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 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.
Point guard – Bryn Forbes, San Antonio Spurs: $8.9 million
Shooting guard – DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs: $16.4 million
Forbes has been the model of consistency. In five games this season, Forbes has posted fantasy point performances of 21.6, 22.4, 22.7, 23.1 and 23.9, as tight of a range as is feasible, and for a sub-$10 million price, consistently good value too. DeRozan meanwhile has really shown great strides as a primary playmaker, and has averaged 47.3 fantasy points per game over those same five games, including two performances in the 60s. He should really cost $20 million in fantasy, but until he does, buy on his value.
Point guard – Cameron Payne, Chicago Bulls: $10.3 million
Shooting guard – Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: $14.6 million
Similarly to the above, this duo form the Bulls’ current starting backcourt. But there is not the same consistency with Payne that there is with Forbes above. Over the last four games, Payne has recorded outings of 9.4, 36.0, 25.7 and 13.9 fantasy points – the average of 21.3 is there, as is the upside on a good night, but there is risk involved. LaVine has been scorching the Nets to begin this season, recording a fantasy point average of 39.1 and an actual points per game average of not much less than that. His fantasy value has been there throughout. Be warned of tonight’s opponent, though – the Warriors.
Small forward – Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors: $16.3 million
Even though he has recorded consecutive fantasy point performances in the 50s, and is back to playing among the NBA’s very best players, Kawhi’s price has not gone up. He is thus a very, very logical buy here.
Small forward – Damyean Dotson, New York Knicks: $8.0 million
Power forward – Noah Vonleh, Portland Trail Blazers: $8.3 million
For whatever reason, the Knicks last time out decided to start what had been their reserve front court and bring their usual starters off the bench. This meant starts for Dotson and Vonleh, who had been productive players off the bench anyway. Dotson has averaged 28.4 fantasy points since joining the rotation over the last four games, while Vonleh, who has always been in it, has averaged 22.9.
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings: $10.9 million
Zach Randolph didn’t do anything wrong last year – he did the job he has been doing for nearly two decades now. But despite him being healthy right now, the Kings have decided to move with the times and play a four man with greater shooting range and perimeter skills. This will be Marvin Bagley’s role down the road, but it is Bjelica’s for now, and he has responded with a 30.8 fantasy point average on the season. It has been a very inconsistent average – his individual scores have been 33.6, 6.7, 35.0, 13.9, 45.7 and 49.9. But the top of that range is a truly excellent return.
Power forward – Taj Gibson, Minnesota Timberwolves: $10.7 million
One of the last of the traditional power forwards, Gibson has been a stalwart as the rest of the Timberwolves implode around him. He has averaged 25.0 fantasy points per game on the season, in a much more consistent way than Bjelica has. If you want a mid-price power forward, these two are the best options tonight, and it is up to you how devil-may-care you feel.
Centre – Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: $12.3 million
Centre – JaVale McGee, L.A. Lakers: $11.0 million
Centre – Zach Collins, Portland Trail Blazers: $8.7 million
Centre – Ed Davis, Brooklyn Nets: $8.6 million
Centre – Damian Jones, Golden State Warriors: $6.6 million
We have picked all five of these centres regularly thus far this season, and with prices having frozen, we still will. Jones and Davis play the fewest minutes, yet Davis has been extremely consistent in his 20.0 fantasy point average on the season, while for a basement price, Jones is a starting centre putting up 18.0 of his own. Collins may be a reserve, but the starter ahead of him, Jusuf Nurkic, is a liability in certain match-ups, and thus Collins is getting a good volume of court time of his own, averaging 25.4 fantasy points through his first five. Allen is slowly becoming one of the East’s best centres, averaging 30.1 fantasy points per game, while McGee has been the breakout fantasy player of the year thus far, yet to record any single outing below 23.5 fantasy points on his way to an average of 35.8. Unless you are feeling a high price centre (like, say, Joel Embiid feasting on a struggling Hawks team that will be without John Collins), find your value at centre among this quintet.
PG – Damian Lillard, $21.0 million
SG – DeMar DeRozan, $16.4 million
SF – Kawhi Leonard, $16.3 million
PF – Nemanja Bjelica, $10.9 million
C – JaVale McGee, $11.0 million
Bench – Jarrett Allen, $12.3 million
Bench -Rodney McGruder, $10.5 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: Justin Anderson, Alex Poythress, John Collins (Atlanta), Rodions Kurucs, Kenneth Faried, Treveon Graham, DeMarre Carroll (Brooklyn), Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, Denzel Valentine (Chicago), Dirk Nowitzki, Devin Harris (Dallas), DeMarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston (Golden State), Tyreke Evans (Indiana), Moritz Wagner, Alex Caruso (L.A. Lakers), JamesJohnson, Dion Waiters (Miami), D.J. Wilson, Trevon Duval, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Justin Patton, Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota), Darius Miller, Elfrid Payton, Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Knox, Courtney Lee (New York), Wilson Chandler, Zhaire Smith, Jerryd Bayless (Philadelphia), Mo Harkless (Portland), Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kosta Koufos (Sacramento), Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White (San Antonio), Fred VanVleet (Toronto)
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!