The first Big Wednesday of the 2014-15 NBA season is here and we are rolling out the big guns with a $400,000 Crossover Tournament. It’s a chance to turn $27 into $100,000 in one night but given how it’s the first game of the season for the majority of teams playing tonight, hitting in tournaments is going to be a challenge. We’ll comb through the 12 game slate and try to pick out eight high-risk, high-reward picks who could propel you to the top of the leaderboards tonight.
#1) Chris Copeland vs. PHI (PF-$3300) – Copeland is expected to get the start for the Pacers tonight at the small forward position (despite being listed at PF on DK) along with Donald Sloan, C.J. Miles, Luis Scola and Roy Hibbert. Copeland was buried on the Pacers bench last season and barely saw playing time with Lance Stephenson and Paul George in town. This Pacers lineup is nowhere near as talented and if you look at the projected starters tonight, there really aren’t that many guys who will put up a ton of shots. Copeland has no fear when it comes to chucking from all over the court and sits in a prime matchup with the not-so-vaunted 76ers defense.
#2) Andre Drummond vs. DEN (C-$8700) – Drummond is high-risk, high-reward because he often gets in foul trouble and, on the flip side, he struggles from the line so he gets pulled late in games in favor of better free throw shooters. It makes him very difficult to target in cash games but when you look at the matchup tonight, it makes sense that he could have a really good game. The Nuggets frontcourt is essentially the same unit they pieced together last season and they allowed the 4th most fantasy points per game to Centers in 2013-14. Mozgov isn’t a great rebounder and he’s certainly not athletic to keep up with Drummond. He’s a constant 20-20 threat and this might actually be one of the safer matchups he’ll have all season, but he has so much upside that he’s also a terrific tournament option.
#3) Brandon Knight vs. CHA (PG – $6400) – Knight was the prototypical ‘tournament play’ in 2013-14. He had under 20 fantasy points in 25% of his games played, which was one of the highest rates among point guards. His scoring also had a standard deviation of 12.3 fantasy points last season, which was the highest standard deviation out of any PG in the top 20 of points per game a year ago. With that said, his top 15% of scores averaged 40.33 fantasy points per game, so his upside was usually there. He’s very high risk but when he plays well he can be incredibly effective. My bigger concern with Knight is the Hornets defense. Last season the Hornets played at one of the slowest paces in all of basketball, which decreases total opportunities for fantasy points from opponents.
#4) Lance Stephenson vs. MIL (SG – $7100) – Stephenson is the new guy in town on a team led by Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, two guys who like to have the ball in their hands. Kemba led all players in the NBA in touches a season ago and Big Al averaged 18.8 field goal attempts per game in 2013-14. So why is Stephenson a viable play? Well the Bucks are really young and are probably going to be in the bottom half of the NBA in team defense this season. It also helps that Gerald Henderson is doubtful for this game so Stephenson should see the lions share of minutes at the Hornets SG slot. Last season he was always a threat for a triple-double and his ability to stuff the stat sheet makes him a high-upside pick for tonight.
#5) Mason Plumlee vs. BOS (C – $5400) – We’re talking about a guy who had just 6 games last season with over 30 fantasy points in a game, so he’s extremely risky. But Brook Lopez is sitting this one out and Plumlee is expected to be the starter on a team that doesn’t have a ton of scoring options. He’s also a really impressive rebounder and the Celtics are going to have major problems stopping big men this season. He’ll see a lot of Kelly Olynyk on the offensive end and while Olynyk might have some offensive upside, he’s nowhere near a professional defender at this point and Plumlee has a great shot at somewhere around a 12 point, 15 rebound game tonight.
#6) Jeff Green vs. BKN (SF – $6300) – Green, much like Brandon Knight, was notoriously up and down in the 2013-14 season. He had four games last season with 40 or more fantasy points and he’s sporting a reasonable $6300 price point. It looks like Rajon Rondo will be good to go tonight and Green actually became a little more consistent down the stretch with Rondo back in the fold. He’s still the primary scorer in this offense and he’s going to get a ton of shots up. The downside with Green is that he’s not always involved in the rebounding and passing games, limiting his ability to stuff the stat sheet. Still, I like this game to be relatively close tonight and Green should get about 20 shots up, giving him good upside for a moderate price tag.
#7) C.J. Miles vs. PHI (SF – $3800) – The Pacers and Sixers could potentially be two teams looking to tank this season away, which is shocking after Indy made a 2nd consecutive ECF appearance last year. But they lost Paul George to an injury and Lance Stephenson to Charlotte, and are now looking at a season opener without David West or George Hill. Miles will start and play a huge role in this offense, similar to how he filled in last season for the Cavs at times. When he got enough minutes he was usually pretty efficient. He’s near min-priced and the last variable that puts him over the top here is the matchup with the Sixers. Philly was in the bottom-5 of the NBA against every position last season and their pace of play allows for monster fantasy games from opponents.
#8) Markieff Morris vs. LAL (PF – $6500) – Markieff was another good example of boom or bust last season but I actually think he could be a little more stable this season as a likely starter for the Suns. He had 20 games with at least 30 fantasy points last year off the bench and as we saw last night, the Lakers are still incredibly soft inside. Terrence Jones just dominated Carlos Boozer and company last night, so look for Markieff to be next in line to post a huge double-double against the worst team in the Western Conference.