We’re back at it with another five game slate tonight and the difference between the sites is going to be evident as we go. We’ll talk about it but not before we give Ghost another shout for the model. These projections are fire every night and it nailed the best values last night again (blowout really capped some of them from going 8x or higher). Let’s get into the teeth of this slate and figure out what directions we need to start heading in for NBA Cash Game Breakdown 12/31!
*Note* There’s only four games on FD tonight, not the five that are on DK. Be aware that the DK slate starts at 6:30 PM, not 7:00 like FD.
As it stands, I don’t think we need anyone from the Philly/Orlando game as a cash play. The normal suspects are all in play in Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris for the Sixers. For Orlando, Nikola Vucevic and Markelle Fultz are the only two in consideration. People play Terrence Ross, but I’m never a fan of playing a shooter with no floor in cash. Any change will be updated.
De’Aaron Fox ($7,800 DK/$7,900 FD) – This is Ghost approved and hopefully a starting point in my lineups. He’s leading the Kings in usage rate at 26.9% and FPPM at 1.11 and this is a perfect spot for him to have a big game. Not only does Houston allow the most point per game so far, it matches their dead last defensive rating. They’ve managed to accomplish that in spite of playing slow “Harden ISO Ball” the first two games and Fox won’t be under $8,000 too often. Fox will not be the last King in the article and he ranks 10th in drives per game. Houston is dead last in points in the paint so far.
Mike Conley ($6,700 DK/$6,300 FD) – The hero of last cash article I wrote, Conley just missed a triple double. Don’t expect that again but the floor is safe with around 32 minutes per night and a 25% usage rate so far. It’s early on, but Chris Paul on the other side is sporing the lowest defensive rating of his career. His price is a touch higher than I would like, but I can see myself using him with his safety and the fact there’s only five games.
George Hill ($4,700 DK/$5,500 FD) – Is the true shooting percent of 68.9% going to stick for Hill? Of course not as that would be ridiculously high but we’re not just after him for shooting. His 22.9% usage rate is behind only Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the Thunder squad and the 1.27 FPPM currently leads. That will drop as the shooting does, but at about 25 minutes a night he’s still a strong value on DK. The Pels do allow the most three point attempts per game early on, which helps Hill. On FD, we can play this next player for a cheaper price and I bet that’s what the field does, making him priority.
Elf Payton ($5,900 DK/$5,200 FD) – This might sound utterly ridiculous, but Payton is a player that when everything goes right for him can threaten a triple-double in any given game. He got close-is last game and I’m not always a fan of Payton in cash, but he’s going to gain some traction. He’s played 29 and 36 minutes the past two games and he’s paid off both times. The usage rate is right with any of the Knicks for the team lead as well. Toronto plays at a top 10 pace which lends itself to Payton’s preferred script. On FD, he’s the cheapest you can go and most likely will.
James Harden ($11,000 DK/$11,500 FD) – Harden will always be in a cash article because he’s always going to have a super safe floor and high ceiling. The return of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and others might actually help him slightly. Of course he gets the defensive attention, but at least there’s other players than G-League scrubs with him now. Harden has only had a 34.9% usage rate so far and he’s only taken a total of 37 shots through two games. If he can score 78 and 55 DK points on under 20 shots per game, that says everything you need to know.
Devin Booker ($8,600 DK/$7,500) – I’d place a pretty strong wager on Booker being chalk on FD because the price just doesn’t match his pedigree. He’s another player that hasn’t quite found the stroke yet with his shot but that won’t last long. He’s shooting about 31% from deep (35% last year) and 77% from the free throw line. Not only did he hit FT’s at a 91.9% clip last year, he found the stripe 9.6 times per game. So far this year it’s under five times. Look at last night. Paul George was $7,600 at this position and uber chalk in cash. Booker will be as well I suspect and we need to be on the explosion game.
Fred VanVleet ($7,200 DK/$7,200 FD) – If you decide to spend up on both spots on FD, consider VanVleet. He is just third on the team in usage rate so far, but the gap is only four percent between him and Pascal Siakam. FVV is another shooter scuffling early (there’s likely a bigger discussion to be had about shooters adjusting to empty arenas. The Bubble had the same two courts, so less adjustment). He’s shooting 36.4% from the floor and 32.1% from long range. That’s just not going to keep up. Having said that, Booker is the much higher priority, likely paired with a cheaper option.
Buddy Hield ($6,800 DK/$5,400 FD) – He’s too pricey for my liking on DK but on FD it’s a different story. You have to field tow shooting guards and Hield is simply too cheap on that site. His FPPM looks hideous right now with a 0.77 mark but the usage is solid at 19.2%. Hield is only shooting 38% from deep, while his career mark is closer to 41% so that’s hurting him a bit. His true shooting is down a bit too, so the price is just too low for him on FD. The Rockets are allowing over a 40% rate of three pointers and the second-highest make rate at 43.4%. Buddy might get right in a hurry tonight. Tyrese Haliburton makes for an excellent GPP pivot but you’ll have to read Ghost’s Gems for that one!
Brandon Ingram ($8,000 DK/$9,400 FD) – BI is fairly priced on DK and he’s overpriced a bit on FD, but I’m locking him on the latter site. Why? This position might be the trash can of the night. The options are HIDEOUS at first glance, and Ingram is the only one I WANT to play. That’s no even talking about I need two. I’ll figure something else out at other positions because the 30% usage rate and 1.31 FPPM is too good to pass up. On DK, I am still interested but the priority is not the same.
