Like Paul Revere riding his horse and warning the colonials that the British were coming, I have been galloping on my imaginary horse around the neighborhood, telling everyone who I cross paths with that the NBA season is starting today. What a glorious time to be alive. All the blood, sweat and tears of prep. All the lonely nights without the sounds of the ball bouncing or the shoes squeaking. We’ve finally made it to the first DFS slate of the season!
It’s a small two-game slate to wet our appetites before the Big Kahuna on Wednesday. Philadelphia visits Boston as 2.5-point underdogs with the total set at 216. The Lakers visit the defending champion Warriors as six-point underdogs with the total at 225.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers ($9,400) – This is a tough one because Curry has the highest projection and floor/ceiling combo at the position, and the matchup is a juicy one. Unfortunately, Steve Kerr said that he’s not expecting to play his starters 30 minutes in the early going. If the ownership gets too low, then I’ll go here but I have a not-so-sneaky suspicion that Curry will be one of the highest-rostered players.
James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics ($8,900) – After being acquired by the 76ers at the end of last season, the shot attempts and rebounds decreased. That makes sense because Joel Embiid is the alpha of the 76ers offense and he’s an incredibly large human being who snatches rebounds like Mr. Miyagi smushes flies with his chopsticks. That said, Harden still averaged over 20 points while producing 7.1 rebounds, 10.5 assists and 1.2 steals. Over the summer, Doc Rivers has wanted Harden to be a scoring Magic Johnson. Spending an entire offseason with his teammates should make him more comfortable and have triple-doubles in play every night.
Other Option – Jaylen Brown ($8,000)
Kendrick Nunn, Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors ($3,000) – The starting lineup for the Lakers hasn’t been announced as of the time of this writing. Dennis Schroder is out with a finger injury, though, and Russell Westbrook is dealing with a hamstring issue. Nunn was singled out early in the preseason as a favorite of Darvin Ham, due to his athleticism, water bug defense and ability to knock down perimeter shots. If Westbrook is healthy and leading the second unit, Nunn’s shooting ability may be best to complement him. There are many moving parts before tip off, but regardless of if he’s a starter or coming off the bench, Nunn should play plenty of minutes. Can’t beat that at minimum price.
Other Option – Austin Reaves ($3,400), Derrick White ($4,100), Moses Moody ($3,000)
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers ($9,000) – Last season, Tatum garnered a 31.4% usage rate, and that number should remain the same or even elevate a percentage point or two. The beautiful aspect of Tatum’s game is that it is so well-rounded, so the floor is high. In four games against Philadelphia last season, he scored 28, 20, 17 and 26 real points but produced 53, 42.25, 40.25 and 59.5 DKFP.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors ($9,200) – Both Davis and LeBron should garner high usage rates and play a ton of minutes. It would also help if Steve Kerr does follow through on his comments about limiting the minutes for his starters. We shall see. This game environment should be better than the Boston/Philadelphia game, which could be a defensive struggle. That said, if the ownership heavily tilts towards the Lakers game, then pivoting to the Boston/Philadelphia game will be prudent. On a two-game slate, though, I doubt there will be massive ownership discrepancies.
Other Option – Anthony Davis ($8,500), Jaylen Brown ($8,000)
Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors ($3,400) – They don’t call him Hillbilly Kobe for nothing! LeBron has espoused his praise for Reaves over the Summer so you know he’s got game. The IQ at both ends of the floor is high, he can get buckets if called upon and is an excellent distributor. The jumper is the weakness, though, which may limit his time with the starters. That said, he’s such an excellent connector and the Lakers are dealing with injuries that Reaves should get plenty of playing time, whether it be as a starter or a reserve. His ability to produce fantasy goodies in a bevy of ways provides a relatively high floor. He’s only $400 above the minimum.
Other Option – Grant Williams ($3,900), Jonathan Kuminga ($4,200), Sam Hauser ($3,100), Moses Moody ($3,000)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics ($9,900) – Embiid is the alpha of this 76ers team. In four games last season against Boston, there was only one game that he didn’t stuff the stat sheet, and that was in a 135-87 blowout loss in which he failed to rack up a steal. He scored 18, 25 and 13 points in three of the games but he exploded for 41 in the other. The Celtics have one of the best defenses in the league and this game could be a slow-paced, defensive battle, but the ceiling is always in play with Embiid.
Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors ($8,500) – He’s healthy. That’s good enough for me. End of analysis.
I kid, I kid. Davis is one of the best fantasy players in the land due to his ability to contribute in every facet of the game. The shooting efficiency was hampered by a wrist injury last season but it sounds like that won’t be an issue anymore. Darvin Ham has instituted the offensive system from Milwaukee that had Giannis as the hub with Davis filling that role now.
Other Option – LeBron James ($10,400)
Al Horford, Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers ($4,900) – The Celtics will likely play plenty of small-ball lineups, but Horford should still play as many minutes as he can handle. Horford is able to space the floor with his three-point prowess, but more importantly, his size and length will be needed to defend against Joel Embiid. Accessing a fantasy ceiling is unlikely for Horford, but the floor should be relatively high due to being on the court a ton.
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