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NBA Opening Night Preview

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Dose: Big Wednesday on Fire
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Ty Lawson, LeBron and D-Wade tantalized owners as the fantasy playoffs got real on a massive Big Wednesday. …

Here are some random thoughts on the eve of opening night, but first, why don’t you come play with me at Fanduel.com?

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Basketball league on October, 30th. It's $10 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts October 30th at 7pm ET. Here's the link.

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Favorite Draft Targets

I was recently accused of having the same team in all my leagues, which I think is a good thing.  Guys I have been targeting consistently in my drafts Paul George, Anthony Davis, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Monta Ellis, O.J. Mayo, Bradley Beal, Eric Bledsoe, Victor Oladipo, Enes Kanter, Caron Butler and Omri Casspi.

Not only did I cut my number of leagues down below 10 this year, but by taking a lot of the same players over and over, I may actually be able to keep track of who I should be rooting for each night.  And yes, my teams are either all going to be really good, or it’s going to be a disastrous year by having all my eggs in one basket. 

Opening Week

If you play in a weekly league I’m guessing you already know that the Lakers, Heat and Magic all play four times in Week 1, while the Nuggets play just two games.

It’s early, but injuries are already a huge factor around the league. When looking at just those four teams, owners of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Tobias Harris, Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler already have things to be concerned about.

Kobe could be out until Thanksgiving, but that’s just a guess on our part. The truth is, no one knows when he’s going to play again.  But since I was in the camp that believed he would be back for opening night, I’m going to guess he doesn’t miss more than a few weeks of the regular season, and maybe less.

Nash is a mess, currently hampered by a neck injury and hasn’t made it through a single full practice yet, so there is no way I would draft him in any league right now. In fact, I like targeting Jordan Farmar at the end of my drafts, because my guess is Nash might not make it through the season. And even if he does, he’s going to be getting a lot of down time.

Harris’ ankle sprain doesn’t seem to be going away and he’ll miss Tuesday’s opener, and possibly Wednesday’s game as well. If I own him, I’m benching him for Week 1.  Glen Davis isn’t ready yet, meaning Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless should be leaned on heavily this week.

Lawson’s groin injury will leave him more doubtful than iffy for Wednesday’s opener, while it sounds like Kenneth Faried is good to go. Wilson Chandler is working on getting his hamstring ready for opening night, but it doesn’t sound like he’s playing.  The Nuggets only play twice in Week 1, so I would recommend benching all of them in weekly leagues.

Team-by-Team Injury Concerns For Week 1

It sounds like Paul Millsap (Achilles) and Al Horford (hamstring) are set to play for the Hawks in the opener.

Center Vitor Faverani returned to Celtics practice on Sunday and Monday after his back MRI was negative. He blew up late in the preseason, looks like their starting center and is a fun way to blow a last-round pick in most leagues, but his back is a bit of a concern.  Gerald Wallace was in a walking boot on Thursday but practiced with the starters on Monday, along with Jeff Green (forearm).  All three should be good to go this week.  The starting five is looking like Avery Bradley, Green, Wallace, Brandon Bass and Faverani. 

For Brooklyn, Paul Pierce was limited with a toe injury on Monday but is expected to play, while Andrei Kirilenko is still iffy for the opener with a back injury.  Deron Williams dunked over the weekend and got Monday off, but as far as I can tell, he’ll play in the opener despite his sprained ankle.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is dealing with a hamstring injury but it’s not thought to be serious, while Al Jefferson practiced through his ankle injury on Monday and looks like a go for the Bobcats on Wednesday.

Bulls center Joakim Noah says he’s playing through his groin injury on Tuesday, while Kirk Hinrich is iffy with a concussion. Hinrich shouldn’t be in most fantasy lineups, either way.

Cavs center Andrew Bynum actually practiced on Sunday and while he still hasn’t been cleared to play, it’s possible he could see action in Wednesday’s game. But he’s not a guy you want in your lineup until he’s proven that he can play.  Jarrett Jack is still not at full strength, but should have a big role in Cleveland.  I like burning a late pick on him in most leagues.

Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey was held out of contact in Monday’s practice leaving him iffy for the opener with a broken thumb. Bench him until you see him play. Brandon Jennings will miss at least the first four games of the season with a fractured jaw.

David Lee should be over his illness in time for the opener for the Warriors, while Harrison Barnes doesn’t sound likely to suit up for Wednesday night due to a foot injury.

Dwight Howard left Monday’s Rockets practice after being poked in the eye but it’s unlikely it would keep him from playing. Just watch for updates.  James Harden’s knee injury doesn’t sound serious and I expect him to go.

Danny Granger has been shut down for three weeks making Lance Stephenson the starting shooting guard in Indy.  Stephenson is worth owning in most leagues, in my opinion.

Brandon Knight practiced on Monday and should be good to go for the Bucks, despite a hamstring injury.  Ersan Ilyasova, who deems himself at “80 percent’” practiced on Monday but his status for the opener is still up in the air.  You can probably find a safer player to start.

Minnesota’s starting center, Nikola Pekovic, is dealing with a quad injury, but it’s not serious and he should be good to go.

Iman Shumpert missed Knicks practice on Monday due to soreness, and we’re guessing it’s related to his elbow.  With J.R. Smith suspended for five games, the Knicks need Shumpert to play, so I expect to see him out there on Wednesday.  Kenyon Martin and Amare Stoudemire could play in the opener, but I really don’t see any reason to own either player at this point.  They’re going to be hurt off and on all year and will see limited minutes when healthy enough to play.  There's also talk that Metta World Peace will start over Andrea Bargnani, who has struggled offensively and plays no defense.  MWP is worth a late look, as is Bargnani.

OKC’s Russell Westbrook will miss at least the first month of the season as Reggie Jackson will fill in for him.  But you already knew that.

Alex Len’s ankle injury isn’t serious and he should be good to go, but Miles Plumlee is now the starting center for the Suns.  Markieff Morris is suspended for the opener, meaning he’ll only play two games this week.  Channing Frye should get plenty of touches in the opener.

Wesley Matthews should start for the Blazers after being cleared from a heart problem.

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry will play with a splint on his broken finger.  He should be able to be effective despite the injury, but the splint will take some getting used to.

I hope you had a good drafting experience this year.  Good luck!

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