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 nine-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- The Cheap – Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs: $7.4 million
White is a starting point guard, and there is very rarely a starting player available for this price that we would not take a fantasy interest in. In the two games he has started and not been on a minutes limit in, he has recorded 34.8 and 20.5 fantasy points. He may be inexperienced at the NBA level still, but with no competition for playing time right now beyond fill-in point Bryn Forbes, White has the opportunity to keep giving us this kind of value.
- The Mid-Ranger – Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies: $11.9 million
Conley continues to outperform his price, a price which the algorithms continue to tank by using last year’s lengthy injury absence. He has emphatically ended a short shooting slump with fantasy point performances of 53.8 and 31.3. The low end of that pairing is still very strong value, but the top end is self-evidently excellent.
- The Pricy – Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics: $18.3 million
The Celtics are not off to a good start offensively as they work to reintegrate Gordon Hayward, and many of their key players are shooting inefficiently. Kyrie has started to find his feet, though; his last three fantasy point performances have been 44.4, 54.5 and 60.4, and his average over the last six games has been a very strong 48.1. Going up against Ryan Arcidiacono and the Chicago Bulls won’t hurt his case tonight, either.
- The Cheap – Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat: $7.6 million
Ellington has been taken out of the starting line-up, yet he seems firmly back in the rotation as an offensively limited Heat team seek extra options. He has dropped four three-pointers in each of the last two points in a hefty minute share, and has averaged 20.0 fantasy points per game in that time. The Heat need a shooter, and Dion Waiters is still not back – even if he was, Ellington’s humility would make him a better fit anyway.
- The Mid-Ranger – Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks $11.4 million
The Bucks remain among the NBA’s best teams, and Brogdon’s headiness and versatility are a large part of why. The always-solid sophomore starts at off-guard, is capable of filling in at point or defending those bigger than he, and despite not being a focal scorer, he has value for us in fantasy too. He is also on a hot streak, having recorded 38.7 and 31.1 fantasy points in his last two games.
- The Pricy – Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: $16.2 million
With his third 40+ fantasy point performance in the last four games, LaVine has raised his average in that time to 46.4. The price continues to increase, but with peers in his price range such as Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal struggling, LaVine represents the best top-end value tonight.
- The Cheap – O.G. Anunoby, Toronto Raptors: $8.2 million
‘Moved to the bench by incoming coach Nick Nurse, Anunoby is growing offensively beyond the very limited catch-and-shoot role he had last year. It is not all that much bigger, to be fair, but the overall improvements to the Raptors’ offence and its efficiency benefits anybody who can cut and run. As one such player, Anunoby has ridden three consecutive 20+ fantasy point performances to an average of 24.3 in that time.
- The Mid-Ranger – Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies: $10.4 million
Playing both forward spots and being an important rebounder on a team that overall is very bad at it, Anderson is getting a big load of the minutes with playing time rivals Chandler Parsons and Dillon Brooks out. He has averaged 28.0 fantasy points over the last four games, and those injured rivals do not figure to be back tonight.
- The Pricy – Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors: $17.5 million
Although his last two performances have averaged out to only 35.7 fantasy points, Leonard’s average on the season is 44.1. That is double his cost in production, and no one else at the high end at this position routinely offers that. Nor at any position, really.
- The Cheap – Mike Muscala, Philadelphia 76ers: $7.3 million
Back now from injury, Muscala figures to have a much increased role after the Jimmy Butler deal. With Dario Saric gone, so has the team’s front court depth and only consistent front court shooter. Considering this is a team that uniquely starts two non-shooting guards, a frontcourt shooter is needed, and in his first game back, Muscala took plenty of shots on his way to 24.1 fantasy points.
- The Mid-Ranger – Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors: $12.3 million
Siakam’s breakout continues to impress. He won player of the week this week after averaging 20 points per game, becoming quite the ball handler beyond just being an energy guy. From a fantasy point of view, that has correlated to a 35.1 fantasy points per game over the last seven. That is very good from a mid-range price point like his.
- The Pricy(er) – Jaren Jackson Jr, Memphis Grizzlies: $12.6 million
Less consistently than Siakam, Jackson is nevertheless doing much the same thing. In a short Grizzlies rotation, Jackson both starts at power forward and backs up at centre, and despite being somewhat raw as a prospect, he has endless length and enough raw skills in all areas to be a heavy contributor on a good day. Three of his last four games have been such good days, recording between 38.7 and 43.4, and while the 12.7 game that also came in that stretch tanks the average, the upside to picking him is clearly there.
- The Cheap – Ed Davis, Brooklyn Nets: $9.4 million
With Jarrett Allen out, Davis got a bigger role off the bench last game, even though Rondae Hollis-Jefferson got the starting role as a very small ball centre. Davis was the best rebounder off the bench last season, and needed to be so again in this game, recording 14 of them in only 26 minutes. That correlated to a 29.8 fantasy point performance, and as the only non-Allen plus rebounder on the team, Davis will need to play a good amount tonight.
- The Mid-Ranger – Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers: $11.8 million
Thompson is sizzling hot as a fantasy point option right now. Empowered more offensively to try and take on possessions in the post, Thompson is also absolutely all over the glass, recording 21 rebounds in yet another 39.7 fantasy point performance last night. That raises his fantasy point average over the last seven to 34.3, an almost 300% mark-up that seems to be coming very consistently right now.
- The Pricy – Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: $20.9 million
Few other high-priced players have put in the quality of production that Embiid has. It is not hugely consistent; in his last six games, he has managed to recording outings in each of the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. But his average over the last seven has been a hefty 54.0, and Nikola Vucevic is not going to keep him off the glass tonight.
Point guard – Mike Conley, $11.9 million
Shooting guard – Terrence Ross, $8.9 million
Small forward – Giannis Antetokounmpo, $24.6 million
Power forward – Pascal Siakam, $12.3 million
Centre – Joel Embiid, $20.9 million
Bench – Derrick White, $7.4 million
Bench – Tristan Thompson, $11.8 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: Jabari Bird (Boston), Caris LeVert, Treveon Graham, Jarrett Allen (Brooklyn), Denzel Valentine, Bobby Portis, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen (Chicago), Kyle Korver, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, George Hill, Sam Dekker (Cleveland), Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas), Luke Kennard (Detroit), Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green, Ivan Rabb, Dillon Brooks, Omri Casspi (Memphis), Dion Waiters, Dwyane Wade, James Johnson (Miami), D.J. Wilson, Trevon Duval (Milwaukee), Jonathan Isaac, Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Zhaire Smith, Justin Patton (Philadelphia), Mo Harkless (Portland), Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV (San Antonio), Norman Powel, C.J. Miles (Toronto), Raul Neto (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!