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.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS VS PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
- Shooting guard – Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee Bucks: $9.6 million
- Shooting guard – Sterling Brown, Milwaukee Bucks: $7.8 million
As ill-timed as it is, the Bucks are currently going through an injury crisis. Indeed, two games ago, they ran out a starting line-up of Tim Frazier, Sterling Brown, Bonzie Colson, D.J. Wilson and Brook Lopez, very much exploring the depths of their bench in the absence of four of their regular starters. Any time a team is having to look that far down its bench, we are interested from a fantasy point of view, as the low prices from the lengthy bench run will yield great value from the subsequent performances. This has certainly been the case for Brown, who has averaged 25.3 fantasy points per game in the three contests since so much playing time on the wing opened up, yet it also benefits Connaughton, a player who was already in the rotation who also now gets a production boost. He has recorded more than 20 fantasy points in six of his last seven games, including two outings over the 30 point mark, and has averaged 30.4 fantasy points per game in that span.
- Power forward – D.J. Wilson, Milwaukee Bucks: $5.9 million
As above, in addition to being a significant reserve centre option (being able to defend the perimeter on pick-and-rolls better than Brook Lopez ever could), Wilson is also getting a decent amount of run at the power forward position again. Nikola Mirotic is out and will be for a while, and Giannis Antetokounmpo is also somewhat hobbled and in need of a rest going into the postseason – in his resultant expanded role, Wilson has gotten plenty of minutes, and has averaged 15.8 fantasy points per game in his last five games.
- Power forward – Mike Scott, Philadelphia 76ers: $6.8 million
The 76ers are heading into the postseason with very little surety in their wing rotation. The starting pairing of Jimmy Butler and J.J.Redick is obvious, but thereafter, everything is uncertain. Jonathon Simmons and James Ennis have both underwhelmed, Furkan Korkmaz is injured, Shake Milton and Zhaire Smith are rookies who missed at least half the season, and Haywood Highsmith is only a few months removed from Division 2 play. Nonetheless, with their open roster spot freed up by the waiting of the unwanted Justin Patton, the team elected to give a 10-day contract to Greg Monroe, despite already having Amir Johnson on the bench at the post position that they were not using. This then puts a reliance on the pairing of Scott and Tobias Harris to cover at the small forward position neither is ideally suited for whenever Jimmy Butler is out, as indeed he will be tonight; Scott is therefore the likely starter and an always-willing shooter.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS VS SACRAMENTO KINGS
- Shooting guard – Jordan Clarkson, Cleveland Cavaliers: $12.3 million
The Cavaliers have undergone a lot of roster turnover in a season that was lost before it began. Nevertheless, all the turnaround has left them with a frontcourt-heavy roster that lacks for guards. Clarkson then continues to get a good share of both the minutes and the ball, and has accordingly returned a fantasy point average of 29.9 per game over his past five contests.
- Small forward – Corey Brewer, Sacramento Kings: $6.7 million
Picked up at mid-season, Brewer has stuck around with the Kings, who have struggled for consistent small forward play for some years now. As the backup to Harrison Barnes, Brewer’s usual combination of transition opportunities, energetic steals and spotty three-point shooting yields fantasy value whenever he gets enough minutes, as he has done over the past two games, averaging 21.8 fantasy points per game in that time.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS VS L.A. LAKERS
- Centre – DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors: $14.8 million
The main thing to worry about in picking any Warriors player tonight is that the game might be so easily blown open that the starters will not get big minutes. Nevertheless, with his fantasy price still feeling the effects of the Achilles injury, Cousins now consistently plays with excellent value. Over his last ten games, Cousins has averaged 40.6 fantasy points per game, including a 58.0 showing last time out.
- Point guard – Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers: $15.7 million
- Point guard – Alex Caruso, L.A. Lakers: $9.5 million
With Lonzo Ball, LeBron James and Brandon Ingram all shut down for the season, the Lakers are almost entirely out of playmakers and ball handlers. They thus have been turning over a large share of it to these two, both of whom are now starters and highly productive fantasy players. Specifically, Rondo has averaged 47.3 fantasy points per game over his last three, benefitting significantly from the fact that fantasy basketball does not capture defensive performance well, while Caruso has put in a 37.3 fantasy points average during his last two for a very small price.
- Centre – JaVale McGee, L.A. Lakers: $16.1 million
McGee will be the one charged with the task of checking Cousins tonight. Even though the season is for all intents and purposes over and the younger pairing of Moritz Wagner and Johnathan Williams wait in the wings, the healthy rotation is so thin right now that McGee will still get minutes as well. As ever, McGee produces with minutes, to the tune of a hefty 43.7 fantasy points per game over his last nine contests.
Point guard – Alex Caruso, $9.5 million
Shooting guard – Pat Connaughton, $9.6 million
Small forward – Giannis Antetokounmpo, $26.0 million
Power forward – Larry Nance Jr, $15.1 million
Centre – JaVale McGee, $16.1 million
Bench – Sterling Brown, $7.8 million
Bench – DeMarcus Cousins, $14.8 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: Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson (Cleveland), Damian Jones (Golden State), Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Tyson Chandler (L.A. Lakers), Tony Snell, Malcolm Brogdon, Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Donte DiVincenzo, Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee), Joel Embiid, Furkan Korkmaz (Philadelphia), Wenyen Gabriel, Harry Giles (Sacramento)
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!