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 tomorrow’s hefty twelve-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-upsand win some cash tonight.
- The Cheap – Ryan Arcidiacono, Chicago Bulls: $7.7 million
We picked Arcidiacono in this space before the Bulls’ last game on account of his recent form and in particular his 34.8 fantasy point performance in the immediately prior game. It seemed anomalously high. But it wasn’t a one-off – Arcidiacono followed it up with a 48.0 performance that night. We cannot therefore fail to mention him again.
- The Mid-Ranger – Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers: $11.2 million
The absence of George Hill recently opened the door for Sexton, and he has walked through it. He has averaged 28.9 fantasy points per game over his last nine games, and while the steady diet of long twos is it largely coming via does not bode well for his efficiency long term, it is a good start. And it matters not how efficient it is to us here in fantasy.
- The Pricy – Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: $23.7 million
Although he remains one of the very priciest players in the game, Westbrook’s price has been incrementally shrinking throughout the year due to slightly diminished production from the great heights of the last two years, plus an injury-induced absence. Since returning from that injury, however, he has been back to his best, averaging 56.7 fantasy points per in that time and now conveying good value even at an elite price.
- The Cheap – Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks: $6.7 million
Huerter is currently starting at shooting guard, and he gets about the court. While barely shooting the ball, his activity and good reads have seen him average 17.5 fantasy points per game over his last five, an average which includes a game he left early due to minor injury. When he starts being more aggressive with his excellent shooting stroke, things will only get better.
- The Mid-Ranger – Jeremy Lamb, Charlotte Hornets: $11.5 million
Lamb’s good run continues, and there seems no reason it will end now. The main thing counting against him tonight is his opponent, the strong-defending low-possession Utah Jazz. But it certainly isn’t Lamb’s recent form, which has been good for a 35.2 fantasy point average in his last three.
- The Pricy – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $24.2 million
Two games ago, Harden put up the biggest fantasy point performance of any guard all season with a giant 81.1 point outing, and then followed it up with another giant 73.7 pointer. Whenever Chris Paul is out, Harden does great things, and it looks as if Paul is going to be absent once again tonight.
- The Cheap – Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers: $7.7 million
There is an inconsistency about Osman’s production, particularly with his shooting. But the overall average of 28.3 over the last five is very strong, and with many injuries and absences around him on the Cavaliers right now, he will play big minutes tonight. For a tiny price.
- The Mid-Ranger – De’Andre Bembry, Atlanta Hawks: $10.6 million
Despite coming off the bench, Bembry is a key player for the Hawks currently, their best perimeter defensive player and also a ballhandling/playmaking option, especially when they are down a guard. They may indeed be down a guard today, as Jeremy Lin is listed as questionable at the time of writing, so be advised that Bembry could stand to benefit. He has recorded each of the teens, 20s, 30s and 40s in his last four games, so the variance is strong, but so is the average in that time at 28.9.
- The Pricy – Josh Richardson, Miami Heat: $14.0 million
Although $14.0 million would not normally be considered pricy, Richardson is the fifth most expensive pick at this position tonight, even on a hefty 11 game slate. Still playing point guard full time, Richardson is overmatched but determined in the role, and we should enjoy the fantasy point boost that comes with it, to the tune of a 36.5 fantasy point average over his last six.
- The Cheap – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets: $7.6 million
The pretence of MKG being a perimeter player or small forward has been done away with this year. He is instead a full time rim protector, and when he is not injured, he is giving us great fantasy value. In his two games since returning from injury, Kidd-Gilchrist has recorded a 23.8 fantasy point average, entirely in keeping with what he has done all season and very good value at this price.
- The Mid-Ranger – Marcus Morris, Boston Celtics: $10.6 million
History suggests that whenever Al Horford does not play, Morris gets a big boost in his production. Although very different players, it is either Morris or Aron Baynes who gets the start in Horford’s place, and whichever one starts, both get big minutes boosts. Last time this happened, Morris (who has decent if variable fantasy value anyway) recorded 35.1 fantasy points, and with Horford already ruled out tonight, he could be in line to do it again.
- The Pricy – Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons: $18.3 million
Despite developing more and more perimeter skill throughout his career, Griffin has been effective thus far this season at repeatedly attacking opposing bigs in the post. Given the tendency around the league to go smaller and quicker, few teams have good defensive match-ups for skilled and strong players, and with Andre Drummond in the team, almost none have two. So Griffin attacks whoever gets stuck on him, draws fouls, and piles up the points. He should feast on Jabari Parker tonight.
- The Cheap – Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets: $9.4 million
We have picked Zeller in this space on multiple occasions, on account of the fact that although he had never cracked the 30 fantasy point threshold, he also very rarely dips below 20. Last game out, though, he rode a succession of big finishes to a 31.0 point outing. He finally cracked it, and yet even at this new season-high price, he still costs less than $10 million.
- The Mid-Ranger – Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets: $9.7 million
Plumlee’s excellent recent run continues. He has put up a 34.4 fantasy point average over the last four games, despite still coming off the bench, doing so through a veritable bounty of defensive statistics. The Nuggets have a deep front court, but they cannot keep a man doing this much on the bench for long.
- The Pricy – Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: $22.6 million
The Washington Wizards are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, and are very short handed in the front court. Dwight Howard is having surgery, Ian Mahinmi is ineffective, Jason Smith is highly limited, and everyone else is only pretending to be a centre. Tonight, the Wizards go up against the 76ers and the whirlwind that is Joel Embiid. Good luck with that.
Point guard – Mike Conley, $14.8 million
Shooting guard – James Harden, $24.2 million
Small forward – Cedi Osman, $8.0 million
Power forward – Marcus Morris, $10.6 million
Centre – Joel Embiid, $22.6 million
Bench – Jeremy Lamb, $12.0 million
Bench – Ryan Arcidiacono, $7.7 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: Jeremy Lin, Tyler Dorsey, Jaylen Adams, Alex Poythress (Atlanta), Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jabari Bird (Boston), Treveon Graham, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert (Brooklyn), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte), Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis, Denzel Valentine (Chicago), J.R. Smith, Alec Burks, David Nwaba, Kevin Love, George Hill, Sam Dekker (Cleveland), Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas), Gary Harris, Isaiah Thomas, Jarred Vanderbilt, Michael Porter Jr, Will Barton (Denver), Luke Kennard, Henry Ellenson (Detroit), Brandon Knight, Nene, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Zhou Qi, Gerald Green (Houston), Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo (L.A. Lakers), Tyler Johnson, Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters (Miami), Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson (Miami), Frank Jackson, Elfrid Payton (New Orleans), Hamadou Diallo, Andre Roberson, Terrence Ferguson (Oklahoma City), Aaron Gordon, Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Jonah Bolden, Markelle Fultz, Zhaire Smith, Justin Patton (Philadelphia), T.J. Warren, George King (Phoenix), Pau Gasol, Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV (San Antonio), Tony Bradley (Utah), 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!