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.
All year long – indeed, for almost all of last year as well – the Suns have been very short of quality point guards. They have plugged the gap with a series of misfits and reaches, none of which has been hugely successful. The most successful move has been moving star shooting guard Devin Booker to the position. But Booker will be out tonight. He was out last night, too, and thus Melton got much greater responsibility through necessity. The good news is this meant a huge boost in fantasy production, all the way up to 40.1 fantasy points, a huge mark-up at this price.
Point guard – Raul Neto, Utah Jazz: $5.7 million
Very often, our suggested fantasy value picks are reserves promoted into bigger roles by injuries to the seniors in front of them. Neto and the Jazz are no exception. Both Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum will miss tonight due to injury, and even Grayson Allen (a theoretical point guard fill-in) is out too. This leaves Neto as the only true point guard on the roster, with the other option being Donovan Mitchell filling in in a Booker-like way. Mitchell has not proven to be very good at this, however, thus Neto will get as much time as he can manage; in the last game, doing the same, he recorded 22.7 fantasy points for the fantasy minimum price.
Shooting guard – Josh Hart, L.A. Lakers: $12.5 million
In a sense, Hart is another one to benefit from injuries to others. LeBron is out, so he is starting, whereas previously he was a sixth man type. Nevertheless, Hart is taking full advantage, averaging 35.0 fantasy points per game over the last five, and peaking at 50.4 fantasy points per game last time out.
Shooting guard – Alec Burks, Cleveland Cavaliers: $10.9 million
Burks isn’t an injury beneficiary in this way, necessarily. It somewhat helps that David Nwaba and Rodney Hood are out, yet Burks plays a good amount even when they are around. And for a streaky player, he is being relatively consistent fantasy value right now, averaging 26.2 fantasy points over his last six games.
Small forward – Kelly Oubre Jr, Phoenix Suns: $10.0 million
Small forward – Josh Jackson, Phoenix Suns: $11.0 million
Small forward – T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns: $13.7 million
The aforementioned issues with the point guard position at Phoenix means that any player who can (or is at least willing to try to) create their own shot is benefitting as well. This trio all meet that criteria. The permanently optimistic Jackson relishes any opportunity to attack, and recorded 30.3 fantasy points last time out; the really rather similar Oubre topped that with a giant 48.0 point performance; the more measured and consistent Warren wasn’t bad either, putting in 29.3 more of his own.
Small forward – Furkan Korkmaz, Phoenix Suns: $7.6 million
The Sixers are short of shooting at the best of times, but they are also battling injuries and illness right now. And so while Korkmaz is far from the best shooter, he is getting plenty of on-court opportunity right now, including starting the last three games, because he is at least willing and able to spot up. In those three starts, he has averaged 20.6 fantasy points per game, not an amount that inspires but one that is an inarguably good return on such a small price.
Small forward – Gerald Green, Houston Rockets: $8.9 million
In a similar situation to Korkmax above, Green is playing a lot of minutes for the Rockets right now. The differences are that he is unquestionably a good shooter, and thus more prone to big nights of fantasy production. Three of his last four games have seen him record more than 25.0 fantasy points, and the Rockets undoubtedly will give him opportunities for more of the same tonight.
Power forward – Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers: $16.1 million
Power forward – Thaddeus Young, Indiana Pacers: $14.2 million
The largely injury-free Pacers have unfortunately seen Myles Turner’s break-out season put on hold this week due to injury. The plus side to this in fantasy, though, is that sixth man of the year candidate Sabonis gets to start at centre, and thus be even better than he already is. There is also a knock-on positive effect for Young, the other part of the senior three-man front court rotation; in the last game without Turner, Sabonis came through for us with 40.8 fantasy points, and Young posted even more value with his 42.5.
Power forward – Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers: $5.7 million
What a world we live in where Meyers Leonard has fantasy value. After a long post-contract slump that saw him taken out of the rotation altogether no matter how much he was getting paid, Leonard has over the last season and a half often been the last option in a very deep Blazers frontcourt rotation. At times this year, he was even losing minutes to Caleb Swanigan. Yet no matter how small his role has been over this time, Leonard has at least been much more productive with it. And with Zach Collins in a sophomore slump, Leonard has seen more usage of late, contributing a 16.4 fantasy point average over his last three.
Centre – Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers: $14.8 million
Centre – Ante Zizic, Cleveland Cavaliers: $5.8 million
For a long time of late, we have recommended Larry Nance Jr as a fantasy pick on account of him being the only uninjured player who could play the centre position for Cleveland. Nance will be out tonight, so we instead apply the same logic to these two, who will both play despite nagging injuries of their own. Last time out, when Nance left after five minutes due to his injury, the returning Thompson had a 41.1 fantasy point night that entirely fits with what he was doing pre-injury, while Zizic (who has plenty of talent inside the paint but who has struggled with the speed of the NBA game thus far) put in 13.2.
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), Aron Baynes, Jabari Bird (Boston), Rondaw Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe, Dzanan Musa, Caris LeVert (Brooklyn), Denzel Valentine (Chicago), Kevin Love, John Henson, J.R. Smith, Rodney Hood, David Nwaba, Larry Nance Jr (Cleveland), Luka Doncic, Dirk Nowitzki, Dennis Smith Jr (Dallas), Zach Lofton, Henry Ellenson, Ish Smith, Zaza Pachulia (Detroit), Eric Gordon, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon (Houston), Myles Turner (Indiana), LeBron James, Rajon Rondo (L.A. Lakers), Dillon Brooks, Chandler Parsons, JaMychal Green (Memphis), Christian Wood, D.J. Wilson, Donte DiVincenzo (Milwaukee), E’Twaun Moore (New Orleans), Mo Bamba, Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), J.J. Redick, Markelle Fultz, Justin Patton, Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia), Devin Booker (Phoenix), Mo Harkless (Portland), Dejounte Murray, Rudy Gay (San Antonio), Dante Exum, Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha, Grayson Allen, Tony Bradley (Utah), 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!