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 nine-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics: $13.4 million
The time-honoured theory goes that whenever Kyrie Irving is out, Rozier is a good fantasy pick. And the stats back that up; in 47 bench games this season, he has averaged 8.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, yet those numbers shoot up to 14.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in his nine starts. Note, then, that Kyrie is out tonight, and Rozier will start.
- Point guard – Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers: $12.9 million
Similar to the above, Rondo as a starter is more often than not a fantasy steal. True, it did not work out last time, as he recorded only 14.1 fantasy points. Nevertheless, in his nine starters this season, Rondo has averaged 11.1 points, 10.0 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, huge value at this price. And with Lonzo Ball still out, Rondo will still start.
- Shooting guard – Jimmy Butler, Philadelphia 76ers: $18.3 million
It remains to be seen quite how Butler will mesh with the trio of stars around him – Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris. It has not been an entirely seamless integration between him and the first two, let alone now that Harris has also been added, and he surely is mindful of the fact that part of the reason for the Harris deal was to serve as insurance should Butler leave. Nonetheless, Butler is still the end-of-the-shot-clock, crunch time situations guy, and still has a big role to play. And he is better than this price suggests; any performance in the 40 fantasy point range is good value at this price.
- Shooting guard – J.J. Redick, Philadelphia 76ers: $12.3 million
Alongside Butler on the wing, Redick’s role continues to be heightened by the Harris trade, as, with the loss of Landry Shamet, he becomes the backcourt’s only plus shooter. He is thus enjoying even greater minutes than before, and in two post-deadline games, Redick has recorded fantasy point nights of 39.1 and 36.9.
- Small forward – Justin Holiday, Memphis Grizzlies: $10.3 million
The Grizzlies dealt for Holiday when they were so short of wing options that the well was literally dry, and their third string point guard was starting there. Now, after a couple of trades and a return from injury for others, they are not quite as short – even Chandler Parsons has been welcomed back, apparently. Nevertheless, with Kyle Anderson and Dillon Brooks still out due to injury, the starting small forward spot remains Holiday’s for now, and as ever for a streaky volume scorer, big minutes means good volume, with a fantasy point average of 27.3 over the past four games.
- Power forward – Kenrich Williams, New Orleans Pelicans: $11.2 million
Through his hustle, rebounding and sweet-shooting stroke, Williams has been a very nice discovery for the Pelicans of late. This has also proven to be the case in fantasy, where Williams has not only been valuable, but consistently valuable. Over the last seven games, Williams has posted a fantasy point average of 35.2 fantasy points per game, never once dipping below 25 in that stretch.
- Power forward – Ivan Rabb, Memphis Grizzlies: $9.5 million
At the trade deadline, the Grizzlies traded away Marc Gasol, and, for some reason, JaMychal Green. This left them with next to no front court depth on the team. And thus in comes Rabb, barely used in the first half of the season but a young sophomore with shooting touch and rebounding effort who always contributes with touches. In the three games since then, Rabb has recorded a fantasy point average of 34.1 per game.
- Power forward – Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic: $13.8 million
Steals and blocks are both worth three points in fantasy, the highest-value statistics there are in the game (double the next highest – assists at 1.5). We thus always want to keep those players who record plenty of both, because, cyclical though both are, there are big fantasy nights to be had whenever they are recorded en masse. Defensive specialist Isaac is one such player, and in his last eight games, he has averaged 33.6 fantasy points per contest.
- Centre – JaVale McGee, L.A. Lakers: $11.1 million
We picked McGee in this space early on in the season with some regularity, as he was receiving a starting role and big minutes, given a lack of playing time rivals at the centre spot. This later tempered off due to the arrival of Tyson Chandler, the breakout of Ivica Zubac, and McGee’s own injury. However, the latter is healed up, and Zubac has for whatever reason been dealt. McGee is thus back on another run, and has averaged 31.8 fantasy points per game over the last three.
- Centre – Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies: $8.5 million
Prior to the Grizzlies’ last game, we suggested Valanciunas as a fantasy value pick, on account of the aforementioned fact that the Grizzlies so badly lack for frontcourt depth. Valancunas, we thought, would return from injury and outplay his price that has been reduced by the length of his absence. It seems we were one game too early – Valanciunas did not return in the last game, and instead will do so tonight. We suggest him again, then.
Point guard – Terry Rozier, $13.4 million
Shooting guard – Jimmy Butler, $18.3 million
Small forward – Jayson Tatum, $16.6 million
Power forward – Ivan Rabb, $9.5 million
Centre – Nikola Vucevic, $21.9 million
Bench – Kenrich Williams, $11.2 million
Bench – Jonas Valanciunas, $8.5 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: Miles Plumlee, Jaylen Adams, Jeremy Lin (Atlanta), Kyrie Irving, Aron Baynes (Boston), Damion Lee, Damian Jones, Jacob Evans, Andre Iguodala (Golden State), Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball (L.A. Lakers), Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, Kyle Anderson (Memphis), Elfrid Payton, Trevon Blueitt (New Orleans), Wes Iwunda, Markelle Fultz, Mo Bamba, Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Zhaire Smith, Justin Patton, Shake Milton (Philadelphia), Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV (San Antonio), Dante Exum, Tony Bradley (Utah)
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!