OG Anunoby ($5,800 DK/$6,500 FD) – I’m not in love with the pricing on either site, but he plays the trash can position on FD. We say minutes equal money and OG has played 36, 35 and 36 minutes so far. He’s also second in steals per game, which is an awesome bonus on FD. It just so happens that the Knicks are third in turnovers per game as a team and OG should have some chances to be a thief tonight. If he fits, he can be played with safety in mind. He could pilfer his way into 12-15 FD points on just that alone.
RJ Barrett ($6,900 DK/$6,200) – Hey remember when Barrett was the number three pick behind Zion and Ja Morant? Most people don’t, but Barrett has started to look like a player that resembles that pick a little more. He still needs work but the Maple Mamba (that’s his legit nickname on Basketball Reference) is logging a boatload of minutes. Barrett is up to 37 minutes a night. With a 23% usage rate, that can be enough to be considered.
Harrison Barnes ($5,400 DK/$5,900 FD) – Never really a player that I’d want to use, Barnes checks the box that he’ll play meaningful minutes and I can play him at SF. You may need to stack one more member of a team than you normally would tonight, but that can happen on a four game slate like FD has. The Kings fall into that category with the matchup against Houston. Let’s face it, Wall and Boogie Cousins won’t improve a defense, nor will Eric Gordon. Barnes quietly has the second-most minutes played on Sacramento and sits at a 0.91 FPPM. If we lack value, he’ll do.
Zion Williamson ($7,900 DK/$8,300 FD) – Let me ask you something – who on the Thunder squad can stop Zion down low? He’s seventh in paint touches and 14th in rebounding chances so far and the Thunder do not have an adequate defender down low to throw against him. Al Horford is solid, but lacks any kind of athleticism to stop him. Mike Muscala? More like Mike Muscal-outta my way if you’re Zion. On FD, going Ingram due to positional strength but on DK, give me Zion as the bull in a china shop down low.
Julius Randle ($8,800 DK/$8,000 FD) – Especially on FD, I think folks will keep riding the Randle train and who can blame them? He’s scored at least 36 FD points every time out and is playing all the minutes you could ask for. He leads the Knicks in minutes and FPPM at 1.32. No player has a higher usage rate and they will need him to help contain the next player on our list. Randle was very chalky on FD the last time out so he likely falls that way again.
Pascal Siakam ($8,300 DK/$7,400 FD) – You can make the argument to just play Randle and Spicy P and watch them battle all night long. Both of them have been strong defenders so far, with Siakam being the only one with the reputation. However, through four games Randle is sporting the best defensive rating of his career. Siakam leads the Raptors in usage at 25.2% and just misses the lead in FPPM (Kyle Lowry, but both are at 1.07 and 1.05). I don’t think Siakam is the best price on DK, but FD is appealing to be sure.
Marvin Bagley ($5,300 DK/$5,100) – I want to be clear that I’m not telling you to play ALL of these Kings, but two or three could work out just fine. Bagley average a little over six paint touches per game also far and four field goal attempts in the paint. The Rockets are 26th in paint points allowed and maybe that could improves with Boogie off the bench. I’m still not sweating it at this price point with Bagley. He’s one of the few players that I would consider at only about 25 minutes per game. Bagley could double-double here.
Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,800 DK/$4,900) – Bojan is absolutely FD only for a play here and it’s just because of the salary/position combo. I mentioned with Terrence Ross that I don’t like playing shooters. That is Bojan, who only has a 0.82 FPPM despite a 22% usage rate. He’s played at least 33 minutes, but the outcomes are still sketchy. He scored nine real points and barely broke 20 FD, but he’s about as cheap as you can go with a 30 FD point outcome within range.
Rudy Gobert ($7,500 DK/$7,700 FD) – We aren’t going far as Gobert is as steady as they come. He’s already second in field goal attempts inside the paint and fifth in paint touches. Phoenix has been strong about points in the paint, ranking inside the top 10 but the rebounds in the paint per game are 27th. Gobert is third in rebound chances per game so far. He just seems like a totally safe bet for 40 points on either site.
Deandre Ayton ($7,400 DK/$7,100 FD) – I’ll be very up front and say I’m almost certainly not playing Ayton in cash. He’s not playing a ton of minutes so far, 30 or fewer in all four games. He is producing a 1.14 FPPM which is a little promising but the minutes have been so low, it hasn’t translated to much above 4x. They will need his size against Gobert to be sure, but then you worry about foul trouble. I’m MUCH more likely to find the money for Gobert as I think he can get Ayton off the floor quickly. If Ayton stays out of foul trouble, he has to be there to defend Gobert. That should lead him to fall into a floor game if nothing else.
Mitchell Robinson ($5,600 DK/$5,200 FD) – Right now it’s either Gobert or spend down to Mitchell in my eyes, with not much in between. Robinson is a double-double threat and he’s played over 30 minutes the past two games. He’s payed off with at least 25 FD points. The Raptors are a little bit small up front with Marc Gasol out of town, but Robinson has talent just waiting to pop. He’s at a 0.86 FPPM, but I’ll be honest about this. Gobert looks like the safest option BY FAR on Wednesday night.
Updated after projections run and we get some news.
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