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 ten-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- The Cheap – Elie Okobo, Phoenix Suns: $6.8 million
De’Anthony Melton has been the Suns’ point guard starter for a while now, having won the spot from Okobo (too young) and Jamal Crawford (too old). However, Melton went out during the last game with injury. Okobo thus had a bigger role to play, and recorded 24.9 fantasy points in that game; if Melton is out again tonight, then it could happen again.
- The Mid-Ranger – Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards: $12.3 million
Satoransky is Robin to Brad Beal’s Batman. As Beal ascends to super stardom, he needs someone alongside him to play off of that, pick his spots, play heady and hit their shots. Satoransky is that player, and he posted 45.6 fantasy points last time out, his second 40+ performance in his last four games.
- The Pricy – D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets: $19.6 million
Russell is historically streaky, but he has not had a streak like this. In 11 January games, he has averaged 24.1 points, 7.7 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game, which from a fantasy point of view has meant a 47.2 fantasy point average over his last six games. Further aiding his fantasy candidacy tonight, should it be needed, is that his excellent backup Spencer Dinwiddie looks set to miss the game due to injury. Russell will thus have even more responsibility should he want it.
- The Cheap – Allonzo Trier, New York Knicks: $5.7 million
The Knicks’ rotation has been widely variable all year, with various younger players given lengthy run at varying times, not especially consistently. At times, Trier has been the beneficiary of this. And at other times, he has been on the bench watching others get their turn. Last time out, however, Trier went off for 31 points and 10 rebounds from the bench, totalling 47.5 fantasy points in all. Even a third of that again would be good value.
- The Other Cheap One – Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets: $8.6 million
Harris is a much more capable player than this price indicates, yet a long term injury and his struggles to fully recover from it have seen his price tank to this level. He still has not performed with much value at it, although the 22.4 fantasy points last time out was a step in the right direction. Harris however will be back to his mid- to high-20s range soon enough, though, and when he is, this will be excellent value. A match-up against the league-worst Suns tonight could be the catalyst.
- The Pricy – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $28.9 million
- The Cheap – Will Barton, Denver Nuggets: $10.7 million
Like Harris above, Barton’s price belies his ability, because of the injury that has cost him the majority of the season thus far. He too has not come back to his best yet, in part because the solid fill-in jobs by Torrey Craig and Juancho Hernangomez have made it possible to ease him back in. Last time out, however, Barton really kicked on, recording 43.3 fantasy points. And the above comment about the Suns applies here too.
- The Mid-Ranger – Josh Richardson, Miami Heat: $13.9 million
The Heat have changed their starting line-up, removing Rodney McGruder and Tyler Johnson, with a view to providing more ball handling and playing. They had previously been relying upon the forward duo of Richardson and Justise Winslow to do it, and while both have had some success in doing so, they are not front line creators yet. Johnson’s addition thus expands the floor for them, and in the first such game in this formation, Richardson recorded 33.5 fantasy points per game. Playing the Cavaliers tonight will only help, too.
- The Pricy – Trevor Ariza, Washington Wizards: $18.0 million
Well, this is a turn-up for the books. Since arriving back in Washington, Ariza has gone from low-usage defensive specialist into a featured offensive player, averaging 15.4 points per game in 17 contests for the Wizards, alongside 4.4 assists per game. Admittedly, it is borne out of need rather than desire, and it is not an efficient stretch, shooting only 38.3% from the field. But fantasy measures volume not efficiency, and over his last three games, Ariza has averaged 44.3 fantasy points per game. It feels as though it will end eventually, but it hasn’t yet.
- The Cheap – Kenneth Faried, Houston Rockets: $7.4 million
Having been bought out from the Nets, where he wasn’t used, Faried has gone to the Rockets, where he is unchallenged for minutes and can play as much as he can handle. Always a productive scorer and rebounder per minute, Faried has recorded 18.2 and 38.1 fantasy points per game in his two contests as a Rocket so far. The former is a good mark-up on this price, and the latter is huge.
- The Other Cheap One – Dragan Bender, Phoenix Suns: $8.3 million
Bender has started the last three games for the Suns at centre. He has had to, given that both Deandre Ayton and Richaun Holmes are out; with T.J. Warren also joining them on the injured list, Bender is now the only healthy front court player. He has thus played quite a bit, recorded two double-doubles, recorded three consecutive fantasy point games between 27 and 29, and averaged 27.9 per game in that time.
- The Pricy – Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons: $21.6 million
It is not mattering all that much, given the limitations of the team around him. But know that Griffin is on a tear right now. In Andre Drummond’s absence, Blake has had to do the front court work of two people, and he has done. He has averaged 52.0 fantasy points per game over his last five, including a 60.3 fantasy point performance last time out.
- The Cheap – Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks: $5.7 million
The Knicks have committed to their young centre duo of Mitchell Robinson and Luke Kornet ahead of Enes Kanter, and have also subsequently lost Kornet due to injury. The door is thus wide open for Robinson, then, and all season long, he has been productive per minute. Last time out, Robinson recorded 25.2 fantasy points, and the only thing that really slows him ever is foul problems.
- The Mid-Ranger – Ante Zizic, Cleveland Cavaliers: $10.0 million
Zizic has had a free run at the centre spot for the Cavaliers of late, as every other option capable of playing the position outside of the very short minutes to Channing Frye have been injured at the same time. In that run, he has averaged 30.0 fantasy points per game, showing plenty of offensive touch and keeping pace better with the NBA game than ever before. Note that Larry Nance Jr should be back tonight, so Zizic no longer has a monopoly at the position, but Nance will probably be eased back in, so a Zizic pick should be good at least once more.
- The Pricy – Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic: $21.8 million
One of the breakout stars of the season, Vucevic has been a frequent appointee on this list. He has also been playing well of late, recording six consecutive fantasy point performances above the 40 point mark and averaging 49.4 in that time. He is also matched up against the Wizards tonight, among the league’s worst rebounding teams, and while Thomas Bryant has been a success as a fill-in starter, he is still likely no match for Vooch.
Point guard – Kemba Walker, $20.9 million
Shooting guard – James Harden, $28.9 million
Small forward – Luka Doncic, $18.8 million
Power forward – Dragan Bender, $8.3 million
Centre – Bismack Biyombo, $9.9 million
Bench – Kenneth Faried, $7.4 million
Bench – Mitchell Robinson, $5.7 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: Spencer Dinwiddie, Jared Dudley, Allen Crabbe, Dzanan Musa, Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Brooklyn), Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Wendell Carter Jr, Carmelo Anthony, Denzel Valentine (Chicago), J.R. Smith, John Henson, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, David Nwaba (Cleveland), J.J. Barea (Dallas), Jarred Vanderbilt, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Porter Jr (Denver), Ish Smith, Henry Ellenson, Andre Drummond (Detroit), Clint Capela, Chris Paul, Nene, Brandon Knight (Houston), Danilo Gallinari, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Chandler Parsons, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson (Memphis), Goran Dragic, Yante Maten (Miami), Trevon Duval, Donte DiVincenzo (Milwaukee), Tyus Jones, Derrick Rose, Robert Covington, Jeff Teague (Minnesota), Kristaps Porzingis, Emmanuel Mudiay, Luke Kornet (New York), Timofey Mozgov, Isaiah Briscoe (Orlando),T.J. Warren, De’Anthony Melton, Deandre Ayton, Richaun Holmes (Phoenix), Skal Labissiere (Sacramento), Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto), Thabo Sefolosha, Raul Neto, Tony Bradley, Ricky Rubio (Utah), Markieff Morris, John Wall, Dwight Howard (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!