Welcome back to another NBA Season with analysis by yours truly! On short slates, as we have today on the opening day of the NBA, I will do my best to get a small break-down of the games on the slate, and give a bit of analysis about the game and who I will be looking to target. The Quick Bricks Podcast will be back this season as well, along with the trademarked, and highly coveted “Roster Monster”! Hope everyone enjoyed the pod last season. I will also be contributing NBA content over @FantasyAlarm as well as here @FantasyDegens. I am totally stoked to get this season kicked off, so let’s get to it!

Game 1: New Orleans Pelicans @ Toronto Raptors (Total: 231.5, Spread: TOR –7)

Analysis: Here we have the Pelicans, sans their rookie phenom Zion Williamson, traveling into The Six to not only clash with the Raptors, but take part in the Raptors Championship Ring Ceremony held pre-game. Obviously, there will always be talks of teams being in a “hangover” from winning the ship the year before, but let’s not read too awful far into that. What we do know is that the Raptors will be playing some new faces, in the event of the departure of Kawhi Leonard. If you read my Eastern Conf Ranks, you know I am not as high on the Raptors, but they are still a solid team. The Pelicans also come into tonight’s game with a ton of new faces, as the trade between the Pels and Lakers brought in Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. SOO, let’s chat about players in this game.

Both teams here ran in the top 5 for PACE during the preseason, as the Raps came in tied for 2nd with the Bucks at 111.00, and the Pelicans topped out at 5th with a 110.40 PACE. So, you see that both teams are going to want to get up and run, and therefore this game has a total of 231.5. Now, a big part of the Pels PACE was Zion, so that needs to be considered. They will be left a bit short-handed in terms of pace at the 4 and 5 due to not having Zion, but not to worry, Lonzo and Co. will be just fine. Now, let’s talk about plays for this game. First and foremost, the main plays from the Pelicans will include: Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, and Brandon Ingram.  Lonzo didn’t garner a whole ton of usage in the preseason, only avg 18.8% on an avg of 22.7 mins played, but he made his money in asst% at 28.7%, as well as in PACE running at 112.43. Brandon Ingram was main beneficiary of usage from the starting crew (other than Zion) at a 26.2% clip, and I high expect to see this continue into the regular season without Zion. Ingram is an excellent ball-handler who loves getting iso’ed against smaller, weaker defensive opponents, and this will lead to more drives in the lane. Ingram also fills the sheet as he is great defensively with his wingspan grabbing steals and blocks as well, not to mention his rebounding (10.3% TOT REB in pre). Next, Jrue Holiday, and I know I did these two backwards with he and Ingram, but I like these three the most. Jrue ran at the fastest PACE this preseason for the Pels at 116.09. This alone will equate into many transition baskets for these guys, as the all run with above avg PACE. Jrue was highly efficient in the preseason as well with a 26.3 AST%, 21.7 AST/TO ratio, and shot an admirable 65.9 TS%. 

Onto the Raptors side of the ball, the main Plays I will be targeting here are Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Marc Gasol. I will start with Gasol, mainly because I believe his match up should garner quite a bit of attention, as he will likely be getting Derrick Favors down low. I love Favors, but I find this a bit of a mismatch as Gasol is such a crafty Big, that Favors should have a little bit of trouble staying with Marc. Gasol also can shoot the 3-pointer as well, so I really like the upside that Gasol brings tonight. Pascal Siakam is my next favorite here, as he ran with a team high 29.3% usage rate through the offseason. Siakam is the focal point of this team now the departure of Leonard, and look for the Raps to run their offense through him as well. Siakam is the all-around stud player, who also just got a max extension on his contract. He managed a lofty 25.0 AST%, 16.4 REB%, 59.1 TS%, and a 115.84 PACE during the preseason, which makes him not just a great play tonight, but one to target early and often in daily fantasy. Lastly, Kyle Lowry is my other favorite play for Raptors tonight. Lowry saw 23.1% usage in the preseason, he is mainly known for his passing, garnering a 26.1 AST%, and we have seen on multiple occasions that he can be a double-double threat alone with points and assists, but when his grabbing a few boards, a few steals, and a block or so, it can really start piling up fantasy points. 

Values: Raptors- Serge Ibaka, Fred Van Vleet, Norman Powell

Pelicans- Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jahlil Okafor, JJ Redick

Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers @ Los Angeles Clippers (Total: 224, Spead: LAL –3.5)

Analysis: Here we see the Lakers and the Clippers in a very early preview into what could be a potential playoff matchup in just the first game of the season for both teams in a very daunting Western Conference show-down. I don’t expect this game to see near as much PACE as the first game, but this game should have more usage of its main players, if that makes sense. The Lakers ranked 23rd in terms of PACE for the preseason, where the Clippers ranked 11th. I expect this game to not have a ton of transition, but more so set up half-court sets and run through their impact players. The Staples Center is going to be rockin tonight, and for good reason, we get to watch LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi Leonard all play on the same floor! I expect this game to have some key matchups, and some very favorable matchups as well. So, with that being said, let’s start with the Lakers.

For the Lakers, my main plays will include Anthony Davis, and LeBron James. No need to make anyone else on this Laker team an anchor part of your core tonight other than these two. LBJ and AD will run this offense. They will get the ball most times in iso, or in transition. LBJ garnered a lofty 28.4 usage rate in the preseason, while amassing a 44.6 AST%!!!, and grabbing nearly 10 REB%. We know he will near it, or get a triple-double on most nights. Davis saw 26.3% usage on the preseason, with a 25.0 AST%, 14 REB%, and an 88.9 TS%! Both players do not turn the ball over that much, and both options have a PIE, (player impact estimate) over 19%! Look for these two to be the main focus once again.

For the Clippers, my main plays will be Kawhi Leonard, Montrezl Harrell, and Lou Williams. We all know that Kawhi is going to be the floor general here in LA, just as he was in TOR, just as he was in SA. That’s just the player he is. He desires, and demands the ball, and he’s damn good with it too. Will be get Avery Bradley? Maybe. Do I think that this matters much? Slightly, but will it take me or you, or your uncle Vinny off playing Kawhi? Absolutely not. Kawhi only avg 16.1 mpg in 2 games this preseason, and his usage rate was 37.3%. If that gives you some context into how much they want the ball in his hands when he is on the floor. Montrezel Harrell is going to be a beast once again this season. He saw 22.5 mins on avg during the preseason, and carried a hefty 27.0 Usage% as well. Dished out dimes at a 20.0% clip, grabbed 11.4% of TOT REB, and also had the 2nd highest PIE at 20.7 (second to Lou Williams at 21.1). Look for Montrezel to continue to be that guy for the Clippers. Finally, Sweet Lou. Lou avg 16.6 mpg during the preseason and saw an even larger usage share at 30.1%. Lou is the scoring factor off the bench. He is going to be the go-to mostly in the clutch. That is what he is there for. Look for him to take 15+ FG attempts and 6-8 of these to be 3-pt attempts. He can also dish the rock, as he accounted for a 30.3 AST% in the preseason, so that is another dynamic I think he really started to get good at during the end of last season, not to mention being pretty much the most impactful player for this Clippers team.

Values: LakersDwight Howard, Quin Cook, Rajon Rondo, Javale McGee

ClippersIvica Zubac, JaMychal Green, Mo Harkless, Landry Shamet, Jerome Robinson  

Hope you enjoyed the game break-downs, and as always GOOD LUCK!
Find me on Twitter @Smitchell17, shoot a tweet or DM if you would like to discuss!