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 seven-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
Point guard – Elie Okobo, Phoenix Suns: $6.2 million
The Suns’ point guard crisis has hit its peak. Isaiah Canaan was the starter at the beginning of the year but has now been cut before Christmas (the second time in two years this has happened after Mike James last year), and while Devin Booker has had some success as the emergency fill-in point, he is now out through injury. The onus thus largely falls now onto the young rookie Okobo, who if nothing else will be given a large amount of court time in which to do something, however inefficiently. To that end, over the last two games, Okobo has recorded a fantasy point average of 26.6 points per game.
Point guard – De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings: $15.0 million
Shooting guard – Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings: $11.2 million
There are very few pricy players available on tonight’s slate, but as the second priciest point guard, we should take note of Fox. Bear in mind all that has been said about Okobo and the Suns’ point guard position above, and then remember that it will be Fox who is going up against them this evening. Also playing well is the recently returned Bogdanovic, who has averaged 34.1 fantasy points per game over his last three. He, too, will not have much of a defence in front of him today.
Shooting guard – Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic: $9.2 million
After a brief slump, Ross is back to doing what he was doing to begin the season. He has averaged 31.6 fantasy points per game over the last three contests, doing so mostly through a steady diet of medium and long-range jumpers. All shooters are streaky and Ross’s nature as a bench player can mean great fantasy variance (he’ll just get benched on any night he doesn’t have it), but right now, he has it.
Shooting guard – Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat: $7.8 million
Ellington remains the starter at shooting guard and, in theory, the scoring and shooting help Josh Richardson needs if he is to have any kind of spacing in which to operate. It has worked to the tune of his personal 24.1 fantasy points per game average over the last seven contests. And although Tyler Johnson might return tonight, Ellington’s most immediate playing time rival, Rodney McGruder, is likely out. So a spot remains.
Small forward – Jae Crowder, Utah Jazz: $9.2 million
Crowder’s important contributions for the Jazz on both ends in their new line-up continued last time out, as he put in 28.2 fantasy points. This number is entirely in keeping with his stretch of recent production, one in which he has averaged 23.7 fantasy points over the last seven games. And with the exception of one anomalous 7.5 point performance, he has done so remarkably consistently, too.
Small forward – Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks: $12.1 million
In all but one of the Mavericks’ last four fantasy games, Barnes has put in performances in the 40s. As the Mavericks struggle with injuries all over the roster, and particularly to their most important players offensively, Barnes has had a greater usage rate than before, and he is responding well. It appears as though these injuries will continue into tonight, and thus so ought Barnes’s production.
Power forward – Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls: $7.9 million
Power forward – Jabari Parker, Chicago Bulls: $13.5 million
Parker has been starting at power forward in Markkanen’s absence, and has been a frequent listee in this space on account of his volume of minutes and scoring opportunities, inefficiencies be damned. He still is doing that, averaging 39.2 fantasy points over his past seven games. But Markkanen has returned from injury, and while he was understandably rusty in his first game back, he showed how good he was in his rookie season. The injury has tanked his price to the point where he is about to greatly outperform it.
Power forward – Richaun Holmes, Phoenix Suns: $7.5 million
Since Tyson Chandler was released, Holmes has been the Suns’ full time backup centre. And with his athleticism and energy, he always seems to make some things happen on the court, even if they are technically imprecise. In his last five games, Holmes has averaged 25.4 fantasy points, and does so for an incredibly cheap price.
Centre – Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: $11.2 million
Three of Turner’s last four fantasy games have seen him record fantasy point performances above 35, and two of those over 40. In that span, his average is 35.3 per game, a near-300% mark-up on his price. Turner will go up tonight against the Chicago Bulls, who are struggling, who just fired their coach, and whose starting centre (Wendell Carter) has been getting into foul trouble pretty much every night recently. This all augurs well.
Centre – Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs: $6.6 million
In Pau Gasol’s absence, Poeltl has seen an expanded role. Three of his last four games have seen him record fantasy point performances above the 20 point mark, and he has an 18.8 average in that time. And yet because of his pretty much non-existent role when Gasol is healthy, Poeltl’s price is tiny.
Point guard – Damian Lillard, $20.7 million
Shooting guard – Bogdan Bogdanovic, $11.2 million
Small forward – Harrison Barnes, $12.1 million
Power forward – Lauri Markkanen, $7.9 million
Centre – Rudy Gobert, $19.0 million
Bench – Nikola Vucevic, $16.1 million
Bench – Myles Turner, $11.2 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: Denzel Valentine, Bobby Portis, Kris Dunn, Tyler Ulis (Chicago), Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, Salah Mejri, Dwight Powell, Luka Doncic, Dennis Smith Jr, Maxi Kleber (Dallas), Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Rodney McGruder, Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters (Miami), Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, George King (Phoenix), Caleb Swanigan (Portland), Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento), Pau Gasol, Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Tony Bradley (Utah)
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!