The NBA is certainly back, and tonight we get the first Friday night basketball slate of the year. There are 12 games on tap, so lets dive right in to some picks for tonight.
Stephen Curry ($9900) – If you can afford to pay up for Steph Curry you have to do it. He’s the reigning MVP for a reason. He racks up points, assists, 3-pt bonuses and gets a few steals too. He plays in a paced up game against the Rockets who can score and give up points with the best of them. It was a tough call between Steph and Damian Lilliard for the top spot for me, but I give Steph the slight edge in overall points here and the pricing is close enough where it does not matter that much. Steph also seems to go lower owned than most other superstars on a consistent basis, so the added upside of differentiation comes along with using him.
Reggie Jackson ($7500) – If you need to save a little bit of money without giving up much upside, then Reggie Jackson is your man. Jackson is able to contribute across the board. Scoring has never been an issue for him, he racks up assists, and he has been a very solid rebounder from the point guard spot. He is playing a ton of minutes and has the ball in his hands a lot, which has led him to big fantasy scores. The Pistons are playing at a faster pace this season and so are their opponents in the Chicago Bulls. The paced up game usually benefits the guys who touch the ball most often and in this case that means R Jax.
Isaiah Canaan ($4800) – Staskus, Marshall, and Wroten are all out for Philly, which was a main reason Canaan played 38 minutes the other night. He put up an impressive stat line at a discounted price and is still pretty cheap here. Utah does play at a slower pace and has a solid defensive rating that was #1 in the league during the end of last season. While that is a concern, the minutes and usage rate are high enough for him to be able to return value again at the low cost. We have tons of solid PG options on this large slate, but many of them are way more expensive than Canaan is. He is a guy I will be looking to for salary relief in order to round out my rosters.
C.J. McCollum ($6400) – Well the price jumped on C.J., now hopefully we also get him switched over to SG soon where I would love to use him today. As it is though, I still think you need to consider finding a spot for him as a PG based off his last game. Ever since he single handedly carried Lehigh over Duke in the NCAA tourney, this kid has been waiting for a chance to shine. If opening night was any indication, the upside here is greater than we even imagined. He plays a ton of minutes and gets a lot of shot opportunities. The game against Phoenix should be a high paced one and that will benefit him again. With Aldridge, Matthews, and Batum out of town, the Blazers need more scorers. McCollum is in a perfect spot here to have a breakout season and put his stamp on the NBA by being that guy.
James Harden ($10300) – James Harden is the 2 guard with the highest floor and ceiling of any player at the position. He gets a paced up game against the Warriors here where he will need to have a huge game to keep his injury riddled team close. Harden is one of the few guys able to put up a 60+ fantasy point game. Shooting guard is a tough spot, because many of them contribute in only one category (Scoring). Harden usually adds a few rebounds and a few assists to his totals and frankly he is the best scorer among them all anyway. It’s not easy to fit him into your line ups, but he won enough people enough tournaments last season that it makes sense to try and figure out a way to do it.
Victor Oladipo ($7100) – Where Harden’s price restricts me from using him, I have been looking over to Victor Oladipo. Oladipo plays in a paced up game against the OKC Thunder here and that should benefit a guy like him who complies stats across the board. Dipo can score, assist and rebound better than most other shooting guards in the league. As mentioned with Harden, many at the position are only able to contribute in one or two categories and that limits their upside. People are off Dipo and the rest of the Magic based off one low scoring game against the Wizards. If you remember from last year though, the Wizards where a great defensive unit. I think Orlando bounces back in this one with a much better showing against an OKC team that plays fast and higher scoring games. Dipo is not overly expensive and could pay off his salary with a fast paced game that allows him to stuff the stat sheet.
Tony Snell ($3000) – As long as Tony Snell is starting and costs only $3000, he is in play. He played just shy of 30 minutes the first game and while he is clearly low on the totem pole as far as offensive options go, he still managed double digit points with a few other stats like rebounds, steals, and assists. He basically needs 15-20 fantasy points to pay off that salary which is not asking a lot of a guy who saw and should see 25-30 minutes of action a night.
Mario Hezonja ($3000) – Hezonja is an intriguing rookie for the Magic. He is a tough nosed player with obvious skills. He joins a wing rotation that allows him 25 minutes a night and asks him to help shoulder the scoring and playmaking load with the second team. At this price, he also only need 15-20 points in order to make value. He had 11 with 3 rebounds and 2 assists on opening night in a slow paced game against a good defensive Wizards squad. In a faster paced match up here with OKC, he could easily add to those numbers and smash through his value proposition at a price of only $3K.
Kawhi Leonard ($7700) – It is very tough for me to pay up for Durant or Lebron when I can have Leonard for about $2000 cheaper. Kawhi is the one guy who never really gets Popped. Sure every other starter plays 20-30 minutes, but Kawhi is the guy who rarely comes off the court. He had 32 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals in the opening game against the Thunder. While the pace of this one may be a tad slower against the Nets, the level of competition is also much weaker. Kawhi almost reached value on raw points scored last game and he could come close to doing the same here without even factoring in the other stats. He will not have to worry about guarding a Kevin Durant in this game too, which means he can concentrate more on offense and other stats like rebounding on the defensive end. Leonard is an under rated and under used superstar in this league and I have no problem taking the savings and rolling him out here again.
Danilo Gallinari ($6300) – His price is climbing after a big opening game, but it’s still pretty friendly for a guy who was putting up 30-40 fantasy points easily towards the end of last season. Denver plays at a fast pace and lacks a lot of scoring punch. Gallo is the guy they expect to provide it. He can score inside and outside and is not afraid to shoot the ball. With Wilson Chandler still sidelined, he has no one to really share minutes with either. A high number of minutes and a high number of shots tend to combine for a high number of fantasy points. That is the situation Gallo finds himself in now and that is why the price ump to $6300 is not enough to keep me off of him.
