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 in each match-up on for tonight’s mere three-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES VS NEW YORK KNICKS
- Point guard – Shelvin Mack, Memphis Grizzlies: $7.2 million
- Point guard – Jevon Carter, Memphis Grizzlies: $5.7 million
Mike Conley Jr missed the last game, and is questionable tonight as well, due to a combination of niggling minor injury and trade talks. In his stead, Mack got the start, and put in a very hefty 37.7 fantasy points via a near-double double. The injuries do however have an even bigger injury crisis on the wing. Each of Dillon Brooks, Omri Casspi, Kyle Anderson and Garrett Temple are also out, with Chandler Parsons sent away, and apart from Justin Holiday, the team has no senior wings left. They thus started Carter in a two point guard line-up last time out, and the defensive specialist responded with 26.9 fantasy points, big value at the minimum price.
- Power forward – Ivan Rabb, Memphis Grizzlies: $7.1 million
- Centre – Joakim Noah, Memphis Grizzlies: $7.4 million
The Grizzlies’s shorthandedness also has an effect in the front court, where JaMychal Green and Jaren Jackson Jr have been in and out of the line-up, and where Marc Gasol is just as much on the market as Conley, if not moreso. This has benefitted Rabb in particular, whose sweet shooting Mike Scott-like game has seen him record 22.5 and 26.0 fantasy points in the last two games. It has also benefitted Noah, and has done for a while – over his last five games, Noah has averaged 22.5 fantasy points, peaking at 28.2 in a double-double performance last time out. This is the best he has played in years.
- Point guard – Dennis Smith Jr, New York Knicks: $12.7 million
The Knicks have traded for Smith with a view to giving him an opportunity to impress at the point guard, both for now and for the future. It will surely only help his fantasy candidacy in the immediate term that both of his competitors for minutes at the position, Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina, are out due to injury, with only the limited recent addition Kadeem Allen on hand to platoon with him. There could therefore be a big night in store for Smith, who has free reign to improvise, dominate the ball, and who should surely has a wish to land with a bang.
- Small forward – Damyean Dotson, New York Knicks: $7.4 million
The same trade that brought in Smith sent out Tim Hardawa, which opens up minutes at the small forward. Mario Hezonja will take of them, to be sure, but he comes off the bench behind Dotson, who has had some good moments as a shooting and rebounding wing role player. In the first post-trade Game, Dotson recorded 22 point son his way to 27.2 fantasy points, and while the addition of Matthews (should he ever play for the Knicks) may cut into his time for a bit, Dotson is the kind of play that this final third of the season will be all about auditioning.
- Centre – Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks: $8.2 million
The last part about Knicks auditions is just as true of Robinson, albeit without it being immediately obvious how it is going for the next week. After all, the Knicks played only an eight man rotation last game, and three of those eight (Robinson, Luke Kornet, Enes Kanter) split the 48 minutes at centre only. Adding DeAndre Jordan to that, however briefly it is for, may only further inhibit Robinson’s time. Nevertheless, of the four, he is the prospect. Make the time.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER VS BOSTON CELTICS
- Small forward – Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder: $24.7 million
George has risen from star to superstar this season, and is one of the league’s very best players. His scoring is up, his defence never went down, and he does everything on the court, more consistently than his peers. This increase in his production has meant an increase in his fantasy price, which is now only behind a handful of players in total, yet in averaging 59.9 fantasy points over his last four games and with six consecutive performances above the 50 point mark, he is living up to it anyway.
- Centre – Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics: $8.8 million
Although Aron Baynes is cheaper in fantasy, and less productive in the box score, he plays ahead of Theis in the rotation when everyone is healthy. Baynes, however, will not be healthy tonight. The door is thus open again for Theis, who for two years now has consistently shown how productive he is on both ends of the court when given minutes. Having been out of the rotation of late, there is no recent trend of fantasy production for us to cite here, but let us remember earlier in the season, when he recorded plenty of fantasy value, including a 53.5 point performance
L.A. CLIPPERS VS TORONTO RAPTORS
- Shooting guard – Lou Williams, L.A. Clippers: $16.4 million
With Danilo Galinari out, the Clippers have chosen to promote Pat Beverley to the starting line-up, which in turn leaves Tobias Harris as the only above-average offensive player in the starting unit. They thus need plenty of scoring help off the bench, and that has been Williams’s MO for years. True to form, he has gone off of late, averaging 48.2 fantasy points per game over his last three, and the Clippers will need another such performance against the Raptors tonight.
- Power forward – Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors: $16.5 million
In his new much-better fitting role as a centre, Ibaka has been shooting the ball sweetly, and has picked up his rebounding rate. Indeed, he has been playing so much better this year that he is even producing when nothing hitting his shots. A very inefficient scoring night last time out did not stop Ibaka from still recording 39.0 fantasy points, raising his average over the last four to 37.7 per game.
Point guard – Russell Westbrook, $28.2 million
Shooting guard – Lou Williams, $16.4 million
Small forward – Paul George, $24.7 million
Power forward – Ivan Rabb, $7.1 million
Centre – Daniel Theis, $8.8 million
Bench – Shelvin Mack, $7.2 million
Bench – Joakim Noah, $7.4 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: Aron Baynes, Jabari Bird (Boston), Angelo Delgado, Danilo Gallinari, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Chandler Parsons, Dillon Brooks, Omri Casspi, Kyle Anderson, Garrett Temple, Mike Conley (Memphis), Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay (New York), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Jonas Valanciunas, Malachi Richardson (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!