Check out our breakdown, game by game, for tonight’s NBA action. We’ll look at the Vegas lines, recent trends and who you should be targeting for tonight’s games.
Washington Wizards @ Orlando Magic
Line: Wizards -4
The Magic replaced Jacque Vaughn with gritty, gutty, Scotty Skiles and a vow to move the ball more, play upbeat and all the things you always hear in the preseason. The Wizards were right smack dab in the middle on pace, so it might be a bit above average pace-wise, as the game total indicates.
The Wizards were the second best defensive team in basketball as decided by defensive rating, so the Magic will have some work to do since the Wizards return every core component to that defensive unit. The Magic weren’t as good defensively, which is why Skiles is there now instead of Vaughn. A staple of Skiles coached teams, though, was fouling, so John Wall could benefit, though his free throw rate is fairly average in the league. Elfrid Payton is supposed to start and have no minutes restrictions and Tobias Harris, who had been sick recently, is also supposed to be ready to go. Payton finished last season strong, averaging 37 DK points over the last 20 games.
For the Wizards, Paul Pierce now gets his in-season mail in LA, so Otto Porter has stepped in and has provided good fantasy numbers when he has for his reduced price. Wall averaged 45.2 DKPPG over his last 14 games of the season and Brad Beal averaged 37.2 over his last 19 games.
– Elfrid Payton ($6,900)
– Kris Humphries ($3,900)
– Otto Porter ($4,600)
– Tobias Harris ($6,500)
Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics
Line: Celtics -11
Boston plays with good pace, eighth most over their last 20 games and the Sixers play the seventh fastest over the same frame, meaning this game could be a sneaky high scoring affair, despite the modest Vegas total. Great value play game here.
Or….it could be that Vegas is accounting for poor shooting. The Sixers were next to last in shooting percentage over the last 20 games so that, combined with the fast pace, means there will be plenty of rebounding chances for the Celtics. That would benefit Tyler Zeller, who is slated to start and had a 20% defensive rebounding rate last season.
For the Sixers, they have a ton of injuries that could impact opening night, leaving a make shift roster that might now explain the 11 point Vegas deficit. If they do keep it close, it’s likely because Nerlens Noel kept them in it with his ultra-high motor. Noel averaged 36.1 DK points in just 31.1 minutes over his last 17 games of the year.
– Tyler Zeller ($3,000)
– Jae Crowder ($4,300)
– Isaiah Canaan ($4,200)
– Nerlens Noel ($6,800)
Indiana Pacers @ Toronto Raptors
Line: Raptors -5.5
Two of the slower teams in the league, the Raptors were shockingly bad at defense last season, only 25th in the league over the last 20 games. They addressed it somewhat with DeMarre Carroll coming over from Atlanta, but this may still be a weak club defensively. The Pacers have changed offenses, making Paul George a power forward and bringing in Monta Ellis to be a high volume scorer. How it works will remain to be seen.
Toronto are pretty much at full strength and DeMar DeRozan is the high user in the group. DeRo isn’t affected, usage wise by Kyle Lowry (still around 29 percent), but Lowry’s usage sinks whenever DeRozan is on the floor (from 29 percent without DeRo to 22 percent with him). Jonas Valanciunas is a good scorer who doesn’t get extended minutes (between 25-29 minutes per game)
As for the Pacers, Paul George is back and promptly placed at 8K. Between his recovery from injury and a new offense and position, you may wait before rostering. Meanwhile CJ Miles is comically priced at 3.5K. For a guy with 40 DK point upside and expected to start, he’s lock and load for that price. Ian Mahinmi is also in play starting at center for Indiana and below 4K.
– C.J. Miles ($3,500)
– George Hill ($6,000)
– Ian Mahinmi ($3,800)
– DeMar DeRozan ($7,300)
Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets
Line: Bulls -4.5
Bulls played a tough one last night at home, barely beating Cleveland. We saw Nikola Mirotic have a nice game, Pau Gasol get minimized and Jimmy Butler still doing Jimmy Butler things (good things). Also, we saw that only Butler got over 33 minutes, logging 36 in all. Gasol, for example, had 31 and Mirotic, who went for 19 points, 9 rebounds and 33.25 DK points, played only 25 minutes.
