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 $27 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 short three-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 Toronto Raptors
The choice match-up of the night is the best team in the East versus the two-time defending NBA champion. Golden State have been struggling a bit without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, although both are soon to return, while Toronto are playing excellent basketball and have been all year. Up first on the schedule, this should also be a barnstormer.
Point guard – Quinn Cook, Golden State Warriors: $9.6 million
Shooting guard – Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors: $14.7 million
Small forward – Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors: $22.8 million
Power forward – Jonas Jerebko, Golden State Warriors: $7.2 million
Centre – Damian Jones, Golden State Warriors: $7.0 million
It is not a coincidence that these five represent the five major minute getters for the Warriors right now. At the top, Durant has been used Curry’s absence to play a more ball-dominant point forward role than before, and he has responded with more production than ever before; his price has grown to an enormous level to reflect this, but it is one worth paying. Thompson has also benefitted from the absence, as he becomes a much more featured shooting weapon in the backcourt, as has Cook, who always benefits from a fantasy point of view whenever Curry is out. And up front, the pairing of Jerebko and Jones are currently favoured ahead of Jordan Bell et al as the frontcourt options, and both are playing with some value; Jerebko has averaged 20.2 fantasy points over the last seven games, while Jones has averaged 17.2 in the last five of his own. They are thus both good potential bench picks.
Small forward – Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors: $18.7 million
Power forward – Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors: $14.1 million
Regular readers of this column will have noted how regular of daily pick suggestions these two are, and with good reason. Since pretty much game one of the season, we have lauded them both for their consistent value – Kawhi, because his price has been tempered by his lengthy absence last season, and Siakam, because his has been tempered by the fact he wasn’t this good last season. Both have grown steadily to the point where the value is just about starting to diminish, yet both are still offering it; Kawhi has averaged 46 fantasy points over his last four, while the remarkably consistent Siakam is working a 34.5 per game fantasy point streak of his own over twice that amount of games. Just be aware up until the deadline of the real threat of Kawhi being rested tonight, which is as yet unclear.
Indiana Pacers vs L.A. Lakers
After a slow start, one that was probably inevitable given the seismic shifts of their offseason, the Lakers have found form. Winners of seven of their last ten games, they have started to figure out how to play alongside LeBron James, and how to do more than just run the ball. The Pacers meanwhile have weathered the recent absence of their All-Star wing man Victor Oladipo to remain as the fourth seed in the East, and boast a strong continuity relative most of the rest of the league.
Centre – Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: $12.4 million
As opposed to most if not all others on this list, Turner does not find his way into this list on account of the excellent recent form and fantasy value he has been playing with of late. He has only averaged 27 fantasy points over his last 10 games, albeit with a 48 point outing last time out. Instead, Turner is listed here on account of his match-up tonight. While he is not merely a pick-and-pop player, Turner is in part one, and tonight’s opposing centres for him (JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler) do not step up. They have the length to contest, certainly, and run well in a straight line, but they sag back, mindful of their lack of lateral speed. Turner then could be fed a steady diet of open looks tonight. Here’s hoping it’s one of those hot nights in which he hits them.
Shooting guard – Lance Stephenson, L.A. Lakers: $6.9 million
Shooting guard – Josh Hart, L.A. Lakers: $8.2 million
Centre – JaVale McGee, L.A. Lakers: $12.3 million
Although we haven’t pick McGee much of late, due to price increases and a slight decrease in his production, he has been a regular pick in this space for much of the season, on account of what is essentially a early 30s breakout season. The flip side of what is said above about Myles Turner could also work in JaVale’s favour here – he might not get many blocks on Turner’s jumpers, but he also won’t be putting up much swattable of his own, and Turner does not always play with the energy and toughness that would maximise his talents. If he is not sharp out there, McGee will routinely outrun him. Meanwhile, with Rajon Rondo still out at point guard, Lonzo Ball might also miss tonight’s game as well. Keep an eye on that, because if he does, Stephenson and Hart will be the beneficiaries.
Sacramento Kings vs L.A. Clippers
The final match-up of the night features two teams that were in the lottery last season, but are much improved to start this one. Both the Kings and Clippers are in the provisional playoff seeds as things stand; the Kings are doing it through increased pace and space, while the Clippers just have an awful lot of weapons to throw at anybody.
Shooting guard – Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings: $13.3 million
One of the drivers of that Kings improvement has been Hield, who has shown a much better and well rounded offensive game this season. Always a good shooter, Hield is driving to the rim more now too, and getting out in transition. As well as because of a minute increase, Hield is using that added production to average 30 fantasy points over his last ten games.
Point guard – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, L.A. Clippers: $9.8 million
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $13.1 million
Centre – Boban Marjanovic, L.A. Clippers: $6.9 million
At this point, Harrell is a must-pick, and he has been for a while. One of the breakout players of the season, the fact that Harrell comes off the bench for the Clippers does nothing to diminish his impact, for neither his team nor us in fantasy, where he is averaging 33 fantasy points scored over his last ten games. Gilgeous-Alexander is currently the starting small forward and too heady to ever put up a doughnut, averaging 22 fantasy points of his own in the same span. And while Marjanovic would not normally be on our radar, the same caveat applies with him, as ever; consider him whenever one of the two players in front of him in the rotation (in this instance token starter Marcin Gortat) is out. As limited as he is defensively, he is extremely production in minutes through his layups and rebounding alone, and minutes will be coming tonight.
Point guard – Quinn Cook, $9.6 million
Shooting guard – Klay Thompson, $14.7 million
Small forward – Kevin Durant, $22.8 million
Power forward – Pascal Siakam, $14.1 million
Centre – Boban Marjanovic, $6.9 million
Bench -Kawhi Leonard, $18.7 million
Bench – Montrezl Harrell, $13.1 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: Ste
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!