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 $29 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 eight-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Goran Dragic, Miami Heat: $15.1 million
With Dragic having been out for so much of this season, with Tyler Johnson not being a primary offensive creator (and having now been traded anyway), and no third point guard option on the team, the Heat have been experimenting with, and having some success with, the forward duo of Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson manning the position instead. Both, though, are out tonight. So it goes back to Dragic, the Slovenian EuroBasket champion, the veteran, the 2018 NBA All-Star, who has started only one game since December 10th. That game was the Heat’s last game, and he posted a triple-double in it.
- Point guard – Delon Wright, Memphis Grizzlies: $12.9 million
- Shooting guard – Tyler Dorsey, Memphis Grizzlies: $8.3 million
The Grizzlies have a weak shooting guard position in general, not helped by their late-season injuries and selective interpretations of how severe they actually are. This benefits combo guard Wright and shot-happy Dorsey directly, and both have played with good fantasy value of late. Wright has averaged 29.5 fantasy points over his last ten games, while Dorsey has posted an average of 30.2 over his last four, including a 47.1 outing.
- Shooting guard – Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: $19.0 million
With the aforementioned Tyler Johnson out, only two rookie point guards for company and a real injury crisis at the forward spots right now, Booker is pretty much entirely relied upon for getting everything going offensively. He is the sole creator on a team of finishers. And he therefore has a huge share of the ball, which he uses to both create and score his own. It has been the scoring of late, with back to back 50 point games, only the seventh player in history to do so.
- Shooting guard – Shaquille Harrison, Chicago Bulls: $10.1 million
- Shooting guard – Wayne Selden, Chicago Bulls: $6.7 million
- Shooting guard – Brandon Sampson, Chicago Bulls: $5.7 million
- Shooting guard – Rawle Alkins, Chicago Bulls: $5.7 million
The Bulls are almost completely bereft of front court options right now. True, they have Robin Lopez and Cristiano Felicio to split time at the centre spot. Beyond that, however, they have basically no one – each of Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine, Wendell Carter and Chandler Hutchison are out for the remainder of the season, and Otto Porter is also out right now. They thus have to use a very heavy diet of guards to get by, meaning significant fantasy value boosts to each of these four, not least of which will be Harrison, who has averaged 32.5 fantasy points per game in the process of starting the last five.
- Power forward – Jonah Bolden, Philadelphia 76ers: :$7.9 million
Joel Embiid is out due to injury, and while this means some time for Boban Marjanovic, he is inevitably a low-minutes player due to his size, stamina, defensive weaknesses and fouls. The 76ers thus need someone who can track the ground that Boban cannot, and Amir Johnson is no longer that player. Instead, Bolden is, and he started a recent three-game run when Embiid was also out, averaging 25.0 fantasy points per game in that span. The same is plenty foreseeable tonight, if not more.
- Power forward – Dragan Bender, Phoenix Suns: $7.1 million
The Suns have become so short of forwards right now that they are actually having to play Bender at the position, despite being used almost exclusively at centre in the small amount of court time he had managed in the first half. He has now started fifteen consecutive games and the entire month of March, and has in that time averaged 4.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks per game. It is not much, but this is a cheap starter.
- Power forward – Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors: $16.4 million
- Centre – Marc Gasol, Toronto Raptors: $14.8 million
While it is not quite as extreme as the Bulls’ situation above, the Raptors too are short of front court players right now. O.G. Anunoby is out tonight with a concussion, Kawhi Leonard is out for his regular rest, and after his hefty workload in his breakout season, Pascal Siakam is also getting a game off. The Raptors are thus also very short up front, and so the two that remain both should have good fantasy nights.
- Centre – Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies: $15.2 million
Valanciunas is playing the best basketball of his life. He is averaging as-near-as-is 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, and has posted double-doubles in his last five games. The Grizzlies are incredibly short-handed and thus feeding the post with regularity, in direct contravention of modern day NBA orthodoxy. That suits us just fine here, though, and Valanciunas is piling in the fantasy points on a price that belies his volume.
- Centre – Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers: $12.0 million
The Blazers brought in Kanter despite having Jusuf Nurkic in the starting line-up and lottery pick Zach Collins behind him. And apparently they were quite prescient, given the serious injury Nurkic would soon suffer that will rule him out for about a year. There is thus a wide-open opportunity for Kanter to get big minutes and put in his usual hefty diet of points and rebounds, and, given his limited minutes over the last month, the price has gone down to the point where he should now have great value.
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: Al Horford, Kyrie Irving (Boston(, Allen Crabbe (Brooklyn), Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr, Denzel Valentine, Chandler Hutchison, Otto Porter (Chicago), Blake Griffin (Detroit), Kenneth Faried, Eric Gordon (Houston), Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Joakim Noah, Dillon Brooks, C.J. Miles, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr, Avery Bradley Jr (Memphis), Rodney McGruder, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson (Miami), Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague, Robert Covington (Minnesota), Noah Vonleh, Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier (New York), Timofey Mozgov, Mo Bamba, Isaiah Briscoe, Markelle Fultz (Orlando), Joel Embiid, Furkan Korkmaz (Philadelphia), Tyler Johnson, T.J. Warren, Richaun Holmes, Kelly Oubre Jr (Phoenix), Jusuf Nurkic, C.J. McCollum (Portland), Nemanja Bjelica, Harry Giles III, Wenyen Gabriel (Sacramento), Kawhi Leonard, Patrick McCaw, O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam (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!