LeBron James

Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz have substantially different top ends of their rosters from last season. The Lakers traded for star PF/C Anthony Davis in exchange for an abundance of draft picks combined with Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart. Their second notable addition was SG Danny Green, who is one of the best 3-point shooters in the league. Green’s addition gives the Lakers more shooting, which they desperately needed after failing to build an optimum shooting roster around LeBron James last season. The Jazz also made several significant moves, including trading for PG Mike Conley and adding wing Bojan Bogdanovic. Utah’s notable subtractions include Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder.

Bogdanovic (ankle) is officially questionable on the injury report for the Jazz, while Dante Exum (knee) is out. Rajon Rondo (calf) is questionable, and Kyle Kuzma (ankle) remains out for the Lakers.  Fantasy owners can get up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups by downloading the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter at @DKLive.

Editor’s Note: Bogdanovich will not play tonight vs. the Lakers.

Editor’s Note: Rondo will not play tonight vs. the Jazz.

Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.

BETTING TRENDS

— The Jazz have lost nine of their last 10 road openers.

— The Lakers have covered the spread in four of their last five night games against the Jazz.

— Rudy Gobert has scored 17-plus points in each of his last seven appearances against Pacific Division opponents.

— LeBron James has scored 27-plus points in each of his last five home appearances against Western Conference opponents.

— Anthony Davis has 25 points or less in each of his last four appearances vs. the Jazz.

Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

The Lakers’ starting lineup in their regular-season opener consisted of LeBron James ($11,600) at PG, Avery Bradley ($3,400) and Danny Green ($5,800) on the wing, Anthony Davis ($12,200) at PF and JaVale McGee ($7,000) at C. James has always been a ball-dominant forward who plays a lot of point, but he has rarely started at point guard, and it led to an increase in passing for him in the Lakers’ opener. James made 76 passes and created a heavy 20 potential assists in the Lakers’ opener, boosts from 55 passes per game and 16 potential assists created per game last season. The boost in facilitating gives James more elements to score fantasy points provided he continues his usual shot volume. James took 19 field goal attempts in the opener, not far off from 20 field goal attempts per game last season. James looks primed for more assists in his second year in Los Angeles provided he continues to start at PG.

Davis’ Lakers debut featured very heavy usage. Davis’ usage rate in the offense sat at a strong 36% in the opener, a boost from 29.5% last season and a boost from his career mark of 28%. He took 21 shots, four more than his career mark of 17 shots per game. Davis was in the post a lot; 17 possessions were post-ups for Davis, a 57% rate, a huge boost from only four post-ups per game last season at an 18% rate. Davis took 13 of his 21 shots out of the post. Post ups are generally considered a less efficient shot, but if Davis continues expanded usage, his fantasy value would be in line for a boost with his new team.thats

The Lakers played a very fast brand of basketball last season, ranking fourth highest in possessions per game, but their pace substantially dropped in the regular-season opener, playing about seven fewer possessions than they averaged per game last season. Considering the Lakers have a new coaching staff and several new key players, their pace is worth keeping an eye on in the early part of the season. Frank Vogel’s Magic teams ranked towards the middle of the pack in possessions per game, his most recent coaching stint prior to the Lakers. Fewer possessions generally means fewer opportunities at fantasy scoring.

The Jazz started Mike Conley ($8,800), Donovan Mitchell ($9,800), Bojan Bogdanovic ($6,800), Royce O’Neale ($4,200) and Rudy Gobert ($10,400) in their regular-season opener on Wednesday. Bogdanovic’s Jazz debut pushed Joe Ingles ($5,600), who started all 82 games for Utah last season, to the bench. If Bogdanovic is unable to play on Friday due to his ankle injury, Ingles is a candidate to move back into the starting lineup. Despite coming off the bench in the opener, Ingles did not see a decline in minutes, playing 33 minutes, a tick up from 31 minutes per game last season.

Both Conley and Mitchell were heavily used in the Jazz’s opener, posting usage rates of 31% and 30%, respectively, the two highest marks on the team. Conley had a ridiculously cold shooting night, making just 1-of-16 field goal attempts, but the heavy usage rate is encouraging and represents a five percentage point boost from last season with the Grizzlies. Mitchell took 22 shots, two more than the 20 per game he averaged last season. Bogdanovic’s 28% usage rate was also plus and a boost from last season, although as mentioned above his status for Friday’s game is uncertain.

In regards to this matchup between the two teams, the Lakers are in a tough fantasy spot against a stout defensive team. Gobert is one of the best interior defenders in the league, and last season, the Jazz held opponents to the third-fewest field goals within five feet of the basket and the third-lowest field goal percentage on shots in that zone, so getting baskets at the rim is generally a tough task against the Jazz. Davis took 10 of his 21 shots within five feet of the basket in the opener, while James took eight of his 19 shots in that zone. Utah was also the league’s second-best defensive team when adjusted for pace, and they posted strong defensive numbers in their opener against the Thunder.

Despite the less ideal fantasy matchup, James and Davis are obviously elite plays for the Lakers given their outrageously high skill level, especially given James’ boost in facilitating as the starting PG. Cheaper options for the Lakers include Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($3,000), who despite struggling badly in the opener played 27 minutes off the bench, fourth-highest on the team. Gobert is a strong play for the Jazz with his rebounding, and the Lakers played a traditional center for 36 of 48 minutes in the opener, third-highest among all teams so far. Mitchell and Conley are the top volume options for Utah, with Conley a strong bounce-back candidate given his abnormally poor shooting night in the opener. With Exum (knee) remaining out, Emmanuel Mudiay ($3,600) played 23 minutes off the bench with a respectable 21% usage rate and is a cheaper option as the backup PG.

THE OUTCOME

Any of James ($17,400 CP), Davis ($18,300 CP), Gobert ($15,600 CP), Mitchell ($14,700 CP), and Conley ($13,200 CP) are high-quality options as Captain’s Pick. The Lakers have the travel advantage, having been in Los Angeles all week, while the Jazz are flying into L.A. from Salt Lake City. Given the Lakers are at home and have the travel advantage, it could be enough to push them ahead in a close matchup against a quality opponent and get their first win of the season.

Final score: Lakers 110, Jazz 107


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.


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