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 at each price point for each position for tonight’s eleven-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- The Cheap – Kadeem Allen, New York Knicks: $6.4 million
In a turn-up for the books, recent pick-up Allen is playing with excellent fantasy value. It is a turn-up for the books because Allen is a defensive specialist who simply does not look to score the ball much, nor has he ever shown at any level to be especially capable of it. With this in mind, the striking 36.7 fantasy point average he has posted over the last two games seems unlikely to sustain. But even half of it would be excellent value at this price.
- The Three Mid-Rangers – Dennis Smith Jr, New York Knicks, $13.3 million
Allen’s only playing time competitor at the point guard spot right now is Smith. With Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina both injured, Smith and Allen have all of the point guard minutes plus some time in two guard line-ups. And with control of the offence and the ball, Smith has a large usage rate right now and for the future, culminating thus far in a 37.7 fantasy point average over his last four games.
- The Pricy – D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets: $19.3 million
Russell is playing like the All-Star that he now is. His breakout has been the reason for the Nets’ first good season in six, and he leads the team with his scoring, however streaky it can be. From a fantasy point of view, he has played to a 46.8 fantasy point average over the last three games, and with tonight’s opponent being the ramshackle Cleveland Cavaliers, he could go off for a big one.
- The Cheap – Avery Bradley, Memphis Grizzlies: $7.4 million
For some reason, the Grizzlies traded Garrett Temple and JaMychael Green at the deadline to the Clippers in exchange for Bradley, despite Bradley being less impactful of a player than either of them and the contractual situation being a wash. Nevertheless, Bradley looks as though he will continue to start on the Grizzlies, just as he did with the Clippers. And while this is by far the worst season of his career, marked by a lack of production all over, Bradley’s 33 point outing on his way to 50.6 fantasy points last time out is massively intriguing at such a small price.
- The Mid-Ranger – J.J. Redick, Philadelphia 76ers: $12.3 million
On a team lacking shooters, one of the world’s best shooters is going to be repeatedly called upon. In his three games since returning from minor injury, Redick has averaged 31.9 fantasy points per game, and while he does not regularly contribute much outside of the scoring column, he is important enough right now to feature highly in there, and thus give us fantasy value.
- The Pricy – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $28.7 million
Harden’s 30 point game scoring streak is now 30 games long. One more and he will tie the great Wilt Chamberlain at 31, a streak second only to Wilt’s anomalously amazing 65 gamer two generations ago. He is not always flanking these nights with the other statistical production that provides the great fantasy value, and his price has actually shrunk slightly despite the streak. But it is really hard to look away from him here anyway.
- The Cheap – Wesley Johnson, Washington Wizards: $5.5 million
The much-passed-around Johnson finds himself for the final few weeks of his contract with the Wizards, who lack for small forwards right now. Otto Porter is gone, Jeff Green is hurt, and Troy Brown is both untrusted and unavailable. Johnson then is getting a fair old chunk of time, and while there is little to no chance that he is going to suddenly break out beyond being the no-dribbles soft offensive player he always has, enough minutes leads to enough production to have fantasy value, as evidenced by his 19.2 fantasy point average over the last two.
- The Mid-Ranger – Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns: $12.5 million
- The Pricy – Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns: $15.6 million
The Suns’ small forward duo are getting a lot of run and gun in an increasingly positionless forward rotation. Jackson is seemingly back in favour, and while he remains among the league’s most inefficient offensive players, his knack for stubbornly contributing anyway gives him fantasy value, to the tune of a 40.3 fantasy point average over his past four. Bridges meanwhile is finding minutes alongside both Jackson and Kelly Oubre Jr, and has put in a fantasy point average of 29.7 per game over his last six. Bridges’s production is much more consistent than Jackson’s, but Jackson has the bigger upside.
- The Cheap – Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks: $9.1 million
Having lost DeAndre Jordan to trade, the Mavericks now lack for any front court players, let alone productive ones. Powell therefore is enjoying an increased role after the deadline, and thus more production. In the three games hence, he has ridden his athleticism and pick-and-roll game to a 27.3 fantasy point average.
