The Oklahoma City Thunder enter the 2019-20 season with a dramatically different top end of their roster. Russell Westbrook was traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul, and Paul George was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for an abundance of draft picks plus Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Utah Jazz also made a significant trade, acquiring Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Jazz also signed Bojan Bogdanovic to give them more shooting at wing. Utah’s subtractions include Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder.
Andre Roberson (knee) has been ruled out for the Thunder, and Dante Exum (knee) has been ruled out for the Jazz. 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.
The Jazz are 9-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook in a game that has been given a total points of 224.5, one of the higher point totals on Wednesday’s NBA slate.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
— The Jazz have won each of their past seven Wednesday night games at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
— The Thunder have covered the spread in five of their past six games against the Jazz.
— Eleven of the past 13 games between the Thunder and Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena have gone UNDER the total points line.
— Donovan Mitchell has scored 31+ points in each of the Jazz’s past three home games.
— Danilo Gallinari has scored 23+ points in four of his past five appearances in road games against Western Conference opponents.
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Oklahoma City’s style could change given its new roster pieces, but it generally played at a fast pace last season, ranking sixth in possessions per game. The Thunder’s fast pace led to more possessions for the Jazz in their head to head matchups. In four games vs. the Thunder, Utah played just over 103 possessions per 48 minutes, a boost from their season average of about 100 possessions per 48 minutes. More possessions generally means more opportunities for fantasy scoring.
The starting lineups are not yet known, but it looks like Utah will go with Mike Conley ($9,800) at PG, Donovan Mitchell ($10,000) at SG, Bojan Bogdanovic ($7,200) at SF, Royce O’Neale ($2,800) or Jeff Green ($4,000) at PF and Rudy Gobert ($10,600) at C. SG/SF Joe Ingles ($7,400), who started all 82 games for the Jazz last season, is a candidate to move to the bench for Utah given the additions of Conley and Bogdanovic. Ingles is a good facilitator, ranking second on the Jazz last season in potential assists created per game with about 11, and working with the second unit will allow him more freedom staggered from the starting five. Ingles moving to the second unit could result in a decline in minutes played, but he could make up for it with boosted usage. Emmanuel Mudiay ($4,800) and Ed Davis ($3,200) also are candidates for significant roles off the bench.
The Jazz have more shooting at the top end of their roster. Conley is a shooting upgrade over Ricky Rubio at PG, while Bogdanovic was one of the better 3-point shooters in the league last season, shooting 42.5% from 3, much better than the league average of 35.5%. Defensively, Gobert is one of the best rim protectors in the league. The Jazz held opponents to the third fewest field goals per game and third lowest FG% within five feet of the basket last season in large part due to Gobert’s monster interior presence. It could take some time for the new pieces to fit together, but Utah’s starting backcourt looks excellent, and playing a Thunder team that appears to want to play quick gives it a good fantasy matchup in a game that is expected to be one of the higher scoring ones on Wednesday’s slate. Conley, Mitchell and Gobert are all strong fantasy options out of the starting five, and with Dante Exum (knee) ruled out, Mudiay could see a tick up in minutes off the bench as the backup PG and represents a cheaper option.
The Thunder’s starting lineup is also not yet known, but they experimented with a three-guard starting lineup in the preseason consisting of Chris Paul ($9,600), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,200), Dennis Schroder ($5,000), Danilo Gallinari ($9,200) and Steven Adams ($8,800). While starting three point guards is unconventional, Gilgeous-Alexander has wing size at 6’6 with a 6’11 wingspan. Terrance Ferguson ($1,800) and Darius Bazley ($3,400) are also candidates to start. Download the DK Live app for up-to-the-minute news on the starting lineup.
Paul is still a good player but showcased a marked decline in production last season, posting a career-low player efficiency rating (19.7) and career-low FG% (41.9%). While Paul’s efficiency stats are in decline, he could be set for a boost in usage given he no longer plays with usage monster James Harden. Paul’s usage rate in Los Angeles was a few ticks higher than it was in Houston, and he had a significantly higher usage rate in minutes with Harden off the court last season with the Rockets, seeing his usage rate balloon to a strong 27% with Harden off the court, up from 18% with Harden on the court with him. Paul starts the season off as the top fantasy option for the Thunder in this matchup. In addition to Paul, Adams had success head-to-head against Gobert last season, averaging two DKFP higher in matchups vs. the Jazz than he did for the season. Gallinari is also coming off the best season of his career by player efficiency rating (21.0) and is in line for a solid role with his new team.
Paul ($14,400 CP) is a good choice as Captain’s Pick on the Thunder side given his potential volume, while the trio of Conley ($14,700 CP), Gobert ($15,900 CP) and Mitchell ($15,000 CP) are appealing Captain’s Pick options from the Jazz. The Jazz are substantial favorites at home, where they enjoy some degree of a home court advantage due to the altitude. The Jazz are in strong position to start the season with a win as one of the larger favorites on Wednesday’s slate.
Final score: Jazz 110, Thunder 100
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