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 $28 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 team for tonight’s nine-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
The Hawks are committed to Trae Young as the point guard and leader of the future, as they should be. But Young is mistake prone, averaging a hefty 4.0 turnovers without even cracking 30 minutes per game, and the Hawks are by far and away the league’s worst team for turnovers as a result. Lin, as the backup point guard, is not really helping with that, committing 1.9 turnovers per game of his own in only 19 minutes. But he is also scoring 11 points per game in that time, an excellent rate, and from a fantasy point of view, he has posted a 27.5 point per game average over his past five. That’s a strong amount.
Point guard – Shabazz Napier, Brooklyn Nets: $9.0 million
The Nets’ injury crisis right now (see below) does not directly affect their trio of point guards, but does have a knock-on effect. Being short of so many forwards means compensating with more two and three-guard line-ups. And a significant beneficiary of that is Napier, who is thus back in the rotation, and who has averaged 28.4 fantasy points per game over the last three.
Shooting guard – Jimmy Butler, Philadelphia 76ers: $16.4 million
By virtue of injury, trade and illness, Butler is the rare example of the elite player whose price belies their talents, still, at the midseason point. His numbers are all down across the board, partly as a result of no longer getting such an unnecessarily large minutes share when free to Tom Thibodeau, but also because he has not had the same size of role here as he had done previously. And this, reportedly, is a bone of contention, as Butler went to head coach Brett Brown and forcefully asked for a bigger one. Nevertheless for us in fantasy, this price means that anything+ upwards in the fantasy points total column is very good value, and even 35 on upwards is pretty decent. And for a two-way player of the calibre of Jimmy, that is very easily done.
Shooting guard – Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz: $17.4 million
Small forward – Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz: $12.6 million
Small forward – Royce O’Neale, Utah Jazz: $5.9 million
Tonight, the Jazz will be out of point guards. We strongly recommended third-stringer Raul Neto before the team’s last game on account of the fact that both Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum ahead of him were to miss the next couple of weeks through injury, but although Neto himself did well in that game (25 fantasy points for a tiny price), he too is now injured. And so now the team are now out of point guards altogether. It massively helps, then, that Ingles is on the team, and Ingles handles a good share of the playmaking and ball-handling responsibilities anyway; expect him to get a resultant fantasy production boost. The same too goes for Mitchell, who is the only small guard that really remains, thus leaving him with the requirement to both lead the back court scoring and defend the position, along with taking his own turns on the ball. And these two pulling double duty will open up time for the wings further down the depth chart, which with Thabo Sefolosha also out will mean more minutes for O’Neale, a solid producer when given time.
Small forward – Furkan Korkmaz, Philadelphia 76erss: $8.3 million
Korkmaz continues to get quite a lot of minutes for the 76ers, even if he is not especially consistent at any one thing. And minutes, as always, mean fantasy points. Over the last three games, Korkmaz has averaged 23.9 fantasy points per game, and unless a trade or post-buyout signee is incoming, he has no one around to really challenge him for minutes right now.
Power forward – Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks: $6.9 million
It is not yet clear whether Kleber, who started in the team’s last game, will continue in that spot. It is however clear that he should. When he’s on the court, Kleber wins possessions both on the glass and through his defensive contests, and possessions mean fantasy points.
Power forward – Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets: $9.0 million
Kurucs has been the starting power forward for the Nets for a while now, and although his production in this role has been streaky, the upside to that streakiness intrigues us. With his mid-30s average streak of games not far behind us, Kurucs is now on another good run, averaging 24.3 over his last two. Particularly aiding his fantasy candidacy tonight is the absence of many of his rivals for playing time – each of Allen Crabbe, Dzanan Musa, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jared Dudley will be out tonight, so Kurucs will get pretty much as many minutes as he can handle.
Centre – Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets: $7.7 million
Biyombo has gone from deep bench player to starter very quickly, and, limited though he is for ball skills, he does produce when given opportunity. It is hard not to with arms as long as his. Over his last three games, Biyombo has totalled what would have been 75.7 fantasy points had the first one of those been a fantasy game, and the corresponding 25.2 average over that span is a very healthy return on one so cheap.
Centre – Zach Collins, Portland Trail Blazers: $7.3 million
Collins has been going through a bit of a sophomore slump over the last month, but his play over the last week suggests that it might here be ending. In his last two games, he has looked much more in-step on both ends of the court, and returned two good performance; from a fantasy point of view, they combine to form an even 30.0 fantasy point average, a more than 400% mark-up on such a small price.
Point guard – Ben Simmons, $20.6 million
Shooting guard – Donovan Mitchell, $17.4 million
Small forward – Kawhi Leonard, $22.0 million
Power forward – Maxi Kleber, $6.9 million
Centre – Bismack Biyombo, $7.7 million
Bench – Shabazz Napier, $9.0 million
Bench – Jimmy Butker: $16.4 million
In 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: Miles Plumlee, Taurean Prince, Kent Bazemore (Atlanta), Jared Dudley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe, Dzanan Musa, Caris LeVert (Brooklyn), Devonte’ Graham, Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Denzel Valentine (Chicago), Kevin Love, John Henson, J.R. Smith, Rodney Hood, David Nwaba, Larry Nance Jr (Cleveland), Dennis Smith Jr (Dallas), DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones (Golden State), Vincent Edwards, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon (Houston), Myles Turner, Darren Collison (Indiana), LeBron James, Rajon Rondo (L.A. Lakers), Christian Wood, D.J. Wilson, Donte DiVincenzo (Milwaukee), Derrick Rose, Robert Covington (Minnesota), Frank Ntilikina, Enes Kanter, Kristaps Porzingis, Mitchell Robinson, Isaiah Hicks (New York), J.J. Redick, Markelle Fultz, Justin Patton, Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia), Damian Lillard, Mo Harkless (Portland), Jonas Valanciunas, Patrick McCaw, C.J. Miles (Toronto), Dante Exum, Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha, Grayson Allen, Tony Bradley, Raul Neto (Utah), Markieff Morris, John Wall, Dwight Howard (Washington)
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!