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 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 – Dennis Schroeder, Oklahoma City Thunder: $11.6 million
With Paul George out, the Thunder are readjusting their line-up. They have no backups to George of any distinct quality, so instead they are putting their best players on the floor and reinterpreting defensive positions. This means more dual point guard line-ups featuring Schroeder and Russell Westbrook, which in turn benefits Schroeder’s fantasy candidacy – his last five games since a brief absence have all seen him return fantasy point performances in the 20s, and he has averaged 27.9 over the last three.
- Point guard – Kris Dunn, Chicago Bulls: $11.9 million
Dunn has been in an extended struggle, not able to find his place offensively. Nevertheless, as the team around him has become one of the best offensive teams in the league – amazingly! – he is starting to reap the rewards as well. Hitting multiple three-point shots in back-to-back games for the first time ever has seen Dunn return a fantasy point average over his past three games of 28.6.
- Shooting guard – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $27.1 million
Harden’s brilliance continues. He followed up his enormous 92.4 fantasy point outing of a couple of games ago with another 61.4 performance last time out, and while the 30+ game scoring streak is over, the dominant numbers are not. If you can find enough low-price value picks elsewhere to put around him, definitely consider Harden tonight, and every night.
- Shooting guard – Wes Matthews, Indiana Pacers: $9.1 million
Matthews took a buyout from the Mavericks with a view to landing on a more competitive team and getting himself some playoff minutes down the stretch as he heads for free agency once again. He has chosen well in the Pacers, where he has received a starting spot and a lot of game time filling in for the injured Victor Oladipo. In his last six games, all performances of which have seen him record more than 20 fantasy points, Matthews has averaged 23.9 per game.
- Small forward – Mo Harkless, Portland Trail Blazers: $10.5 million
Counsel a note of caution that Evan Turner will return from injury tonight. And when he does so, this could mean a decrease in Harkless’s court time, production, and thus fantasy value. Nevertheless, we would be fools not to notice what Harkless has done in his most recent four-game stretch – a 31.6 fantasy point average, not dipping below 28.0 at any point.
- Small forward – Bruno Caboclo, Memphis Grizzlies: $7.0 million
In his fifth season, and in what is by far Caboclo’s lengthiest run on an NBA court, he is putting in some across-the-board numbers. With Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson, Dillon Brooks and Ivan Rabb out at the forward spots, Caboclo is getting the opportunity to perform on a depleted roster than MarShon Brooks did last year. And so while he is inconsistent, his 33.2 fantasy point outing of last time is not entirely unforeseeable again.
- Power forward – Mike Scott, Philadelphia 76ers: $5.7 million
As can be seen at the bottom of this page, the 76ers have an injury crisis going on right now. They could be as many as eight players short tonight, and will be definitely down at least five. Of the nine players remaining on the roster, one is the inexperienced two-way player Haywood Highsmith, and one is Justin Patton, who has missed almost all of his two-year NBA career through injury and who has precisely four NBA minutes under his belt. There is thus plenty of time available for those senior players who can take the court. And with his 20.1 and 28.8 fantasy point performances over the last two games, Scott has shown he can take advantage of that.
- Power forward – Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls: $18.2 million
The Bulls are on a winning streak and have become one of the best offensive teams in the league. Odd, but true. And at the crux of that is the continued development of Markkanen. Far from being just a shooter, Markkanen has much improved his ball handling and strength on the ball, thus becoming a go-to versatile offensive player. And to that end, he has posted a 47.2 fantasy points per game average over his last five.
- Centre – Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies: $12.3 million
The aforementioned forward injuries for the Grizzlies that benefit Caboclo’s fantasy point candidacy also do the same for Valanciunas at centre. With pretty much only Joakim Noah for company in the front court, Valanciunas is getting a heavy share of minutes, and his price has yet to recover to his pre-injury levels. His 37.9 fantasy point average over the past four games, then, is good value.
- Centre – DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors: $15.3 million
Freed from his minutes restriction, Cousins is putting in big numbers. Whether or not the Warriors are a better team with him in the fold is another matter. From the fantasy point of view, we need know only his individual production, and with a 45.8 fantasy point average over his past four games, the returns are very good.
Point guard – Jevon Carter, $6.3 million
Shooting guard – Wes Matthews, $9.1 million
Small forward – Kawhi Leonard, $18.9 million
Power forward – Tobias Harris, $18.8 million
Centre – DeMarcus Cousins, $15.2 million
Bench – Lauri Markkanen, $18.2 million
Bench – Jonas Valanciunas, $12.3 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: Wendell Carter Jr, Denzel Valentine, Chandler Hutchison (Chicago), Damian Jones, Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney, Klay Thompson (Golden State), Kenneth Faried, Iman Shumpert (Houston), Domantas Sabonis, Alize Johnson, Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Ivan Rabb, Kyle Anderson, Mike Conley, Jaren Jackson Jr, Dillon Brooks (Memphis), Robert Covington, Luol Deng (Minnesota), Andre Roberson, Paul George (Oklahoma City), Timofey Mozgov, Mo Bamba, Markelle Fultz (Orlando), Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, Amir Johnson, Boban Marjanovic, Jonah Bolden, Shake Milton, Zhaire Smith, Furkan Korkmaz (Philadelphia), Fred VanVleet (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!