• Hey there Hoop-Ballers! Finally, the NBA season is officially underway with all teams finally playing their 2018-19 openers. I will be handling the Friday edition of the Daily Dish this season, so keep me company as I break down stats, news, storylines from Thursday night’s games.

    It may have been a relatively quiet night as far as the volume of games is concerned, but there were some noteworthy performances and as well as several monster stat lines to fuel your fantasy basketball flames.

    Free at last! Free at last! “Crazy Eyes” Bobby Portis is free at last!

    Without Lauri Markkanen (elbow) to eat up the minutes at power forward, Bobby Portis filled up the stat sheet for the Chicago Bulls with 20 points, 11 boards, three triples, two dimes, one steal and one block. Jabari Parker was far more underwhelming with his 15 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. Parker shares = trending down. Cut loss? Probably. Portis is on the rise but his horizon of boosted value is still considered short-term. Ride him while he’s hot and then trade away when Markkanen is a couple of weeks away from a return.

    The Zach Attack is Real

    Zach LaVine is taking up a major leadership role with the Bulls and he led by example on Thursday with 30 points, five rebounds, three blocks and three assists. The takeaway in his game was his uncharacteristic scoring efficiency with 11-of-19 shooting from the field. The sky is the limit for this high-flyer. Buying low is kinda out of the question after this massive explosion.

    Unfortunately, Kris Dunn (personal) missed this game and we had to suffer through a Cameron Payne snorefest, while Antonio Blakeney turned DFS lead into gold with his 15 points in 30 minutes off the bench.

    And lastly, I gotta throw out a teardrop emoji for Wendell Carter Jr.’s meh performance in 20 minutes as the starting center. Fouls were an issue and hopefully, the nerves will calm down and he can play his well-rounded game soon. To be fair, he did face up against a top-3 center in the League in Joel Embiid, so we can give him a pass in this one.

    Speaking of Embiid, wow. There’s some legitimate basis in him cracking the fantasy top-10 if he can keep this up. 30 and 12 with four blocks and solid shooting from both the field and the line? At some point, you’ll be able to look past his turnovers the same way you do when you own James Harden. Embiid just needs to avoid injury and he should be able to be a monster in 8-cat and a scary threat in 9-cat leagues this season.

    I said this once to someone via DMs, but I might as well put it out there, here, for posterity. The next NBA player to be able to average a triple-double after Russell Westbrook will be Ben Simmons. Whether he does it this season or the next, it’s coming and you know it. The divisive fantasy asset dropped 13 points, 13 boards and 11 dimes a steal and two blocks. Who the heck cares if he did not shoot a 3-pointer? He made all three of his free throws though, so there’s that.

    Robert Covington did Robert Covington things and put up a big game with 20 points a bunch of threes and solid defensive peripherals.

    In the end, the Process and company prevailed with a 127-108 win over the Bulls. They should easily drop teams in the East not named the Boston Celtics.

    The Miami-Washington game was another episode of the “Josh Richardson Show.” One of my favorite players in fantasy hoops lit up the Wizards with 28 points, five triples and a fat stat line. He did say that he wants to be more aggressive this season and this game is a huge step in the right direction. On the other hand, Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic were noticeably quiet with eight points apiece. Rodney McGruder stole the show with his 20-point explosion, making him a hot pickup in deeper leagues. Richardson and McGruder helped power the Heat to this 113-112 win.

    Aside from the conspicuous absence of Dwight Howard (buttock), the Wizards delivered as advertised. A healthy John Wall gave his owners some value thanks to his increased ADP in drafts with 26 points and nine dimes. His knees are still a concern but as long as they hold up Wall should be solid as they come.  Then there was, of course, Otto Porter who was shy with his 3-point shooting but made up for it with 11 boards and a combined six steals and blocks output. All is forgiven! Like that was an issue… duh.

    The King and his new team

    The Blazers’ 128-119 win over the Lakers was a wild ride. Not only did we get our first look at LeBron and his new team, but we were also treated to some great games by young players.

    LeBron’s 26-12-6 was expected, however, his missing all four of his shots from deep was a bit of a downer. Brandon Ingram lived up to those lofty expectations with his solid outing in the Lakers’ opener. Expect some more tinkering from Walton as he figures out the right ebb and flow of his rotation. One thing is for sure though, Josh Hart is simply too good to ignore. He made KCP look like a G-Leaguer, but of course, KCP himself and his off night had something to do with it as well. Hart is now a hot commodity and has secured must-own status in standard leagues with his 20-point night.

    I was pleasantly surprised and happy with what JaVale McGee brought in his 22 minutes. The eight boards and three blocks were everything I wanted out of the big man and he delivered.

    Speaking of blocks, Blazers’ young big man Zach Collins swatted six shots in the win. He added six points and six boards for a devilish 6-6-6 line. He thrived as both Aminu and Nurkic struggled. Aminu with his shot but Nurk just with foul trouble. The same couldn’t be said about Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum who both did their thang with 28 and 21 points, respectively.

    Nik Stauskas spiced things up off the bench with a 24-point eruption as he found his stroke from downtown, connecting on 5-of-8 shots from deep. Don’t go rushing to add him just yet. This is likely an outlying performance.

    If there’s anything, as far as fantasy advice is concerned, that I can leave you with today is to stay calm. Values WILL be volatile. Pick your spots.  Remember those guys who dropped Donovan Mitchell early last season? Don’t be that guy.

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