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 hefty twelve-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- The Cheap – Seth Curry, Portland Trail Blazers: $9.9 million
In the continued absence of C.J. McCollum at shooting guard, the Blazers are heavily relying on Damian Lillard to do a very large share of the offensive creation and back court scoring. Too large of a share, even. On a team starting Jake Layman at shooting guard, a player with some ball handling and shot-creation ability, even if only for themselves, is needed. Curry has become that player, then, and he has averaged 23.6 fantasy points per game over his last seven contests accordingly.
- The Mid-Ranger – Delon Wright, Memphis Grizzlies: $13.9 million
Wright has been useful to us for a while now. The tanking-as-best-they-can-this-late-on Grizzlies will be missing starting shooting guard Avery Bradley for the remainder of the season, along with Mike Conley being hobbled at point, and thus are seeing what they can get from the young combo guard they got back for franchise mainstay Marc Gasol. From a fantasy point of view, we are getting quite a lot, as Wright has averaged 37.3 fantasy points per game over his last six.
- The Pricy – Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets: $21.9 million
No matter how long the odds are – four games back with only five to play, and losers of three games in a row – nothing about the Hornets under Michael Jordan’s ownership suggests they will give up on trying to make the playoffs. Kemba then is being asked to try to carry his team to the impossible, and recorded 54.5 fantasy points last time out accordingly. Tonight, his Hornets will face the New Orleans Pelicans, who cannot stop anybody. So regardless of the result and the Hornets’s postseason aspirations, he should still have a big night as an individual.
- The Cheap – Walt Lemon Jr, Chicago Bulls: $7.9 million
Lemon, who signed with the team only last week, is playing for his spot in the NBA. He is therefore playing with some urgency and aggression. Of course, he always does – there is a reason he has been able to make the fringes of the league despite his small size. In his two games thus far, Lemon has averaged 35.9 fantasy points per game, a truly excellent return on a price that is going to grow quickly.
- The Mid-Ranger – Shaquille Harrison, Chicago Bulls: $12.5 million
Harrison has already played for and won his spot in the NBA, and is now taking advantage of how short-handed the Bulls are to try and demonstrate how big of a role he should have going forward. They are missing four of their regular five starters, along with key forward reserves Denzel Valentine and Chandler Hutchison. Down to the bare bones of a roster, particularly up front, they have countered with a slew of guards, starting four-guard line-ups for the last couple of games. Harrison is one of them, and he has averaged 33.4 fantasy points over the past six games.
- The Pricy – Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: $21.7 million
In Booker’s last five games, he has scored at least 50 points twice, followed it up with a 48 point outing, and then flanked all this scoring with a 25 point, 13 assist outing last time out. From a fantasy point of view, this has meant a five-game average of 58.5 fantasy points per game. And so despite there being a greater depth of value at this usually-shallow position than is normal, Booker’s value at the top of the price range still stands out.
- The Cheap – Troy Brown Jr, Washington Wizards: $8.6 million
Times are changing in Washington. The team yesterday fired long-time general manager Ernie Grunfeld, and look to be headed back to the late lottery, itself somehow slightly worse than another first-round playoff exit. With this in mind, it seems as though they have finally taken the dust cover off of Brown, their first-round draft pick this past summer, and have given him some minutes of late. Brown has responded with a 31.6 fantasy point average over the last two games, and with nothing else to play for, they may as well keep auditioning him.
- The Mid-Ranger – Jae Crowder, Utah Jazz: $12.7 million
The Jazz are riding a five-game winning streak, continue to vault up the highly competitive Western Conference standings, and are carrying a rich vein of form at precisely the right time. True, they have not exactly had the toughest stretch of schedule of late, allowing them to do so. Yet relatively easy stretches of schedule can mean good fantasy performances, so note that not only has Crowder surpassed the 23 fantasy point mark in six of his last eight games, but also that tonight, his Jazz team take on the conference-worst Phoenix Suns.
- The Pricy – Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors: $17.6 million
“Load management” is apparently a thing now, or at least, it is the new term for the relatively recent practice of selective benching that takes place late in the season. The Raptors have selectively managed Kawhi’s load all season long in his return from last season’s substantial quad injury, and he has also missed a couple of games due to a personal matter. All the absences have kept his price lower than it would otherwise be for a player of his calibre, and it is from these situations that we find good fantasy value.
