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 $29 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 in each match-up on for tonight’s mere four-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
BOSTON CELTICS VS MIAMI HEAT
- Centre – Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics: $10.2 million
The Celtics’ slow start has meant some juggling, and the result of said juggling seems to involve more Theis. Over his last four games, Theis has averaged 26.4 fantasy points per contest, and while it is fair to say that he is significantly aided in this quest by the injury absence of Aron Baynes, that is good for us here, as Baynes will be out again tonight.
- Point guard – Tyler Johnson, Miami Heat: $10.8 million
With Goran Dragic out long term, Johnson has been the Heat’s only healthy point guard on the roster. Despite this, however, he is not a big-minute player. Using a combination of Dwyane Wade, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, the Heat have empowered other guards and wings to lead the offence in the point guard-y way, thus not seeing Johnson injury the injury-related boost that many reserves get with an absent starter. Nevertheless, Johnson is giving us fantasy point value, having recorded a 24.9 fantasy point per game average over his last eight games.
- Shooting guard – Dion Waiters, Miami Heat: $7.5 million
Due to injury, Waiters has only played in two games this season – he made his season debut four games ago, then rested for a couple, and then looked sharp in 25 minutes last time out. That performance, which registered as 25.2 fantasy points, would be an excellent mark-up on this price were it to sustain. And while rust and lack of game conditioning may be factors for a while, the Heat are paying Waiters too much not to play him, so he should get opportunities.
DENVER NUGGETS VS L.A. CLIPPERS
- Small forward – Juancho Hernangomez, Denver Nuggets: $7.5 million
- Small forward – Torrey Craig, Denver Nuggets: $9.2 million
Hernangomez’s price has taken a distinct hit of late, aided in no small measure by him performing the incredibly unlikely feat of actually recording negative fantasy points last time out (2 turnovers and 1 rebound for a -0.8 total). If it seems like only two weeks ago that he was putting in fantasy point performances from the mid-20s range up to the mid-4os, that’s because it was. Part of the reason for this, though, has been the obvious preference given to the more defensively able Craig, who has also responded with some offensive production; he recorded 35.2 fantasy points last time out, raising his average over his last seven games to 21.2.
- Shooting guard – Lou Williams, L.A. Clippers: $15.9 million
We are pretty much back to the Lou Williams of old. Last year’s sixth man of the season started quite a way short of the pace with which he finished last season, yet has improved his numbers across the board across all four months of the season, and is now pouring in his 20 real points per game. From a fantasy point of view, this has meant a 37.8 fantasy point average over the past nine games, and a price hike to reflect his increase in production does not deter us here.
- Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $14.8 million
This year’s potential sixth man of the season is still getting it done in his role as bench mixer-upper. In his last seven games, Harrell has recorded a 36.2 fantasy points per game average of his own, and while his own price hike diminishes the value he once had slightly, it is only slightly.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER VS SAN ANTONIO SPURS
- Point guard – Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs: $8.7 million
The Spurs’ defence has gone from one of the league’s worst to one of the league’s best, something they have achieved by finding the right balance of players and line-ups. And so even though he does not excel as a defender individually, this has meant increased time for Mills, who as the longest-serving Spurs player has the right idea on what Gregg Popovich wants him to achieve. That increased time means increased scoring, and from a fantasy point of view, this has meant a 25.8 fantasy point average over his last three games.
- Point guard – Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: $26.6 million
Although Anthony Davis stands clear at the top of the fantasy price list, the only man closer to $30 million than $25 million, Westbrook is gaining. A good recent spurt has seen him average 57.6 fantasy points per game over his last five contests. And so while Spurs sophomore starting guard Derrick White (himself a pretty good pick candidate at $12.9 million) has made a name for himself this season defensively, guarding Westbrook is a different matter.
SACRAMENTO KINGS VS DETROIT PISTON
- Power forward – Harry Giles, Sacramento Kings: $7.8 million
The idea behind Giles missing his entire rookie season, even when healthy enough to play some of the second half of it, was to strengthen up the core around his knees (that have already had multiple operations at such a young age), and bide his time until the depth chart opened up. It has now done so – with Marvin Bagley III out with injury, and veterans Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos barely if ever used, Giles has found some time of late. And in that time, his long limbs and knack for being everywhere have seen him return a 17.5 fantasy point per game average.
- Point guard – Jon Leuer, Detroit Pistons: $6.1 million
With Zaza out through injury, and Henry Ellenson both injured and unwanted, Leuer has been filling in as the reserve centre of late. Although he is tall enough for the role, he is not a natural at it. Nevertheless, minutes mean production, and cheap prices usually mean value – Leuer would only have to crack 13 points (let’s say 8 points, 4 rebounds and an assist) to be a good value pick tonight.
Point guard – Tyler Johnson, $8.6 million
Shooting guard -James Harden, $23.2 million
Small forward – Luka Doncic, $16.3 million
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, $12.2 million
Centre – Clint Capela, $17.3 million
Bench – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, $11.0 million
Bench – Derrick Jones Jr, $10.6 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: Aron Baynes, Jabari Bird (Boston), Gary Harris, Isaiah Thomas, Jarred Vanderbilt, Michael Porter Jr, Will Barton (Denver), Zaza Pachulia, Zach Lofton, Ish Smith, Henry Ellenson (Detroit), Jerome Robinson, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Yante Maten, Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow (Miami), Nerlens Noel, Alex Abrines, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Iman Shumpert (Sacramento), Rudy Gay, Dejounte Murray (San Antonio)
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!