Friday January 9th, 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 its 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: Kemba Walker, Hornets, +21.4

Walker has been on fire for the past week and led the Hornets to their fourth straight win on Thursday over the Raptors. While his streak of 30-point games ended at three, he had 29 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals. In his last four games, he is averaging 30.8 points, 5.8 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Following a dismal start to the season, the Hornets are only two games behind the Heat for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Forward: Donatas Motiejunas, Rockets, +13.9

After briefly moving to the bench when Josh Smith was signed, Motiejunas has played well in his return to the starting lineup. In Thursday's blowout win against the Knicks, he had 17 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. The Rockets have gone 3-1 since Motiejunas rejoined the starters and he has averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals. A better fit alongside Dwight Howard than Josh Smith, Motiejunas is a good option moving forward.

Center: Chris Kaman, +0.8

It was not an impressive night for centers across the league as Kaman was the top performer by barely beating his projection. He had 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in the Trail Blazers' win over the Heat on Thursday. The 32-year-old Kaman doesn't have a large enough role in Portland to be a pick in Basketball Throwdown and Robin Lopez's eventual return from injury will further limit his playing time.

Today's picks

Guard: Derrick Rose, Bulls at Wizards, 8:00 p.m. ET

Rose has rightfully brushed aside his recent slump as "just part of basketball" and he is due to breakout on Friday against the Wizards. He thrives in matchups with other elite point guards so a matchup with John wall should bring out the best in him tonight. Because he has only beaten his projection twice in his last five games, he is slated for a manageable 30 points against the Wizards. In a national television matchup, Rose will bring his A-game on Friday.

Forward: Kevin Love, Cavaliers at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET

With LeBron James out of the lineup, Love has stepped into a larger role since returning from a back injury. While the Cavs have lost three of their last four games, Love has returned to All-Star form, averaging 25.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Love and Kyrie Irving will need to have big games against the first-place Warriors to keep the game close in Oakland.

Center: Andre Drummond, Pistons vs. Hawks, 7:30 p.m. ET

The Pistons are riding a seven-game winning streak since cutting Josh Smith, and Drummond has been a major reason for their success. He has beaten his projection in five straight games, averaging 13.0 points, 18.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.6 steals. Drummond's offensive game still has a ways to go, but his defense and rebounding will be key for the Pistons to continue their strong play. The Pistons are just 2.5 games out of the playoffs, and a win over the Hawks would be a statement victory.

- Paul Palladino

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