We’re coming off a very weird Christmas Day slate where a lot of the chalk was pretty terrible. That’s not always the worst thing to happen in cash because if a player is 70% owned, you can survive. There’s already going to be some weirdness to the slate as the Rockets are down to barely eight players and Russell Westbrook might already be on a rest day. They’ll be plenty to shift through during the day, but let’s lay down the baseline here in NBA Cash Game Breakdown 12/26 and see those screenshots at the end of the night.
Russell Westbrook ($10,300 DK/$10,000 FD) If we assume that Westbrook plays, he’s far too cheap for what his potential role is in his new offense. He had a 35.53% usage rate in his first 36 minutes and that could be a sign of things to come. Westy posted a triple-double just like the old days and the Wizards were fifth in pace through the first game. That means Westbrook will have plenty of chances to stuff the stat sheet and the 33.5% usage rate should be fairly stable.
*Note* If Westy sits tonight, keep an eye on Ish Smith. He should be elevated to the starting lineup and would be a solid cheap piece to use in a spot start.
De’Aaron Fox ($8,700 DK/$8,200 FD) – I’d be more likely to use Fox on FD where I needed two point guards, but he’s in the discussion either way. He led the Kings in usage the first game at a 25.6% rate. Fox only had a 1.03 DKPM but he also just shot 8-20 from the field. He’s a little pricey with who we need to fit later on but the floor is there for Fox.
Dejounte Murray ($6,400 DK/$6,900 FD) – With Derrick White still out for the Spurs, Murray becomes a more reliable target. He has the ability to do a little bit of everything in a game and that’s the kind of player we like for cash games. He does still have LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan in the offense, but they all share the ball nicely and his 1.47 DKPM was second on the team in the first game. It’s not the easiest matchup he’ll ever ask for but it’s not enough to not play him either.
Markelle Fultz ($6,000 DK/$5,900 FD) – Fultz has really not been a cash target at any point of his career, but this season could be different. Veteran D.J. Augustin is not on the team anymore and Fultz played about 29 minutes in the first game. He also led the team in usage at 28.5% and kicked in four dimes and five assists to go with 25 real points.
George Hill ($3,400 DK/$5,000 FD) – He’s projected to start for OKC and we need some value along the way to get the main building block in cash. Hill may not do anything special, but we don’t need him to. He just needs to be a cog in the offense and Charlotte is not a scary defensive team. Even something like 10 points, five assists and a rebound or two is getting you where you need to be with Hill.
James Harden ($10,900 DK/$11,000 FD) – Some of the other high-end spends are nice, but if I see a cash lineup without Harden I’m not going to approve of it. Half the Rockets are out with Covid tracing, and Harden is basically the last man standing. Maybe he’s just going to tank it until the Rockets deal him but you cannot take that risk. Harden by himself (especially in this scenario) has 80 DK point upside. It might even be higher if he shows up. He is the Rockets tomorrow and should be $12,000 or higher on both sites. In the past, he’s approached 50% in usage rate. Don’t even think twice.
Bradley Beal ($9,300 DK/$8,100 FD) – I’d only make a strong effort to squeeze in Beal if Westbrook is out. It’s not surprising but Beal had the usage rate lead even with Westy at 35.8%. He’s easier to fit on FD but is appealing regardless.
Buddy Hield ($7,100 DK/$5,600 FD) – Another play that is more FD specific due to salary, Hield played 36 minutes last game not counting overtime. That’s a major sign in the absence of Bogdan Bogdanovic, as they tended to bite into each other’s minutes last year. If Hield consistently gets 32 minutes or more, he’s still too cheap on FD for a 0.84 FPPM.
Seth Curry ($5,400 DK/$4,500 FD) – I’m noting Curry only if we’re really value starved come tip tomorrow. The Sixers need his shooting and Curry played 32 minutes in the opener, which is a lot for this salary tier. He scored 13 real points and didn’t even shoot all that well, going just 1-5 from deep.
Sterling Brown ($3,200 DK/$3,500 FD) Brown is basically the minimum on each site and is one of the four guards that can play in this game. Sometimes, that’s about all you need.
Honorable Mention – De’Vonte Graham on FD
Gordon Hayward ($7,300 DK/$7,000 FD) – Whew, this position is tough on FD. Hayward may wind up chalky just be default and he shone in the first game with his new team. Considering what he’s getting paid, he better keep on doing it. He scored 28 points and added seven dimes for a 25.8% usage rate and a 1.27 FPPM. It’s not the ideal matchup, but the scarcity is real at SF.
R.J. Barrett ($6,600 DK/$6,300 FD) – I’m not banking on the 11-15 shooting from the floor again, but the 34 minutes should be solid through the year. The Knicks need to see how Barrett continues to grow at the pro level. I do sort of wish the usage was higher at 21.6% but when a player is nearly guaranteed 32 minutes or more, we need to pay attention.