- The Mid-Ranger – Kenneth Faried, Houston Rockets: $13.5 million
Normal justifications for picking Faried remain – he is productive, he is cheap for his level of production, and he is consistent with it. Over the last ten games, he has averaged 35.9 fantasy points per game; we have suggested him as a pick before each of those ten, and we have yet to be let down.
- The Pricy – Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls: $17.0 million
After an injury-abridged start to the season, Markkanen is getting the keys to the offence in the second half, and is finding his feet. Showing the moves off the dribble and shot-creation that he did in spurts as a rookie, and for Finland in international competition, Markkanen has been on a scoring tear of late, and is no longer pressured by Bobby Portis behind him. From a fantasy point of view, this has meant a 45.4 fantasy point average over his last five games.
- The Cheap – Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies, $8.5 million; Joakim Noah, Memphis Grizzlies, $6.4 million
Valanciunas made his long-awaited return before the Grizzlies’ last game, and showed little signs of rust. Always the excellent rebounder and skilled paint finisher, he put in a significant 37.0 fantasy points in his first game for his second NBA team, seemingly needing no great amount of time to get acclimated. Valanciunas’s return cut slightly into the court time of the resurgent Joakim Noah, but not enough to diminish the fantasy value that Noah has been playing with of late; over his last two games, Noah has averaged 32.1 fantasy points per game, a huge mark-up at a near-minimum price.
- The Mid-Ranger – Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks: $9.8 million
If nothing else, the Knicks’s catastrophic losing streak will at least see them fully air out Robinson as a prospect. The defensive-minded athletic centre projects very favourably as an NBA defensive player going forward, and has already had some successes when he can stay out of foul trouble, including a nine block game much earlier on. This value and production has continued even after the arrival of DeAndre Jordan, as, over the past four games, he has averaged 30.6 fantasy points per game, with each performance coming in a very narrow band between 28.7 and 32.4.
- The Pricy – Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets: $23.9 million
Jokic is the league’s second-biggest triple-double threat behind Russell Westbrook. He is good for one almost every night, and indeed has recorded three of them in his past five games, each of which of course has returned big fantasy point performances. His opponent tonight will be the Sacramento Kings, and specifically Willie Cauley-Stein, a player who should be an excellent defensive wall but who just isn’t, and who has been having opponents have big nights on him all season long. Jokic, then, may feast.
Point guard – Dennis Smith Jr, $13.3 million
Shooting guard – Louis Williams, $15.2 million
Small forward – Josh Jackson, $15.6 million
Power forward – Kenneth Faried, $13.5 million
Centre – Nikola Jokic, $23.9 million
Bench – Mitchell Robinson, $9.8 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 (Atlanta), Spencer Dinwiddie, Jared Dudley, Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert (Brooklyn), Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Wendell Carter Jr, Jabari Parker, Chandler Hutchison, Denzel Valentine (Chicago), J.R. Smith, John Henson, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, David Nwaba (Cleveland), J.J. Barea, Trey Burke, Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr (Dallas), Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Porter Jr (Denver), Jonas Jerebko, Damian Jones (Golden State), Clint Capela, Brandon Knight (Houston), Tyreke Evans, Victor Oladipo, Cory Joseph, Doug McDermott (Indiana), Lonzo Ball (L.A. Lakers),Derrick Jones Jr, Goran Dragic, Yante Maten (Miami), Donte DiVincenzo (Milwaukee), Tyus Jones, Derrick Rose, Robert Covington, Jeff Teague (Minnesota), Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Anthony Davis, E’Twaun Moore, Trevon Blueitt (New Orleans), Timofey Mozgov, Jonathon Simmons (Orlando), J.J. Redick, Zhaire Smith, Markelle Fultz, Justin Patton, Wilson Chandler (Philadelphia), T.J. Warren, De’Anthony Melton, Dragan Bender (Phoenix), Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Thabo Sefolosha, Raul Neto, Tony Bradley, Ricky Rubio (Utah), Markieff Morris, John Wall, Dwight Howard, Otto Porter, Devin Robinson (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!