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 for each position for tonight’s seven-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
Point guard – Derrick Rose, Minnesota Timberwolves: $12.0 million
It is hard to look anywhere but Rose at point guard for tonight. Jeff Teague remains out, and thus Rose remains the primary offensive option from the position; even if the more defensively-minded Tyus Jones starts the game, Rose is the one closing it. In his last five games, Rose has posted fantasy point outings of 66.8, 6.0 (leaving after the first quarter due to injury), 0.0 (did not play), 28.6 and 38.1. No one else at the position provides that kind of mark-up.
Shooting guard – Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings: $14.0 million
On the season, Hield is averaging 20.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Each season of his career thus far, he has added more and more to his already-excellent jump shot, getting to the rim more on a higher-paced, better spaced Kings team, and also going to the glass more proactively this year. But to simply credit it all to the better Kings’ overall offensive system is unfair to Hield – it is his improvements that have been a big part of why it is better. And yet he is still costing essentially last year’s price.
Shooting guard – Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic: $8.1 million
With a price kept low by the amount of time he missed last season, Ross’s price is quite a lot lower than his output right now. He is streaky and limited, to be sure, yet on the season overall he is averaging 22.5 fantasy points per game, rising to 24.7 over the last four. Right now, he represents pretty much all of the Magic’s wing depth, and opportunities are thus plentiful.
Shooting guard – Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat: $6.6 million
Shooting guard – Rodney McGruder, Miami Heat: $10.0 million
Small forward – Josh Richardson, Miami Heat: $14.3 million
Small forward – Justise Winslow, Miami Heat: $8.8 million
There is value to be found all over the Heat roster right now. Richardson, who has oddly but pleasantly become the go-to guy for the team, has actually seen his price dip by $0.1 million after a 6-22 shooting outing last time out – he still managed to contribute 31.5 fantasy points in that game, and has a 40.3 fantasy average over the last five, so it’s weird that his price would decrease at all. Similarly, McGruder’s price has gone down by $0.2 million, despite averaging 29.0 fantasy points over the last nine. There is a lot of value to be found in that pair. The ultra-versatile Winslow again was a productive fill-in starter at the weird point guard/power forward role he currently fills, recording 22.5 fantasy points in the last outing, sustaining his past-three average to 33.4 and his season average to 28.1. And despite barely being used in the season to date, Ellington got the start in Goran Dragic’s outing last time out, and dropped in 30.3 fantasy points accordingly. When he gets minutes, he gets points, both real and fantasy.
Small forward – Juancho Hernangomez, Denver Nuggets: $8.0 million
In the absence of Will Barton, Torrey Craig gets the start at small forward, but as a defensive specialist he does not contribute much for us in fantasy. It has however opened the door for the somewhat-forgotten Hernangomez, who has recorded a 21.4 fantasy point average over the last four. Hernangomez showed a lot of potential as a rookie but lost his way as a sophomore – hopefully, this little run is the start of his return to intriguing status.
Small forward – Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers: $11.0 million
In his last six games, Covington has recorded fantasy point outings of 47.0, 31.7, 39.3, 41.4, 9.5 and 30.3. You may like me have only picked him once in that time, that time naturally being the night of the rogue 9.5 point outing. If so, be not hesitant this next time, because Covington is winning a ton of possessions defensively and playing with excellent fantasy value.
Power forward – Domas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers: $13.3 million
We try not to anoint bench players as fantasy picks, simply because they usually play less, and if a starter outplays them, they might not play much at all. There is thus more variance to be found. This does not really apply to Sabonis, though – the Pacers have a tight three-man rotation, and so even though Sabonis comes off the bench behind Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner to begin the game, that does not limit his minutes at all. If he is playing better than them, he will also finish it. In the last eight games, he has averaged 31.5 fantasy points per contest.
Power forward – Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons: $18.3 million
Centre – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: $20.2 million
Tonight, the Pistons’ two All-Star front court (or so they hope) will go up against the Atlanta Hawks, the sixth-worst rebounding team in the league who have been starting a plethora of wings at power forward all season. There is therefore a very good chance of two things happening – one, that Drummond, the NBA’s leading rebounder at a hefty 16.6 per game, has another 20+ board coming tonight, and that Blake Griffin is going off for a big night against a team without a single favourable defensive match-up for him unless Alex Poythress has a break-out night. They both come in producing well as individuals, too; Griffin is averaging 45.4 fantasy points per game on the season, while Drummond is averaging 47.4.
Centre – Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: $14.8 million
As with Hield above, Cauley-Stein is both the beneficiary of, and part of the reason for, the vastly improved Kings unit. He has averaged 37.6 fantasy points per game largely by virtue of his offensive; he is making better and quicker decisions, and has more poise in his offensive game than in year’s past, when he had far more ambition than production.
Centre – Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets: $12.1 million
Against a grounded player like Nikola Jokic, a live springy body like Allen could be of some use. Paul Millsap should take the post-up defensive march-ups, wherever possible, and an athlete like Allen who can come over from the weakside on defence and outrun him on offence could be of some value. Allen comes in as a consistent producer who has averaged 34.7 fantasy points over the last two, and if he can avoid foul trouble that Jokic will no doubt try to get him in, he could have a good night.
Point guard – Derrick Rose, $12.0 million
Shooting guard – Jimmy Butler, $18.0 million
Small forward – Josh Richardson, $14.3 million
Power forward – Blake Griffin, $18.3 million
Centre – Andre Drummond, $20.5 million
Bench – Terrence Ross, $8.1 million
Bench – Justise Winslow, $8.8 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: Justin Anderson, John Collins (Atlanta), Jabari Bird, Daniel Theis (Boston), Treveon Graham (Brooklyn), Jarred Vanderbilt, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Porter Jr, Will Barton (Denver), Luke Kennard (Detroit), DeMarcus Cousins, Shaun Livingston (Golden State), Nene, Brandon Knight, Eric Gordon (Houston), James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Jones Jr (Miami), Jeff Teague, Justin Patton (Minnesota), Jonathan Isaac, Timofey Mozgov (Orlando), Mike Muscala, Zhaire Smith, Jerryd Bayless (Philadelphia), C.J. Miles, Norman Powell (Toronto), Raul Neto (Utah)
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!