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 two-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 BROOKLYN NETS
- Point guard – George Hill, Milwaukee Bucks: $6.4 million
It helped Hill’s recent play and fantasy value that starting point guard Eric Bledsoe was ejected remarkably early from the Bucks’ last game. Nevertheless, Hill has been on a good run of form lately even before that happened. Having been a placeholder for a year and a half now, Hill is playing his best basketball for two seasons, averaging 24.2 fantasy points over his last four contests, a good return on a slate as short as this one.
- Shooting guard – Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee Bucks: $9.6 million
- Shooting guard – Sterling Brown, Milwaukee Bucks: $7.8 million
In addition to the Bledsoe ejection, the Bucks were running pretty short of guards and wing players anyway. Donte DiVincenzo is out for the season, Malcolm Brogdon is out for at least the regular season, Tony Snell is out for a while, and Khris Middleton is getting situation rest in advance of the probable deep post-season run. The shooting guard minutes have thus opened up for these two; Connaughton has responded with a 25.1 fantasy point average over his last nine games, while Brown has put in 24.8 over the past four since he too got into the rotation.
- Small forward – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks: $26.0 million
A win over the Philadelphia 76ers in their most recent game would ensure the Bucks finished the regular season not only with the best record in the Eastern Conference, but in the entire NBA. That was a prize worth fighting for, and so Giannis went and won it. In a typically dominant all-around performance, Antetokounmpo posted 45 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks and no turnovers on his way to a giant 84.6 fantasy points. If he is not rested tonight, pick him again; on a slate this short with so many good value picks elsewhere, he is the only one of the truly pricy picks to be automatic.
- Power forward – D.J. Wilson, Milwaukee Bucks: $5.9 million
Notwithstanding the shorthandedness in the back court, there are also vacancies in the front court. Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic are both out for a while, and Giannis, notwithstanding his brilliance outlined above, could use some rest before the playoffs given that the best record in the NBA is now assured. Into these breaches steps Wilson, who was a regular backup centre of sorts anyway.
CHICAGO BULLS VS PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
- Shooting guard – Walt Lemon Jr, Chicago Bulls: $7.9 million
Lemon has been with the Bulls’ G-League affiliate for much of the season, and has been given a late call-up to prove that his dynamic speed, scoring and relentless attack can carry over to the big leagues. So far, the answer is yet. Outplaying Antonio Blakeney (a player in the same situation last season), Lemon has played three games for his new team, recording fantasy point games of 46.9, 24.9 and 41.6 in them. That is a huge return that cannot be passed up tonight.
- Shooting guard – Shaquille Harrison, Chicago Bulls: $12.5 million
As opposed to the recent injection from the bench offered up by Lemon, Harrison has been a good bench contributor for the Bulls all season long. An energetic defender, Harrison piles in the steals and the rebounding numbers extremely well, especially for a small guard, and he is also picking up his offensive game as the year goes on, averaging 33.7 fantasy points per game over his past seven contests. The steady growth of his fantasy price reflects the consistent impact he has had, yet it has not grown too much to take away his value, especially on a slate as short as this.
- Small forward – Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Chicago Bulls: $8.1 million
As a part of the above, the previously overlooked Luwawu-Cabarrot is getting the longest run of his NBA career. In the same span of games that Lemon has been on his furious tear, TLC has posted an average of 25.2 fantasy points per game. Both of them are playing for their NBA futures, and have opportunities not otherwise availed them given the Bulls’ current situation.
- Centre – Robin Lopez, Chicago Bulls: $10.7 million
The Bulls do still have the centre pairing of Lopez and Cristiano Felicio, at least. Not being benched down the stretch like he was last season, Lopez is instead the nightly starter, and a surprisingly senior offensive player based on the players around him. In his last four games, Lopez has averaged 26.0 fantasy points per game.
- Power forward – Jonah Bolden, Philadelphia 76ers: $8.1 million
Despite the signing of Greg Monroe and the presence on the roster of Amir Johnson, Bolden is the primary starting option whenever Joel Embiid is out. Embiid has missed three of the last four games, and in those three games, Bolden posted fantasy point outings of 44.1, 13.9 and 36.5 fantasy points, huge value at this price. The 76ers are in something of a bind – on a season-long losing streak and limping into the post season, they need to be resting a beat-up Embiid as much as possible, yet they also need to win some games for both momentum and their seeding. He is thus listed as “questionable” at the time of writing, and if he does not start, pick Bolden.
Point guard – Ben Simmons, $20.6 million
Shooting guard – Shaquille Harrison, $12.5 million
Small forward – Giannis Antetokounmpo, $26.0 million
Power forward – Jonah Bolden, $8.1 million
Centre – Brook Lopez, $14.0 million
Bench – Robin Lopez, $10.7 million
Bench – Walt Lemon Jr, $7.9 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: Allen Crabbe (Brooklyn), Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Otto Porter Jr, Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine, Chandler Hutchison, Wendell Carter Jr (Chicago), Donte DiVincenzo, Tony Smell, Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Malcolm Brogdon (Milwaukee), Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Furkan Korkmaz, James Ennis III (Philadelphia)
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!