Monday January 5th, 2015

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: Brandon Jennings, Pistons, +21.9

After a strong individual start to the season for the Pistons, Jennings went into a month-long slump that saw him shoot just 30.7 percent from the field and average 10.3 points per game. Just like the rest of the Pistons, however, he has played better since Josh Smith was released. He scored a season-high 35 points on Sunday against the Kings and added seven assists, two steals and two rebounds. During Detroit's five-game winning streak, Jennings has averaged 21.6 points, 5.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting 55.8 percent from the field.

Forward: James Johnson, Raptors, +12.4

Now in his sixth season out of Wake Forest, Johnson's offensive game has never developed to match his first-round draft pick status, but he plays within himself for the Raptors. He had 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block against the Suns on Sunday to easily blow past his 20-point projection. The 6-foot-9 forward is more consistent on defense, highlighted by a four-block, four-steal game earlier this season, but is capable of the occasional breakout game on offense, too.

Center: Zaza Pachulia, Bucks, +22.3

Since replacing Larry Sanders in the starting lineup last month, Pachulia has helped lead the Bucks to a 4-2 record. Pachulia had 16 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two steals in Sunday's win against the hapless Knicks. It was his third double-double in his last six games and he has averaged 12.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals since Christmas. With Sanders not expected to return to the team any time soon, Pachulia is a good option as long as his projection is below 20 points.

Today's picks

Guard: Klay Thompson, Warriors vs. Thunder, 10:30 p.m.

Thompson has only beaten his projection once in his last five games, but he has averaged less than 26 minutes in Golden State's last three games, all blowout victories. A matchup with the Thunder promises to be a competitive game that will see him get extended playing time. Thompson has continued his steady progress and is averaging career bests of 21.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 43.1 percent on three-pointers this season.

Forward: Kevin Love, Cavaliers at 76ers, 7:00 p.m.

With LeBron James out with knee and back injuries and Kyrie Irving also out of the lineup with a back injury, Love will have to carry the Cavaliers' offense on Monday against the lowly 76ers on the road. During Sunday's loss to the Mavericks, he scored a season-high 30 points and added 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. While the 76ers have the worst record in the league, the Cavaliers will need a strong game from Love to win without James and Irving on Monday.

Center: Rudy Gobert, Jazz vs. Pacers

Because Enes Kanter will sit out with an ankle injury, Gobert will get another start on Monday against the Pacers. The second-year center has been a fantasy stud thanks to his low projections and is slated for just 17 points tonight. He has beaten his projection in four of his last five games, including a 13-point, 11-rebound, six-rebound performance on Saturday against the Timberwolves. Gobert has taken advantage of his playing time this season and should have a big night against the Pacers.

- Paul Palladino

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