Monday January 12th, 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.

Sunday's overachievers

Guard: Mike Conley, Grizzlies, +8.4

Conley flirted with a triple-double and led the Grizzlies to a double-overtime victory over the Suns on Sunday. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal, but also turned the ball over seven times. In his eighth year with the Grizzlies, Conley is scoring a career-high 18.3 points per game. While the Grizzlies have cooled since their blistering start to the season, they are tied for third in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies will need Conley to continue his standout play to hold off the Mavericks, Clippers and Spurs for homecourt advantage in the first round.

Forward: Zach Randolph, Grizzlies, +19.4

Conley wasn't the only Grizzlies player to put up big numbers on Sunday against the Suns as Randolph recorded a double-double. He finished with 27 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and seven turnovers in his second game since missing nine straight with a knee injury. The 33-year-old power forward is sometimes the team's third option now behind Conley and Marc Gasol, but he is still a lethal player down low. With the impending addition of Jeff Green from the Celtics, Randolph and the Grizzlies have a legitimate chance to win the Western Conference.

Center: DeMarcus Cousins, Kings, +20.1

Cousins teamed with Rudy Gay to lead the Kings to a blowout win over the Cavaliers on Sunday. While Gay had 23 points, Cousins finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks en route to a 62.1-point performance. Sacramento's season has been in a tailspin since Cousins missed time with viral meningitis and the team subsequently fired coach Mike Malone. The team's struggles, however, can't be blamed on Cousins who is setting career-highs in scoring (23.9 ppg) and rebounding (12.3 rpg).

Today's picks

Guard: Brandon Jennings, Pistons at Raptors, 7:30 p.m.

The Pistons have won eight of their last nine games since releasing Josh Smith, and Jennings has seen the biggest uptick in his performance. He is averaging 18.8 points, 6.7 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 41.1 percent on three-pointers. Before Christmas, Jennings arguably the worst season of his career, averaging a career-low 12.6 points, but has rebounded in a major way. Detroit has pulled to within three games of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with plenty of time to close the gap.

Forward: Brandon Bass, Celtics vs. Pelicans, 7:30 p.m.

Trades sending Jeff Green to the Grizzlies and Brandan Wright to the Suns have opened up minutes in Boston's crowded frontcourt for Bass. While he still faces competition for playing time, he has beaten his projection in three straight games. Because of his limited playing time, Bass has a very reachable 15-point projection tonight against the Pelicans. While the Celtics are unlikely to make a playoff push after dealing their top players in the past month, Bass is auditioning for a potential trade to a contender.

Center: Nikola Vucevic, Magic at Bulls, 8:00 p.m.

Coming off a career-high 34-point game on Saturday, Vucevic is the pick on Monday against the Bulls. He has beaten his projection in three of his last five games and has been one of the top centers all season. He is scoring a career-high 18.4 points per game while shooting 52.5 percent from the field. He will face stiff competition against Chicago's skilled frontline, but is the best center option nonetheless.

- Paul Palladino

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