While the Bulls were a slow team, the Nets were surprisingly up-tempo, 11th in pace over the last 20 games. Brooklyn is beset by injuries right now, leaving Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington locked into start roles for now in the backcourt. The Nets could be had on the defensive end and that won’t change with Larkin/Ellington starting, as both had personal defensive ratings over more the 112 points per 100 possessions.
– Shane Larkin ($3,000)
– Wayne Ellington ($3,000)
– Nikola Mirotic ($6,400)
– Brook Lopez ($7,200)
Charlotte Hornets @ Miami Heat
Line: Heat -6.5
When the Heat acquired Suns guard Goran Dragic, they tried to fit him into their existing offense. In the offseason though, they vowed to run more with Dragic, better fitting his skills. The Heat, over the last 20 games, were 6th to last in pace. The Hornets aren’t much better coming in at 20th.
The Heat are locked and loaded with Dragic and the usual Heat suspects, including Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They also have Hassan Whiteside, who came in during the season and then quickly established elite center value in DFS. Wade was top three in usage last year, joining LeBron James and Russell Westbrook at the top.
The Hornets now have Nicolas Batum starting at SG alongside PG Kemba Walker and they maintain the big fella, Al Jefferson. The Hornets were the worst shooting team in the league last season and the worst offensive rebounding team, potentially setting up Hassan Whiteside to have a mega-game on the glass.
– Hassan Whiteside ($6,500)
– Dwyane Wade ($6,700)
– Cody Zeller ($4,300)
– Nicolas Batum ($7,000)
Utah Jazz @ Detroit Pistons
Line: Pistons -2
The Jazz were, last season, where fantasy points went to die. The second slowest pace in the league, plus a Defensive Player of Year type player equals not much scoring. The Pistons played slow, too, landing just ahead of the Jazz.
Rudy Gobert is our DPOY caliber player and he can pile up the boards and blocks fairly quickly. Despite only scoring 11 PPG, Gobert was still a top 25 DK point scorer over the last 20 games with 37.2 DKPPG. Against the Pistons, who missed the fifth most shots per 100 possessions last season, he should get more chances to clean up. Trey Burke finished the season strong, but his numbers were lower when Alec Burks was on the floor, including his usage which went from close to 26 percent down below 22 percent.
The Pistons came out smoking against the Hawks, including nice games from Marcus Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ersan Ilyasova. Andre Drummond had his usual good game, too, but the Jazz restrict so much offense that, even at home, it’s hard to go in on this game.
– Rudy Gobert ($7,300)
– Marcus Morris ($4,500)
– Ersan Ilyasova ($5,700)
– Alec Burks ($4,900)
San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: Thunder -5
Surprisingly high game total since it involves the Spurs, but they were actually a middle of the pack pace team last season and the Thunder were the third fastest over the last 20 games. Billy Donovan is coaching now, though, and his Florida teams in recent years were not known for pushing the tempo. But a team with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant is one in which you probably want a lot of possessions to score. We’ll see how Billy approaches the NBA during the regular season.
Likewise we shall see how the Spurs incorporate LaMarcus Aldridge into their offense and he’ll get a tough test getting matched up with Serge Ibaka, who had a personal 101.2 Defensive Rating on a team that had a team total of 103.1. Also, we’ll see how having Aldridge in the lineup instead of, say, Tiago Splitter, affects the usage of Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan.
Russell Westbrook under 10K looks like a misprint, especially considering his fantasy output was still 1.36 DKPPM with Kevin Durant on the floor with him last season with over 32% Usage. Durant’s usage was a smidge below 30 with Russell, but also scored 1.23 DKPPM with Russ on the floor. Durant, however, will likely have the large grip of Leonard on him and Leonard had a personal defensive rating of 97.1 last season. You can see Billy having Russ take on more of the load against Tony Parker, who was much more hospitable to the opposition than Leonard.
– Russell Westbrook ($9,900)
– Serge Ibaka ($6,400)
– Tony Parker ($5,000)
– Steven Adams ($3,900)
New York Knicks @ Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Bucks -5.5
Much like the Jazz/Pistons game, there isn’t much to like about the totals in this game. The Knicks played slow last season and both teams were among the seven worst offensive rated teams in the league over the last 20 games, and the Knicks were dead last. The Bucks were a good defensive team, though, and the Knicks were less than average.
