The 2017-18 NBA season kicks off with a spectacular made-for-TV twin-bill that features the return of Kyrie Irving to Cleveland in a Celtics uniform. Meanwhile, the second contest of the night should keep the scoreboard operator busy, given how Rockets-Warriors showdowns have typically unfolded in recent seasons. With such a star-studded two-game slate, let’s break down where the some of the best value lies across the salary scale Tuesday.
Stephen Curry, GS vs. HOU ($16,300): Curry averaged 27.0 points, 6.0 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals in four contests versus the Rockets last season. He also went for a solid line of 19 points, six assists, four rebounds and seven steals in the one game against the Clippers when he faced off against Chris Paul, who he’ll see plenty of Tuesday. While Paul figures to make him earn his numbers, Curry averaged 26.2 points, 6.6 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals at Oracle Arena last season while shooting 49.8 percent from the field, including a stellar 46.6 percent from behind the arc.
Kyrie Irving, BOS at CLE ($15,300): Irving gets to tangle with his old squad right from the jump and draws a favorable matchup against Derrick Rose, who he enjoyed success against in two games last season. Irving averaged 26.0 points (on 55.3 percent shooting), 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds on the two occasions when he drew Rose as his primary defender while the latter was with the Knicks. Isaiah Thomas sported a 34.2 percent usage rate at point guard in this Celtics offense last season, and as the new centerpiece of the unit, Irving should certainly have the ball in his hands more than enough to return value on his price.
Derrick Rose, CLE vs. BOS ($9,800): Rose is priced right on the other side of this matchup against Irving, considering that the latter contributed heavily to the Cavaliers allowing averages of 23.2 points, 9.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals to point guards last season. Rose enjoyed a resurgent campaign in the Big Apple last year and compiled over 30 fantasy points in nine of his last 14 games before being shut down.
Kevin Durant, GS vs. HOU ($17,700): Durant punished the Rockets last season for averages of 35.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 steals in two regular-season contests, with the scoring figure representing his highest against any team. Moreover, despite Trevor Ariza’s reputation as a solid defender, Houston still gave up the third-most points per contest to small forwards last season (21.9 on 47.1 percent shooting), along with 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals. Durant brings 50-fantasy-point upside on any given night and averaged 48.43 fantasy points per contest last season.
Draymond Green, GS vs. HOU ($13,300): Green is another member of the Warriors who enjoyed success versus the Rockets last season, averaging 15.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.8 steals over four games. Houston started the season doing an above-average job defending power forwards, but they wrapped up the campaign allowing averages of 20.6 points (on an NBA-high 49.7 percent shooting), 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks to the position. Green’s ability to stuff the stat sheet enabled him to average 37.25 fantasy points per game last season and score no less than 30.50 and as many as 66.0 fantasy points in 17 postseason contests.
Jayson Tatum, BOS at CLE ($7,400): Jae Crowder ($8,500) is intriguing as a value play as well, but Tatum is priced right for a player who should see plenty of minutes while drawing the start at power forward in place of Marcus Morris (knee). Tatum provided a glimpse of his upside with averages of 18.2 points and 8.9 rebounds in six games of Summer League play and can certainly contribute across the stat sheet, which should enable him to pay off a reasonable price.
LeBron James, CLE vs. BOS ($18,300): James is questionable with an ankle injury but is expected to play, and would draw a one-on-one matchup he’s enjoyed plenty of success in previously. LeBron averaged 31.0 points (on 57.5 percent shooting), 8.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.0 steals against the Jazz last season with Gordon Hayward as his primary defender, and he generated similarly strong numbers in previous seasons during the latter’s Utah tenure. James also shot a blistering 56.3 percent at home last season and sported a 34.3 percent usage rate without Irving on the floor, providing a glimpse of how busy he might be this season with the latter now in Boston.
Clint Capela, HOU at GS ($11,100): Capela capitalized against the Warriors’ questionable defense against centers last season, averaging 15.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 blocks across a modest 25.5 minutes over four games. Golden State finished the regular season allowing averages of 21.1 points, 14.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals to fives, and Capela is coming off a strong finish to preseason where he racked up double-digit scoring in three of his last four contests and hauled in 12 rebounds in the other game during that span. Capela had a solid 21.1 percent usage rate last season and could be set up for even more scoring opportunities this season while sharing the floor with a ball distributor the caliber of Chris Paul.