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 for each position for tonight’s seven-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
Point guard – Quinn Cook, Golden State Warriors: $7.9 million
Stephen Curry will not play tonight, and when that happens, Cook is the usual replacement starter and minutes-taker. This is particularly true when Shaun Livingston, currently listed as questionable, is also out. In the last two games, Cook has recorded 20.9 and 21.9 fantasy points, one with Curry limited to only a few minutes and one in a lopsided victory. He should do the same again.
Point guard – Dennis Schroeder, Oklahoma City Thunder: $13.0 million
As always, when Russell Westbrook is out, strongly consider Schroeder. It did not work so well last time out, with Paul George leading the line instead and Schroeder recording only 25.7 fantasy points. But with 40.4 the game before and a match-up against Dennis Smith Jr tonight, Schroeder remains a strong potential pick.
Point guard – Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers: $8.9 million
Shooting guard – J.R. Smith, Cleveland Cavaliers: $7.8 million
Shooting guard – Jordan Clarkson, Cleveland Cavaliers: $10.2 million
The starting forward pairing of Cedi Osman and Kevin Love are both out, and so now is Love’s replacement, Sam Dekker. So too is starting point guard George Hill. In their stead, interim coach Larry Drew has played many three-guard line-ups of Sexton, Smith and Clarkson; last time out, Sexton put in 18.9 fantasy points, Smith put in 19.2 after back-to-back 30+ fantasy point games, and Clarkson went for a near-triple double in an expanded role off the bench, good for 33.8 fantasy points.
Shooting guard – Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: $15.8 million
LaVine’s price has got to the point now where his value, while still good, is not as stand-out good as it was. Nevertheless, in having not dipped below 31.8 in any of his last seven games, with a couple of outings being for substantially more than that, the value remains for now.
Shooting guard – Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets: $13.5 million
LeVert is having quite the breakout campaign. He has become a go-to guy, a clutch situations go, a player who can get his own off the dribble at pretty much any time through guile, size and skill. He is averaging 20/4/4, good for a 39.3 fantasy point average over his last five.
Shooting guard – Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings: $14.0 million
Shooting guard – Iman Shumpert, Sacramento Kings: $7.4 million
Akin to LeVert, Hield continues his good breakout start to the year, averaging 37.9 fantasy points over his last seven, with only anomalous foul trouble keeping his stats down last time out. Shumpert meanwhile has been a pleasant surprise as a fill-in solution at the Kings’s always troublesome small forward position, averaging 23.4 fantasy points per game over the last three. The role will be Bogdan Bogdanovic’s going forward, but Bogdanovic will rest tonight as a part of the strategy to work him back from injury, so Shumpert should be good again tonight.
Shooting guard – Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat: $7.5 million
Shooting guard – Rodney McGruder, Miami Heat: $9.9 million
Small forward – Josh Richardson, Miami Heat: $14.2 million
Small forward – Justise Winslow, Miami Heat: $8.9 million
There is still plenty of reason to consider each of the Heat’s wing quartet. Team-wide foul trouble impacted them all last time out, as did a bevvy of turnovers, yet the four consume all the available minutes at the two positions, as well as some of the time at point guard and power forward, for the combined cost of merely two good players. Any of the four could work for you here.
Small forward – Davis Bertans, San Antonio Spurs: $7.0 million
When Russell Westbrook is out, consider Dennis Schroeder, and when Rudy Gay is out, consider Davis Bertans. With Gay out through injury last time out, Bertans lit up for 31.3 fantasy points – he does not have nearly the versatility or wider skill set of Gay, but that shot is true and unblockable.
Small forward – Alfonzo McKinnie, Golden State Warriors: $6.4 million
Beginning the season as a garbage time player, McKinnie has worked his way into the rotation with his athleticism, surprising shooting breakout and work rate. And with Draymond Green out again tonight, there are frontcourt minutes to be had. McKinnie has averaged 20.1 fantasy points over the last six, and could be in line for a minute’s spike tonight.
Power forward – Wendell Carter Jr, Chicago Bulls: $13.4 million
Always excellent value at this point, only foul trouble will dampen Carter’s otherwise excellent potential as a nightly pick. The versatile starting centre has averaged 39.6 fantasy points over the past seven games, and is consistent for both us and his team.
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings: $11.2 million
Centre – Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: $14.8 million
Centre – JaVale McGee, L.A. Lakers: $11.7 million
This trio are hereby listed together because of the fact that these two teams play each other tonight. All three have been regularly featured in this list – Bjelica with his move to the starting spot and wily play on both ends, Cauley-Stein for his offensive development, McGee with his frankly amazing output on both ends – but serving them all well tonight is the fact that the Kings play at the quickest pace in the league, and the Lakers are the third quickest. This will be a track meet, and for fantasy players, that means consider these guys more strongly tonight than you already would.
Centre – Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers: $11.7 million
It appears as though Larry Drew wants to split the Cavaliers’ centre rotation between Thompson and Ante Zizic, leaving Larry Nance at power forward. It also appears as though he does not much trust the foul and turnover-prone Zizic much yet, either. So with Thompson as the only veteran big in the rotation, he is playing more, and producing more, averaging 31.6 fantasy points over his last five games, and with a couple of 40+ performances in there.
Centre – Jordan Bell, Golden State Warriors: $7.1 million
Bell got the starting spot in Draymond’s absence last time out, and recorded 20.1 fantasy points per game in the process. He showed as a rookie that minutes equal production for him; his impact on the game through his physical profile alone make it difficult for him to be silent. So, notwithstanding possible foul trouble, minutes for him will be forthcoming. And thus so should production.
Centre – Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: $12.1 million
A regular anointee on this list on account of his consistent production range, Allen broke out of that range last night with a giant 49.8 fantasy point performance against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. We suspected that the unathletic Jokic would not much like having to try to cover Allen on the pick and roll, and we were right.
Point guard – De’Aaron Fox, $14.3 million
Shooting guard – James Harden, $24.1 million
Small forward – Paul George, $19.5 million
Power forward – Wendell Carter Jr, $13.4 million
Centre – JaVale McGee, $11.9 million
Bench – Quinn Cook, $7.9 million
Bench – Justise Winslow, $8.9 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: Treveon Graham (Brooklyn), Denzel Valentine, Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis, Lauri Markkanen (Chicago), Sam Dekker, George Hill, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love (Cleveland), Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas), DeMarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green (Golden State), Nene, Brandon Knight, Eric Gordon, Michael Carter-Williams (Houston), Omri Casspi, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green (Memphis), James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Dwyane Wade (Miami), Nikola Mirotic, Elfrid Payton (New Orleans), Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Mike Muscala, Zhaire Smith, Jerryd Bayless (Philadelphia), Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV, Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol (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!