Giannis is suspended for this game, so it’s Jerryd Bayless in the shooting guard position because OJ Mayo is out with a sore hamstring, too. Greg Monroe is in the middle for the Bucks this season and he goes against the Knicks front line that is revamped, starting with Robin Lopez in the middle, who had a solid defensive rating in Portland last season.
The Knicks get Carmelo back and they will have to lean on him hard with not much offensive firepower surrounding him. He would make a good tournament pivot with his price being a little lower than the other 30% Usage guys on the slate. Rookie Kristaps Porzingis is expected to start, along with Lopez, Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic.
– Carmelo Anthony ($8,600)
– Greg Monroe ($7,100)
– Khris Middleton ($5,400)
– Jose Calderon ($4,200)
Denver Nuggets @ Houston Rockets
Line: Rockets -10
Very nice total in this game as both teams finished in the top five in pace by the end of the year. But the Nuggets switched their coaching duties to Michael Malone, who did not manage high possession per game strategies when he coached Sacramento. Still, with James Harden, Kenneth Faried, Ty Lawson, Emmanuel Mudiay, et al in the game, it should stay above average.
All the stars have been priced down to start the season, so James Harden’s 10.1K price tag is a given. Harden averaged nearly 50 DKPPG and had his usual 30+ Usage percentage. Harden is also second to only Westbrook in free throw attempts per 36 minutes, with 10. Unlike Westbrook, though, is that Harden plays more than 36 minutes per game, on average. His usage upticked when he played without Dwight Howard, who is suspended for the first game. Ty Lawson is slated to start at PG, but probably won’t get the same time he got in Denver under Brian Shaw with Patrick Beverley available.
The Rockets had the fewest missed shots per 100 possessions over the last 20 games of the season, so that might mean fewer rebounds for Kenneth Faried to corral, lessening his potential fantasy impact on the game. Danilo Gallinari average more than a DKPPM over his last 15 games, putting in 33.6 over 31.5 minutes per game. Gary Harris gets the start against Harden, who played better defense last season but still not a stopper by any means. Harris can shoot and is an interesting playing at his 3K min price.
Both centers in this game are min priced plays as well as Clint Capela and Joffrey Lauvergne will get the call with Howard suspended, Jusef Nurkic out and Donatas Motiejunas nursing a sore back.
– James Harden ($10,100)
– Danilo Gallinari ($5,800)
– Gary Harris ($3,000)
– Clint Capela ($3,000)
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Grizzlies -6
It’s a coin flip for me which team I least like to roster players against. The Jazz, as discussed earlier, or the Grizzlies. Their glacial pace suppresses a ton of fantasy goodness and their defense does the rest.
LeBron James showed that he’s not limited at all and without Kyrie Irving, LeBron used a whopping 42.6 percent of the Cavs possessions. Even against the Grizzlies, at below 10K, he’s in play. Mo Williams showed he can be a viable wingman for LeBron with Irving out, playing 37 minutes and scoring 19 points with seven assists against the Bulls.
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are always solid plays for cash games, but the team’s pace always limits upside. Same for Mike Conley at the point. Jeff Green is at a solid price point, but draws LeBron, which is going to either foul him out or wear him out. There are better matchups down the road to maybe use Green.
– LeBron James ($9.800)
– Mo Williams ($4,900)
– Mike Conley ($6,700)
– Zach Randolph ($6,800)
New Orleans Pelicans @ Portland Trail Blazers
Line: Blazers -2.5
The Pelicans were a hot mess on Opening Night, but we saw the Golden State Warriors make a lot of teams look like that last season. The game total is a bit of a surprise, as the Pelicans are a slow team while the Blazers are only average, but there are plenty of players to like on these teams.
Anthony Davis looked discombobulated and disrupted by Draymond Green, who I know slept like a baby delivering that to the Brow. Davis only scored 32 DK points last night as he shot 4-20. Part of the problem is the PG position, where Ish Smith was claimed on waivers and immediately made Nate Robinson a bust play by logging in 38 minutes. When the PG you claimed on waivers leads your team in minutes, there’s a problem, even if one likes Ish Smith, which I do. Fortunately for Davis, he gets to cleanse his palate right away against Meyers Leonard and the boys in Portland. Also helping the cause is the availability, albeit limited, of Jrue Holiday, who is on a strict 20 minutes per game limit as he gets back up to good health.
