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 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 – Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets: $18.1 million
Walker is among the best scorers in the league this year and among the best players in the Eastern Conference. A rejigged Hornets rotation and offensive scheme has seen the team play with greater pace and greater space, both of which ideally suited an elite shot-creator and finisher like Kemba. He is averaging 47.1 fantasy points per game on the season, more than many of the $20 million+ players, while also being a decent discount on them.
Point guard – Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies: $12.0 million
In an area of pace, space and athleticism, it turns out there is still some space for a crafty prober. The Conley/Marc Gasol core that has powered Memphis for 11 years is still there, and due to his absence for much of last season, his price is far lower than his production would otherwise merit. Averaging 35.2 fantasy points per game on the season, Conley offers a near-300% mark-up, which is always of note.
Point guard – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, L.A. Clippers: $8.7 million
A point guard by trade, Gilgeous-Alexander is playing something of a free-floating role on the guard-heavy Clippers, and his combination of length and basketball IQ allows him to do so. Defending multiple positions and playing both on and off the ball, Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 21.8 fantasy points per game on the season, doing enough of everything that the Clippers are finding they have to get him on the court, regardless of the other options available.
Shooting guard – Rodney McGruder, Miami Heat: $10.5 million
Last night was not McGruder’s best – he did his usual act of playing off the ball and cutting into any open space he could find, but the Heat could not find him in return, and he finished with only 16.4 fantasy points. Nevertheless, he is still averaging 30.3 on the season, and he also has maintained his place in the starting line-up even with Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow back from injury. So the value continues.
Shooting guard – C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers: $15.3 million
McCollum is not off to the best start this season, that much is true. He has averaged only 28.2 fantasy points per game on the season, and only cracked the 30 point mark once. Nevertheless, he is suggested here on account of tonight’s opponent. The struggling Houston Rockets are particularly struggling on defence right now, and will be without James Harden to oppose McCollum tonight. With less needed to do defensively, then, and when facing a defence that has been pretty easy to pick apart thus far, this could be McCollum’s breakout game, if you fancy a punt.
Small forward – Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors: $16.3 million
The decision to rest Kawhi yesterday was the only thing preventing him from once again having some of the best value on the slate. Such strategic restings are only ever one-offs, though, and so pick Kawhi tonight.
Small forward – Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers: $11.0 million
As the starting wing defensive specialist, Covington is out to a good start this season. He has averaged 30.1 fantasy points per game through his first seven contests, doing so with a high volume of the highest value statistics there are – steals and blocks. By not being a featured offensive player, there is the risk that Covington will give us little on nights when he is not recording those, but his output has been mostly that of some consistent value thus far, with some extra high points, such as his 47.0 fantasy point outing two games ago.
Power forward – Larry Nance, Cleveland Cavaliers: $10.8 million
Fresh off of his extension, Nance missed the start of the season due to injury, but now he is back and playing well. He has averaged 28.3 fantasy points per game over the four games he has managed, and his production has gone up in each of the four. Coincident with that is a long-term absence now for Kevin Love – the Cavaliers are winless, coachless, disjointed and otherwise reeling from several months of loss, but within such turmoil often lies great fantasy value for those who get the benefit of the increased opportunities.
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings: $10.9 million
We nominated Bjelica as a good value fantasy pick before the last game, and he came through for us with a third consecutive fantasy point performance in the 40s. Bjelica is the stretch-four, dribble-driving, extra-passing man to fit alongside the high-tempo De’Aaron Fox and the interior finishing Willie Cauley-Stein – the Kings are playing well, and Bjelica is a big part of that balance. With his price frozen, take advantage.
Centre – Clint Capela, Houston Rockets: $16.5 million
On the season, Capela is averaging 34.8 fantasy points per game, which is about what you would expect from a player costing $16.5 million. It is however trending upwards after a slow start, and with Harden out, everyone else gets increased offensive responsibility. It is true that as a finisher, Capela needs setting up, but it is also true that with Nene out behind him, Capela will get as many minutes as he can handle.
PG – Kemba Walker, $18.1 million
SG – C.J. McCollum, $15.3 million
SF – Kawhi Leonard, $16.3 million
PF – Nemanja Bjelica, $10.9 million
C – Clint Capela, $16.5 million
Bench – Mike Conley, $12.0 million
Bench – Larry Nance Jr, $10.8 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), Jabari Bird, Daniel Theis (Boston), Kevin Love (Cleveland), Luke Kennard (Detroit), James Harden, James Ennis, Nene, Brandon Knight (Houston), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), JaMychal Green, Chandler Parsons (Memphis), James Johnson, Dion Waiters (Miami), Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Wilson Chandler, Zhaire Smith, Jerryd Bayless (Philadelphia), Mo Harkless (Portland), Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sacramento), Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby (Toronto), Markieff Morris, 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!