How did LeBron and the Big Men do yesterday? Well, Mr. James finished with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 10 assists, DeMarcus Cousins and Joakim Noah each finished with at least 14 rebounds, and Tim Duncan had five blocks. Even Devin Harris had 18 points. Of our optimized lineup, only Marc Gasol and Marcus Thornton produced below expectation. That's yet another rousing success.
And we're back to do it once more. Through the power of Math!, we've optimized the best possible roster for your Daily Fantasy needs, using the cost figures and scoring system from our friends at StarStreet as a guide.
As always, the full tables for today's action are available at our Daily Fantasy Projections page. But I'm here to break down the best of the best and tell you why they're so valuable.
The numberFire Optimized Roster
Blake Griffin - Fearing a drop-off in dishes to Blake with Chris Paul still out? You may be right... because it's more likely to have Blake be the one doing the dishing. His 18.8 percent assist percentage is third on the Clippers behind the two point guards Paul and Bledsoe, and he's put up at least five assists in each of his past three games.
Dwyane Wade - Ah yes, the Wade v. Kobe matchup. For my fake StarStreet money, give me the value play in Wade. Bryant's 108 defensive rating is his highest since the '06-'07 season, and the Lakers as a team are in the bottom half of the league in defensive rating (21st), opponent effective field goal percentage or eFG% (17th), and turnovers forced percentage (26th).
Greg Monroe - We project him to have 16.1 points against the Knicks today. But based on recent performance, that number might be a bit low. He's posted at least 18 points in four of his past five games, including 26 against Milwaukee last Friday. And the Knicks defense isn't the strength of their team, sitting in 17th of defensive rating and 25th in opponents' eFG%.
J.R. Smith - But then again, the Pistons have some misgivings on defense as well, especially at shooting guard. On the season, Pistons SGs are posting a net Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of -4.7 as compared to their opponents this year, letting them shoot an average .481 eFG% from the floor. J.R. Smith and his 25 percent usage rating should take advantage quite nicely.
Nikola Pekovic - He's not the best value on the board, but then again, the big men crop is much weaker today than it was yesterday. If you're going to attack the Clippers, do it from the center position: it's the only spot on the floor where they're giving up more points than they're scoring this year. Couple that with Minnesota's insane rebounding percentages (third in the NBA offensively and first defensively), and Pekovic stands out in a weak crowd.
Steve Nash - Who is LeBron James going to guard? Chances are, it won't be Nash, and going against Chalmers or Allen (or even Wade) instead should allow him some playmaking space. The Miami Heat have a net PER of at least 1.4 or greater at every single position... except PG. There, opponents are exponentially more efficient, posting an average 15.0 PER against Miami's weak 10.6 Player Efficiency Rating.
Eric Bledsoe - His cost has risen more than $4,000 from when we had him on this list on Tuesday, but that doesn't mean the value's not still there. Chris Paul is likely to miss his third straight game, and Bledsoe should take advantage. He's averaged 16.5 points, 5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2 steals in his past two games with Paul out.
Goran Dragic - He missed practice on Wednesday, but early reports out of Phoenix are that he'll be just fine for Thursday's game. And if he plays at least 30 minutes (as he's done in eight of his past 10 games), then he'll get his chances. Both the Suns and the Bucks are in the top half of the league in terms of quickest game place, and Dragic has the second-highest offensive rating on the team behind Jared Dudley.
Ray Allen - His minutes are slowly starting to increase; he's posted at least 23 minutes in three of his past four games. And if he gets the opportunities, then he's almost a sure thing to take advantage. Allen's .578 eFG% is second on the team behind LeBron, and if he had enough shots to qualify, would be seventh in the NBA.
Your medium-sized sleeper of the day is Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons may need him to carry more of the load tonight against the Knicks, especially since he will likely be guarded by a combination of Ronnie Brewer and Steve Novak. Brewer's current 106 defensive rating is his highest since his Utah days, and Novak's 111 defensive rating is the single-highest mark on the team. As I said earlier, the Knicks are 25th in opponents' eFG%, so he should get a few open looks. He's not Detroit's No. 1 option, especially with Rodney Stuckey likely to play, but is still good value for $8,100.
Your deep sleeper of the day is Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat. Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh are likely to be matched up against one another. So that means that when he's on the floor (and we project him at around 22 minutes), Haslem gets... Earl Clark? Antawn Jamison? A returning-from-injury Pau Gasol? Any of those options would be fine with Haslem, who should see higher than his normal 10.7 percent usage rating tonight.
Stay away from Pau Gasol of the Lakers today. Yes, it may seem tempting to go for the big man before his value shoots back up. But how much higher could it possibly shoot? At $12,300, he's already the sixth-highest valued big man on StarStreet's list today. And that's before realizing that, oh yeah, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni says that Gasol's coming off the bench for today's game. Against Toronto he should be fine to play, but not today. Not when his minutes are still in a state of uncertainty.
The game to watch today is Knicks/Pistons. Sure, the Heat/Lakers matchup will be fun as always, but I personally want to see A. whether Tyson Chandler receives a full slate of minutes and B. whether the Knicks' surprisingly weak defense will allow some Pistons players to break out.