Monday January 19th, 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: Elfrid Payton, Magic, +15.8

Payton continued his strong rookie season on Sunday in a 127-99 loss to the Thunder, finishing with 19 points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals. He has increased his scoring significantly over the last four games, averaging 16.5 points to go along with 7.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals. By virtue of playing in the Eastern Conference, the Magic are only 3.5 games out of the playoffs despite having a 15-29 record. While Orlando is unlikely to make a playoff push, it has found its backcourt of the future in Payton and Victor Oladipo.

Forward: Amir Johnson, Raptors, +7.0

While Johnson's primary role with the Raptors is defense, he is also a capable offensive player. In Sunday's loss to the Pelicans, he had 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks to beat his projection. He has been a steady player in his last five games, averaging 11.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals. Johnson isn't a standout player statistically, but he is integral to the Raptors' success this season.

Center: Rudy Gobert, Jazz, +24.6

Gobert has filled this spot regularly for the past month as his Basketball Throwdown hasn't increased proportional to his performance. He continued his strong play in Sunday's loss to the  Spurs as he put up 13 points, 18 rebounds, four blocks and two assists. While he only attempts around five shots per game, Gobert's defense and rebounding are already elite. In his last 11 games, he has averaged 9.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.

Today's picks

Guard: Derrick Rose, Bulls at Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m. ET

After a prolonged midseason slump, Rose has bounced back in his last four games. He has averaged 25.5 points, 8.0 assists and 3.8 rebounds while returning to his MVP-form from 2011. Despite Rose's strong play, the Bulls have lost three of their last four games and will be looking to end their slide against the Cavaliers. Rose scored 30 points against the Cavliers in the preseason and had 20 points in just 25 minutes in November.

Forward: LeBron James, Cavaliers vs. Bulls, 7:30 p.m. ET

Following a two-week absence to recover from knee and back injuries, James has played at an MVP level. He has averaged 33.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists while looking considerably more athletic. While James is playing well again, his projection is just 23 points.

Center: Al Horford, Hawks vs. Pistons, 2:30 p.m. ET

Horford has been a catalyst for the Hawks during their Eastern Conference best 33-8 start to the season. He has beaten his projection in three of his last four games while averaging 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. A matchup with the surging Pistons will require a strong game from Horford for the Hawks to continue their 12-game winning streak.

- Paul Palladino

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