There are few things in this world I love more than a good NBA narrative. It’s a League in which players are on the move and personalities are big, so feelings gets hurt often and friendships are broken. We also get a lot of feel-good spots for players as well. Facing your former team or a close friend is always fun. Facing an enemy or broken relationship even more fun. So with the NBA releasing the schedule for the first half of the 2020-21 season, we’re going to go over some of the top narrative and revenge games to look forward to for the first couple months.
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 26 in Houston
Narrative: Russell Westbrook and John Wall facing former teams
The big trade of the offseason came closer to the start of the season with Russell Westbrook being shipped to the Wizards for John Wall and a first-round pick. This came after Westbrook — and fellow superstar James Harden — requested trades out of Houston. It appears Harden is staying put, so we get the Westbrook vs. Harden matchup again. This is a very complex narrative. Westbrook and Harden were teammates on the Thunder briefly before The Beard was traded to the Rockets. Then, Westbrook lands in Houston with Harden again. Now, Westbrook (just a year later) is traded again.
Here are the stat lines for Russ in two games vs. OKC last season:
10/28 — 21 points, 9 assists, 12 rebounds
1/9 — 34 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds
As for Wall, he’s been a Wizard his entire career, so this will likely be a very emotional game for him. He also hasn’t played in a while due to that Achilles injury. We’ll see how hard he goes to show out against Bradley Beal and his former teammates. This is normally a spot where — with the double narrative — we stack up both guards in DFS.
Los Angeles Clipper vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 22 in L.A. on TNT
Narrative: Montrezl Harrel vs. LAC, Battle for L.A.
I mentioned that this game was already announced and will be on the opening night doubleheader on TNT. Last season, we got an amazing battle on Christmas Day. This year, we kick off the season with the same matchup, which has a new wrinkle to it: Harrell facing his old team. The reigning 6th Man of the Year left the Clips to sign with the defending champs in free agency.
What makes Harrell leaving even more interesting is all the reports surrounding the Clippers’ chemistry issues. I’m not saying Harrell is the player who was upset of the treatment of Kawhi and Paul George. He very well could be, though. If that is the case, Harrell will be a fun target in DFS for the Lakers in Showdown. Value captain much?
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 22 in Brooklyn
Narrative: Kevin Durant first game back, playing former team
The last time we saw KD in a game was in the 2019 NBA playoffs. He ruptured his Achilles and sat out all of 2019-20 after signing with the Nets last offseason. Durant probably could have came back early, but why rush it? So we should get fully healthy KD in a revenge game of sorts against the Warriors. Not like there was bad blood between the two sides. If anything, we’ll see more motivation from Stephen Curry and Draymond Green after Durant decided not to stick around after winning a few championships.
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 27 in Phoenix
Narrative: Chris Paul first game vs. former team
Not much bad blood here, but if you’ve watched CP3 throughout his career, you know he’s a gamer. Any chance to stick it to a former team that traded him, he’s going to take advantage of. Paul joins a up-and-coming Suns squad with playoff goals. He could be the key piece to get Phoenix back to the postseason. The Thunder are in a full-blown rebuild and I’m sure CP3 will want to show them what they’re missing.
CP3 stats last season against the Rockets after trade:
First-round playoff stats: 21.3 points, 5.3 assists, 7.4 rebounds in seven games
10/28 — 15 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds
1/9 — 18 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds
Paul was much better against his former team in the postseason, when the games mattered the most. You can argue he has a lot more to work with talent-wise on Phoenix than in OKC, so if anything we should see higher assist totals and maybe some late-game heroics if it isn’t a blowout. That would be the only thing scaring me away from using CP3 in DFS.
Narrative: Serge Ibaka/Kawhi revenge
This isn’t so much a revenge game for Kawhi and Serge, it’s more of a revenge game for the entire Raptors squad after watching their buddies leave to go to L.A. So we’re going to flip the script a bit here. My guess is we see some solid play out Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, as well as Norman Powell and OG Anunoby. I also like Chris Boucher a lot. He’s getting some hype for Most Improved Player this season, similar to Siakam a few years ago. Leonard is basically emotion-less, so I’d expect more of a response from Ibaka in his first game against Toronto.