Congratulations, you made it all the way through Opening Night and you didn’t do anything crazy with your roster.
There isn’t anything to get all riled up about. Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis battled and the results made a lot of sense. Curry and his teammates want to send a message to the league and Davis and his teammates are just trying to stay healthy. Efficiency problems for the Brow were the heavy favorite last night.
Besides, the true test of your strength will come tonight when the rest of the league gets down and your Twitter feed really starts flying.
There is going to be a lot of noise in the next 24-48 hours. People will be trying to quote various stats like they actually mean something and generally making fools out of themselves like they just had their first beer. Your job is to take the noise and turn it on its head. Keep a pad and paper and actually write down the things people are overreacting about and get those trade offers fired up. Add or drop – or don’t add or drop – these next days and weeks are maybe the most important of the year.
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I also did 30 team previews interviewing beat writers and getting the inside scoop on things that should matter to fantasy owners. They’ll be old news pretty soon here but for now they still have some good nuggets. They’re all on one page right here.
CURRY TAKES ROUND 1 AGAINST DAVIS FOR TOP FANTASY HONORS
Stephen Curry: 40 points, 14-of-26 FGs, five treys, 7-of-7 FTs, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals
Anthony Davis: 18 points, 4-of-20 FGs, zero treys, 10-of-15 FTs, six rebounds, two assists, three blocks
If this is as bad as it gets for Davis, sign me up. As you know, I had Curry over Davis and opted to change that after seeing how Davis was being deployed by New Orleans in the preseason. I’m not sure how the Pelicans got so much hype this offseason, because their injury and depth issues were as obvious as obvious gets, and I’m not sure more is actually more with Davis. Opposing teams are going to be all over him while they’re not at full strength. When players bury the needle in the red it generally doesn’t do a whole lot for their overall value, and I’m interested to see what the long-term trend is here. In other words, if you own Davis you’re rooting for him to get his guys back and fast.
Curry is another guy whose ceiling as an NBA player isn’t set in stone, so don’t be surprised if he starts doing things that put him in rare historic company.
The biggest takeaway from this game was Ish Smith’s 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting, two rebounds, nine assist, three steals and one trey. First off, he’s among the biggest indictments of Sam Hinkie’s run in Philly, as Hinkie gave away K.J. McDaniels for Isaiah Canaan after KJ wouldn’t take one of Hinkie’s oddball (lowball) deals. Canaan is more interested in scoring than running an NBA offense, and with all the injury issues the Sixers are waiving guaranteed money to keep guys like T.J. McConnell, because McConnell actually runs offense instead of chucking up shots.
Where was Ish Smith this offseason for the Sixers after outplaying folks in Philly? Not there. So he didn’t make a much better Washington squad and now he’s in New Orleans, showing that he can put up numbers when given the chance and as was the case with Canaan – he’s the pure point solution next to the scoring Nate Robinson. I don't think you drop season-long top-125 assets to get Smith, but unless you're stacked you probably have somebody that you can move to get in on Smith's numbers.
Robinson will struggle to stay relevant in this situation, unless the Hornets pull Ish off the floor when Jrue Holiday plays. I just don’t see a whole lot of that. They need playmaking on the floor, as evidenced by Davis’ woeful efficiency numbers last night.
HAWKS PLAY ABOUT AS WELL AS THEIR UNIFORMS LOOK; PISTONS START WITH A ROAD WIN
I’m not going to read too much into the performances here, but the Hawks’ hole at small forward is going to be tough to overcome at times. Kent Bazemore had four turnovers and a goose-egg in the scoring department, but managed seven rebounds to keep it from being a total train wreck. Jeff Teague’s actual performance wasn’t as good as his 18-point, four-rebound line would suggest, and as I tweeted the Dennis Schroder show is already in full gear. I had him at 27.5 mpg in my projections and I wanted to go higher, because he has looked damn sharp even if he’s still learning on the job. He finished with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting with four assists, three boards, two steals and two treys in 25 minutes.
If the Hawks had better depth on the wings, I’d be looking for Schroder to start eating into Teague’s minutes. But because they don’t, I think they’re going to play both guys together a lot, and yes I think Schroder should be owned in any respectable 8-cat, 12-team format. In 9-cat leagues it’s not so clear-cut.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (21 points, four treys) looked good in the preseason and though he’s still limited by a bad fantasy stat-set, owners can expect a step forward within the context of how he produces. Marcus Morris was floating around the bottom of the Bruski 150 (137/121) so the 18 points, 10 boards, four assists and one trey aren’t exactly breaking news, but they might be in your league so give him a hard look for some top-100 upside.
Andre Drummond went for 19 and 18 with three assists, one steal and two blocks, but his 6-of-16 mark from the field is the story here. The Pistons and Stan Van Gundy are trying to make him a cornerstone and encouraging him to take shots in the post. The problem is that he’s not yet good at shots in the post, so his fantasy value will continue to suffer. His valuation changes drastically from that reality to one where he just dunks and makes around two-thirds of his shots. Plan accordingly.
NEW LOOK BULLS VS. NEW LOOK CAVS
This game was played with the intensity of a Ben Stein roll call (young ones ask the old ones), but there was quite a bit of verification of what we already know. Nikola Mirotic (19 points, nine boards, one steal, 6-of-11 FGs, three treys) is going to shoot on sight and I keep hearing out of Chicago that defense just isn’t Fred Hoiberg’s thing. Props to the Bulls for taking the break-up metaphor all the way and dating Tom Thibodeau’s complete opposite. But especially with Joakim Noah (17 minutes, nine boards, four assists, one steal, zero FGAs) suffering a knee contusion already, the path to consistent minutes is there and he’s still on track to meet his ADP. He’ll need to have a lot of these types of nights in order to do that.
Derrick Rose played 32 minutes and scored 18 points with five assists, one steal and zero treys, needing 22 attempts to make eight field goals on the night. He has managed to maintain most of his lateral quickness and along with his plus-strength, I think he can still summon the gods and get some vertical going. But on the vast majority of his possessions he looks a step or two slower than past versions and his vertical is lacking. The sooner they get Rose’s volume under 15 shots per game the better off the Bulls will be.
LeBron James (25 points, 10 boards, five assists, one steal) played and think owners getting him in the eight-slot of 8-cat drafts have to be cautiously optimistic about his risk/return there. Last season the Cavs needed to quickly gel, and my gut tells me this is the year that LeBron decides he’s not ready to hand over the crown. I don’t think they’ll be stupid with his minutes or take any chances, especially as he’s already dealing with a back injury. But I do expect him to make the most of the minutes he gets and also push gently against the idea that his career is trending downward.
Kevin Love hit 6-of-17 shots with three treys, eight boards and two blocks and this Kyrie Irving absence is perfect for his development. The Cavs get a built-in chance to expand his role and if you get a minute you’ll want to take a quick look at how Chris Bosh’s numbers improved over time next to LeBron. Of course he won’t be Minnesota Love ever again, at least anytime soon.