Welcome to Bales’ NBA Game Theory (1/28)! 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.
There is a ridiculous amount of injury news that we need yet, so this slate should change quite a bit from now. Still, make adjustments, as this article can be an early template for where you can be looking. LaMelo Ball isn’t going to come cheap, but this is an ideal matchup for him. He’ll face off against the Los Angeles Lakers, who’ve struggled against versatile point guards this season. He already dominated them once this season, and he’s in a spot to do so again tonight. CJ McCollum is a bit too cheap for this matchup, as is Anfernee Simons. Of the two, I slightly prefer McCollum. They both will face off against the Houston Rockets, who feature one of the worst defenses in the NBA. There will be plenty of fantasy points available for both, and they can each be considered in all leagues. Devin Booker gets a great matchup against the Minnesota Wolves, and he’s looked outstanding with several injuries to the Phoenix Suns frontcourt. Booker isn’t cheap anymore, but he’s still priced low enough that he can be considered in all leagues. You can also consider Patrick Beverley, Ja Morant, Dejounte Murray, and Luke Kennard here depending on how much salary you have to spend.
Cade Cunningham is an extremely interesting play on this slate. He’s looked outstanding in recent games, and he gets a solid matchup against Jalen Suggs and the Orlando Magic. Cunningham is coming off of an elite game for a rookie, and there was quite a bit of media buzz about how that game wasn’t covered properly. He can make a statement tonight, and he’s in play for GPPs. Zach LaVine is a little too cheap at the moment, as he recently returned from injury. He’s scored 45+ DK points in each of his first two games back, and he should cost north of $9k on this slate. He’d be a cash game option if this were a small slate, as he has guard or forward eligibility. Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs are both solid options for Orlando. They both get a plus matchup against the Detroit Pistons, and they can each be considered in tournaments. You can also consider Derrick White, De’Anthony Melton, Devonte’ Graham, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on this slate.
Since there are so many elite high-priced guards, I’m looking to spend down at forward. Cam Johnson is playing bigger minutes with a solid role with Jae Crowder (and others) out. He’ll continue to find plenty of minutes and offensive opportunity, and he’s far too cheap on this slate. Keldon Johnson is another player that is far too cheap on this slate. He gets a great matchup against the Chicago Bulls, who have struggled against scoring power forwards throughout the season. Both Johnsons are too cheap on this slate, and they’re great ways to save a bit of salary. Jaylen Brown is another interesting option here. I initially was only considering him in GPPs, but he has enough value for cash games. He gets an elite matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, and he’s guard or forward eligible. You can also consider Franz Wagner, Terenace Mann, and Giannis Antetokounmpo here.
Desmond Bane is one of the more interesting players on this slate. He recently returned and found plenty of success in that game. The Utah Jazz have struggled against shooting guards this season, and that’s where Bane generally plays. He has small forward eligibility, though, adding to his value. PJ Washington gets a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, who could be without a few players tonight. Regardless, they are a team that generally runs small lineups, meaning Washington could see a bigger role. He’s risky, but he’s a great salary relief option tonight. DeMar DeRozan gets a matchup against his former team, and he’s surprisingly cheap with the Chicago Bulls healthy. He isn’t safe because the Bulls will only be without Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, but he does come with more than enough upside to be used in GPPs. Miles Bridges, Wendell Carter Jr., Norman Powell, and Robert Covington can all be used here as well.
There are several elite high-priced center options on this slate. Nikola Jokic is the best fantasy player in the NBA, and he’s in a great matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans. Jonas Valanciunas is questionable on this slate, and the matchup will get that much better if JV can’t play. Jusuf Nurkic is one of the only true bigs for the Portland Blazers with several bigs out. He gets an elite matchup against the Houston Rockets, who he can dominate in the paint. He’s one of the best options on this slate. Bismack Biyombo continues to play massive minutes for the Phoenix Suns, and that’s likely to happen again tonight as they deal with injuries. He gets a plus matchup against the Minnesota Wolves, and Biyombo is far too cheap tonight. Hassan Whiteside is another player that can be considered in cash games, although I have him behind the other three on this slate.
Jakob Poeltl’s been playing at an extremely high level in recent games for the San Antonio Spurs. He’s still reasonably priced, and he gets a great matchup against the Chicago Bulls tonight. He’s a high upside option in the mid-range. On the other side, Nikola Vucevic is a great option. He isn’t going to come cheap, but the Spur have struggled against centers throughout the season, and Vucevic comes with plenty of upside. Bam Adebayo gets a good matchup against Ivica Zubac and the Los Angeles Clippers, who he’s dominated throughout his career. He’ll benefit if Jimmy Butler is ruled out, but Adebayo is a high-upside option regardless. You can also consider Karl-Anthony Towns, Christian Wood, and Goga Bitadze can all be considered here as well.
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