Welcome to the 2018-19 NBA season!
To help you with your DFS lineups at PlayON, we’ll provide daily editions of our NBA Preview all season long here at Daily Fantasy Focus.
Your NBA fantasy teams have a budget of $100 million to spend on a seven-player team, with players ranging in price from $26 million to $5 million. You must pick one player from each of the five NBA positions – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and centre – with two final picks being at whichever position you like. With the need to squeeze in that much under budget, we need to look for the best value picks in each night’s game, at all positions.
Below is a breakdown of my picks at each price point for each position for tonight’s five-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers: $12.9 million
Rondo remains unchallenged at the point guard spot, and being unchallenged means a lot of minutes. A lot of minutes means a lot of production, and Rondo, always a statsy guy, is no exception. He has averaged 32.2 fantasy points over his last four games, even with a rogue 12.0 point outing in there.
- Point guard – Tyler Johnson, Phoenix Suns: $8.2 million
Johnson was moved at the deadline to the Suns, a team who have struggled for more than a year to find any point guard play. It is fair to say that Johnson is not a true point guard, in the classical sense – he is a solid ball handler, who does solid things and defends the position, but who does not run an offence. Then again, with Devin Booker seemingly given that role full time, Johnson could be exactly the correct pairing for him. And if starting is going to be a thing for him going forward, then this low price will be tremendous value.
- Shooting guard – C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers: $18.1 million
Three of McCollum’s last four games have seen him score 30 or more points, and the fourth game was a 28 point triple-double. Quite the tear he is on, and that is evident in his fantasy production, too, where McCollum has averaged 48.7 fantasy points over that stretch.
- Shooting guard – Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic: $13.1 million
Ross was considered to be a very likely candidate to be moved at the trade deadline, on account of his expiring contract and how valuable his scoring and shooting skill set could have been on the open market. Ultimately, he was not dealt, on account of the Magic’s intent to pursue a playoff spot themselves. This pursuit means playing their best players and not going all “evaluatory” like other teams in their situation. And this will mean more of Ross, who has been averaging 35.1 fantasy points per game over the last three.
- Small forward – Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns: $15.6 million
Jackson remains one of the most efficient offensive players in the league. Then again, so is Russell Westbrook. It is only one way to measure impact, not the only one, and it is definitely not the best measure of fantasy value. Because he puts in numbers in every category, however clumsily, Jackson is a useful player for us here, averaging 43.2 fantasy points over his past three games.
- Small forward – Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks: $20.6 million
Doncic has as much of the ball and offensive responsibility for his team as he can handle. He gets better every month, even when he should surely be fatigued after such a huge workload last season and this. In February thus far, he is averaging 24.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game over three contests, good for a 52.3 fantasy point average.
- Power forward – Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks: $9.9 million
With the Mavericks having made the big trade for Kristaps Porzingis, they reduced their number of healthy and productive front court players, particularly in the front court, where DeAndre Jordan was traded and Salah Mejri waived (albeit subsequently re-signed). An interior defensive presence was thus needed, and Kleber was it. Always productive in minutes, Klever has averaged 26.2 fantasy points over the past two games, and the minutes will not disappear any time soon.
- Power forward – Khem Birch, Orlando Magic: $6.9 million
With Mo Bamba out, Birch, the otherwise unused third string centre, is in the rotation. Even though breakout All-Star Nikola Vucevic takes up the big minutes in front of him, there are always still some to be had behind, and Birch is being productive in his limited time, averaging 19.2 fantasy points per game over the last four. He was similarly productive in the same role last year, too, so this is not a fluke.
- Centre – Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat: $18.3 million
Whiteside is on a bit of a tear of late. He has averaged close to 20 points and 15 rebounds over his past four games, which from a fantasy point of view has correlated to a 46.5 fantasy point average. Whiteside is notoriously streaky, and a match-up against the Warriors will not be easy. But given his knack for randomly getting up for the bigger games, maybe the streak will continue tonight.
Point guard – Rajon Rondo, $12.9 million
Shooting guard – Jimmy Butler, $18.3 million
Small forward – Josh Jackson, $15.6 million
Power forward – Maxi Kleber, $9.9 million
Centre – Nikola Vucevic, $21.9 million
Bench – Josh Richardson, $13.1 million
Bench – Tyler Johnson, $8.2 million
On any NBA slate of games, we need to be sure to avoid certain players each night. Here’s who you should steer clear of.
(Note that the NBA provides four different player injury classifications – ‘probable’ (meaning the player has a 75% chance of playing in the game), ‘questionable’ (50%), ‘doubtful’ (25%) and ‘out’ (0%). Such classifications are subject to change right up until game time; for the purposes of the below, we list anyone from ‘questionable’ on down as being picks to avoid.)
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: Jaylen Adams, Miles Plumlee (Atlanta), Kristaps Porzingis, J.J. Barea (Dallas), Damion Lee, Damian Jones (Golden State), Danuel House, Clint Capela (Houston), Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart (L.A. Lakers), Dwyane Wade, Yante Maten, Derrick Jones Jr, Goran Dragic (Miami), Mo Bamba, Timofey Mozgov, Markelle Fultz (Orlando), Zhaire Smith, Jonathon Simmons, Haywood Highsmith, Shake Milton (Philadelphia), T.J. Warren, De’Anthony Melton (Phoenix)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in, and check back every day during the season for our daily picks and advice!