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 $28 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 team 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.
Point guard -Kris Dunn, Chicago Bulls: $13.5 million
Zach LaVine returning in the last game did relegate Dunn down to being the second man in the backcourt scoring hierarchy for Chicago, yet he remains their lead defender. He would also probably stand to benefit from having such a willing offensive playmaker in LaVine alongside him more, as that is the area in which he struggles the most. By virtue of his defensive value, Dunn has nonetheless averaged 38.0 fantasy points per game over his last four.
Point guard – Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors: $10.9 million
Kyle Lowry, who has been in and out of the line-up, is back out of it tonight. This therefore opens up a starting spot for VanVleet, and while Kawhi Leonard will be more Pippeny than usual and assume a larger ball-handling responsibility in Lowry’s absence, VanVleet has value in these situations too. Indeed, last time it happened, he consistently scored above 30 fantasy points per game.
Shooting guard – Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: $18.1 million
Maybe Booker should stay at point guard full time, and maybe he shouldn’t. Either way, that is where he is short term, and the boost to his production that comes from having all these extra assists is a boost to us here in fantasy as well. Three of Booker’s last five games have seen him exceed the 50 fantasy point mark, and there is a 60 point game in there for good measure too.
Shooting guard – Lou Williams, L.A. Clippers: $12.6 million
Williams’s recent stretch of play mimics the excellence with which he shone during the middle third of last season. In three games since returning from injury, he has posted fantasy point lines of 41.2, 38.9 and 39.6, a very tight and consistent band. Williams has not been the player this year that he was last year, partly due to the excess of guards that his team now has, yet this is a good sign and excellent value.
Shooting guard – Josh Hart, L.A. Lakers: $8.8 million
Shooting guard – Lance Stephenson, L.A. Lakers: $6.6 million
Small forward – Brandon Ingram, L.A. Lakers: $12.1 million
With LeBron James out, many Lakers stand to benefit as individuals from a statistical point of view, not least of which are these three. Ingram and Stephenson both take on a more prominent playmaking role (particularly so given that Rajon Rondo is also now out as well with another hand injury), and in the first LeBron-less game thus far, they both responded with increased production, Ingram putting in 32.6 fantasy points and Stephenson putting in 19.9. Hart meanwhile got the start, and while he has not been able to continue the momentum he had as a rookie (due to in part to injury, in part to the preference of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as the wing defensive specialist, and in part due to his apparent lack of further development), he did come through with a big 29.8 fantasy point performance. If he keeps starting, then opportunities for more of the same will be plentiful.
Power forward – Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets: $9.0 million
In one of the more unexpected fantasy developments of the season, Kurucs continues to perform far over the odds as a starter. Having put up 33.6 and 32.0 in his previous two contests, we were concerned going into the Nets’ last game as to whether Kurucs could sustain his hot streak. But it turns out he surpassed it, pouring in 40.9 more last time out. At this price, that cannot be passed up.
Power forward – Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls: $12.6 million
Value is relative to price, and price is relative to health. Having not been healthy, Markkanen is not pricy. But now, he is healthy. And with four of his last six games having seen him return more than 40.0 fantasy points, he is certainly currently valuable too.
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $12.3 million
While Harrell’s long streak of consistently strong fantasy value has ended, he still continues to pay big dividends half the time. Last game, he recorded a giant 54.3 fantasy points by virtue of recording 2 steals and 5 blocks to go with his usual points and rebounds. He cannot sustain that stocks rate every night, no one can, but the 22 points and 9 rebounds alone make for quite the fantasy night, and that, he can do.
Power forward – Larry Nance Jr, Cleveland Cavaliers: $14.9 million
There are six players on the Cavaliers’ roster who are realistically capable of playing centre. Kevin Love, John Henson, Tristan Thompson and Ante Zizic are all out tonight, and Channing Frye averages 8.1 minutes per game in the twilight of his career. The door is wide open for Nance, then.
Centre – Dewayne Dedmon, Atlanta Hawks: $12.9 million
Similar to the above with Nance, the Hawks are missing both of their other centres tonight in the forms of Miles Plumlee and Alex Len. So while John Collins can also play the position, the main onus falls onto Dedmon. And he has come through for us i nthis situation before, with two of his last four games returning more than 45 fantasy points.
Centre – Ivica Zubac, L.A. Lakers: $7.7 million
Having put up 402, 36.3 and 39.2 fantasy points in his previous three games as the fill-in starter at centre, we felt as though it was impossible to go away from Zubac as the starting fantasy centre pick before the Lakers’ last game. He did not however perform up to those same standards, recording only 14.0 points and not getting open as freely. Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe we will be vindicated again tonight, as 14.0 points is not that bad of value at this price either.
Point guard – Kris Dunn, $13.5 million
Shooting guard – Devin Booker, $18.1 million
Small forward – Kawhi Leonard: $20.6 million
Power forward – Lauri Markkanen: $12.6 million
Centre – Ivica Zubac, $7.7 million
Bench – Luka Doncic, $17.4 million
Bench – Rodions Kurucs, $9.0 million
In 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: Alex Len, Taurean Prince, Miles Plumlee (Atlanta), Allen Crabbe, Dzanan Musa, Treveon Graham, Caris LeVert (Brooklyn), Bobby Portis, Denzel Valentine (Chicago), Kevin Love, John Henson, Tristan Thompson, Ante Zizic, Rodney Hood, David Nwaba (Cleveland), Dennis Smith Jr, Wes Matthews (Dallas), Isaiah Thomas, Jarred Vanderbilt, Michael Porter Jr, Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, Will Barton (Denver), Ish Smith, Henry Ellenson, Glenn Robinson III (Detroit), Tyreke Evans (Indiana), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, LeBron James, Michael Beasley (L.A. Lakers), Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic (Miami), Jeff Teague (Minnesota), Elfrid Payton, Nikola Mirotic (New Orleans), Andre Roberson, Paul George, Alex Abrines (Oklahoma City), Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Jamal Crawford (Phoenix), Dejounte Murray, Pau Gasol (San Antonio), Jordan Loyd, Chris Boucher, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto), Otto Porter Jr, 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!