Thursday January 29th, 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 out-performs its projections by the largest amount 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.

Wednesday's overachievers

Guard: Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers, +36.3

After scoring 38 points on Tuesday, Irving continued his hot shooting on Wednesday against the Trail Blazers. He scored a career-high 55 points while making 11 three-pointers and adding five assists, four rebounds and two steals. With LeBron James out of the lineup, Irving carried the Cavaliers to a 99-94 win. He is shooting a career-high 41.3 percent from beyond the arc this season and his improved outside shooting will be critical to the team's postseason chances.

Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge, Trail Blazers, +17.2

Aldridge hasn't missed a beat since he decided to postpone having surgery on his thumb until the offseason. While the Trail Blazers couldn't overcome Irving's big night, Aldridge made 13 of 23 shots en route to 38 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal. Portland has lost six of its last eight games, but Aldridge has averaged 27.8 points over the last two weeks.

Center: Jason Smith, Knicks, +17.2

Smith posted a double-double in Wednesday's surprising win over the Thunder. He piled up 11 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and a steal as the Knicks won for the fourth time in five games. While Wednesday's win came against a Kevin Durant-less Thunder team, the Knicks have undoubtedly played better recently and Smith has averaged 11.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

Today's picks

Guard: Victor Oladipo, Magic vs. Bucks, 7:00 p.m.

Although the Magic have lost six games in a row, Oladipo has made significant strides in his second season. He has played particularly well in his last eight games, averaging 22.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals. Oladipo and teammate Elfrid Payton will play for the United States team during the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend. A matchup against the Bucks should allow Oladipo to show why he was selected for the game.

Forward: Pau Gasol, Bulls at Lakers, 10:30 p.m.

In his first season in Chicago, Gasol is having a resurgent season for the Bulls and gets to play his struggling former team on Thursday. At 34 years old, he is averaging 18.3 points and a career-high 11.9 rebounds per game. The Bulls have won just five of their last 12 games and will be looking to build on Tuesday's overtime victory over the Warriors. Gasol's scoring has been down recently, but he has averaged 16.5 rebounds in his last four games.

Center: Roy Hibbert, Pacers vs. Knicks, 7:00 p.m.

Hibbert has recovered slightly after a disastrous end to last season, averaging 11.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks this year. While he has only beaten his projection twice in his last five games, a matchup with the Knicks should be a recipe for a big night. The Knicks don't have the size to guard Hibbert in the paint so he will be able to control the game if he is aggressive.

- Paul Palladino

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