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 team for tonight’s four-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
ATLANTA HAWKS vs CHARLOTTE HORNETS
This is not going to be the most glamorous tie, but the Hawks, in being so young and makeshift, are at least trying to do things the right way even with their talent disparity. They are the league’s fastest team by some margin, even faster by traditional pace measurements than the Warriors, and while this does in part speak to how bad their transition defence is, it also bodes well for fantasy players, who need the volume of possessions more than anything. Meanwhile, the Hornets are still fairly middling overall on the court with their results, but they are giving us quite a bit of fantasy value this year.
Point guard – Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks: $15.1 million
Because of his style of play, that involves a lot of highlight reel passes and jump shots taken from just inside the car park, combined with his youth and relative inexperience, Young’s output is streakier than most. That said, on the nights when it comes together, he is a game changer in both real life and in fantasy. After a string of four consecutive games with fantasy points in the twenties, Young went off last game for a 51.7 point performance; with Taurean Prince likely out, he has even more scoring to do, and while he may miss a lot of shots, Tony Parker isn’t going to be able to stop him taking them.
Centre – Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets: $8.6 million
Small forward – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets: $8.7 million
Point guard – Tony Parker, Charlotte Hornets: $7.9 million
All three of this Hornets trio have been picked by us in this space before, providing good fantasy value for most o the season thus far. Zeller starts at centre and his combination of paint defence, rim runs and scrappiness have made for a remarkably consistent 21.2 fantasy points per game. Parker has shone of late as the first guard off the bench, proving there is still plenty in the tank with a fantasy point average of 28.7 over the last four games. And MKG has averaged 23.1 fantasy points per game in his new role off the bench.
DALLAS MAVERICKS vs WASHINGTON WIZARDS
In their most recent game, the Wizards, for the first time all season really, looked committed to defence. They are still offensively fighting each other, openly discontented and by far and away the worst rebounding team in the league, but it was a start at least. While they remain abjectly bad overall this season, they might have some salvation tonight against a Mavericks team that gives up, by an absolute mile, the worst three-point percentage in the league (44.7%, 9.1% worse than what they shoot themselves).
Shooting guard – Wes Matthews, Dallas Mavericks: $10.5 million
It is with respect hard to find much fantasy value on the current Mavericks team. Working in Matthews’s favour here, though, is that he is essentially the only shooting guard on the team. Even though Yogi Ferrell has gone, the Mavericks still run a lot of two small guard line-ups whenever Matthews is out, and by virtue of the lack of competition for his role, Matthews is averaging 34.0 minutes per game, top 25 in the league. In that time, he is averaging 25.5 fantasy points per game, a good mark-up on his price.
Small forward – Kelly Oubre Jr, Washington Wizards: $8.8 million
Oubre Jr is playing some ugly basketball. Clearly making a contract year push, he is essentially never passing the ball any more, shooting at almost every given opportunity, constantly neglecting his defensive duties to try and leak out for transition opportunities, and disrupting flow constantly. This negative review though does actually help him from a fantasy point of view, as it means a lot of scoring volume from which we can find value. Despite a streakiness this volume scorer has always had, Oubre has averaged 24,6 fantasy points per game over the last five, and might represent some of the best value on this short slate.
PHOENIX SUNS vs BROOKLYN NETS
The Suns currently have the third worst defensive rating in the league, and the Nets are ninth worst. And so even though Brooklyn play at the third slowest pace in the league, there should be some points in this one. Particularly so for the Nets in their backcourt, where the Suns still have a very ramshackle point guard rotation, although be advised that while their overall defensive metrics all rate out as among the league’s worst, the Suns are actually one of the best defending teams of the three-point line in the league. (They just let opponents walk right to the basket instead.)
Power forward – Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns: $15.1 million
Ayton’s price has actually gone down a smidge, which is odd considering that he is playing well. Even as the team around him struggles for senior guard play that can get him the ball in the right spots regularly, Ayton is steadily recording high 30s and low to mid 40s fantasy point performances, and while a couple of blips in the teens drag down the overall average to 37.3, that is still good at this price. And there are seven good performances to those two blips, so those are good odds.
Centre – Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: $12.3 million
For a young big, Allen is pretty consistent. Aside from one anomalous 10.6 fantasy point outing in a heavy loss, he has recorded every other night in a range between 21.6 and 39.0, always giving us something. Overall, that works out to be a 28.7 average, rising to 30.7 without the one rogue bad one.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS vs PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
At 8-1, Milwaukee are one of the best teams in the league right now, and notwithstanding important changes to their offensive schematics, they have done so largely via their defence. It is currently ranked the best in the league, ahead now even of the Celtics. Portland’s defence is good, too, ranked fourth overall – this should give us some trepidation as fantasy players, for two good defences generally means a lower scoring game, and good fantasy value generally requires high volume. Nevertheless, there are some in-form, underpriced players we can look at.
Shooting guard – Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks: $16.9 million
The Bucks are combining their strong defence with the NBA’s fourth-quickest pace, so there is still some scoring to be found. Middleton is a key piece to that puzzle, averaging 19.2 points in only 30 minutes per game. From a fantasy point of view, he has averaged 35.3 fantasy points per game on the season, doubling his price in production.
Point guard – Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: $19.9 million
Admittedly by the tiniest of margins, Lillard costs less than $20 million despite returning a 44.0 fantasy points per game average on the season. He has cooled slightly after a hot start – a 36.6 average over his last five compared to a 51.3 average over the first five – but the value is still there, as is the high upside of that variance.
PG – John Wall, $21.0 million
SG – Caris LeVert, $13.5 million
SF – Luka Doncic, $15.5 million
PF – Deandre Ayton, $15.1 million
C – Jarrett Allen, $12.3 million
Bench – Kelly Oubre Jr, $8.8 million
Bench – D’Angelo Russell, $13.2 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: Justin Anderson, Taurean Prince, John Collins (Atlanta), Treveon Graham, DeMarre Carroll (Brooklyn), Dirk Nowitzki, Devin Harris (Dallas), D.J. Wilson, Trevon Duval (Milwaukee), T.J. Warren (Phoenix), Mo Harkless, Nik Stauskas (Portland)
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 pick advice!