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 of my team 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.
- Point guard – Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: $22.6 million
It is probably high time that Lillard is considered to be every bit Kawhi Leonard’s equal. The two are very similar players, who play similar styles with similar numbers, with roughly similar strengths and weaknesses. Few can create shots and make impossible layups like Kyrie, but Lillard is one of the few that can. And so while he thrives in the relative security of the Blazers – tied for third seed in the West yet never much in the public discourse – Lillard’s own brilliance has come to be something we can rely upon. Over his last three games, he has averaged 42.7 fantasy points per game.
- Shooting guard – Wesley Matthews, Indiana Pacers: $9.5 million
Matthews took a buyout from the Mavericks to join the Pacers on account of the fact that, in the twilight of his career, he wants to join a playoff team, maybe make a run at a title, and also find somewhere to better audition his talents as he heads into free agency for what conceivably could be the last time in his career. The aim was to do so on a team where he would receive a sizeable minute share, because otherwise it is not much of an audition. He has chosen well with the Pacers, then, where he can fill in in the starting line-up for the absent Victor Oladipo. The Pacers have done well in choosing Matthews, too, for he offers a tremendous consistency on the court. His last eight fantasy point guards for them have seen him record at least 20 fantasy points in each one, yielding an average of 23.5 per game in that time.
- Shooting guard – Bojan Bogdanovic, Indiana Pacers: $14.0 million
While Matthews has taken a lot of Oladipo’s minutes in the rotation, he is not a featured offensive player, nor is he a player who creates offence for himself or for others. Nor is Bogdanovic, really, but by virtue of the opportunities and need opened up by Oladipo’s absence, he is bumped up the hierarchy by default. Over the last three games, Boj Bog has averaged 42.1 fantasy points in this expanded role, and, as with any Pacers pick tonight, the high pace the opposing Milwaukee Bucks play at may increase those numbers further.
- Small forward – Mo Harkless, Portland Trail Blazers: $11.0 million
Harkless received an increased role in the rotation once Evan Turner went out due to injury, and although Turner has recovered from that, he is now out again due to personal reasons. This therefore bodes well for Harkless being able to continue his strong recent streak of games, one which has boosted his price quite a bit, but not enough to diminish his fantasy value too much. Over the last five games in this role, Harkless has averaged 32.6 fantasy points per game.
- Power forward – Thaddeus Young, Indiana Pacers: $15.0 million
Perennially overlooked, Young is and always has been a very solid player. He is also quietly having his best season as a Pacer – while his minutes per game have gone down slightly from last season, his raw numbers in all categories other than steals have gone up, and his scoring efficiency has gone way up. All told, Young has got better throughout the season, and is currently further enjoying the absence due to injury of Domas Sabonis, which benefits the production and thus fantasy value of all Pacers front court players. In his last seven games, he has averaged 34.0 fantasy points per game.
- Power forward – Nikola Mirotic, Milwaukee Bucks: $13.1 million
Given that he is now on a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo, it was inevitable that Mirotic’s role would be reduced with his new team. And with the reduced role comes less production, which invariably means less fantasy value. That said, due to his lengthy injury absence prior to the trade, Mirotic’s price had been deflated anyway. And so his 26.8 fantasy point average over his last six games still have some usage for us here.
- Centre – Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks: $13.6 million
It is very difficult to find a centre with any distinct value on tonight’s tiny slate. The Blazers and Pacers rank among the best rebounding teams in the league, thus likely stymieing the numbers of both Steven Adams and Jusuf Nurkic, while Myles Turner’s season splits against the Bucks thus far have not been favourable. Than then leaves Lopez, the ultimate stretch big, who never gets much in the way of rebounds but whose shooting and interior defensive talents are entirely commensurate with the league-leading Bucks’ style of play.
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: Alize Johnson, Domantas Sabonis, Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Sterling Brown, George Hill (Milwaukee), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Evan Turner (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 picks and advice!