Our opening night slate of two games features league champions and perennial contenders, the perfect cocktail of ingredients to get our feet wet for the upcoming season. Thereís plenty of value in the backcourt, but itís in the frontcourt where we need to pay the piper. While it probably isnít much of a danger on opening night, remember to check your lineups for resting players at the last minute!
Chris Paul, HOU AT GS ($40): Itís tempting to spend up with Harden, but Paul is the better play here at $40. With the insertion of an elite point guard like the former Clipper, you have to first analyze the potential effect he has on Hardenís value. Itís almost a foregone conclusion that Hardenís assist count will take a hit, but itís too soon to tell if it makes much of a difference. While both Harden and Paul are solid chalk plays, the value lies with Paul in this matchup as he stakes his claim at the point for the Rockets.
Kyrie Irving, BOS at CLE ($38): Irving finally finds himself exactly where he wants to be Ė as the marquee player with no LeBron-esque shadow present. Heíll be given every opportunity to succeed in Boston, and with little competition behind him he should spend most of the evening on the floor despite some minor injuries that limited his minutes in the preseason.
Guard to Avoid
Dwyane Wade, CLE vs. BOS ($22): Iím not completely down on Wade, but with Isaiah Thomas sidelined, conventional wisdom says that Derrick Rose will reap the most benefits from his absence. Wade is going to post some respectable stat lines without Thomas in the lineup, but Iím not sold on him meeting his value, even at $22. The Isaiah-free Cavsí biggest storyline will be Rose vs. Wade, and the safer bet in terms of output will be Rose in the short term.
Kevin Durant, GS vs. HOU ($45): For this slate, youíre spending up at forward. Tuesdayís options simply arenít deep enough to hunt for value at this position, so youíre going to take the undisputed best player at the position with LeBron listed as questionable Ė thatís Durant. He packs stat lines with points, assists, blocks, threes Ė he will meet his value at $45 if he plays enough minutes, and Coach Steve Kerr will want to flex his considerable offensive muscle early.
Jae Crowder, CLE vs. BOS ($16): Crowder begins the season at an extreme discount, and will be a great value play whenever LeBron James fails to suit up. Even if the King gets on the floor tonight he could be limited, which gives Crowder a great opportunity to exceed value at a dirt-cheap $16. Rostering him will also give you license to spend up elsewhere. Monitor Jamesí situation if you want to go this way.
Other forwards to consider: Kevin Love vs. BOS ($33), Gordon Hayward vs. CLE ($32)
FORWARD TO AVOID
Draymond Green, GS vs. HOU ($35): Coach Steve Kerr isnít intimidated by the NBAís new strong-arm policy for resting players, but Green will definitely be held back in this matchup. Heís battling a back strain and is currently listed as a game-time decision. While he comes into the season $10 cheaper than Durant, Green is a risk-reward play on this slate.
Clint Capela, HOU at GS ($18): Capela is poised to be the lucky recipient of all those delicious assists coming from Houstonís new-look backcourt. He had ridiculous value throughout the 2016 campaign and he wonít be a sleeper this year Ė it could be a career year for Capela in this offense. Although Nene is breathing down his neck for playing time, the 23-year-old center is the undisputed starter.
Al Horford, BOS at CLE ($26): With only two games on the slate, your options here are fairly limited. Iím inclined to give the utility spot to a guard, but fielding two centers isnít a bad play either. Horford has a neutral matchup against Cleveland Ė he only averaged nine points and six rebounds per game across three matchups against the Cavs last year. If there were more games on the slate, he wouldnít be a start here, but heís the best choice behind Capela tonight.
CENTER TO AVOID
Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee GS vs. HOU ($10): Both Zaza and JaVale McGee are sub-par picks on this slate, as Clint Capela is expected to win this battle inside. Granted, both could be in line to exceed value at $10, but Iím staying away when I can spend a little more elsewhere. They could qualify to be a GPP punt play if youíre really spending up elsewhere, but thatís about it.
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