Damian Lillard’s usage without LaMarcus Aldridge on the court last season was 30.4 percent and he scored 1.13 DKPPM. Against the makeshift staff at the Hotel Pelicans, Lillard should be able to deliver similar results.
– Anthony Davis ($10,400)
– Damian Lillard ($8,900)
– Eric Gordon ($5,200)
– C.J. McCollum ($4,800)
Dallas Mavericks @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Suns -4.5
Playing in Phoenix, the Mavericks ended the season as the fastest paced team in the league over the final 20 games. The Suns, who are usually associated with fast pace, actually slowed considerably after trading away Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas. They finished the season only in the middle of the pack in pace over the same 20 games.
Deron Williams is not a strong defensive player, so if Eric Bledsoe ends up with Williams on him, it’s a great thing for the aggressive Bledsoe. Whichever Suns player between Bledsoe and Brandon Knight gets Williams should shine and whoever gets Wesley Matthews will have a harder time. Right now, it looks like Bledsoe should get Williams. Tyson Chandler takes on his old team in a REVENGE! game and given the lack of other rebounders on the floor for the Suns (Chandler’s 27% DEFREB percentage would’ve easily led the Suns last season) gives Tyson on opportunity to pile up the stats against his old team.
For Dallas, Chandler Parsons is out, so Justin Anderson gets the start at 3.3K and Zaza Pachulia has the arduous task of going up against Tyson Chandler. I’m not really seeing where the offense is going to flow from the Mavericks, especially since Williams and Matthews are new in their backcourt and Dirk Nowitzki has been on limited minutes for a few seasons now (29.6 MPG last season).
– Eric Bledsoe ($7,800)
– Wesley Matthews ($4,800)
– Tyson Chandler ($5,900)
– Justin Anderson ($3,300)
Los Angeles Clippers @ Sacramento Kings
Line: Clippers -5.5
Oh boy. I don’t know how this is going to go, this established Clippers core going against George Karl’s all-talent all-stars, but I am willing to watch and find out. Both the Clippers and the Kings played the last 20 games at top ten pace, so the game total looks right. The Clippers were allowing 101.9 points per 100 possessions while the Kings allowed 106.
Boogie Cousins won’t have to worry about taking on an offensive post presence, because DeAndre Jordan doesn’t command that. Cousins at 10.3K looks delicious in this matchup, provided the bold and brash Clippers don’t get him started down anger road. Cousins averaged 58.8 DKPPG over his last 11 games, second only to LeBron. With Rudy Gay questionable, if he misses the game, Cousins gets even more possessions. It’s hard to recommend Rajon Rondo, despite his propensity for triple-doubles, until we see that his Dallas era production was aberrant.
Meanwhile Blake Griffin, over his last 20 games, was fifth best at 48.9 DKPPG and was top ten in free throws attempted per 36 minutes over the entire season. He’ll be a tough cover for rookie Willie Cauley-Stein as the Kings will likely keep Cousins away from that matchup. Jordan, with all of his rebounds, putbacks and transition hoops, also rounded out the season in top 20 DKPPG, getting 40 per game. So did Chris Paul. Basically, the Clippers are beasts and are worth rostering. The end.
– DeMarcus Cousins ($10,300)
– Blake Griffin ($9,300)
– DeAndre Jordan ($7,500)
– Willie Cauley-Stein ($3,200)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Lakers -3
This could be an interesting game as the Timberwolves have a number of solid offensive piece for fantasy and the Lakers are easy enough defensively to accentuate that. Well, actually both teams were bad defensively last season finishing the worst (Minnesota, 113.5 points per 100 possessions) and third worst (Lakers, 108.8) over the final 20 games.
No player in this game is priced over 6.6K, and that’s Ricky Rubio there at the top. The game is practically begging you to look at it. Kobe is priced at an unbelievably low 6.4K. Even if his minutes are managed his 34% usage alone will clear value. And really, do you believe he’ll acquiesce to Byron Scott if he’s going good and feeling better? At 30 minutes in a high pace game, Kobe should clear 6x value. Very tempting.
On the other side, Andrew Wiggins is poised to mock his 6.3K price tag, provided he doesn’t draw defending Kobe (should be Tayshaun Prince to begin with). It would be fun to have a tournament lineup with some guys in this game.
– Kobe Bryant ($6,400)
– Andrew Wiggins ($6,300)
– Shabazz Muhammad ($3,700)
– Jordan Clarkson ($5,300)