Welcome to Bales’ NBA Game Theory (1/17)! In this article, I’ll outline my favorite cash game and GPP options at each of the positions. I’ll utilize our Projections Portal when making decisions about what types of leagues specific players are best suited for. You can get all of my Core Plays along with our Cheat Sheets, projections, and Premium Discord channels with our Premium NBA Package.
This is a slate where we’re waiting on Phoenix Suns news, as they’ll be the team to attack if players are out. Chris Paul and Devin Booker both make great options at guard tonight. They get elite matchups against the San Antonio Spurs, who love pushing the pace. Of the two, I slightly prefer Booker for his scoring potential. With that being said, each can be considered in all leagues on this slate. Luka Doncic is another outstanding option at guard on this slate. He gets a solid matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight. Doncic hasn’t been overly dominant, but he still comes with a high price tag. Still, this is a five-game slate, and he’s in one of the better situations for the expensive options. Oddly enough, Dejounte Murray, Donovan Mitchell, Jalen Suggs, and Cameron Payne can all be used for varying price tags.
Mike Conley is one of the more interesting options on this slate. He’s extremely inconsistent, but he’s locked into bigger minutes for the Utah Jazz. He also gets an elite matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, who’ve struggled against point guards throughout the season. Conley is an extremely risky option, but he comes with tremendous upside for his price tag. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s been heating up in recent games, posting 65 DK points against the Brooklyn Nets two games ago. He gets an interesting matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, and he’s a triple-double threat for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Gilgeous-Alexnader is another high-upside option for tonight. Cole Anthony’s struggled over his last two games, causing his price tag to drop a few hundred dollars. He isn’t safe enough for cash games at the moment, but he’s cheap enough to be used in GPPs. Russell Westbrook, Tyler Herro, and Max Strus all make interesting options in tournaments tonight.
Since you’re likely spending up at guard, you’ll need to save a bit of salary at forward. Cam Johnson and Deandre Ayton are both questionable tonight, and Jalen Smith is expected to see extended minutes if they’re out. He’s still extremely cheap, and he’s performed extremely well on a per-minute basis throughout the season. Smith tends to struggle with fouls, but he’s a great option for his price tag against the San Antonio Spurs. On the other side, Keldon Johnson’s been playing well, but his price tag doesn’t truly represent that. He’s a solid scorer for San Antonio, and he’ll benefit from the injuries to the Phoenix Suns. Johnson’s way too cheap for his role in the Spurs’ offense. If you can spend up a bit more, Kristaps Porzingis is an outstanding option. He was $9k in his first game back, but his price dropped over $1k for tonight. He gets an elite matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Porzingis is one of the best plays on the slate. Jimmy Butler, Franz Wagner, and Jae Crowder can all be considered in cash games at forward tonight.
Lu Dort sticks out as an outstanding tournament option on this slate. He has guard or forward eligibility, giving versatility to your lineups. Although he hasn’t been playing overly well in recent games, his price tag has been over-adjusted. He comes with plenty of upside at this point, and he gets an interesting matchup against the Dallas Mavericks tonight. Scottie Barnes’ struggled in recent games, which can be expected at times for rookie players. The Raptors are relatively healthy, which adds risks to any of their players, as they have several that have the ability to take the game over. Barnes is one of them, though, and he’s surprisingly cheap on this slate. I don’t love the matchup against the Miami Heat, but he isn’t the type of player that should be the focal point of their defense. He comes with sneaky upside in this matchup. You can also consider Maxi Kleber, P.J. Tucker, Josh Giddey, and Norman Powell here.
Center is relatively easy tonight. If Deandre Ayton is out, JaVale McGee should be locked into all leagues. He’s outstanding on a per-minute basis, and he’d likely draw the start. He’s still under $4k, and McGee would be the easiest play on the entire slate. LeBron James is another elite option here, as he’s only center-eligible on DraftKings. He gets a matchup against the Utah Jazz, who he recently scored only 43.75 DK points against. With that being said, he struggled from the field, and James recently tweeted that LA needs to be better. I don’t generally look too much into those types of narratives, but it’d be shocking if James struggled again after making that type of statement. On the other side, Rudy Gobert can be considered. He posted nearly 50 DK points in his last game, and he’s still around $8k for this slate.
The Portland Blazers are getting healthier, but Jusuf Nurkic continues to be in play. He’s been a boom or bust option for the majority of his career, but he gets a plus matchup against the Orlando Magic tonight. He can’t be trusted, but he’s a great tournament option tonight. Pascal Siakam is another interesting option in GPPs. He’s taking on a massive role for the Toronto Raptors, and he’s been producing extremely well. The Miami Heat could use Jimmy Butler against him, which is why I prefer him in GPPs rather than cash games. With that being said, Siakam comes with tremendous upside, and he hasn’t priced himself out at this point yet. Omer Yurtseven, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and Jakob Poeltl can all be considered here as well.
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