Friday March 20th, 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.

Thursday’s overachievers

Guard: James Harden, Rockets, +20.0

Harden scored a career-high 50 points to carry the Rockets to a win over the Nuggets on Thursday. He made just 12 of his 27 shots and added 10 rebounds, four assists and a steal as Houston won its third straight game. Harden is in a tight race with Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook for the MVP award and added another signature game to his candidacy by eviscerating the Nuggets.

Forward: Brandan Wright, Suns, +23.6

Starting just his second game since joining the Suns, Wright responded with a big game as Phoenix knocked off the Pelicans. He finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks while making eight of his 10 shots. It was Wright’s second strong game in a row after he had 18 points and 11 rebounds in Sunday’s win over the Knicks. Wright has long been an efficient player, and he is now getting enough playing time to be a valuable fantasy option.

Center: Gorgui Dieng, Timberwolves, +21.7

The Timberwolves snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the Knicks on the road, and Dieng had a major role in the victory. He had 19 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks, two steals and an assist while making nine of his 10 shots. While the 25-year-old is older than most second year players, he is an effective player on both ends of the floor and showed on Thursday that he can be a great rim protector.

Today’s picks

Guard: Alexey Shved, Knicks at 76ers, 7 p.m. ET

It isn’t every day that a Knicks player is a good fantasy option, but Shved has been putting up big numbers recently for New York. He has beaten his projection in seven straight games while averaging 18.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists. Shved has shot just 41.2% from the field and 32.5% from beyond the arc, but percentages aren’t factored in to Basketball Throwdown scores. The 76ers aren’t likely to slow down Shved’s recent strong play.

Forward: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs vs. Celtics, 8:30 p.m. ET

After beating his projection in nine straight games, Leonard has fallen short in his last two games, but he should break out against the Celtics. Leonard has battled a hand injury for most of the season, but over his last 11 games he has averaged 19.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.3 assists and 1.4 blocks while shooting 51.3% from the field. The Spurs are only one game behind both the Clippers and Mavericks for the No. 5 seed and a win Friday could help them move up the ladder.

Center: Tyler Zeller, Celtics at Spurs, 8:30 p.m. ET

Zeller has played a vital role for the Celtics during their second-half surge and has played particularly well recently. In less than 25 minutes per game, he has averaged 18.7 points and 4.3 rebounds during his last three games while shooting 75.8% from the field. Zeller will face stiff competition against San Antonio’s frontline, but his 20-point projection is well within reach.

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