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 five-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Delon Wright, Memphis Grizzlies: $12.9 million
Given his ability to defend both guard positions and handle the ball when required, Wright is an incredibly useful player to have. Toronto did not want to trade him – they just had to, if they were to get Marc Gasol. It is now the Grizzlies, then, who are realising the benefits of his versatility. And given that starting shooting guard Avery Bradley is out for the remainder of the season, with starting point guard Mike Conley getting spotted rest to prolong his career, Wright is always able to find a sizeable role every night, averaging 35.7 fantasy points over his last five games.
- Point guard – De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings: $18.6 million
- Shooting guard – Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings: $12.9 million
The Kings put in a valiant effort this year at making their first postseason appearance for an NBA generation, yet they have come up just short. Unlike many teams, though, this in itself is not reason enough to turn to the young players on the deeper parts of the bench. Indeed, the players at the very core of this team are young ones, too, including these two in the starting back court. And so they continue to play heavily and play well – Fox has averaged 43.9 fantasy points over his last seven, while Bogdanovic bested that with a 45.8 performance in the last game alone.
- Shooting guard – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, L.A. Lakers: $12.1 million
The Lakers have firmly taken to shooting players down. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram were the first to go, and Josh Hart was not far behind them. Now that LeBron James is benched, too, the season is truly over. Yet the Lakers still need to field teams over these last few games, and someone has to get the minutes and the share of the ball opened up. And it would appear that that someone will be Caldwell-Pope, who, although he has been amazingly inconsistent in doing so, has averaged 32.0 fantasy points per game over his last six.
- Small forward – Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets: $10.6 million
Nic Batum, one of the most expensive players in the world and starter of 69 games this season, has had a rough fortnight. He was first moved to the bench, unexpectedly, and then missed a couple of games through illness. When he did return Friday, he was left on the bench via a coach’s decision. A major beneficiary of this strategic shift has been Bridges, who has averaged 31.0 fantasy points across the four Batum-less games. He has not played much as a rookie, but he has played better than Batum, and his team seems to be accepting that.
- Small forward – Stanley Johnson, New Orleans Pelicans: $8.1 million
The knock on Johnson throughout his four year NBA career has been his inability to make any kind of shot consistently. This season, the final one of his guaranteed rookie contract, was not any different. However, over the course of the last week, he has been able to get enough minutes and make enough shots to average 22.4 fantasy points per game over four contests. It likely will not last, but if it does, Johnson has good value at a shallow position.
- Power forward – Christian Wood, New Orleans Pelicans: $11.5 million
The Pelicans recently claimed Wood off of waivers, and have given him the opportunity to play in Anthony Davis’s place. Wood it seems has taken this opportunity to play like Anthony Davis. Two games ago, he posted 23 points, 9 rebounds, 6 blocks and 3 steals; last time out, he posted 25 points, 9 rebounds and three steals. He has thus totalled an enormous 108.6 fantasy points over those two contests, giving Anthony Davis levels of production for Kenrich Williams prices. Pick him.
- Power forward – Johnathan Williams, L.A. Lakers: $6.6 million
Although the aforementioned Lakers injuries and benchings affect them more on the wings and at the guard positions, there is a knock-on effect onto the front court. Finally, then, the team has found some time for its younger bigs, Williams and Mo Wagner. Williams has produced the most of the two, recording 22.7 and 16.8 fantasy points in his last two games, far from huge performances but good value at this end-of-the-bench price.
- Centre – Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies: $16.6 million
At this point, Valanciunas is a must-pick. Piling in the minutes and rebounds, Valanciunas is having a career-best stretch offensively by Miles as the short-handed Grizzlies feed the post heavily and often. He is responding with some huge nights – his last six games have seen him record 41.3, 46.3, 47.5, 48.3, 64.3 and 74.5 fantasy points. Pick him too.
Point guard – De’Aaron Fox, $18.6 million
Shooting guard – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, $12.1 million
Small forward – Bruno Caboclo, $12.0 million
Power forward – Christian Wood, $11.5 million
Centre – Jonas Valanciunas, $16.6 million
Bench – Rajon Rondo, $14.4million
Bench – Elfrid Payton, $14.4 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: Cody Zeller, Joe Chealey (Charlotte), Michael Porter Jr (Denver), Damian Jones (Golden State), Danilo Gallinari, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Reggie Bullock, Josh Hart, Tyson Chandler, LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram (L.A. Lakers), Joakim Noah, Avery Bradley, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr, Dillon Brooks, C.J. Miles, Chandler Parsons (Memphis), Frank Jackson, Anthony Davis, E’Twaun Moore, Darius Miller, Jrue Holiday, Trevon Blueitt (New Orleans), Wenyen Gabriel, Harry Giles, Nemanja Gabriel (Sacramento), Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Dwight Howard, John Wall, Devin Robinson, Trevor Ariza (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!