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 at each price point for each position for tonight’s eight-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers: $12.7 million
Lonzo Ball is still out through injury. Indeed, Lonzo Ball may never be back, if the trade rumours swirling around his name come to fruition. Mind you, Rondo might not either – his large expiring salary will be useful for facilitating trades. Nevertheless, as of right now, Rondo is the Lakers’ starting and only senior point guard, and he has averaged 37.0 fantasy points over his past five games accordingly.
- Point guard – Jerryd Bayless, Minnesota Timberwolves: $12.2 million
Bayless has been a fantasy boon of late on account of the fact that the three point guards ahead of him have all been out due to injury. They still are, and the Timberwolves have had to scramble to bring in anyone as depth, eventually finding veteran journeyman Isaiah Canaan. Yet it is Bayless getting the vast majority of the court time at the position – over the last four games, all starts, he has averaged as-near-as-is 39 minutes per game, recording a very valuable 35.4 fantasy points per game in that time.
- Point guard – Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics: $13.6 million
In his last seven games, Rozier has posted individual games fantasy point lines of 7.2, 45.6, 5.6, 37.9, 46.0, 24.6 and 21.4. Have a guess which three it was in which Kyrie Irving was absent, and Rozier got the start. Correct – it was the three that are far larger than the rest, and with Kyrie out again tonight, there is strong reason to elieve that Rozier will operate in that sort of range again.
- Shooting guard – David Nwaba, Cleveland Cavaliers: $6.4 million
The Cavaliers have a lot of players injured and no incentive to rush any of them back. Until recently, Nwaba was one such injury, and he only made his return in the last game, even then playing on a minutes restriction. He played well in his limited time, however, recorded a 21.4 fantasy point total in only 15 minutes. With J.R. Smith away from the team, Cedi Osman hurt, Rodney Hood traded, Nik Stauskas not certain to be with the team in time, and Alec Burks to be traded any day now, there is currently a sizeable role and relative seniority available for Nwaba, if his knee can take it.
- Shooting guard – Malik Monk, Charlotte Hornets: $8.8 million
The upside to being a streaky player are the hot streaks. So while Monk has yet to fully harness his ability to create and make shots a la Jamal Crawford into being a consistent and efficient NBA player, and while he has shown interest in doing little other than scoring, he does at least do that from time to time. His volume is useful to us in fantasy, where he has averaged 26.9 fantasy points over his past three games.
- Small forward – Justin Holiday, Memphis Grizzlies: $8.4 million
Check out the Grizzlies’ injury and/or absence list. Kyle Anderson, Garrett Temple, Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, Omri Casspi. That is the entirety of their shooting guard and small forward rotations, save for Holiday. So even though Holiday is a streaky shooter offensively at best, he is getting nearly 40 minutes a game right now, and volume counts here.
- Power forward – Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic: $13.0 million
Isaac’s incredible defensive potential is being realised, and the Magic are committed to it. He has been moved into the starting line-up, where it is imagined he will stay, and he is flashing that defensive impact through a bevvy of blocks and steals. His offensive game is still far behind the curve – Isaac is extremely inefficient for a power forward – yet the volume of defensive stats alone is making him a good fantasy value pick. Isaac’s last four games have all seen him record over the 30 fantasy point mark, as has six of his last seven, and he has averaged 31.8 per game over that latter span.
- Power forward – Larry Nance Jr, Cleveland Cavaliers: $14.8 million
The Cavaliers’ injury decimation of their front court continues, and at this moment, Nance is a major beneficiary. As the only defensive front court player left, and having invested so much in his new contract, the Cavaliers are certainly airing him out. Over his last two games, Nance has averaged 35.1 fantasy points per game.
- Centre – Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat: $8.3 million
Despite his good play in a utilitarian role last season, his vital help as a floor spacer on a team that struggled for it at the front court spots, and the cost of bringing him in, Olynyk has been a man largely without a role this season. Hassan Whiteside has been healthy again, prime prospect Bam Adebayo has been too good not to play, and since those two do not pair well, there have been no centre minutes available. At power forward, a combination of James Johnson plus breakout players Derrick Jones Jr and Justise Winslow has been employed instead. Nevertheless, Jones’s injury and Johnson’s mediocrity means there is a vacancy. So Olynyk is back in the rotation, and he has averaged 32.7 fantasy points over his last two.
- Centre – Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics: $9.1 million
Before the Celtics’ last game, we picked Theis as a fantasy value candidate on account of the injury absence to Aron Baynes, and on account of how the last time this happened, he was extremely productive in his time. In that game, Theis recorded 22.4 fantasy points per game. We happily stand by it.
Point guard – Terry Rozier, $13.6 million
Shooting guard – Jimmy Butler, $18.4 million
Small forward – Paul George, $24.7 million
Power forward – Jonathan Isaac, $13.0 million
Centre – Daniel Theis, $9.1 million
Bench – Jerryd Bayless, $12.2 million
Bench – Kelly Olynyk, $8.3 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: Jabari Bird, Aron Baynes, Kyrie Irving, Robert Williams (Boston), Tristan Thompson, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, John Henson (Cleveland), Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott (Indiana), Angelo Delgado, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Danilo Gallinari (L.A. Clippers), Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart (L.A. Lakers), Kyle Anderson, Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green, Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, Joakim Noah, Omri Casspi (Memphis), Derrick Jones Jr, Goran Dragic, Yante Maten (Miami), Robert Covington, Tyus Jones, Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose (Minnesota), Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay (New York), Abdel Nader, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Mo Bamba, Jonathon Simmons, Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Wilson Chandler, Justin Patton, Zhaire Smith, Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia), Rodney Hood (Portland), Kyle Lowry, 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!