Jakar Sampson ($3100) – The Min price special SF of the day is likely to be Jakar Sampson again. The Sixers have a ton of inuries to their wing players and while Sampson is not a stud with huge upside, you can never argue with a guy who gets minutes at minimum salary. Sampson played 26 minutes in the opener and should see something like that here. I try to shy away from taking players against a good defensive squad like the Jazz, but a cheap option at $3100 does not need to do much in order to return value. If Sampson is able to play another 20-30 minutes here, it won’t be hard to rack up ten points a few rebounds/assists, and a steal or two n order to pay it off.
Kevin Love ($7300) – I can make a case against almost all of the top priced option at power forward here today. Sure some of them may put up a decent game, but very few of them have upside. Millsap is a cash game play only as he never really goes off for 50, Nerlens Noel has a tough matchup with the best interior defense in the NBA, Greg Monroe had a monster first game and the coaches said he was not supposed to play that many minutes so you have to think he regresses, and it’s foolish to expect Chris Bosh to grab 10 rebounds a night like he did last game in order to make value. The one guy who does have some upside at the price is Love. Love has always been a great rebounder so he has that advantage in the match up with Bosh. Lebron and the coaches have both said that they want to get Love more involved offensively this season to take some pressure off James. Especially now with Kyrie out, Love should see an increased number of touches on the offensive end. Add those extra points, extra minutes, and his rebounding prowess together and he seems to be a little bit too cheap at only $7300. If you want to spend up at some other positions, you need to take a few mid-tier riced players to make that work and Kevin Love is my favorite option that fits the description at the power forward spot.
David Lee ($5300) – Lee is really cheap for a guy who was a former all-star and still has some skills. He also has a pretty solid match up here against a group of role players at the power forward position for the Raptors. When Lee started for the warriors, he was consistently scoring double figures and adding about 8 rebounds per game to his totals. The Raptors are strong on the perimeter, but have a weak interior. That should play into Lee’s hands as he is able to do some things offensively and has a good chance to put up some points and rebounds here. It’s not the greatest position to roster tonight with tough match ups all around for the expensive options. Saving some money on a guy like Lee seems like a good way to construct your rosters and be able to have money left to pay up elsewhere.
Kris Humphries ($4000) – There is nothing sexy about rostering Kris Humphries, but he gets the job done. As far as value options go, he is one of the better ones for the price tag. Hump is splitting time with Nene Hilario, who can not play more than half a game at this point. Milwaukee was blown out by the lowly Knicks in their opener. Guys like Porzingis, Kyle O’Quinn, and Lance Thomas all scored 20+ fantasy points at the Power forward position in this game. If those guys all did it in 24 minutes or less, I am confident that Humphries can as well with the same amount of playing time or a little more.
Clint Capela ($4000) – If you have never heard of him, I do not blame you. You should know his name though as he is one of the better salary saving options on the day. Dwight Howard and Donatas Montiejunas are both out.That leaves Capela as the starting center for the Rockets. He was a basket and a few rebounds shy of a double double in the opener in 24 minutes of action. That was against a nuggets team that had a big lead and was without a true center on the floor. Golden State has Andrew Bogut and the only guy who can really match up with him for the Rockets that is healthy would be Capela. That means he should see a few more minutes in this one. If he can get you to a double double, or even close to it again, he will finish with 20_ fantasy points and give you a nice return for only $4000.
DeMarcus Cousins ($10200) – The Lakers are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA and Cousins is one of the best offensive players. He is basically match up proof at this point, because he can put up 20 and 10 without even having a good game. In a game with a high expected total like this one, 30/15 is not even asking too much of him. He will likely be matched up with Roy Hibbert who allowed Karl Towns to go for a double double on him in his NBA debut. After Hibbert, who is too slow and weak to stick with boogie, the Lakers will have to attempt to use Brandon Bass, Julius Randle, and Ryan Kelly to slow him down. Anybody think that is really going to do the trick? Cousins could be in line for a monster game here and is actually my #1 option for guys I have to have in my lineups for Friday.
Andre Drummond ($8100) – If you can not afford Boogie, Drummond is the next best and next most expensive option at about a discount of $2000. With Monroe out of town, he is the clear big man choice in Detroit and his numbers so far have been great. The Bulls are a team that many are scared of taking players against, but this is not Tommy T’s Bulls team anymore. This team is playing more uptempo and remember we have Pau Gasol at Center now and not the defensive minded Joakim Noah. Drummond gets a lot of shots and a lot of rebounds, so he should be able to rack up both on the interior against Pau. He is averaging 18 points and 14.5 rebounds so far in two games and one of those was against the Jazz who have the best frontcourt defense in the NBA. Chicago is much softer inside and I would not be shocked to see him outperform those numbers.
Brook Lopez ($7100) – There really is no value guy to love at the center position, so I will add a third stud in here who I have been looking at. Brook Lopez can score. It’s one thing he does really well on a basketball court. His match up here is also much better than people are letting on. The Spurs allowed Tiago Splitter to leave, which means the Center position is now manned by an aging Tim Duncan and back up Boris Diaw. That’s right, Diaw is basically the back up center along with Matt Bonner at the moment. Lopez should be able to score against both of those guys. He was able to put up 26 points on 17 shot attempts in the opener against the Bulls and I think the Nets will need to feed him even more to have a chance to keep this one close. The offense runs through Lopez in Brooklyn this year and I think that he is in line for a huge game against a soft Spurs interior.