Tonight marks the start of the 2013-2014 NBA season and I couldn’t be more excited. NBA action and daily fantasy basketball go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly……or LeBron James and MVP awards if that reference hits closer to home. Let’s not forget how different daily play is than yearly. Percentages don’t kill you, especially the free throw percentage deficient players. Dwight Howard’s combination of points, blocks and rebounds are all you care about when you play him in a daily league. On any given night, you want to avoid the best defensive players and teams if at all possible. You also obviously want to ride the hot hand, but considering this is game one, we won’t have that to go on. What we do have to go on is some trends from last year and some players with good vibes coming out of training camp. Here is a list of three players I love tonight and three that I won’t be using. All prices listed are according to Draftkings: my favorite fantasy basketball daily site.
Players I Love:
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Paul George – $9,200 – With a light night of hoops on the horizon (only three games), I love getting a superstar in my lineup. Tonight, my stud of choice is Paul George. Orlando allowed the 7th most points per game last season. They also allowed opponents to shoot the 9th highest FG% against them (46.3%). George shot a ridiculous 50% this preseason and looks to take that hot start into the regular season. Combine that with the fact that Danny Granger will still be nowhere to be found and you have yourself a must-start. By the way, George averaged almost 40 points per night on Draftkings last season.
Joakim Noah – $7,800 – Reports surfaced today that Joakim Noah may have his minutes limited tonight. I’m not buying it whatsoever. Have you ever watched Joakim Noah play, or Tom Thibodeau coach? Noah always gives 100% and Thibodeau runs his guys into the ground. They play the defending champions tonight in a game they no doubt want to win badly. I’d monitor the situation but if he plays, I’d start him. Miami’s opponents out-rebounded them by 1.5 per game last season, but that stat is deceiving. Anytime they faced off with a dominant rebounder, they had a hard time stopping them. Don’t forget Nikola Vucevic’s dominant 27 rebound performance against them. Greg Oden will not be active this game so it’s the same team they’ve been rolling with for years. Oh, and here’s a stat worth noting: Noah averaged 12 PPG and 10 REB vs the Heat in 2012-2013.
Jamal Crawford – $5,500 – Admittedly, the Clippers’ two guard position is a little more crowded this season than it was last season. Instead of an injured Chauncey Billups, this season Crawford will compete with J.J. Redick for minutes. Even so, we know Crawford can score in bunches and the match up looks ripe. Nick Young and Jodie Meeks don’t strike fear into the hearts of any opposing offensive player. Matched up against those all night, Crawford should come close to 20 points with a few threes and assists and maybe even give you a steal or two. Good enough for me at that price. Start him.
Players I Won’t Use:
Dwyane Wade – $7,500 – The whole Heat team faces a tough match up against a great defensive Chicago Bulls team. The Bulls allowed the third least amount of points in the NBA last year with 92.9 PPG. A number you may want to take a look at when considering Wade: the Bulls allowed the least amount of assists of any team last year to opponents (18.8 per game). Wade will no doubt be matched up against either Jimmy Butler or Luol Deng for the majority of the game. Deng and Butler are two of the best defensive players this league has to offer, so it may be a long night for Dwyane and most of the Heat team. For what it’s worth, Wade shot over 56% against the Bulls in the regular season last year, but Jimmy Butler wasn’t a mainstay in the rotation until later. If you want to roll with him, it will be at your own risk.
Tobias Harris – $7,400 – Speaking of great defensive teams, the Indiana Pacers actually ranked higher than the Bulls last season. They allowed the second least amount of points to opponents (90.7) just behind Memphis at #1 (89.3 PPG). As a matter of fact, they ranked first in opponents FG% per game (42.0), even edging out Memphis (who actually finished 3rd behind OKC). They allowed the second least amount of assists to opponents (which isn’t a part of Harris’ game really but worth noting). The statistic you should take note of is the Pacers allowed opponents to the 9th lowest rebounding total (40.9 per game). Their front court is led by two solid defenders in David West and Roy Hibbert. To me, the statistics all added up say avoid the Indiana Pacers whenever possible, especially with big men.
Chris Kaman – $5,500 – Sure, Kaman is the starting center for the over-publicized Los Angeles Lakers. If that entices you, please try not to let it. Kaman is a shell of his former self at age 31. Between injuries and age, Kaman’s days of consistent double-doubles are over. Tonight he gets DeAndre Jordan who is a pretty formidable defender. Even with Kobe out, I don’t think Kaman will be relied upon to pick up much scoring. If you must start a Laker big man, I would much prefer Pau Gasol who is also the league’s best passing big man.
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