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 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 – Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets: $18.4 million
Point guard – Tony Parker, Charlotte Hornets: $7.5 million
The Hornets have struggled for a backup point guard with some consistency for years, and while it is fair to say Parker’s performances with his new team have lacked for some of that consistency, he did turn back the clock last time out with an excellent 25 point, 11 assist outing. Two games before that, having missed the one in between for rest, he went for 18 points and 8 assists. Fair to say there is still something left to him. This in turn gives Walker much-needed help, and having ball handling and probing help, combined with a more fluid offensive team overall (see below), he too has thrived, averaging 45.6 fantasy points per game and far outperforming the Kyrie Irving-types also in his price range.
Shooting guard – Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings: $13.5 million
Hield is proving himself to be more than just a catch-and-shoot player. As a part of an expanded, more dynamic and sharper Kings offence, he is regularly foraying his way into the lane, through handle and guile rather than great physical gifts, and is either finishing at the rim or pulling up with aplomb. Combined with his three-point stroke and oddly good rebounding determination, Hield is averaging 38.1 fantasy points per game over the last four.
Point guard – Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers: $10.8 million
Shooting guard – Rodney Hood, Cleveland Cavaliers: $10.1 million
Small forward – Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers: $8.8 million
The Cavaliers are finally off the snide and have a win under their belt, but they are still very firmly stuck in stage one of a rebuild. What they have at least decided to do is do so with their youth. J.R. Smith has been removed from the rotation, Kyle Korver largely has been, and although it is only due to injury, Kevin Love is also out right now. Channing Frye initially got his starts, but now Sam Dekker does instead, and while Dekker is one to watch going forward (one very good outing has unfortunately been surrounded by a whole bunch of nothing), this trio have been featured increasingly heavily.
Osman has been a starter all year, and a good one for us in fantasy, averaging 24.7 fantasy points per game albeit with some streakiness. Sexton is getting more time after a slow start, averaging 25.9 fantasy points over the last three games, and both the opportunity and intent for him to win the spot over the underwhelming George Hill are there. And with someone needing to take on the offensive load opened up by Love’s temporary departure and LeBron’s permanent one, Rodney Hood has taken a lot of that on, averaging 36.1 fantasy points over the last two games.
Power forward – Jerami Grant, Oklahoma City Thunder: $9.4 million
Grant does not have the huge games we would like to be able to root out in any slate, but he is consistent quality value. Very consistent, even. He has averaged 21.6 fantasy points per game on the season, with every one of those performances coming between the 19.6 and 25.7 range. It does not really get more consistent than that.
Power f0rward – Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings: $11.9 million
Centre – Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: $14.8 million
Per the above and Buddy Hield, this season’s edition of the Kings look sharp, and their revised front court is a large part of why. While he is not tough on the glass or a leaper defensively, Bjelica is incredibly savvy on both ends, and so while he is best known for his ability to stretch the floor, he is also always cutting to the right spot and getting with the play defensively. He is on fire right now, averaging 33.1 fantasy points per game on the season but rising to 43.8 over the last four, and is pairing well with Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein’s own offensive skill and awareness have improved over the years, and, as a scorer now, he is averaging 35.2 fantasy points per game on the season. It is true that the Kings have not exactly beaten the toughest opposition, but they have beaten who they have faced, and they have looked sharp doing it. And these two are partly why.
Centre – Zach Collins, Portland Trail Blazers: $9.1 million
As mentioned before in previous entries, by virtue of being able to play on the perimeter on both ends better than the starter ahead of him, Jusuf Nurkic, Collins is getting more and more time off the bench, and is performing within it. He is averaging 25.2 fantasy points per game this season, and tonight, he will be matched up against the New Orleans Pelicans and their trio of Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle. These are not players Nurkic will be equipped to come out and handle, so Collins could get a good amount of time tonight.
Centre – Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets: $8.6 million
As a part of the aforementioned increase in pace, space, ball and man movement of the Hornets this season has been the starting of Cody Zeller at centre. As opposed to the post-up demands and lack of spacing brought about by Dwight Howard last year, Zeller plays more on the perimeter, not so much through taking jump shots (although there does seem to be more of an inclination to do to that year on year) but through plenty of dribble hand-offs and rolling to the rim, which gives the ball and players moving. He also still runs, boards, finishes and picks up some blocked shots, and so his success fuels Kembas’s and vice versa. On the season, Zeller is averaging 21.5 fantasy points per game, and they are coming consistently, too.
Point guard – Kemba Walker, $17.8 million
Shooting guard – Buddy Hield, $13.5 million
Small forward – Cedi Osman, $8.8 million
Power forward – Nikola Mirotic, $16.0 million
Centre – Joel Embiid, $21.2 million
Bench – Nemanja Bjelica, $11.8 million
Bench – Zach Collins, $9.1 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: John Collins, Justin Anderson (Atlanta), Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, Jabari Bird (Boston), Kevin Love (Cleveland), Michael Porter, Isaiah Thomas, Jarred Vanderbilt, Will Barton (Denver), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Donte DiVincenzo, Trevon Duval, D.J. Wilson (Milwaukee), Darius Miller (New Orleans), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Wilson Chandler, Jerryd Bayless, Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia), Mo Harkless (Portland), Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sacramento)
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!