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 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 – Dante Exum, Utah Jazz: $5.6 million
Exum has been out for a while, and tonight should mark his return from another injury. We would normally advise shying away from picking a player making their return after significant injury due to the inevitability of them being rusty, and probably not getting their usual minute share straight away. However, with Ricky Rubio and Raul Neto both out, Exum is the team’s only healthy point guard. So while rust is still to be expected, he should get some good run, and the injury has kept the price low.
- Point guard – Brandon Knight, Cleveland Cavaliers: $5.7 million
The Cavaliers’ makeshift roster combined with a slew of injuries and the fact it is so frontcourt-heavy means there is an opportunity down the remainder of the season for Knight to rebuild his NBA career. Having missed so much time through injury, Knight looked woefully out of sorts in his few minutes with the Rockets, but has done a bit better in his 10 Cavaliers starts. Last time out was his best game for an eternity, recording 29.4 fantasy points, hitting his shots and looking sharper with the ball. True, it is a one-off as things stand. But no other starters come this cheap.
- Shooting guard – Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets: $9.6 million
The Nets’ extremely streaky season is at a critical point. On a 35-33 record after a much-needed three-game winning streak, the Nets look relatively comfortably in the playoff seedings right now, yet are facing an absolutely brutal final 14 games of their schedule where the only lottery team they will face is the L.A. Lakers (and potentially the Sacramento Kings). With this in mind, they need as much as they can get from their best players. LeVert is one of them, and while he is still posting variable production as he returns from injury, the price is so low as to be worth it.
- Small forward – Nic Batum, Charlotte Hornets: $12.9 million
Batum right now is amid one of those hot streaks he randomly tends to go on. Over his last eight games, he has recorded a fantasy point average of 32.9 per game, and doing so relatively consistently rather than through any anomalous single-game performances. It is a shame that what now counts as a game in a hot streak is only mirroring what used to be the norm for his production. But from a fantasy point of view, we need not overly concern ourselves with that.
- Power forward – Bobby Portis, Washington Wizards: $14.4 million
It’s a new league, and one in which a player like Bobby Portis can now count as a centre. Indeed, Portis is now starting at the position over the pleasant find that was Thomas Bryant, and he is scoring more than he ever has before. In his last two games, Portis has put in two big double-doubles on his way to a 38.6 fantasy point average. And given that the Sacramento Kings and Willie Cauley-Stein have a knack for giving up big nights to opposing athletic and active big men, Portis could be a good candidate for a third.
- Power forward – Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers: $7.2 million
- Power forward – Marquese Chriss, Cleveland Cavaliers: $13.4 million
- Centre – Ante Zizic, Cleveland Cavaliers: $9.8 million
It seems as though the Cavaliers have had a front court injury crisis going on for the entire season. It feels that way because they have. And so it continues – with John Henson, Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr out tonight, it is only these three plus the unused Channing Frye who remain. Zizic is now starting at centre, and proved himself to be productive in the role last time it happened; while he is not quite sure what to do with them, Chriss’s physical tools allow him to impact the stat sheet when given minutes, and he has averaged 17.1 fantasy points over the past eleven games. The pick of the bunch though, of course, is Love, who is playing at a level that is pretty much back to his All-Star best on a price that is nowhere near reflecting that. On a short slate, he is almost a must-pick tonight.
- Centre – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: $21.9 million
The Pistons have doubled their win total since January 10th, have won 11 of their last 13 games, and are the hottest team in the league. And Drummond’s improvements have been a huge part of why. He has returned from a brief three-game absence on an absolute tear, playing 17 games, recording double-doubles in all of them, and averaging 21.1 points, 16.8 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. From a fantasy point of view, this has meant a 53.4 fantasy point average. No other high priced player is giving us this much for this long.
Point guard – Dante Exum, $5.7 million
Shooting guard – Lou Williams, $16.4 million
Small forward – Kawhi Leonard, $18.7 million
Power forward – Bobby Portis, $14.4 million
Centre – Andre Drummond, $21.9 million
Bench – Kevin Love, $13.4 million
Bench – Caris LeVert, $9.6 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: Treveon Graham (Brooklyn), Tony Parker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo (Charlotte), Larry Nance Jr, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson (Cleveland), Bruce Brown, Zaza Pachulia (Detroit), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento), Fred VanVleet (Toronto), Ricky Rubio, Raul Neto, Tony Bradley (Utah), Devin Robinson, Dwight Howard, John Wall, Jordan McRae (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!