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 nine-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- The Cheap – D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic: $8.4 million
At this price point, we mostly find reserves. Yet Augustin has been the Magic’s starting point guard for almost a full calendar year now, and here he is costing below $10 million. This is of course because of the fact that, for a starter, he is not hugely productive. But with little competition for his spot, Augustin can serve up great value on the right night, and has averaged 35.3 fantasy points per game over his last two.
- The Mid-Ranger – Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets: $13.3 million
Isaiah Thomas may never play for the Nuggets. Even if he does ever get healthy, it would appear that Morris has locked up the backup point guard position. A very solid floor general and decision-maker, Morris gets things done n the court without the usual athletic profile, and has contributed a very consistent last seven fantasy games, all between 28.0 and 36.7 fantasy points per game.
- The Pricy – Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets: $19.6 million
Although he is not among the league’s absolute leaders in points per game any more, Walker is still having a career season, and playing to excellent fantasy value. In his last five games, Walker has averaged 45.6 fantasy points per contest; compare him for example to the similarly priced Jamal Murray (35.4 over his last five for $17.9 million), and his value shows up better.
- The Cheap – Malik Beasley, Denver Nuggets: $8.6 million
With Gary Harris and Will Barton out, the Nuggets are looking for wings, and Beasley is getting his longest run in the NBA as a result. He has recorded more than 20 fantasy points per game in each of his last three contests, and has an average of 28.4 per game in that time. Harris will be out for a while longer, and thus Beasley stays on our radar for a while.
- The Mid-Ranger – Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets: $10.9 million
After a hugely disappointing start to his season overall, Gordon has finally found something. Four consecutive fantasy point performances in the 30s have come with an average of 31.4 in that time, a very good mark-up on this price. They have also come very consistently; each of those four games have come in the very tight span between 30.4 and 32.8 fantasy points per game. Long may it continue.
- The Pricy – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $23.9 million
Alongside Gordon in the starting back court right now back at the point guard position, Harden has ascended back to the top of the league’s scoring charts, and has opened a gap to the field. From a fantasy point of view, this has meant a colossal 63.6 average over his past eight. He has become the second priciest player on the slate for a reason.
- The Cheap – Danuel House, Houston Rockets: $8.1 million
With James Ennis III out long term and Carmelo Anthony dispensed with, mid-season pick-up House has become the fifth starter for the Rockets. And while his relative lack of seniority and ball-handling ability limits him to a finisher’s offensive role, the minutes are there enough for him to contribute a decent amount in fantasy. Both of House’s last two games have seen him crack the 20 point mark in fantasy, recording 21.8 and 24.6 respectively.
- The Mid-Ranger – T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns: $13.7 million
Having much improved as a long range shooter over the summer, it seems, Warren is improving as a fantasy player too. Although he has been in and out of the line-up with minor injuries as struggles as do all the Suns with the lack of cohesion and quality around him, that same lack of talent gives him opportunities. And with that in mind, we should take note of Warren’s 33.8 fantasy point average over his last nine games.
- The Pricy – Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors: $22.8 million
Purely because such matters are cyclical, there is only one small forward available on tonight’s slate who costs more than $15.7 million. Durant costs far more than second-placed Rudy Gay because he is far more productive than Rudy Gay, and so while his Warriors as a unit seem to have lost their way, no one has ever stopped Durant as an individual. In his last four games, Durant has averaged 55.4 fantasy points per contest.
- The Cheap – Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors: $9.4 million
There is nothing spectacular about Looney, in terms of both his play, his physical profile, what he does, how he does it, or how much of it he does. There is thus nothing spectacular about his fantasy candidacy, either. But what there is is consistency and tenacity, something fantasy also captures well; in each of his last four games, Looney has recorded between 21.0 and 23.4 fantasy points per contest.
- The Mid-Ranger – Marcus Morris, Boston Celtics: $13.1 million
It is increasingly a mystery why the Celtics are not better than they are. Distinctly less than the sum of their parts, the should-be contenders keep dropping games, and the circumstantial reasons for it must run out eventually. Nevertheless, Morris as an individual is continuing to produce some numbers, which makes sense given his style of play that tends not to rely much on the help of others, and has averaged 29.8 fantasy points per game in three contests since returning from minor injury.
- The Pricy – Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns: $17.7 million
Do bear in mind here that there are quite a few fantasy picks in the mid-range area at the power forward position that draw the eye. Morris above is one, but so too are regular picks in this space Larry Nance, Montrezl Harrell, Jaren Jackson Jr and Noah Vonleh. If you have money to spend at this position, though, note the recent production of the rookie Ayton, who has averaged 45.8 fantasy points per game over his last five. Ayton is also tonight going up against the Denver Nuggets, who, while they top the league’s rebounding percentage chart on the season as a whole, are not as good on the glass or defensively without the man who would be Ayton’s primary match-up, Paul Millsap.
- The Cheap – Ian Mahinmi, Washington Wizards: $5.7 million
Missing four of their season-opening starters of late, the Wizards have had to give another chance to the limited but expensive Mahinmi. Jason Smith has been salary dumped, Dwight Howard has been hurt, and Markieff Morris has massively disappointed, so someone has to back up the plucky sophomoric play of Thomas Bryant. Pleasingly, though, Mahinmi has actually given the team some good minutes, and has averaged 20.6 fantasy points over the last two games.
- The Even Cheaper – Luke Kornet, New York Knicks: $6.1 million
With Mitchell Robinson out through injury, as well as of course Kristaps Porzingis, the sophomore Luke Kornet has been moved into the starting line-up. In theory a stretch five who can also defend the basket, Kornet’s potential for putting up numbers via both the three-pointer and the blocked shot (both of which score three fantasy points) give him potential for us here in the game. And last time out, he realised that potential with a giant 36.1 fantasy point performance.
- The Mid-Ranger – Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets: $10.8 million
Zeller was once a regular pick in this space on account of his consistency of fantasy point scoring in the twenties. That consistency, it seems, is gone now. Now, he is mixing in as many performances in the teens as he is in the 40s. But at this price, that represents an excellent potential upside.
Point guard – Tomas Satoransky, $10.2 million
Shooting guard – Bradley Beal, $20.4 million
Small forward – Kevin Durant, $22.8 million
Power forward – Noah Vonleh, $12.4 million
Centre – Cody Zeller, $10.8 million
Bench – Montrezl Harrell $12.3 million
Bench – Eric Gordon, $10.9 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: Taurean Prince, Miles Plumlee, Alex Len (Atlanta), Robert Williams, Aron Baynes, Jabari Bird (Boston), J.R. Smith, John Henson, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Ante Zizic, David Nwaba, Rodney Hood (Cleveland), Jarred Vanderbilt, Isaiah Thomas, Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr (Denver), Glenn Robinson II, Ish Smith, Henry Ellenson (Detroit), DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones (Golden State), James Ennis, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul (Houston), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Chandler Parsons, Dillon Brooks, (Memphis), Nikola Mirotic, Elfrid Payton (New Orleans), Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr, Isaiah Hicks, Mitchell Robinson (New York), Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Grayson Allen, Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, Naz Mitrou-Long (Utah), Markieff Morris, John Wall, Otto Porter, 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!