This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Defense To Avoid:
Atlanta Hawks vs. Washington Wizards. The Hawks finished last season ranked sixth in points allowed (99.2), while holding opponents to a league-low 43.2 percent success rate from the field and forcing a fifth-best 15.5 turnovers per game. They also held opposing squads to 97.2 points per game at home and have upgraded their defense down low with Dwight Howard, who'll be making his hometown debut Thursday night. The Wizards certainly have viable offensive threats, but Atlanta's home-court advantage and personnel give the Hawks the edge on a small slate.
Offense To Use:
Los Angeles Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers: The Clippers will take the court at full strength after rarely doing so last season, making them a potent offense to deploy against the Blazers. Los Angeles managed a top-10 finish in points per game (104.5), despite having Blake Griffin available for only 35 games, while the Blazers surrendered a robust 104.3 points per contest with essentially the same personnel they'll roll out Thursday.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: None
Second game of a back-to-back: Celtics, Kings
DraftKings.com DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Chris Paul LAC at POR ($8,800): Paul battled a sprained thumb midway through preseason but is a full go for Thursday's opener, when he'll draw a tough matchup against Damian Lillard. The Blazers gave up 50.3 fantasy points and 22.5 actual points to opposing point guards last season, while allowing a 44.3 percent field-goal percentage to the position, which was the fifth-highest in the league. Paul averaged a solid 16.8 points and 10.0 assists across 29.8 minutes in four games against Portland last season, making him a solid play at a sub-$9K price.
Dennis Schroder ATL vs. WAS ($6,500): After two seasons as Jeff Teague's understudy, Schroder finally gets full control of the starting job. He flashed his potential throughout sporadic starting opportunities over the last couple of seasons and draws a matchup against a Wizards squad that ranked in the bottom 10 in both fantasy points (51.4) and actual points (22.8) allowed to the point guard position last season. With John Wall coming off of procedures on both knees, the speedy and athletic Schroder should be able to exploit Wall's potential limitations enough to provide a profitable return.
Allen CrabbePOR vs. LAC ($3,700): Crabbe evolved into one of the league's more productive reserve guards last season, averaging 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists, and he picked up right where he left off in Tuesday's opener. Crabbe went for 18 points, three rebounds and three assists over a robust 29 minutes, yet his price remains unchanged. Any time a player with the ability to light up the scoreboard in relatively modest playing time is priced under $4K, he's certainly worthy of consideration, particularly in what should be a plus matchup against the likes of Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers.
Blake Griffin LAC at POR ($8,600): Griffin looked outstanding during the preseason, demonstrating that he's fully recovered from last season's quad and hand injuries. He draws a solid matchup to start off the new campaign, considering the Blazers gave up a bottom-five figure of 10.9 rebounds per contest to opposing fours last season. While new power forward Al-Farouq Aminu should help improve that ranking, Griffin's next-level talent and slight size advantage over Aminu should propel him to return solid value on a price tag that's very reasonable given his upside.
Jae Crowder BOS at CHI ($5,200): Crowder won't have an easy time of it with Jimmy Butler slated to spend plenty of time on him Thursday, but his multi-category production makes him a bargain at this price. The versatile forward already got the new season off to a terrific start Wednesday with a 21-point, five-rebound, two-assist, two-steal, one-block effort and should be able to fill out the stat sheet again Thursday, despite the tough matchup.
Taj Gibson CHI vs. BOS ($4,100): Gibson displayed some improved offense in the preseason, rattling off five double-digit scoring efforts and shooting over 50 percent in each of them. The solid body of work propelled him to a relatively easy victory over Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic in the battle for the starting power forward job, and he sports a favorable price tag to kick off the regular season. While Al Horford should improve a Boston frontcourt defense that gave up the second-most points (22.5) and most rebounds (11.8) to opposing fours last season, Gibson should have ample opportunity to provide a solid return.
DeAndre Jordan LAC at POR ($7,700): Jordan ripped through the Blazers and Mason Plumlee last season, averaging 14.0 points and 16.5 rebounds over four games, with the latter figure representing his second-highest average in that category against any team. The matchup remains the same to open the Clippers' 2016-17 campaign, setting Jordan up for what should be a trademark double-double effort, at a minimum.
Mason Plumlee POR vs. LAC ($4,300): As favorable as Jordan's matchup against Plumlee has proven to be, the opposite also held true last season. Plumlee averaged 14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 steals across 25.8 minutes over four games against Jordan and the Clippers in 2015-16, with the scoring representing his best average against any team in his first season as a full-time starter. While Plumlee turned in a lackluster performance in the opener against Rudy Gobert on Tuesday, his path to production appears considerably easier Thursday, affording him a strong opportunity to provide a nice return on his bargain price.
For the latest news on injured players heading into the games, check out our Injury Updates page.