Steve Alexander

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NBA Opening Night Preview

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Opening night in the NBA is here and there are three games on the slate on Tuesday night.  For those of you in weekly leagues, the Lakers play four games this week, while the Wizards, Magic, Sixers, Bobcats, Hawks, Nets, Timberwolves, Bucks and Grizzlies play just two games.  The other teams all play three times in Week 1.


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The Wizards visit the Cavaliers, which you can see on League Pass tonight, as the first week is a free preview.  


Washington will be without John Wall, while Bradley Beal will make his NBA debut after a very quiet preseason.  The starting lineup looks like A.J. Price, Beal, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker and Emeka Okafor.  Not exactly an intimidating lineup, eh? Beal is going to be a force some day, but he’s not a must-start player right now, despite the fact he’s starting over Jordan Crawford.  Price is your starting point guard (and deep fantasy sleeper) until Wall is back, while Booker is worth keeping a close eye on with Nene still out with his foot injury.  Price, Booker and back up center Kevin Seraphin are all worth a close look in 12-team leagues and I’m anxious to see them play tonight. Crawford’s fantasy value took a hit with the arrival of Beal, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t lead the team in scoring until Wall is back, despite coming off the bench.  Ariza will start at small forward and is another guy worth a look if you drafted a player you want to cut.  Then again, Ariza might even be that guy.


The Cavs are expected to start Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.  Irving has the weight of the world on his shoulders and is expected to carry the team this season.  Let’s hope he’s up to the challenge.  Gee will start over C.J. Miles, which is a story that’s changed a couple times, and Gee is back on my super-sleeper list. If you’re team is lacking blocks, Thompson might be a nice, early pick up, while I’m expecting a lot of double-doubles from Varejao.  Waiters is a wild card and is not a guy I’m interested in having in my starting lineup just yet.


Game 2 features the Celtics visiting the Heat, where they’ll watch LeBron and company collect their rings.  This game is on TNT and should be interesting, as Ray Allen will face his former team, who now refers to him as “No. 20” instead of by name.


Jason Terry makes his Celtics debut and was a favorite late draft target of mine this year.  We still aren’t sure if he’ll start over Courtney Lee or not, but I am expecting Terry to play a ton of minutes, including backing up Rajon Rondo at PG.  Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett will likely round out the lineup, while Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green are popular deep-fantasy sleepers off the Celtics bench.  Bass is being ignored in 12-team leagues, but as long as he has he starting job at PF, he’s probably worth owning.  The Celtics lineup remains a mystery, as Doc Rivers isn’t sharing, but my guess is that Terry and Bass will join Rondo, Pierce and KG as the starters.


The Heat will likely start Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.  Obviously, there’s a ton of fantasy talent here, although Chalmers, who was injured for much of the preseason, might be available in your league.  I doubt Battier is worth owning in most.  Mike Miller looked good at the end of the preseason and I won’t be surprised if he’s more productive than Rashard Lewis off the bench, at least until he gets hurt.


The late game, also on TNT, has the Mavericks visiting the Lakers in L.A. 


The Mavericks are without Dirk Nowitzki (knee surgery) and will likely start Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder, and possibly even Eddy Curry at center.  If Curry doesn’t get the call at C, Elton Brand looks like the obvious choice, as Chris Kaman is not expected to play due to a calf injury.  I love Crowder and took him with the last pick in most of my drafts.  He consistently hit double digits in scoring in the preseason, can hit 3-pointers and block shots.  If he’s available in your league and you have someone to cut, make the move.  I’m also expecting a bounce-back season from Collison, big things from Mayo, and Marion should have a nice run with Dirk and Kaman hurting.  As for Eddy Curry, starting or not, I’m not picking him up unless he simply goes nuts.  And that’s not likely to happen.  Brand is a must-own player given all the injuries in Dallas.


For the Lakers, you already know that Kobe Bryant is a game-time decision due to a strained left foot.  My guess is he’ll play, but it’s far from a guarantee.  Steve Nash, Jodie Meeks (if Kobe is out), Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are expected to start for the Lakers tonight. 


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Injury News


Danny Granger’s knee will keep him sidelined indefinitely and it sounds like knee surgery is a real possibility.  This is terrible news if you drafted him, while Gerald Green will likely see a big boost in his absence.  Pick Green up if you have room.  George Hill’s hip injury isn’t likely to keep him out of the opener and we expect him to start at PG for the Pacers.


Amare Stoudemire is basically in the same boat for the Knicks and isn’t expected to play for six weeks.  Little known Chris Copeland could be the new starter at PF and is worth a flier in some leagues.  At least put him on your radar. Update: Stoudemire will miss 6-8 weeks after getting his knee cleaned up. If you feel like you have to cut him, it probably means you have to cut him. 


It sounds like Kirk Hinrich plans on playing in the opener for the Bulls and is a sleeper point guard with Derrick Rose out indefinitely.


Danilo Gallinari has a bum ankle and is iffy for opening night for the Nuggets.


Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut are both dealing with ankle problems, but it sounds like Curry will play in the Warriors’ opener, while Bogut’s status is unclear.


Kevin Love is out for at least the first 10 games of the season for Minnesota due to a broken hand.  Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko and Chase Budinger will all see a boost with him out, while Derrick Williams will get some run off the bench.  Budinger was fantastic in the preseason and is worth owning in all leagues until Love is back. I don’t expect to see Ricky Rubio until January due to his knee injury, making Luke Ridnour relevant for the Wolves.


Eric Gordon’s knee has him iffy for Week 1 so keep him benched until you (finally) hear some good news on him.


Andrew Bynum’s knee should keep him out of Philly’s lineup for Week 1 and he should also be benched until further notice.


Wesley Matthews has missed the last few practices with a knee injury and is iffy for Portland’s opener.


Enjoy opening night and here’s to hoping your fantasy season gets off to a hot start!

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for and a contributor to The 2014-15 NBA season marks his 13th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
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