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 $28 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 team for tonight’s eight-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
Point guard – D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic: $11.4 million
There is a relative steadiness to Augustin, in both real life and in fantasy. Ideally, he would not be your starting point guard, yet for the Magic, he has been this now for almost an entire calendar year. And in that role, Augustin is pretty consistent; as a measure of this, in his last six fantasy games, Augustin has never dipped below the 20 point mark, and by virtue of some big outings has averaged 30.4 fantasy points per game in that span.
Point guard – Shabazz Napier, Brooklyn Nets: $6.6 million
The injuries the Nets are facing on the wings and at the forward spots (see below) are having a knock-on effect further down the roster. With more guards being run out in two or three guard line-ups, time has opened up off the bench for Napier, a player who is always productive in minutes. The price reflects his lack of regular on-court opportunity with the Nets thus far, not his talents; in the four games that he has been back in the rotation, Napier has averaged 18.9 fantasy points per game.
Shooting guard – Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets: $10.8 million
The idea behind picking Harris here is more about what he is going to do, rather than what he has just done. Injuries have deflated his price down to this level, and in his two games back thus far, Harris has totalled only 27.0 fantasy points combined. But that isn’t the usual Gary Harris. The usual Gary Harris is the guy who averaged 17.5 points, 2.9 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game last year, good for 28 fantasy points per game. And that production would be a steal at this price.
Shooting guard – Lance Stephenson, L.A. Lakers: $6.6 million
One of the main beneficiaries of the LeBron James and Rajon Rondo injuries has been Stephenson, who off of the bench has an expanded role as a playmaker to fulfil. As ever, nothing with Lance is dependable, including his fantasy value. But almost no one else at the sub-$7 million level can offer the potential upside as a fantasy pick than he can, as evidenced by the 27.3 and 27.0 fantasy point performances in his last two games.
Small forward – Danuel House, Houston Rockets: $10.2 million
House is becoming something of a regular feature in this space, as he continues to start at small forward even now that James Ennis has returned from injury. He is the beneficiary of a price freeze, and also seems to have frozen his productivity level as well, having recorded six consecutive fantasy point performances in the twenties. And for an average over that time, House has posted one of 24.0. Can’t argue with that.
Small forward – DeMarre Carroll, Brooklyn Nets: $10.3 million
Carroll’s stint as a productive fantasy small forward available for a mid-range price has not lasted as long as House’s, and is unmistakably buoyed by injuries to the positions around him that have opened up more time. He is however performing with fantasy value than his Houston-based equivalent. Over his last four games, Carroll has averaged 30.9 fantasy points per game, with each performance coming in the 27.5-to-33.8 point range.
Power forward – Jaren Jackson Jr, Memphis Grizzlies: $13.3 million
As one of the more talented rookies in the draft class, Jackson is always capable of big nights. But as one of the more untested ones, he is also prone to getting into foul trouble and giving us very little. When it goes well, Jackson’s ability to fill up the entire stat sheet can make him very productive, as evidenced by his 34.6 fantasy point average over the past three games. But be mindful of the fact that his opponent tonight, the New Orleans Pelicans, feature both Anthony Davis and Julius Randle. Both will go at Jackson, hard. Which makes for both lots of blocked shot opportunities, as well as a high risk of foul problems.
Power forward – Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics: $12.5 million
It seems as though the kraken has finally awoken. Hayward is still not back to his best, not in the stats nor using the eye test. Yet having recorded back to back 40+ fantasy point games – including one 35 real point game, and one near triple-double – it appears as though he is finally getting close.
Centre – Luke Kornet, New York Knicks: $10.3 million
We live in a time where Kornet is the best centre pick on the slate. What a world. The stretch five is starting at the spot in the absence of Mitchell Robinson, and with Enes Kanter left on the bench – in the last four games, Kornet has averaged 28.3 fantasy points per game.
Centre – Al Horford, Boston Celtics: $13.6 million
Over his last two games, Horford has averaged 34.3 fantasy points per game, with his individual play bolstered in part by the aforementioned improvements of Hayward (and, to be fair, the injury absence of Kyrie Irving). We pick him here again though on large part of his opponent tonight, Jarrett Allen and the Brooklyn Nets. Both Allen and the Nets are pretty good, but they do not rebound well, and Allen is exploitable by Horford’s savvy. So maybe he has a third 30+ point performance coming up.
Point guard – Mike Conley, $15.6 million
Shooting guard – James Harden, $25.7 million
Small forward – Brandon Ingram, $14.1 million
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica: $12.5 million
Centre – Luke Kornet, $10.3 million
Bench – Gary Harris, $10.8 million
Bench – DeMarre Carroll: $10.3 million
In 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: Aron Baynes, Jabari Bird, Robert Williams (Boston), Dzanan Musa, Caris LeVert, Allen Crabbe, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Brooklyn), Isaiah Thomas, Jarred Vanderbilt, Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr (Denver), Zaza Pachulia, Zach Lofton, Ish Smith, Henry Ellenson (Detroit), Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Carmelo Anthony (Houston), LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Kyle Kuzma (L.A. Lakers), Chandler Parsons, Dillon Brooks, Jevon Carter (Memphis), D.J. Wilson (Milwaukee), E’Twaun Moore, Nikola Mirotic (New Orleans), Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, Kristaps Porzingis, Isaiah Hicks (New York), Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Iman Shumpert, Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento), Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Thabo Sefolosha, Dante Exum, Grayson Allen (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!