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 nine-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
Point guard – Shelvin Mack, Memphis Grizzlies: $8.5 million
Point guard – Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies: $12.3 million
We suggested both of these as good potential fantasy picks, but last night was a weird night in fantasy. Through a combination of lopsided wins, often by the presumed underdog, and unforeseeable foul troubles for key fantasy players, saw the vast majority of the smart fantasy picks play far below their usual value. This was certainly true of Conley, in heavy foul trouble all night and thus able to only return 24.7 fantasy points. Nevertheless, even that isn’t terrible value at this price, and he is usually good for a lot more than that. The direct beneficiary of this, of course, was Mack, who put in a hefty 38.2 fantasy points for his fourth consecutive 20+ fantasy point performance. There is no better value backup point guard available.
Point guard – Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors: $17.1 million
One of the few to buck the aforementioned trend last night was Lowry, who led a Kawhi-less Raptors team to an embarassingly easy victory over LeBron’s Lakers. Another 15 assists for the player who is by far the league leader in that category saw another 58.7 fantasy points for the hottest point guard in the game. The Kyle Lowry of his younger days, the one with reckless abandon and with more rebounds than assists, has given way to quite the cerebral floor engine, with a team of good pieces around him.
Shooting guard – Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: $15.2 million
For the second consecutive game, LaVine was highly inefficient from the floor, but still recorded 31.8 fantasy points on what was a bad night for him. Fantasy basketball is concerned with volume, not efficiency, and on a Bulls offence that committed half a million turnovers and couldn’t get anything going, LaVine’s relative seniority ruled the day. LaVine’s price increases have been so minor that they haven’t ruined his fantasy value, and while the consistency is not always there, the overall value certainly is.
Shooting guard – Rodney McGruder, Miami Heat: $10.2 million
Small forward – Josh Richardson, Miami Heat: $14.0 million
McGruder continues to cost far less than such a consistent starter should, and has dipped only once under the 24.6 mark in his last seven games. He should be costing about the same as the man next to him does; Richardson, who set his career-high in points three games ago, then went out and beat it last time out, recording 45.7 fantasy points along the way. The pair have become increasingly senior within the team, and are relative beacons of consistency in terms of both health and production on a Heat team that is getting hurt around them.
Small forward – Damyean Dotson, New York Knicks: $7.9 million
A starter now, Dotson has averaged 24.0 fantasy points over his last games. There was an anomalous 40.0 performance in amongst that, but even if we take that out, he is still averaging 21.7 fantasy points per game in his new role, and that is a strong mark-up for this price.
Power forward – Wendell Carter Jr, Chicago Bulls: $12.9 million
Carter’s growth is obvious and quick. He is the modern day centre who can post to a hook shot, drop a turnaround fadeaway, dribble-drive, spot up from three, clear the glass and be a defensive hub on the interior, and as he grows in offensive confidence throughout the season, so too does his production. Over his last five games, Carter has averaged 40.7 fantasy points per contest, and is verging on must-pick territory.
Power forward – Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors: $12.9 million
Ibaka is not the shot blocker he once was. And never really was he that good of a rebounder. Instead, it now seems as though he is primarily a scorer instead. Setting a career-high in points last night, Ibaka made his first 14 shots from the field, the first player to do so in a game since Shaquille O’Neal, and he did so from both inside and out. Ibaka is the beneficiary of Lowry’s late-career improvements, and vice versa, and has averaged 42.3 fantasy points per game over the last four. It is showing no signs of stopping.
Centre – Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks: $6.1 million
Robinson remains the starting centre, and put up another 20.2 fantasy points in the Knicks’ last game, raising his average over the last five to 22.6. That is thus almost a 400% mark-up on his tiny, tiny fantasy price, and so while fouls and underdeveloped skills might make for some streakiness with Robinson, he is already producing, no matter how relatively untested he is. Some people’s bodies were just built for this game.
Centre – Boban Marjanovic, L.A. Clippers: $7.1 million
Boban is a limited minutes player, even when he starts. His sheer size makes him a small ball punisher, but small ball also punishes him right back, as he absolutely cannot defend the perimeter. Nevertheless, the undisclosed injury to (and generally unimpactful play of) Marcin Gortat has seen Boban’s role grow of late, and he has averaged 29.0 fantasy points per game over the last three. As has been the case his whole career, whenever Marjanovic gets minutes, he is extremely productive offensively and on the glass. And right now, he is getting those minutes.
Point guard – Kyle Lowry, $17.1 million
Shooting guard – Zach LaVine, $15.3 million
Small forward – Kevin Durant, $21.5 million
Power forward – Wendell Carter, $12.9 million
Centre – Mitchell Robinson, $6.1 million
Bench – Mike Conley, $12.3 million
Bench – Josh Richardson, $14.0 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, Daniel Theis (Boston), Denzel Valentine, Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis, Lauri Markkanen (Chicago), Kevin Love (Cleveland), Jarred Vanderbilt, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Porter Jr, Will Barton (Denver), Luke Kennard, Reggie Bullock (Detroit), DeMarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston (Golden State), Nene, Brandon Knight, Eric Gordon (Houston), Marcin Gortat, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Omri Casspi, JaMychal Green, Chandler Parsons (Memphis), James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteside (Miami), Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Justin Patton (Minnesota), Elfrid Payton (New Orleans), Courtney Lee, Kevin Knox, Kristaps Porzingis (New York), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Jonathan Isaac, Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Kawhi Leonard (Toronto), Donovan Mitchell, Raul Neto (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!