Friday January 23rd, 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: Avery Bradley, Celtics, +9.8

With Trail Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge out of the lineup, Bradley led the Celtics to an upset win on the road. He finished with 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal while helping hold Damian Lillard to eight of 23 shooting. After shooting 39.5 percent on three pointers last season, Bradley has dropped down to 34.8 percent this year. Already in his fifth season, he is unlikely to improve very much as a shooter, but he's one of the best defenders in the league.

Forward: Brandon Bass, Celtics, +19.5

Bass got the start on Thursday and took advantage of an injury-ravaged Trail Blazers frontcourt. He piled up 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, one block and one steal against a Portland team missing both Aldridge and Robin Lopez. His playing time has fallen significantly this season as the Celtics have given extended minutes to their young players, but he has done well on a per-36 minute basis (17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds). The Celtics might keep Bass in the lineup to showcase him for a potential trade.

Center: Enes Kanter, Jazz, +21.2

While teammate Rudy Gobert has been a standout for the past month, Kanter had the better performance in Thursday's win over the Bucks. Starting alongside Gobert in a supersized frontcourt, Kanter had 23 points, 16 rebounds, two steals and a block. He is averaging 14.0 points and 7.6 rebounds in just 27 minutes of playing time this season and has increased his scoring and rebounding each season of his career. Kanter is a good option when his projection is under 30 points.

Today's picks

Guard: J.R. Smith, Cavaliers vs. Hornets, 7:30 p.m.

Smith has been revitalized since his trade to the Cavaliers from the Knicks, beating his projection in five straight games. Since joining Cleveland, he has averaged 14.6 points and 1.9 steals while starting seven of eight games. The Hornets have won eight of their last 10 and should pose a challenge to the Cavaliers on Friday. Smith's 22-point projection is well within his reach and he should get the playing time to surpass it.

Forward: Carmelo Anthony, Knicks vs. Magic, 7:30 p.m.

Because his projection doesn't factor in the games he sat out earlier this season, Anthony is projected for just 20 points on Friday against the Magic. In three games since returning, Anthony has averaged 25.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.3 steals. Assuming he suits up, he is a lock to blow past his projection.

Center: Dwight Howard, Rockets at Suns, 9:00 p.m.

While his scoring is down nearly two points per game this season, Howard has still been an All-Star caliber player for the Rockets. He is averaging 16.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and a career-low 1.4 blocks this season. A matchup with the undersized Suns should allow Howard to break out offensively, as Phoenix has no hope to matchup with him in the paint. He missed Houston's first game against Phoenix this season, but averaged 24.7 points and 13.7 rebounds against the Suns last season.

- Paul Palladino

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.