- The Cheap – Dragan Bender, Phoenix Suns: $8.1 million
Long term, the Suns have given up on Bender. They declined his fourth year team option over the past offseason, and barely played him through the first half of this season despite him receiving almost 2,000 minutes in 2017/18. Injuries and a lack of front court depth, however, have necessitated him being a starter down the stretch of this campaign. And so while he remains inconsistent, soft and under-developed skill wise, the share of minutes alone means production, and he has averaged 29.7 fantasy points over his past three games.
- The Mid-Ranger – Christian Wood, New Orleans Pelicans: $12.0 million
From basically nowhere. Wood has become something of a must-pick player. No one’s price at any position on any slate is growing as fast as his, as he has gone from nightly DNP-CD to highly productive rotation player. In four games with his new team, Wood has posted fantasy point outings of 9.7, 60.3, 48.3 and 33.2, and the quickly elevated price is still not high enough to deter us from buying on this level of production.
- The Pricy – Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks: $13.0 million
Despite being near the foot of the NBA, the Mavericks continue to try to win, and have peeled off a three-game winning streak even with a hobbled Luka Doncic. Powell has been a part of this, averaging 36.1 fantasy points per game in that span. And while incremental price increases have seen him no longer have the nightly value he did back when he cost circa. $10 million, there is enough production there for him to still have some.
- The Cheap – Robin Lopez, Chicago Bulls: $10.7 million
The only front court position at which the Bulls have any players left is at centre, where Lopez starts and Cristiano Felicio (who plays like a 37 year old Enes Kanter) attempts to restart his career behind him. Felicio is no real playing time threat, too limited by his lack of mobility and chronic fouls, so although it comes on a losing team, Lopez is getting lengthy run and more offensive usage than he has had in his career to date. He has thus posted 30.8 and a 42.7 fantasy point games in his last three contests.
- The Mid-Ranger – Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers: $12.7 million
Much as the injury to C.J. McCollum has helped the production and fantasy candidacy of Seth Curry above, it has not been the absolute boon that Jusuf Nurkic’s absence will be, and has already been, for Kanter. With Nurk out for a while, Kanter has gone from the reserve role to the starting one, and the reserve role deflated his price to the point that he will now hereafter play with great fantasy value. In hiw two games as a Blazers starter, Kanter has posted 41.0 and 44.7 fantasy point games, entirely in line with what he was doing in the same role as a Knick and something we should expect to continue.
- The Pricy – Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards: $14.1 million
It will be Bryant who has the main responsibility for checking Lopez tonight. Dwight Howard is not coming back, Markieff Morris and Jason Smith are gone, and Ian Mahinmi is not exactly an investment in the future. There is thus a free run for Bryant, then, who has been playing with good fantasy value of late anyway. Over his last three games, he has posted a fantasy point average of 43.2 per game.
Point guard – Delon Wright, $13.9 million
Shooting guard – Shaquille Harrison, $12.5 million
Small forward – Kawhi Leonard, $17.6 million
Power forward – Christian Wood, $12.o million
Centre – Mitchell Robinson, $16.1 million
Bench – Enes Kanter, $12.7 million
Bench – Thomas Bryant, $14.1 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: Miles Plumlee, Alex Poythress, Dewayne Dedmon, Taurean Prince, John Collins, Omari Spellman (Atlanta), Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown (Boston), Allen Crabbe (Brooklyn), Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Joe Chealey (Charlotte), Kris Dunn, Wendell Carter Jr, Chandler Hutchison, Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter, Denzel Valentine, Zach LaVine (Chicago), J.J. Barea, Tim Hardaway Jr, Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas), Michael Porter Jr (Denver), Blake Griffin, Luke Kennard (Detroit), Gerald Green (Houston), Victor Oladipo, Wes Matthews, Darren Collison (Indiana), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Patrick Beverley (L.A. Clippers), Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr, Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles, Avery Bradley, Mike Conley, Joakim Noah (Memphis), Justise Winslow, Rodney McGruder, Josh Richardson, Derrick Jones Jr (Miami), Jeff Teague, Robert Covington, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng (Minnesota), Isaiah Hicks, Noah Vonleh, Kadeem Allen, Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier, Dennis Smith Jr (New York), Timofey Mozgov, Isaiah Briscoe, Markelle Fultz, Mo Bamba (Orlando), Furkan Korkmaz, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler (Philadelphia), T.J. Warren, Kelly Oubre Jr, Tyler Johnson, Deandre Ayton (Phoenix), Jusuf Nurkic, C.J. McCollum (Portland), Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), O.G. Anunoby, Patrick McCaw (Toronto), Dante Exum, Kyle Korver, Derrick Favors (Utah), Trevor Ariza, Devin Robinson, John Wall, 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!