Larry Nance ($6,800 DK/$7,000 FD) – Nance is only SF on FD, but he is on the radar at any position if Kevin Love is out again. He’s not going to threaten a triple-double very often but he still has a pretty clear cut route to 5-6x here. He’s not going to ever be a usage rate king but we know he does some of everything. I’ll be honest that I don’t love the price on either site. I am likely going elsewhere but he should be noted.
Jerami Grant ($5,200 DK/$5,100 FD) – It wasn’t the most sparkling of debuts for Grant but the minutes should be secure. He played 31 in opening night and got a nice payday from Detroit. Grant only hit 1-5 from beyond the arc and I think we can quickly establish that Cleveland is not going to be good defensively. The 16.9% usage rate is fine in his range.
Patrick Williams ($4,500 DK/$4,500 FD) – I would suspect that Williams will be extremely popular. He was chalk on Wednesday and paid off, which means the field will be happy to go back to the well. Williams played 33 minutes and would appear blowout-proof, a nice bonus on a team like the Bulls. The usage rate wasn’t special at 17.5% but the 0.82 FPPM would easily pay off this tag on both sites.
Danuel House ($4,700 DK/$3,700 FD) – I think on FD there’s a strong argument to play Hayward and one of House or Williams or just punt with both cheap players. Harden can’t score ALL the points in this game and House is no worse than the third-best shooter available for this game. With only eight players on the roster, House is likely playing nearly 35 minutes if not more.
Domantas Sabonis ($8,500 DK/$8,500 FD) – Talk about an absolute smash spot. Sabonis proved his injury issues are totally behind him en route to scoring over 30 real points and leading the team with a 30% usage rate. He played nearly 37 minutes and put up a 1.58 FPPM. There’s nobody that can stop him in the interior of the Bulls and if I can do it safely, the Harden and Sabonis pairing is what I’m shooting for.
Christian Wood ($5,900 DK/$6,700 FD) – It’s just rinse and repeat with the Rockets. They only have so many bodies and I think Harden and Wood are the locks. Past that, my plan is to pick one more of Brown, House or one more player we’ll talk about and run three Rockets. Give me 35 minutes from who we play and I’ll figure out the other five players. The big man came over from the Pistons and is a very popular breakout candidate. He’ll get the chance to hit the ground running tonight and is likely a lock at C on DK for me.
Marvin Bagley ($5,700 DK/$6,000 FD) – He might be capped at about 28 minutes, but what was interesting was how high the usage rate was in the first game. It led the team overall at 28.1% and the FPPM of 1.02 was based on poor shooing. He only went 5-14 overall and Phoenix gave up the second-most points in the paint and fourth-most rebounds in that first contest.
Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,900 DK/$4,900 FD) – Bojan is an FD play only due to price and positional requirements. Even with the Jazz wailing on the Blazers, Bojan played 33 minutes Wednesday. The usage was actually solid at 22.3% but that may come down. He’s a consistent scoring threat and the T-Wolves are going to be one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
Andre Drummond ($9,200 DK/$8,400 FD) – We’ve got a revenge spot for Drummond and he has a solid matchup walking back into Detroit. Drummond only played 27 minutes but still posted 14/14 in quick fashion. If he goes more towards 30-32 minutes, he can crush his former team.
Nikola Vucevic ($9,100 DK/$8,200 FD) – Pace up spot? Check. Great matchup on the inside against the Wizards? Check. Vuc is in a phenomenal spot and is really quite the bargain on FD. Another player that suffered from bad shooting, Vuc played 34 minutes in the season opener. That’s what we’re talking about in this spot.
P.J. Tucker ($5,200 DK/$4,200 FD) – Tucker rounds out our Rockets and like I mentioned, I think we play three of the five we’e talking about. Tucker plays 35 minutes when there’s a full compliment of players, he’s guaranteed to play that now. My preferred third target as of now is House, but we’ll see how the day shakes out. Either way, don’t be shy about Houston tonight. Tucker is also PF eligible on DK.
Mason Plumlee ($4,800 DK/$5,500 FD) – If you can’t afford Drummond, you can still look to the other side of the game. Plumlee killed it for us thanks to the model and he played almost 33 minutes in his Pistons debut. Nobody ever accused Drummond of being a quality defender and Detroit will need the size of Plum to deal with Drummond and Nance/maybe Kevin Love. The 1.02 FPPM will easily pay off again if it stays consistent.
James Harden, Christian Wood, Damontas Sabonis, Bismack Biyombo
I will also have one of Sterling Brown or David Nwaba as my third Rocket for salary relief
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