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 – Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers: $5.7 million
The Pacers have had very good luck with injuries thus far this season; they have had very few, nothing serious, and aside from a short absence for Victor Oladipo, nothing too greatly affecting key players. Of note tonight though is that both their starting and backup point guards, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph, are listed as questionable through injury. And so although Tyreke Evans is also on hand, Holiday figures to play a good role; in the 14 games this season in which he has played at least double-digits in minutes, Holiday has averaged 17.2 fantasy points per game.
Point guard – Jeff Teague, Minnesota Timberwolves: $15.2 million
Caution should be counselled on account of the fact that the Timberwolves are tonight going up against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who play some of the best defence in the league. Nevertheless, there are two distinct factors working in Teague’s favour tonight – firstly, the fact that the Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose-less Wolves need playmakers (or at least somebody to get Karl-Anthony Towns the ball), and Teague’s own play since his return has been very impressive. In his two such games thus far, Teague has averaged 42.6 fantasy points per game.
Shooting guard – Alec Burks, Cleveland Cavaliers: $10.9 million
At the moment, Burks is pretty unchallenged for playing time. David Nwaba is out injured, Rodney Hood is out injured, J.R. Smith is away from the team at the team’s behest, and the recent signing of Patrick McCaw is already over. So short handed are the Cavaliers on the wing, in fact, that Jaron Blossongame and Jalen Jones are getting a decent chunk of minutes there, despite only just joining the team. Burks is thus the relative senior with the team despite only being with them for six weeks himself, and in this role, he is proving productive. He is consistent, too, averaging 25.3 fantasy points per game over his last ten and only once dipping below 20 in that time.
Shooting guard – Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves: $7.8 million
Small forward – Danilo Gallinari, L.A. Clippers: $15.7 million
In four of Gallinari’s last eight games, he has posted more than 40 fantasy points, averaging 36.3 per game in that time. That is a particularly fruitful stretch of what is proving to be a career-year; Gallinari is on pace currently to tie his career high in scoring (19.5 per game), set a new career high in rebound (6.2 per game), and do so on a career-best efficiency mark (62.8% true shooting). The price is high, but so are the returns.
Small forward – Mario Hezonja, New York Knicks: $6.4 million
Most of the young Knicks players have been given opportunities in stretches, albeit somewhat sporadically, and now it seems as though it is Hezonja’s turn. He did start 11 games earlier in the season, but did not overly impress, and lost his place to lottery pick Kevin Knox, eventually falling out of the rotation altogether. But now it seems as though he is back in it, and in his last two games, Hezonja has averaged 24.9 fantasy points per game.
Power forward – Kevon Looney, Golden State Warriors: $10.7 million
It would be nice if every fantasy pick you made every night had high upside and came through for you in a big way. That’s the dream, certainly. Given that this is not possible, however, sometimes it is just nice to know what you’re getting. And that is pretty much what Looney offers; starting all but one of the last 16 games and the new go-to extra post defender since Damian Jones’s injury, Looney’s workman-like style has made for seven of his last eight fantasy games each rank in the low 20 point range.
Power forward – Richaun Holmes, Phoenix Suns: $11.8 million
Holmes has been the Suns’ backup centre for the majority of the season, and while there are flaws behind the methodology of the production (chasing blocks instead of solid positional defence, etc), he is nonetheless very productive in the box score per minute. In his last two games, for example, Holmes has averaged 31.8 fantasy points per game, including brushing 40 last time out. Also of note today is the fact that the Suns’ opponent, the Sacramento Kings, are one of the league’s leakier defensive teams, and particularly susceptible on the glass. Which suits an active athlete like Holmes just fine.
Centre – Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: $24.1 million
It really is a tear right now for Embiid, and this is the wrong team to try and slow that. In his last five games, he has averaged 61.6 fantasy points per game, and tonight, he goes up against the New York Knicks. Their centre duo of the inexperienced and thin Luke Kornet, and the slow footed Enes Kanter, do not stand much chance in their individual match-ups.
Centre – Willy Hernangomez, Charlotte Hornets: $7.8 million
Centre – Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets: $7.5 million
The Hornets’ last two games have both been early tip-offs, and thus not counted in fantasy. To cite the recent fantasy point averages of these two, then, is to miss why they may be of use to us here tonight. An injury to regular starter Cody Zeller has seen both of these get a minutes and usage bump, particularly so Biyombo, who hadn’t been used otherwise. Only playing a combined nine minutes over the previous six weeks, Biyombo has started the last two, and if they would have counted in fantasy, they would have seen him return a 29.8 fantasy point average. Hernangomez similarly would have returned a 26.7 average, and having been a productive player all season, we can be reassured that his is not a flash-in-the-pan average.
Point guard – De’Aaron Fox, $16.4 million
Shooting guard – Gary Harris, $10.5 million
Small forward – Kawhi Leonard, $21.2 million
Power forward – Richaun Holmes, $11.8 million
Centre – Joel Embiid, $24.1 million
Bench – Willy Hernangomez, $7.8 million
Bench – Bismack Biyombo: $7.5 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: Miles Plumlee, Taurean Prince, Kent Bazemore (Atlanta), Jeremy Lamb, Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Kevin Love, John Henson, J.R. Smith, Rodney Hood, David Nwaba, Matthew Dellavedova, Ante Zizic (Cleveland), Isaiah Thomas, Jarred Vanderbilt, Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr (Denver), DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones (Golden State), Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Myles Turner (Indiana), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Yante Maten, Goran Dragic (Miami), Derrick Rose, Robert Covington (Minnesota), Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson, Kristaps Porzingis, Isaiah Hicks (New York), Alex Abrines, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Markelle Fultz, Justin Patton, Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia), Devin Booker (Phoenix), Iman Shumpert (Sacramento), Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto), Markieff Morris, John Wall, 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!