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 hefty thirteen-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- The Cheap – Alex Caruso, L.A. Lakers: $9.5 million
- The Mid-Ranger – Delon Wright, Memphis Grizzlies: $13.9 million
- The Pricy – Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets: $21.9 million
Caruso has been one of the brighter points of the lacklustre, anticlimactic and depressing second half of a Lakers season that even their own fans wish was over. His propensity for getting into every column of the stat sheet hit its peak last time out, when, fuelled by 32 points and 10 rebounds, he put in a 57.5 fantasy point outing, boosting his average over the last four games to 39.0. Wright also fills up every column in the stat sheet, going so far as to post a triple-double last time out, and a 65.0 fantasy point performance that upped his average in his last six games to 42.4 per game. And while he does not have the versatility of production in this way, Walker is still scoring big. Trying to get his outside-looking-in Hornets team to defy the odds and make the final playoff seed, thus earning the right to get drubbed by the Milwaukee Bucks, Walker has averaged 50.3 fantasy points per game over the past three contests. And his team will need him to do something like that again tonight.
- The Cheap – Ian Clark, New Orleans Pelicans: $6.6 million
- The Mid-Ranger – Jeremy Lamb, Charlotte Hornets: $13.2 million
- The Pricy – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $27.6 million
Like Walker above, Lamb is doing his best to keep the Hornets mathematically involved in the playoff race, scoring 22 points last time out including a game-winning three pointer. The resulting 43.0 fantasy points boosts his four-game average to 32.8 per game, enough to hold good value at this price. Clark by contrast is taking over the volume-scoring opportunity spot opened up at the guard position by injuries to each of E’Twaun Moore, Jrue Holiday and (most recently) Frank Jackson, averaging 37.3 fantasy points per game over his last two. And although he is not done anything too brilliant in his last three games – averaging ‘only’ 50.0 fantasy points per game – it was a mere week ago that Harden put in a 50-point triple-double. On such a deep slate with so many good cheap options elsewhere, the priciest player in the game is a very logical pick tonight.
- The Cheap – Mario Hezonja, New York Knicks: $8.3 million
- The Mid-Ranger – Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns: $11.4 million
- The Pricy – Danilo Gallinari, L.A. Clippers: $16.5 million
Although we anticipated it would be the rookie Kevin Knox who would most benefit from the Knicks’ roster decimation and the resultant volume scoring opportunities, we did not see Mario Hezonja putting in a triple-double performance. He did, though, and the resultant 50.7 fantasy point performance paired with his 49.3 outing the previous game makes for an even 100 fantasy points over his last two. Not bad for a player previously receiving DNP-CDs. Jackson meanwhile is taking advantage of the absences of Devin Booker, Tyler Johnson, T.J. Warren and Kelly Oubre to improvise his own way to the basket offensively, recording 35 points in his last game as the bedrock of a 59.3 fantasy point game, his second time cracking the 50 mark in his last three contests. And although the top end of the small forward price range is always pretty barren, and particularly so with LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic out, Gallinari’s consistency holds some attraction to us, averaging 40.3 fantasy points over his last nine games.
- The Cheap – Dragan Bender, Phoenix Suns: $8.1 million
- The Mid-Ranger – Bobby Portis, Washington Wizards: $13.1 million
- The Pricy – Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons: $18.8 million
The Suns have an incredibly shallow big man rotation anyway, featuring the two-headed centre pairing of Deandre Ayton and Richaun Holmes at centre, then a plethora of combo forwards at the de facto power forward spot. As above, though, some of those forwards are out, as well as both Ayton and Holmes. Bender then gets big minutes and opportunity through a sheer lack of alternatives, and has averaged 34.4 fantasy points over his last four contests. Portis is playing for his next contract, and to win over whoever the next Wizards GM will be, averaging 37.4 fantasy points over his last four, including a 63.6 performance in there. And as for Griffin, counsel caution – he is game to game currently with a lingering knee problem. When healthy, however, he is carrying his Pistons team, who remain in the Eastern Conference race. If Griffin plays, he will therefore go big.
- The Mid-Ranger – Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers: $12.7 million
- The Other Mid-Ranger – Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks: $16.1 million
- The Pricy – Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz: $21.0 million
In contrast to much of the above, two of our recommended centre picks here are on competitive playoff teams. The fact that Jusuf Nurkic has suffered a very serious leg fracture has not dissuaded the Portland Trail Blazers from trying to make it out of the highly competitive Western Conference, something they have been able to sustain on account of the play of Kanter, who has averaged 42.0 fantasy points in the four Nurkic-less games, three of which has been over the 40 point mark. Gobert meanwhile is trying to make his way up the rankings for the All-NBA teams, averaging 48.7 fantasy points over his past seven games and tonight matched up against an L.A. Lakers team that has no chance of preventing him from getting whatever he wants against them. The third is Robinson, who is filling the spot vacated by Kanter – a frequent name on this last throughout the season, Robinson’s price has grown substantially as a result of his in-year improvements, yet the 42.4 fantasy points he has averaged per game over his last five contests is still good value anyway.
Point guard – Delon Wright, $13.9 million
Shooting guard – James Harden, $27.6 million
Small forward – Mario Hezonja, $8.3 million
Power forward – Blake Griffin, $18.8 million
Centre – Enes Kanter, $12.7 million
Bench – Alex Caruso, $9.5 million
Bench – Dragan Bender, $8.1 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: Miles Plumlee, Alex Poythress, Dewayne Dedmon, Kevin Huerter, Omari Spellman, Trae Young, John Collins (Atlanta), Guerschon Yabusele (Boston), Allen Crabbe (Brooklyn), Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Joe Chealey (Charlotte), J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, Nik Stauskas (Cleveland), Maxi Kleber, Luka Doncic, J.J. Barea, Tim Hardaway Jr, Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas), Michael Porter Jr, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap (Denver), Luke Kennard (Detroit), Shaun Livingston, Damian Jones, Andre Iguodala (Golden State), Daniel House Jr (Houston), Victor Oladipo, Darren Collison (Indiana), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Danilo Gallinari, JaMychal Green, Patrick Beverley (L.A. Clippers), Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, Reggie Bullock (L.A. Lakers), Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr, Jonas Valanciunas, Joakim Noah, C.J. Miles, Avery Bradley. Mike Conley (Memphis), Donte DiVincenzo, Tony Snell, Malcolm Brogdon, Nikola Mirotic, Pau Gasol, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Jeff Teague, Robert Covington, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng (Minnesota), Stanley Johnson, Frank Jackson, Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore, Trevon Blueitt, Darius Miller (New Orleans), Isaiah Hicks, Noah Vonleh, Kadeem Allen, Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier, Emmanuel Mudiay, Dennis Smith Jr (New York), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Timofey Mozgov, Markelle Fultz, Mo Bamba (Orlando), T.J. Warren, Richaun Holmes, Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr, Tyler Johnson, Deandre Ayton (Phoenix), Jusuf Nurkic, C.J. McCollum (Portland), Harry Giles III, Wenyen Gabriel, De’Aaron Fox, Kosta Koufos (Sacramento), Dejounte Murray, Marco Belinelli (San Antonio), Raul Neto, Jae Crowder, Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, Kyle Korver, Derrick Favors (Utah), Trevor Ariza, Jordan McRae, John Wall, Jabari Parker, Dwight Howard (Washington)
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!