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 at each price point for each position for tonight’s six-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets: $12.0 million
Morris’s good streak as the starting point guard for his team continues. Three consecutive 40+ point games started a five-game streak in which he has averaged 37.8 fantasy points per game, and for whatever reason, his price has frozen. The value is thus still there, then.
- Point guard – Dennis Smith Jr, New York Knicks: $12.9 million
Smith has somewhat of a free rein in New York right now. The team is very short of talent, waiting for next year and with no intent to win – they are thus airing out their young talent, Smith especially. With this free rein comes a lot of shots, and while the nightly blow-out potential of the Knicks always means their starting players might play much less than starters usually do, a ball-dominant guard with lots of minutes, no playing time rivals and free rein to prove himself usually means a lot of numbers.
- Shooting guard – Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves: $6.7 million
The guard shortage that has been so beneficial to the fantasy value of Jerryd Bayless of late – although, after two bad games in a row, we are worried about it continuing – has also benefited Okogie, who regularly starts at off guard. The defensive specialist is still finding his feet offensively and has plenty of skills development to do. Yet on the nights he does get a few points, it combines with his low price and high value defensive statistics to create strong fantasy value, as it did with his 26.3 fantasy point performance last time out.
- Shooting guard – Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: $15.3 million
The Bulls are freefalling and it’s kind of on purpose. They are very much into the evaluation part of the season. And a part of that evaluation, as it has been all season, is establishing LaVine’s credentials as a go-to scorer. In this respect, things have been a little spotty. But a 53.1 fantasy point performance last time out shows what he is capable of.
- Small forward – Treveon Graham, Brooklyn Nets: $7.0 million
On a slate short of small forwards with value at both the top and the bottom, consider Treveon Graham in this role. Having missed much of the season through injury, Graham has not much in the way of production on the season, and when the Nets are fully healthy, he probably struggles for a rotation spot. But even with Caris LeVert returning tonight, they are not fully healthy, and thus there is a role for Graham, who has averaged 22.9 fantasy points over his last two games.
- Power forward – Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls: $16.7 million
At the trade deadline, the Bulls traded away Bobby Portis, Markkanen’s most immediate playing time rival. Whereas there was once a trio of face-up power forwards in he, Markkanen and Mirotic – and, latterly, Jabari Parker – there now exists just Markkanen, whom the Bulls are committed and tied to the potential of. He has kicked it on a gear of late, too, averaging 40.6 fantasy points over his last four games.
- Power forward – Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans: $10.0 million
- Power forward – Kenrich Williams, New Orleans Pelicans: $10.8 million
At the trade deadline, the Pelicans kept Anthony Davis, and acquired Thon Maker, but sent out Nikola Mirotic. This should mean good things for these two players, their minutes, their production, and thus their fantasy value. Maker is a centre only and he does not pair with Okafor, and although Markieff Morris also came back in the deal, he is out injured. With Davis also out injured, and Julius Randle in and out, there should still be room for both of these two who have been playing well of late; Williams, averaging 31.5 fantasy points over his past five games, and Diallo, averaging 32.6 over his past three.
- Centre – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: $21.2 million
After returning from a minor injury, Drummond has played five games. His average over those five games has been 51.5 fantasy points per game, a very nice number. But what makes it better is the consistency with which they have come – those five games have come in the very narrow band between 49.0 and 53.2 fantasy points. And impressively, his output has also somehow increased with every game. Going up against the Knicks tonight could see him tee off on them.
- Centre – Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets: $11.8 million
In light of the struggles and injuries to Paul Millsap, the Nuggets are using a lot more of a dual post Plumlee/Nikola Jokic line-up. This makes a lot more sense this season now that they no longer have 42 power forwards than it did last season, especially given that Trey Lyles’s play seems to have stagnated. Denver’s defence is much improved this season, in large part due to Plumlee’s presence as the anchor, and from a fantasy point of view, he has averaged 34.0 fantasy points over his last three games.
Point guard – Monte Morris, $12.0 million
Shooting guard – Jimmy Butler, $18.5 million
Small forward – Stanley Johnson, $7.7 million
Power forward – Lauri Markkanen, $16.7 million
Centre – Karl-Anthony Towns, $24.7 million
Bench – Kenrich Williams, $10.8 million
Bench – Mitchell Robinson, $9.0 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 (Atlanta), Robert Williams, Jabari Bird, Aron Baynes (Boston), Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott, Ike Anigbogu (Indiana), Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Milos Teodosic, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Josh Hart, Reggie Bullock (L.A. Lakers), Chandler Parsons, Dillon Brooks, Omri Casspi, Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, Garrett Temple, Kyle Anderson, JaMychael Green (Memphis), Robert Covington, Tyus Jones, Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague (Minnesota), Alex Abrines, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Mo Bamba, Timofey Mozgov, Jonathon Simmons (Orlando), Dejounte Murray, Derrick White (San Antonio), Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto)
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!