Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans played at the fastest pace in the NBA last season, and they continued that space in their first game this season, scoring 131 points against the Houston Rockets. New Orleans gets a matchup against the Sacramento Kings, who ranked last in the NBA in pace last season. With that being said, they played at a significantly faster pace in the preseason, and continued that in their first game against the Utah Jazz this season. The Pelicans are -11 point favorites in a game set at 232 points, and they feature the highest implied total on the slate at 121.5 points.
Anthony Davis is the star of the show for the Pelicans, as he averaged 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.6 blocks in 36.4 minutes per game last season. He continued that dominance in his first game this season, totaling a 32/16/8/3/3 line in 39 minutes. He is seeing a usage rating around 30%, making him an elite option for New Orleans. Nikola Mirotic is another major part of the Pelicans offense, scoring 30 points with 10 rebounds and three steals in 30 minutes on Wednesday. Davis and Mirotic were the only two players to 20+ shot attempts in their first game, and this duo should combine for 40+ shot attempts again tonight. Jrue Holiday, Elfrid Payton, E’Twaun Moore, and Julius Randle are the other major parts of this rotation. Each player can be considered in differing price ranges, and they all come with more than enough upside to hit value. Of the group, Elfrid Payton is my favorite option for his price tag. He triple doubled on Wednesday, scoring 10 points with 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and one steal in 37 minutes. He comes with tremendous assist potential because of the talent surrounding him, and Payton comes with triple double potential once again in a plus matchup tonight.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been a defensive team, ranking 22nd in the NBA in pace last season. They played at a significantly faster pace in the preseason, but Tom Thibodeau has been a defensive-minded coach throughout his career. Tonight, they gets a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are expected to play at a slower pace this season, but will struggle defensively. The Wolves, who come with tremendous offensive potential, are -8.5 point favorites in a game set at 223.5 points. They feature an implied total of 107.5 points tonight.
Jimmy Butler looks like a man on a mission after a drama-filled offseason. He led the team with 23 shot attempts on Wednesday, turning them into 23 points. He also added seven rebounds, three assists, four steals, and one block for a full line. Butler is expected to lead the Wolves in usage, and Cleveland simply does not have any that can guard him. Karl-Anthony Towns struggled with fouls in Minnesota’s season opener, playing only 22 minutes in the loss. He totaled eight points, nine rebounds, and three assists in that time, though. Towns averaged a 21.3/12.3 double double last season, and he should be able to get back on track against Cleveland, who has struggled against big men. The final part of this stack is Andrew Wiggins, who will be locked into big minutes again tonight. He led the team with 37 minutes, but more importantly, Wiggins recorded six rebounds, three assists, and one steal to go along with 20 points in that game. Wiggins has always been a scorer, who hasn’t contributed many peripheral stats. He’s entirely too cheap tonight, if he can finally add rebounds and assists to his line at a consistent rate.
Wildcard GPP: Low Owned Stack
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are a team that was pushing the pace in preseason, and they pushed the pace against the Atlanta Hawks in their first game this season, as well. They get a matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, who have been slowing down the pace in 2018, but are a team that generally isn’t afraid to get into a shootout. The Knicks are underdogs in a game set at 219 points, and they only feature an implied total of 107.8 points on this slate.
Enes Kanter is one of the most efficient fantasy players on the slate, as he averaged 19.7 points, 15.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on a per-36 minute basis last season. He only needed 27 minutes in a blowout against the Atlanta Hawks to score 16 points with 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block. Kanter now gets an elite matchup against the Nets, who allowed Andre Drummond to post a 24/20 line against the in their first game. Tim Hardaway Jr. is the focal point of New York’s offense, though, taking 22 shots in 29 minutes in his first game. Overall, he turned in a 31/6/5/2 line in those minutes, and he should see a small uptick, as this game should be significantly closer. Allonzo Trier is a cheap way to finish this stack. He’s expected to play minutes in the mid-20s off of the bench, and he’s a player that can score in a hurry. In his first game, he totaled 15 points with four rebounds and two blocks in 26 minutes. He doesn’t possess as much upside as some of the other options on this team, but he’s dirt cheap and offers tremendous salary relief.
Hidden Gem: Value Guard
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a top pick for the Los Angeles Clippers, and he has immediately earned minutes. In his first game, SGA scored 11 points with two rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block in 28 minutes. He was a versatile player in his only season at Kentucky, as well, averaging 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.6 steals in 33.7 minutes per game. While he isn’t the most NBA ready rookie, his athleticism will allow him to find plenty of fantasy success while on the court.
SGA isn’t expected to see a ton of usage, but he’s a cheap player that will get minutes off of the bench. He should see minutes in the mid- to high-20s once again tonight, which should be more than enough time for him to hit value at his current price tag. He gets a decent matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are dealing with injuries, and even if SGA isn’t scoring the ball, he has multiple other ways to contribute while on the court.
Hidden Gem: Value Big
Bjelica had a bit of an odd offseason, but he now begins this season as a starter for the Sacramento Kings. He’s expected to see an expanded role after averaging 21 or fewer minutes per game in his first three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his career, Bjelica is averaging 11.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.1 steal on a per-36 minute basis. Furthermore, Bjelica is expected to see higher usage this season than he did earlier in his career.
In his first start, Bejlica scored 18 points with eight rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 27 minutes. He scored at an efficient rate, totaling 12 shot attempts in that game. Tonight, he gets an elite matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans in a game that is expected to be the highest scoring on the slate. Bejlica will likely see a dip in efficiency as the season continues, but he makes an elite option for a low price tag tonight.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)
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