Monday December 15th, 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.

Sunday's overachievers

Guard: Jrue Holiday, Pelicans, +22.1

Despite star Anthony Davis missing the game with a chest injury, Holiday nearly led the Pelicans to an upset of the first-place Warriors before the team in overtime. He matched his season-high with 30 points and added nine assists, five steals, three rebounds and a block. Holiday has been red-hot during his last five games, averaging 22.2 points, 8.4 assists and 2.0 steals as the Pelicans have gone 3-2. If New Orleans is going to make the playoffs in the uber-competitive Western Conference, Holiday will need to continue his strong play for the rest of the season.

Forward: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs, +26.8

After missing two games with a hand injury, Leonard returned to the starting lineup on Sunday and led the Spurs to a 99-91 win over the Nuggets on the road. He had 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but he was truly special on defense as he had six blocks and five steals. His 54.6-point night nearly doubled his 28-point projection. Despite shooting a career-low 31.1 percent on three-pointers, Leonard is putting up the best stats of his career. As long as the hand injury doesn't linger, he is an excellent choice in Basketball Throwdown.

Center: Rudy Gobert, Jazz, +8.8

With starter Derrick Favors out with a sprained ankle, Gobert got the first start of his career on Sunday against the Wizards. While his offensive game is still a work in progress, he is a legitimate rim protector in his second season. Gobert is averaging 1.7 blocks per game in just 17.1 minutes of playing time and had three in 31 minutes on Sunday. The 22-year-old French center has made significant strides since being sent to the D-League multiple times last season.

Today's picks

Guard: Michael Carter-Williams, 76ers vs. Celtics, 7 p.m.

Carter-Williams has continued to pile up big stats on a bad team during his second season with the 76ers. He is coming off a triple-double against the Grizzlies on Saturday, which was marred by six turnovers. Carter-Williams has been on a tear during his last eight games, averaging 17.0 points, 11.3 assists and 9.0 rebounds, but has also turned the ball over 5.6 times per game. A matchup with the Celtics, the third-worst defensive team in the league, should allow Carter-Williams to flirt with a triple-double once again.

Forward: LeBron James, Cavaliers vs. Hornets, 7 p.m.

James quieted any fears over his health after missing Thursday's showdown with the Thunder. On Friday, he dominated the Pelicans while matching his season-high with 41 points and adding five rebounds and five assists. Since returning to the Cavaliers, James has taken on a larger role of the playmaking duties and is averaging 7.6 assists per game. With old rival Lance Stephenson and the Hornets coming to town, James will likely look to make another statement tonight.

Center: Larry Sanders, Bucks at Suns, 9 p.m.

Sanders' career has nose-dived since signing a four-year, $44 million contract extension before last season. While he is still in the starting lineup, he is only playing 21.7 minutes per game for first-year head coach Jason Kidd. With inconsistent playing time, Sanders' statistics have varied wildly this season. His per-36 numbers are pretty much the same as they have been his entire career so his 22-point projection tonight is within reach if he gets enough minutes. The Suns are an undersized team and Sanders should be able to control the game for the Bucks on Monday.

- Paul Palladino

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