The long-awaited tip-off of the 2016-17 NBA season finally arrives Tuesday night, and though the slate is small, itís certainly not short on star power. The league rolls out many of its brightest stars to kick things off, including LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant. With plenty to pay up for, hereís a look at where top dollar might best be spent, as well as some value that can help fit in a couple studs:
Stephen Curry, GSW vs. SAS ($53): While Curryís production could well be in for a slight hit across the board due to the arrival of Kevin Durant, opening night doesnít figure to be when that will start to manifest. Curry draws a favorable matchup against a Spurs team that was up-and-down against point guards last season, surrendering 41.55 fantasy points and 20.5 actual points per game. He was solid against San Antonio specifically, averaging 28.8 points, 5.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game in four appearances. Meanwhile, Durant figures to have his hands full with the defense of Kawhi Leonard, which should make matters a bit more difficult than usual and provide Curry with an uptick in opportunities.
Kyrie Irving, CLE vs. NYK ($35): Irving seems priced to move in a matchup against Derrick Rose, who missed most of preseason while tending to legal matters. Roseís defense is already suspect to begin with, as evidenced by the fact that the Bulls squad he started 66 games for last season gave up the fourth-most fantasy points (45.77) and ninth-most assists (8.60) per games to point guards. Irving should log more than enough minutes to provide a nice return at what is a more than reasonable price for a player of his caliber.
Guard to Avoid
Derrick Rose, NYK at CLE ($25): Rose missed all but one game of the preseason while tending to a civil lawsuit, but he reportedly wonít be on any minutes restriction on opening night. Whether that holds true remains to be seen, but even with a full allotment of playing time, Rose gets his Knicks career started with a tough matchup against the defending NBA champs. He struggled in four games versus Cleveland last season, managing only 38.2 percent shooting from the field on an average of 19 shot attempts per game. With Rodney Hood ($22), George Hill ($19) and Tony Parker ($18) all available at a savings to Rose, he becomes an avoid target.
LeBron James, CLE vs. NYK ($52): After a strong preseason, James will get right to the business of defending the Cavsí NBA title on his home court against a Knicks squad that he averaged 26.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 37 minutes per game against in four starts last season. While the Knicks were above average against small forwards last season, James transcends matchup and offers plenty across the stat sheet. Simply put, he could be one of the safest plays on a particularly small slate.
Trey Lyles, UTA at POR ($11): Derrick Favors continues to look very iffy because of a knee injury, making Lyles a potential steal at just above minimum price. Even if Favors is able to go, his playing time would very likely be limited, providing Lyles an opportunity to flash some of the same production he did last season while starting 33 games. The talented big man boasts a diverse skill set, making him a threat both close to and away from the basket, with the latter most recently evidenced by his stellar 45.8 percent success rate from beyond the arc in the preseason. Portland also allowed 10.9 rebounds per game last season to power forwards, furthering Lylesí case.
Forward to Avoid
Draymond Green, GSW vs. SAS ($44): Kevin Durantís arrival in Golden State is likely to affect Greenís production the most, and this was evident during preseason, when he averaged only 5.8 points on 5.2 shots per game. There simply arenít enough scoring opportunities with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Durant dominating such a significant market share of the offense, yet Green remains priced based on his much more prominent role from last season. With the likes of Kawhi Leonard ($42), Carmelo Anthony ($41), LaMarcus Aldridge ($34) and Kevin Love ($34) all available for less, Green appears particularly overpriced in a tough matchup.
Rudy Gobert, UTA at POR ($23): Gobert proclaimed that he focused heavily on his shooting over the offseason, and the extra work appeared to pay dividends in the preseason. The Stifle Tower hit 77.5 percent of his 40 free-throw attempts and 68.6 percent of his shots from the field during the exhibition slate, a notable improvement over the 56.9 and 55.9 numbers he had last season, respectively. He now draws a tantalizing matchup to kick off the new campaign, as Portland gave up the third-most fantasy points (50.46), third-most points (22.1) and fifth-most blocks (2.5) to centers last season, along with 15.0 rebounds per game.
Center to Avoid
Mason Plumlee, POR vs. UTA ($23): Plumlee will be banging with Rudy Gobert down low throughout the night, a tough assignment for anyone. The Jazz limited centers to a second-best 18.0 points per game last season, as well as a third-best 13.2 rebounds. Plumlee averaged a lowly 7.5 points in 26.3 minutes per game in four appearances against Utah last season, and though heís always a safe bet for some rebounds, he figures to have his hands full against an improved Gobert and a stingy Jazz defense that tends to slow the pace considerably.