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 tonight’s short four-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
UTAH JAZZ VS MIAMI HEAT
Small forward – Jae Crowder, Utah Jazz: $9.2 million
After a slow start, the Jazz have mixed things up, benching Derrick Favors (who does not pair well with Rudy Gobert in this new stretch four era) and are running a plethora of forward options with more of a perimeter focus instead. A big beneficiary of this is Crowder, who has averaged an even 23.0 fantasy points per game over his last six.
Shooting guard – Kyle Korver, Utah Jazz: $6.8 million
The Jazz traded to get Korver back with a view to playing him, not leaving him on the bench. In his first game with the team, Korver posted 19.9 fantasy points. This is a plenty foreseeable range for him going forward, and it represents a 300% mark-up on his price.
Shooting guard – Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat: $7.8 million
Starting at shooting guard so as to provide shooting to a depleted back court, Ellington is streaky like any shooter, but there’s good aspects to that streakiness. In his last four games, Ellington has posted outings of 34.4, 13.0, 39.5 and 15.8. So following the pattern, it seems another 30 pointer is in the offing.
Small forward – Josh Richardson, Miami Heat: $14.0 million
Richardson remains the Heat’s primary point guard, primary playmaker and primary ball handler. If touches were a measurable fantasy category, he would be shining, especially since he is also the team’s premier perimeter defensive option. They are not, but his usage is evident in his fantasy production anyway, with a solid 36.1 fantasy point average over his last seven.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES VS PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Point guard – Mike Conley Jr, Memphis Grizzlies: $14.8 million
Power forward – Jaren Jackson Jr, Memphis Grizzlies: $14.1 million
Centre – Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies: $17.5 million
The Grizzlies are good again, and this trio is why. This is reflected in their respective fantasy point averages – Conley has averaged a giant 50.8 fantasy points per game over the last five and is a must-pick, Jackson has averaged 33.2 in a feast-or-famine way despite having 6.4 and 10.7 games in there (which tells you how good the other four have been), and Gasol has topped them both with a 51.8 average over his last five. Bear in mind that Gasol is not guaranteed to play tonight through injury, but the same was true of the last game, and yet he still put in 50.5 fantasy points.
Centre – Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: $22.6 million
If Gasol does not play, Embiid benefits. Embiid usually struggles against Gasol and the Grizzlies, as does any post player of note, because that’s how good he is. But without Gasol, it will get a lot easier, and as ever, the Grizzlies do not offensive rebound. So an elite defensive rebounder like Embiid might shine – not that he ever doesn’t shine.
Power forward – Mike Muscala, Philadelphia 76ers: $7.4 million
Muscala was targeted by the Sixers for his ability to provide front court spacing, and moving Dario Saric adds a further premium to that skill. The problem was that he wasn’t actually hitting his shots much. And he still isn’t, really. But even when shooting badly, Muscala is playing enough and doing enough to have good fantasy value, recording a 27.8 fantasy point average over his last two.
L.A. CLIPPERS VS DALLAS MAVERICKS
Point guard – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, L.A. Clippers: $9.6 million
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $12.6 million
Harrell is a must-pick, has been for a while, and will be for a while longer if this is the slow pace at which his price is increasing. A 40.1 fantasy point average in his last eight games cannot be passed up. Gilgeous-Alexander is pretty much in that category, too; after his two best career games over his last two (32.4 and 41.0), his average over his last five is up to a hefty 31.0.
Point guard – J.J. Barea, Dallas Mavericks: $11.1 million
Given that the Mavericks only really have Wesley Matthews as a shooting guard, they are running many line-ups that feature two small guards. One of the main beneficiaries of this is Barea, who is posting almost his career-best numbers despite this being his 14th NBA season. From a fantasy point of view, he has averaged 30.7 fantasy points over his past four.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS VS PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Point guard – Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs: $6.3 million
After a long slump of six games in which he scored single figures for fantasy points, White has rebounded slightly. Bryn Forbes has got the starting point guard spot, but White is improving as a reserve, and has averaged 20.9 fantasy points per game over his last three.
Power forward – Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers: $7.1 million
After the best part of two years of being left on the bench, unwanted, bound to the team only by the immobility of his contract, Leonard is arguably playing his career-best ball right now. He is doing more than just shooting soft jumpers, going to the rebounding glass and also working nearer the rim, and from a fantasy point perspective, he has been good for a 19.2 fantasy point average over the last six.
Point guard – Mike Conley, $14.8 million
Shooting guard – Donovan Mitchell, $16.2 million
Small forward – Josh Richardson, $14.0 million
Power forward – Jaren Jackson, $14.1 million
Centre – Jusuf Nurkic, $16.0 million
Bench – Montrezl Harrell, $12.6 million
Bench – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, $9.6 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: Maxi Kleber, Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Johnathan Motley, Jerome Robinson (L.A. Clippers), Dillon Brooks, Wayne Selden, Chandler Parsons (Memphis), Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Derrick Jones Jr (Miami), Jonah Bolden, Markelle Fultz, Justin Patton, Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia), Evan Turner (Portland), Lonnie Walker IV, Pau Gasol, Marco Belinelli, Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Tony Bradley (Utah)
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!