kicked it into another gear since the Bulls traded away Luol Deng. Joakim is averaging 44 fppg since that time, which is nearly the same production as a much more expensive center option in DeMarcus Cousins.
Andre Drummond ($7,800) Det vs Uta
Utah has problems containing opposing big men, and quite frankly, everyone has trouble containing Andre Drummond. “Andre the Giant” has reached a double-double in five of his last six games, and as long as he stays out of foul trouble, he should get there again by exploiting Utah’s lagging rebound rate.
Spencer Hawes ($6,900) Phi vs Mia
His production is on the upswing, while his price has remained the same. Hawes is returning back to his early season “All-Star conversation” type of play by taking more shots (averaging 13 per game in past three) and rebounding at a much higher level. Overall, he looks more engaged offensively with Michael Carter-Williams running the show, and the Heat’s soft spot is defending opposing bigs.