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 team for tonight’s four-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 BROOKLYN NETS
The Warriors only have to string a few good minutes together to blow games open, and Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have taken it in turns thus far this season to put together completely unguardable match-winning performances. They are once again the best offensive team in the league, and, top of the Western standings right now, they remain a juggernaut. This is a scary proposition for a Nets team that do have two wins on the season, but only against fellow lottery dwellers in Atlanta and New York.
Shooting guard – Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets: $13.4 million
LeVert has been the starter all season long, and has averaged 33.8 fantasy points on the season. He provides good balance between D’Angelo Russell’s scoring tendencies and Joe Harris’s off-ball instincts, a good secondary ball handler and playmaker who has also developed his individual talents over his career. The risk of a Warriors blow-out win should be remembered when considering picking any Nets starters tonight, but at least the pace will be high.
Centre – Damian Jones, Golden State Warriors: $6.6 million
Centre – Ed Davis, Brooklyn Nets: $8.6 million
Centre – Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: $12.3 million
All three of this centre trio have been providing good fantasy value all season. Jones is a limited-minutes starter for the Warriors given the continued excellence of the Hampton Five, yet has averaged 19.0 fantasy points per game this season, doing so largely through high-value defensive statistics. Allen continues his growth as a finisher, athlete, rebounder and energetic defensive presence; he has averaged 30.3 fantasy points per game on the season, with four of his five games thus far each ranking in the thirties, while Davis is one of the league’s best rebounders off the bench. He has posted five games between 18.5 and 23.1 fantasy points per game, and it is basically impossible to be more consistent than that.
DALLAS MAVERICKS vs UTAH JAZZ
Dallas are committed to making it work with Luka Doncic, and while they are giving up a very large amount of points defensively, they are a middle-of-the-pick offensive team, which bodes well for individual player’s fantasy value. In contrast, Utah are one of the better defensive teams around, but although they are playing slightly faster this year, their relatively average pace and offensive efficiency combined with an extremely deep rotation can make fantasy value hard to find. Nevertheless, the idea of Donovan Mitchell going at this Mavericks defence should intrigue us here.
Power forward – Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks: $7.5 million
Kleber is proving the interior defence that DeAndre Jordan’s block shot numbers give the impression he is the one doing. It is not a fluke occurence – he was also doing this last season – and on the season to date, Kleber has improved his fantasy point performances in every game, peaking at 37.5 last time out. That is a 500% markup, which is almost unheard of.
Small forward – Thabo Sefolosha, Utah Jazz: $5.9 million
Bit of a risk here, perhaps, as Sefolosha has not played all season due to suspension, and while he will return tonight, it is unclear how big of a role he will have. Royce O’Neal and Georges Niang have both earned Quin Snyder’s trust in his absence, Jae Crowder is playing better than last year, while Dante Exum, Grayson Allen and Alec Burks are all playing in a deep rotation. And none of those guys are starters. A peak Thabo is better than most of those players, though, so if you want an extremely cheap pick who man return about 14 fantasy points, Thabo is an option.
PHOENIX SUNS vs OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
The Thunder are currently in last place in the Western Conference with an 0-4 record, even behind the 1-4 Suns, the consensus pick to finish last in the Conference. They are stone cold last in offensive efficiency and far from being the good defensive team they were last year, and are possibly also going into tonight without their superstar. Meanwhile, the GM-less, Devin Booker-less Suns are running fairly ragtag line-ups to four consecutive heavy defeats, yet their lowered fantasy prices as a unit means some good value can be found within.
Power forward – Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns: $15.4 million
The #1 overall pick in the last draft has started well, and shot 12-13 from the field for 24 points, 8 rebounds and 44.1 fantasy points in last night’s game. He is doing this without a backcourt around him that can regularly get him the ball in the right positions, so to have had four fantasy point performances above the 40 point mark in his first five games, as he has done, is a testament to a high talent level.
Point guard – Dennis Schroeder, Oklahoma City Thunder: $14.2 million
Russell Westbrook is questionable again tonight, and if he does not play, then Schroeder as ever should be in fantasy contention. The Thunder system is built around Westbrook and his usage rate, and Schroeder is in many ways a lesser version of Westbrook, playing similarly. He has been streaky on the season thus far, but against a Suns team with no senior point guards, he could go off tonight. So could Westbrook if he plays.
L.A. CLIPPERS vs WASHINGTON WIZARDS
It has been a streaky start for the Clippers, who have beaten the Rockets twice already yet lost to their comparable peers in the Nuggets and Pelicans to sit 3-2 on the season thus far. They have however averaged 113 points per game and run a very deep rotation with few stars, which invariably gives rise to good fantasy value picks. The Wizards meanwhile have struggled clearly and openly in their 1-4 start, looking very disjointed offensively and not especially effectual defensively either.
Small forward – Danilo Gallinari, L.A. Clippers: $13.5 million
Back from injury this season, Gallinari has been a strong 1B to Tobias Harris’s 1A and Lou Williams’s 1C. He has averaged 32.3 fantasy points per game on the season, not doing a whole bunch more than scoring the ball but doing so consistently enough so as to be a good consistent fantasy value option for us here. Let’s hope another injury is not forthcoming.
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $11.5 million
Although he comes off the bench at centre behind the much-declined Marcin Gortat, Harrell is arguably the Clippers’ best two-way player. He runs, rolls, dunks, finishes, post sup, boards, and this season is also showing out to be much better of a defensive force than ever before. Over the last three games, he has recorded 41.3 fantasy points per game, a huge mark-up on his price.
Small forward – Kelly Oubre Jr, Washington Wizards: $9.0 million
The Wizards are very short up front and there is an obvious discord within the team. They are also getting routinely seriously outrebounded. Dwight Howard is out and none of the other centre options are cutting it. Their best bet is to run the Wall/Beal/Oubre/Porter/Morris line-up for as much as possible, as it does at least get their most talented five players on the court at once. To that end, Oubre has played more of late, and has averaged 31.6 fantasy points per game over the last three. As always with Oubre, it is very streaky production, but very few other players for less than $10 million have this much upside on their variance.
PG – Dennis Schroeder, $14.2 million
SG – Caris LeVert, $13.4 million
SF – Danilo Gallinari, $13.5 million
PF – Montrezl Harrell, $11.5 million
C – Jarrett Allen, $12.3 million
Bench – Donovan Mitchell, $17.9 million
Bench – Deandre Ayton, $15.4 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: Treveon Graham, DeMarre Carroll, Rodions Kurucs, Kenneth Faried (Brooklyn), Dennis Smith Jr, Dirk Nowitzki, Devin Harris (Dallas), DeMarcus Cousins (Golden State), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), De’Anthony Melton, Devin Booker (Phoenix), Raul Neto (Utah), Markieff Morris, 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 pick advice!