Friday December 12th, 2014

Ready to show your friends you know more about the NBA than they do? FanNation's Basketball Throwdown fantasy basketball game is your best option. You pick a guard, forward and center who you think will exceed their fantasy projections. The scoring system takes into account points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals and turnovers. The team that surpasses their projections by the most wins, so picking a lineup of Stephen Curry LeBron James and Joakim Noah is no sure-fire path to victory. You can also bet anywhere from $1 to $500 on each night's matchup or play for free.

I'll give you my picks each day and a recap of yesterday's top performers so you can get bragging rights over your friends.

Sign up for tonight's Basketball Throwdown here.

Thursday's overachievers

Guard: James Harden, Rockets, +22.8

With Dwight Howard still out of the lineup, Howard carried the Rockets to an overtime victory over the Kings on Thursday night. Harden scored 10 of his 44 points in overtime and added eight assists, four rebounds, three steals and a block. He has been scorching hot over his last six games, averaging 31.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.7 steals. Harden has overtaken Kobe Bryant as the league's leading scorer and has led the Rockets to an 8-3 record since Howard went down.

Forward: Jason Thompson, Kings, +14.5

Just as Harden's stats have risen with Howard out of the lineup, Thompson had a big night on Thursday with DeMarcus Cousins out with viral meningitis. He blew past his 20-point projection recording a double-double with 13 points, 15 rebounds, one assist and one steal. Thompson is scoring a career-low 5.4 points per game this season, but has averaged 11.5 points and 10.3 over his last four games. With Cousins unlikely to return any time soon, Thompson should have an increased role in Sacramento's offense.

Center: Steven Adams, Thunder, +3.0

Thursday was an unimpressive night for centers and Adams was the best of the bunch in Basketball Throwdown. He had eight points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in the Thunder's win over the Cavaliers. On a team where Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook carry the offense, the 21-year-old Adams doesn't need to worry about offense and can focus on rebounding and defense. He took over the starting role from Kendrick Perkins and is averaging 7.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 24.3 minutes per game.

Today's picks

Guard: Rajon Rondo, Celtics vs. Knicks, 7:30 p.m.

Rondo has been extremely hit or miss in his last five games. While he has recorded three triple-doubles, he also put up a pair of duds where he didn't even reach 20 points in Basketball Throwdown. A Friday night matchup against the Atlantic Division rival New York Knicks should bring out the best of Rondo. His 10.8 assists per game lead the league as do his four triple-doubles. He is as good a bet as anyone in the league to have a triple-double tonight against the struggling Knicks.

Forward: Nicolas Batum, Trail Blazers at Bulls, 7:00 p.m.

For the second year in a row, the Trail Blazers started the season strong, but Batum has struggled. His 8.7 points per game is the lowest mark since his rookie season and his 37.5 percent shooting from the field is a career-low. As a result of his slow start, Batum's Basketball Throwdown projection is just 22 points tonight against the Bulls. He is too talented of a player to continue shooting the ball so poorly and should breakout soon.

Center: Andre Drummond, Pistons at Suns, 9:00 p.m.

For all the talent in Phoenix's backcourt, the Suns don't have a big man that can matchup with Drummond's combination of size and athleticism. The 21-year-old has had an up and down start to his third season as the Pistons have started 3-19 and lost thirteen straight. The losing streak will likely continue tonight, but Drummond should put up some big numbers against the undersized Suns.

- Paul Palladino

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