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 for tonight’s short three-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS VS HOUSTON ROCKETS
Point guard – Quinn Cook, Golden State Warriors: $8.4 million
Cook has been starting at point guard for the Warriors in the absence of Steph Curry, and while he cannot do much be a one-man system in the way that Steph is, he can at least hit a jumpshot and a floater off the dribble. The Warriors do not have the depth of shooting that many of their peers to – they have three great ones, yet struggle beyond that, particularly in rotations lacking Curry – and so Cook has a job to do. This means he has minutes coming to him, despite his tiny price.
Small forward – Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors: $21.2 million
The aforementioned injury to Curry has meant Durant has essentially played full time point forward of late. This combined with being the primary scorer and primary rim protector has seen him put up numbers, many numbers, to the tune of a 60+ fantasy point average over the last week. It won’t last forever, but with so few pricy picks on such a short slate tonight, who else would you rather have?
Small forward – James Ennis, Houston Rockets: $7.2 million
Small forward – P.J. Tucker, Houston Rockets: $10.3 million
The stark lack of frontcourt depth for Houston right now will directly benefit this pairing. Carmelo Anthony is done, Nene is still out, so is Gerald Green tonight, and it seems as though Marquese Chriss is not to be trusted. Impressive rookie Gary Clark may also be out tonight – this pairing, then, may get as close to 40 minutes as they can handle. And while they need setting up for all their offence, both do have a knack for being around the ball and winning possesions.
ATLANTA HAWKS VS DENVER NUGGETS
Centre – Miles Plumlee, Atlanta Hawks: $5.9 million
As of the time of writing, Plumlee may be the Hawk’s only available big man tonight. Dewayne Dedmon and John Collins are definitely out, and Alex Len is listed as questionable. It therefore may fall to Plumlee by default to start at the five against Nikola Jokic. Plumlee against Jokic is not going to be a good match-up for Atlanta, but it is at least better than all the alternatives, and if he can stay out of foul trouble, he should make some decent fantasy contributions for a basement price.
Small forward – Juancho Hernangomez, Denver Nuggets: $7.9 million
Juancho has been starting at his listed fantasy position for a few games now, after the Nuggets moved out Torrey Craig’s defence-with-little-offence for his shooting-but-exposed-lack-speed package. He has been getting big minutes, too, including nearly 40 last time out. And while his inability to create his own shot makes him a limited scorer (spot-ups, scrappy ones and cuts off Jokic are the only real ways he gets anything), Hernangomez is playing enough to be a very realistic fantasy pick currently.
Point guard – Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets: $9.2 million
Morris has been playing excellently off of the bench, so much so that there is a rumbling that he will move into the starting line-up soon. Jamal Murray and Gary Harris play very similarly offensively, but Murray is giving less on defence, and while the presence of Jokic in the starting unit makes for lesser point guard responsibilities than most teams normally need, Morris’s defence, timely scoring, solid handle and remarkable efficiencies make him a very solid guard off the bench and a good pick for us here, too.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS VS L.A. CLIPPERS
Centre – Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio: $5.7 million
With Pau Gasol out, Poeltl has an expanded role right now. He is getting fewer minutes with the Spurs as a sophomore than he did with the Raptors as a rookie, yet right now he represents the primary reserve big for the Spurs, and came through with a 26.3 fantasy point performance last time out. It is true to say that this is his only distinctly good game all season; nevertheless, with his scoring and block rates so much lower than last season, there is proven growth potential for Poeltl’s fantasy value right now.
Point guard – Derrick White, San Antonio: $7.6 million
Starting at point guard indefinitely, White has now recorded three consecutive fantasy point performances of above 20+. Two of them have been only just over 20.0, admittedly. But at this price, even that is strong value, and his minute share is pretty high.
Point guard – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, L.A. Clippers: $9.7 million
Gilgeous-Alexander may be a rookie, and a young one, but he is a good one, and he has come in ready to play. Receiving 27.8 minutes per game, he contributes in all categories, and is proving to be unplayable. Now into the starting line-up in a role it would be a surprise if he ever relinquished, SGA is offering starter production for a bench price.
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $12.5 million
While Harrell is essentially the reserve centre on this team, it does not make him the inferior centre. Marcin Gortat starts, but he is lumbering, routinely attacked on defence, and does not get enough pick through his offensive game to make up for it. Harrell is thus the bigger minute winner, and the better player, recording a giant 44 fantasy points last time out.
Point guard – Monte Morris, $9.2 million
Shooting guard – James Harden, $24.2 million
Small forward – Kevin Durant, $21.2 million
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, $12.5 million
Centre – Clint Capela, $16.6 million
Bench – Derrick White, $7.6 million
Bench – Quinn Cook, $8.4 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: Justin Anderson, Dewayne Dedmon, Alex Len, John Collins (Atlanta), Jarred Vanderbilt, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Porter Jr, Will Barton (Denver), Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins (Golden State), Gary Clark, Nene, Brandon Knight, Gerald Green, Carmelo Anthony (Houston), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Avery Bradley (L.A. Clippers), Dejounte Murray, Pau Gasol, Lonnie Walker IV (San Antonio)
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!