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 six-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs: $14.0 million
White, despite his relative inexperience, is already one of the best defensive point guards in the league. His good size for the position, sufficient athleticism and sheer tenacity (leading the league in contested shorts per game among guards) mean that he puts in quite a lot of steals and blocks, the highest-scoring categories in fantasy play. Over his last six games, White has recorded a fantasy point average of 38.1 per game.
- Point guard – Elfrid Payton, New Orleans Pelicans: $14.0 million
The Pelicans were only willing or able to sign Payton to a one year contract last summer, yet as the rest of the season fell apart around him, it is worth their time to spend the last few weeks of the season establishing whether there is something within him worth keeping. Facilitating this further is the absence of Jrue Holiday due to injury – Payton thus currently has a large share of the available minutes and possessions, and has averaged 42.9 fantasy points per game over his last three, including a triple-double last time out.
- Shooting guard – Frank Jackson, New Orleans Pelicans: $6.7 million
Starting alongside Payton in the back court for the Pelicans is Jackson, who is also being given the opportunity to show he can be a part of things going forward. A scorer by trade, the Pelicans are learning that a Jackson/Payton pairing suffers defensively, yet unless you are Derrick White-like, fantasy value is best captured in scoring. And with this in mind, Jackson’s 21.6 fantasy point average over his last eight games intrigues.
- Shooting guard – Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards: $24.4 million
John Wall is out for the remainder of the season, and might also be out for the entirety of the next one. This has meant Bradley Beal has been given the opportunity to be the man, the lead guard, the ball-dominant offensive leader, the end-of-the-shot-clock guy, the top of the isolation possession food chain. Last year, in this role, Beal struggled for efficiency and consistency, yet there are no so problems this year, as he has grown into one of the best players in the league. From a fantasy point of view, Beal has recorded less than 40 fantasy points in only one of his past 20 games. Even James Harden has done it twice.
- Small forward – Damyean Dotson, New York Knicks: $10.0 million
Dotson continues to be the starting small forward for the Knicks, and continues to be an excellent fantasy pick. His last six games have seen him record 27.6, 26.0, 18.3, 32.3, 45.2 and 29.7 fantasy points, good for a 29.0 per game average, and yet he continues to cost only $10.0 million. An ancillary yet not entirely unexpected development of the Tim Hardaway Jr trade is the realisation that Dotson is basically the same player, for far cheaper.
- Power forward – Jabari Parker, Washington Wizards: $12.6 million
Between Parker, Bobby Portis and Jeff Green, the Wizards are running out a forward trio featuring plenty of scoring, ball handling, over-estimation of the quality of their jump shots, and defensive concerns. But because there are not many other options to choose from, the Wizards are trying to embrace that, and are playing an offensively-potent brand of basketball. Parker relishes any opportunities to try and score, and has been a highly effective sixth man for the team, averaging 29.8 fantasy points over his past eight games.
- Power forward – Richaun Holmes, Phoenix Suns: $7.9 million
Holmes continues to back up Deandre Ayton at centre, despite his positional listing here. Luckily, fouls don’t count against players in fantasy play. So Holmes’s enthusiastic mix of scoring and blocked shots has some value to us, given his fantasy points per game average of 20.4 per game over his past four contests.
- Centre – Robin Lopez, Chicago Bulls: $12.0 million
Whatever their motivations, the Bulls chose not to buy out Lopez’s contract, despite it being the norm for lottery teams to do to the contracts of expiring veterans. Instead, they are starting him at centre in Wendell Carter Jr’s absence, surely mindful of the fact that Cristiano Felicio is close to unplayable. And Lopez is responding, to the tune of a 31.5 fantasy point average over his last eleven games.
- Centre – Ivica Zubac, L.A. Clippers: $10.3 million
In addition to being a plenty capable scorer and good rebounder, Zubac has also become a better interior defender since joining the Clippers. Averaging 9.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for his new team, Zubac has averaged 24.4 fantasy points per game over his last ten games, a significant upgrade on the man he replaced, Marcin Gortat. And a significant downgrade for the Lakers for some reason.
Point guard – Rajon Rondo, $14.4 million
Shooting guard – Bojan Bogdanovic, $14.1 million
Small forward – Cedi Osman, $13.8million
Power forward – Kevin Love, $13.0 million
Centre – Nikola Vucevic, $22.7 million
Bench – Jalen Brunson, $12.2 million
Bench – JaVale McGee, $9.8 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: Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Denzel Valentine, Wendell Carter Jr, Chandler Hutchison (Chicago), Reggie Jackson (Detroit), Terrence Jones, Isaiah Hartenstein (Houston), Danilo Gallinari, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Tyson Chandler, Lance Stephenson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball (L.A. Lakers), Dwyane Wade (Miami), Trevon Duval, Sterling Brown (Milwaukee), E’Twaun Moore, Jrue Holiday, Trevon Blueitt (New Orleans), Isaiah Hicks, Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr (New York), Furkan Korkmaz (Philadelphia), Tyler Johnson, T.J. Warren, Jawun Evans (Phoenix), Mo Harkless, Seth Curry (Portland), Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, John Wall, Sam Dekker, Devin Robinson, 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!