Welcome to The Playlist: my new weekly column that lets you know who and what to play — when it comes to music or other things in my rotation — for the upcoming week in fantasy basketball.
Each week, you'll see a compilation of the pickups you need to make, lineup notes (who's in and out of rotations) followed by the must-watch games from across the league.
So press play and shuffle through the latest fantasy basketball info.
Pickups to make:
All players are rostered under 50% of Yahoo leagues
Jeremy Sochan, PF, San Antonio Spurs (47% rostered)
Don't mess with the Sochan. The ninth pick of the 2022 NBA Draft came into the season listed as a PF, but Spurs head coach Greg Popovich is switching it up this season, running Sochan at point guard to start the season. He showed glimpses of his playmaking while at Baylor and flashed a bit more in his rookie year.
Jeremy Sochan is 19, true 6’9, beautiful foot speed, scary defensive upside, 15-7-3 on 50 FG% in his last 7…
What pops most is his feel & playmaking—unreal knack for perfectly leading teammates & using his size/understanding of space and angles to generate EASY buckets. Stud pic.twitter.com/x3IQjFmg9g
— NBA University (@NBA_University) January 2, 2023
He's a plus-defender who is also a capable rebounder, so adding in the assists will take his fantasy production and value to the next level. He's one of the most added players in Yahoo right now, and once he gains point guard eligibility, he'll be moving into the cheat-code territory.
He has a versatile skill set, and when he played at least 30 minutes last season, he averaged 16.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He could be a Scottie Barnes-light. Pick him up if he's on waivers immediately. If you still need to draft, make sure he's a priority target after Round Eight.
Kyle Anderson, SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves (42% rostered)
Slo-Mo is worth streaming for as long as Jaden McDaniels (ankle) is out of the lineup (he just got paid too). McDaniels is still limited to individual drills, making Anderson a preferred option this week, as he's slated to start at small forward in McDaniels' absence.
He emerged last season as one of the best fantasy waiver adds for his diverse fantasy production. He had four triple-doubles and averaged two stocks per game last season, so he finds a way to impact the game on both ends of the floor, despite playing at 0.5x speed in real life.
Santi Aldama, PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies (16% rostered)
Yahoo's Jake Fischer was telegraphing something on the horizon when he selected Aldama as the final pick in Yahoo's recent points league mock draft. Fast forward to Sunday, when the Grizzlies announced that Steven Adams is undergoing season-ending knee surgery. With Adams out, I expect Jaren Jackson Jr. to shift over to center, with Aldama filling in at power forward because of his ability to stretch the floor. He shot 47% from the field and 35% from three last year, so he brings more offensively than Xavier Tillman.
Aldama had a strong preseason in two games as a starter, too, averaging 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3,0 assists, 2.0 threes and 1.0 steals with 61/36/71 shooting splits. He's projected to start, so he should be added in all leagues and is worth a 12th- or 13th-round pick if you haven't drafted.
Bilal Coulibaly, SF, Washington Wizards (14% rostered)
Many wondered how long the "raw" 19-year-old rookie would take to acclimate to the NBA game. Spoiler alert: it didn't take long at all. He was one of the best, if not the best, player for the Wizards in the preseason.
Here's how the Frenchman stacked up among his team in the preseason:
2nd in player efficiency rating (14.7)
1st in offensive rating (115.4)
2nd in defensive rating (92.1)
3rd in effective FG percentage (47.7)
2nd in rebound percentage (8.3)
2nd in assist percentage (7.0)
He can knock down threes and is already locking up All-Star players on the defensive end. He's flashing OG Anunoby vibes as a disruptive defensive wing, and it is only a matter of time before he moves from a bench role to a starter. He looks like the real deal, so add him now.
10-12 team queue (watchlist):
Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Washington Wizards (46%)
Coby White, PG/SG, Chicago Bulls (39%)
Talen Horton-Tucker, SG/SF, Utah Jazz (28%)
Dereck Lively, C, Dallas Mavericks (27%)
Xavier Tillman, PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies (25%)
Deep league queue:
Quentin Grimes, SG/SF, New York Knicks (20%)
Grant Williams, PF, Dallas Mavericks (17%)
Grayson Allen, SG/SF, Phoenix Suns (7%)
Josh Green, SG/SF, Dallas Mavericks (4%)
Cleveland Cavaliers: Jarrett Allen is doubtful for the season opener as Cavs HC J.B. Bickerstaff says Allen will need to practice before he can play in a game.
The play: The Cavs will likely take a committee approach, but with games versus the Nets, Thunder and Pacers this week, Georges Niang likely gets a boost in playing time when the Cavs go small. He'll be a good 3-point streamer in 9-cat leagues.
Detroit Pistons: Bojan Bogdanovic will miss the season opener with a calf injury. There's been no timetable for his return.
The play: Bogie is a great IL+ stash if you haven't drafted yet. Until then, the Pistons' sixth man, Jaden Ivey, should see more minutes and usage, along with rookie Ausur Thompson.
Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green (ankle) did not play in the preseason and has been ruled out for Tuesday's opener.
The play: Pick up Kevon Looney (for rebounds) and Jonathan Kuminga.
Los Angeles Clippers: Terance Mann will start at PF for the Clippers.
The play: He's worth a late-round flier in fantasy and should be scooped off of waivers now that he's locked into a starting spot. He averaged 12 points, four rebounds and three assists as a starter last season and is only 15% rostered in Yahoo leagues.
Los Angeles Lakers: Jarred Vanderbilt (heel) is unlikely for the season opener Tuesday.
The play: Taurean Prince will likely start in Vando's place, but Rui Haichimura is another possible streamer for points and rebounds.
As we open the NBA season, here are a few of my favorite songs to start an album in my rotation this week
Favorite games of the week:
Game 1: Suns at Warriors (Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET)
Kevin Durant returns to the Chase Center for the first time with actual fans in the building since his departure in 2019. Plus, Chris Paul plays his first matchup against his former team that traded him this offseason. Get the popcorn ready because this should be the highest-scoring game on Tuesday's slate, with a total of 234.5.
Game 2: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs (Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET)
Victor Wembanyama makes his NBA debut with the Spurs and lucky for basketball fans, it'll be against the Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving-led Mavs. Wemby put on a show all preseason, wowing fantasy basketball fans to draft him in the second-round in fantasy drafts over the past week.
The new-look Spurs built some hype outside of Wemby, so seeing how Devin Vassell, Zach Collins and newly named point guard Jeremy Sochan fare against a playoff contender will be fun. On the Mavs side, Jason Kidd's rotation will be something to monitor as Grant Williams, Josh Green and Dereck Lively could all be on fantasy radars with a solid outing to open up the season.
Game 3: Philadelphia 76ers vs Milwaukee Bucks (Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET)
Damian Lillard's debut with the Bucks against a gritty Philly squad is the matchup I have to see Thursday. All indications point to the Sixers being without James Harden to start the season, but they're still in good hands, with Tyrese Maxey running the offense.
I'm just anxious to see how bad the Joel Embiid Sketchers look.
Game 4: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET)
With Jarrett Allen still with no expected return date, I'm anticipating this matchup will be more of a track meet that leads to substantial fantasy production. The Chet Holmgren-Evan Mobley matchup will be just as entertaining as All-Stars Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Donovan Mitchell trading bucket for bucket.