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FantasyDraft NBA: Friday Picks

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

Friday night’s medium-sized, six-game slate presents an abundance of appealing value plays, particularly at guard. That should enable plenty of lineup flexibility, and a potential Rockets-Suns shootout to wrap up the night is enticing as well. Without further delay, let’s examine who’s worthy of your dollars:

GUARDS

Chris Paul, HOU at PHO ($18,700): Paul went off for a season-high 70.25 fantasy points against the Blazers on Wednesday and has scored no less than 48.75 in four of the five games that James Harden has missed with a hamstring injury. He’s sporting a 29.8 percent usage rate and averaging 1.50 fantasy points per minute over that span, and he’ll be in a good spot to continue generating that caliber of production against a Suns squad that’s allowed the most fantasy points (52.5) to point guards on the season, including 59.7 over the last five. They’re also surrendering the second-highest shooting percentage (45.0) to the position on the campaign, while Paul is shooting an impressive 46.4 percent over his last three contests.

Devin Booker, PHO vs. HOU ($14,700): Booker will be poised to exploit a Rockets defense that’s actually seen a defensive downgrade against two-guards with Harden out of the lineup. Houston has allowed 59.3 fantasy points to the position over the five games he’s missed, fourth-most over that span and a notably higher figure than the 45.3 they’ve surrendered on the season. Meanwhile, Booker has scored no less than 33.75 fantasy points in nine of his last 10 games, a stretch in which he’s averaged 1.23 fantasy points per minute and exceeded 43.00 fantasy points on six occasions.

Allen Crabbe, BKN at ATL ($9,900): There are plenty of appealing affordable options at guard, including Crabbe’s teammate Caris LeVert ($10,800), Gerald Green ($10,800), E’Twaun Moore ($9,600), and Malcolm Delaney ($7,500). However, Crabbe is in a favorable spot as a sub-$10K starter against a Hawks squad that’s been a sieve against two-guards all season. Atlanta has allowed the third-most fantasy points (50.1) to shooting guards on the season, including 63.4 over the last five games. They’ve also yielded bottom-five figures in several other categories to the position -- including made three-pointers (4.0) -- while Crabbe has posted a 47.8 percent success rate from behind the arc over his last three games on an average of 7.7 three-point attempts.

FORWARDS/CENTERS

Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL vs. GS ($21,000): Antetokounmpo doesn’t always deliver enough value on what is typically a $20K-plus price tag, but Friday shapes up as a night where he certainly has a chance to. The Greek Freak has turned in a couple of “down” performances in his last two games, scoring 34.25 and 37.25 fantasy points, respectively. However, he’d gone off for 66.00 points three games ago, and the Warriors have given up the sixth-most fantasy points (46.2) to power forwards on the campaign. They’ve also allowed bottom-five figures to the position in points (22.1) and rebounds (11.8), and are playing at a pace that’s generating a league-high 106.2 possessions per game on the road.

Clint Capela, HOU at PHO ($14,600): Like Paul, Capela has been heavily involved with Harden on the shelf, as he’s posted three double-doubles and scored between 30.00 and 44.00 fantasy points in four of the five games the latter has missed. Capela also posted an efficient 12-point, 10-rebound double-double in just 21 minutes against this same Suns squad on Nov. 16, and Phoenix continues to be highly vulnerable to centers. The Suns have allowed the second-most fantasy points (43.8) to fives over the last 10 games, along with the fifth-most points (16.4) and fourth-most rebounds (11.3) to the position on the season. Moreover, Capela should be able to benefit from the fact that Phoenix is playing at a pace that generating the second-most possessions (104.5) at home on the season.

JaMychal Green, MEM at DEN ($8,700): Trey Lyles ($11,400) and Al-Farouq Aminu ($8,700) are also viable options at the affordable tier, but Green is in an appealing selection in his own right. He exploded for 47.00 fantasy points against the Pelicans on Wednesday, and he’d scored between 21.25 and 29.50 fantasy points in four of his previous five games. Green boasts a solid 23.6 percent usage rate and is averaging 1.13 fantasy points per minute over that span, while the Nuggets have allowed the second-most fantasy points (47.3) to power forwards on the season, including the most (57.0) over the last 10.

UTILITY

Ersan Ilyasova, ATL vs. BKN ($10,900): Ilyasova has scored between 24.75 and 35.25 fantasy points in the last six games and is averaging 10.9 shot attempts over the last 10, with the latter figure representing a tangible bump up from the 9.1 per game he’s averaging on the season. The boost in usage has led to a solid average of 14.3 points (on 46.7 percent shooting, including 45.2 percent from three-point range) during the last 10 contests, and Friday shapes up as another potentially prolific night for the veteran. The Nets come in allowing 44.4 fantasy points per game to power forwards on the season -- including 48.1 over the last 10 contests – along with the second-highest shooting percentage (49.0).

Mason Plumlee, DEN vs. MEM ($8,400): Plumlee is priced right for a player that’s scored no less than 23.00 and as many as 34.50 fantasy points in his last five games, a stretch during which the big man is averaging an impressive 1.22 fantasy points per minute. The aforementioned numbers represent solid-to-excellent returns on his current price, and Plumlee should also see plenty of rebounding opportunities against a Grizzlies squad that’s currently sporting the fourth-lowest team shooting percentage (44.4). Moreover, Memphis has been more vulnerable to power forwards lately, as they’ve allowed 47.5 fantasy points to the position over the last five games, along with the seventh-highest shooting percentage (53.0).

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