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 for tonight’s five-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Tyler Johnson, Phoenix Suns: $12.3 million
The Suns playing Johnson ahead of younger point guard options Elie Okobo and De’Anthony Melton is, of course, not a long term development move. They do however need to establish whether a Johnson and Devin Booker pairing will work. And with the flattened lottery odds this season, they’ve already done enough losing without having to try. Johnson thus starts, then, and gives us fantasy value here after averaging 32.8 fantasy points over his past two games.
- Point guard – Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers: $13.9 million
The Lakers, all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, are pulling the plug. Brandon Ingram is out for the season, Lonzo Ball likely is, LeBron James is being wound down, and even Lance Stephenson is out right now. This leaves the team with scant few playmakers with which to loaf through the remainder of the season, which benefits the fantasy value of Rondo significantly. Over his last five games, Rondo has averaged 40.4 fantasy points per game.
- Shooting guard – Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets: $9.6 million
As he works his way back to his best, LeVert is reaping the benefits of a price freeze. Four consecutive fantasy point performances above the 20 point mark have led to a 26.7 average in that time, and his price has not increased from the deflated one that accompanied his injury. And at that price, his production is excellent value, with more to come.
- Shooting guard – Josh Hart, L.A. Lakers: $6.7 million
Per the above, the Lakers are short on playmakers, wings, and rotation players in general. Hart is thus enjoying increased opportunity, and will do so even further if the Lakers start to prioritise their young players like most lottery teams do. Over his last three games, Hart has averaged 19.5 fantasy points per game, and he has long since proven that he has more than that to offer.
- Small forward – Vince Carter, Atlanta Hawks: $8.1 million
At this stage in his career, Carter is a power forward. His aged legs prohibit playing the wing any long, and since the power forward position has concurrently become perimeter-based, it suits him best to be there. With Omari Spellman and Alex Poythress out for a while due to injury, Vince is currently getting quite a lot of minutes, way more so than we would expect for one his age. And he is producing in them, too, averaging 22.2 fantasy points per game over his past five.
- Small forward – Nic Batum, Charlotte Hornets: $12.9 million
The streaky Batum remains on one of his hottest streaks of the year right now. He has averaged 33.6 fantasy points over his last seven games, and is averaging 13.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game since the All-Star break. Despite these numbers being only slightly better than what he posted last season, and far down on what he did the season prior to that, they nevertheless far outstrip what he posted before the break, which at least means his price is lowered.
- Power forward – John Collins, Atlanta Hawks: $15.4 million
Back from injury, Collins has relatively free reign at his position, as explained above. He continues to somehow barely record any defensive statistics whatsoever, which keeps his fantasy production out of the elite ranges. Nevertheless, in averaging 19.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game on the season, Collins provides a lot for this mid-range price.
- Power forward – Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets: $8.0 million
Although briefly taken out of the starting line-up, and then the rotation altogether, Kurucs is now back in both. In his last three games, he has recorded 80.0 fantasy points for an average of 26.7 per game, recording these via an intriguing combination of paint defence and floor spacing.
- Centre – Alex Len, Atlanta Hawks: $7.1 million
As with Collins and Carter above, Len benefits from the Hawks injury situation, yet particularly does so given the position he plays. Dewayne Dedmon is out, Miles Plumlee is out, and Omari Spellman is out – that is three of the five Hawks players who can play centre (not including ten-day contract signee Tyler Zeller, signed for precisely this reason). Collins is the fifth, but he will be busy at power forward, so Len will be given plenty of opportunity to continue a streak in which he has averaged 31.6 fantasy points per game over his last four.
- Centre – Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets: $12.6 million
If consistency is what you are after, then it is hard to do much better than Zeller in fantasy. In his last twelve games, Zeller has posted nights of 24.4, 24.7, 25.5, 26.2, 26.3, 27.2, 28.1, 29.6, 31.9, 33.3, 33.3 and 58.8, a hugely consistent streak of production with one obvious, highly welcome outlier. The average over that span is highly favourable on this price, so consider Zeller strongly.
Point guard – Kemba Walker, $20.9 million
Shooting guard – Zach LaVine, $16.6 million
Small forward – Luka Doncic, $19.4 million
Power forward – Dwight Powell, $10.2 million
Centre – Kelly Olynyk, $10.2 million
Bench – Robin Lopez, $11.6 million
Bench – Joakim Noah, $11.0 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, Omari Spellman, Alex Poythress, Dewayne Dedmon (Atlanta), Shabazz Napier, Treveon Graham (Brooklyn), Tony Parker (Charlotte), Lance Stephenson, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball (L.A. Lakers), Sterling Brown, George Hill (Milwaukee), Luol Deng, Robert Covington (Minnesota), T.J. Warren, Jawun Evans (Phoenix), Evan Turner (Portland) Devin Robinson, Jordan McRae, 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!