October 23, 2019, 2:26 am
Every Opening Night, it feels like Christmas morning. It surely didn’t disappoint!! Even though the appetizer was only two games, we had overtime in Toronto and a heavyweight fight in Los Angeles. Let’s get right to it.
RAPTORS 130, PELICANS 122 (OT)
Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet each scored 34 points to lead the Raptors to a 130-122 overtime victory over the Pelicans on Tuesday night. The 34 points were a career-high for VanVleet, who left the game briefly with an ankle injury, but got taped up in the locker room and came back to finish with 44 minutes on the night. He is already looking like a steal at the end of your drafts. Meanwhile, Siakam added 18 boards, five assists, one block and two 3-pointers despite fouling out after 28 minutes. He looked every bit as a top-25 player on opening night.
Nick Nurse only played eight guys, so naturally 33-year-old Kyle Lowry led the team with 44 minutes. He was a bit rusty from the field, shooting 4-for-15 for 22 points with five boards, six assists, two steals and three 3-pointers. Lowry won’t give way to VanVleet on most nights. Marc Gasol put up an absolute stinker, shooting 2-for-9 from the floor for six points with four boards and one assist. Better games will come, but this is a reminder Gasol is turning 35 in a few months. He can’t be counted on for fantasy prowess.
The Pels had the exact opposite strategy, throwing out 12 different players for double-digit minutes to wear down the Raptors. It ended up not working and stretched fantasy values pretty thin. Brandon Ingram led the team with 22 points, five boards, five assists, one steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. Your sell high moment has commenced.
Jrue Holiday was quiet with just 13 points, four boards, six assists, two blocks and one 3-pointer. Trying sending a buy-low here and see what you get. Josh Hart (15 points, 10 rebounds) left the game briefly in the second quarter, but he was back quickly and did a lot of damage in the second half. This team is too deep to carve out any consistent roles just yet for bench assets such as Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker (four boards, two steals), and Nicolo Melli (14 points, four 3-pointers). All will have their moments, but until clearer roles are defined, you might have to stay away.
CLIPPERS 112, LAKERS 102
The NBA favorite L.A. Clippers came in to this game without Paul George (shoulder) and made a statement. Already well-equipped with lunchpail effort guys who scared the Warriors last season, they added Fun Guy Kawhi and PG-13, a supercharged version of their identity. Meanwhile, the Lakers waited around and whiffed on free agency. This all shined on Opening Night, as the Clippers sans Paul George still had enough to take down the Lakers.
Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard dropped 30 points in a nice 30-6-5-2-1 line, showing just how dominant he is at this point of his career. Lou Williams (21 points, five boards, seven assists, one steal) was key off the bench, destroying the Lakers reserves when both LeBron and AD sat (Vogel is going to learn the hard way, isn’t he?). Montrezl Harrell slid under the radar this offseason with all the big names in town, and it still feels like he was under the radar tonight. Harrell finished with 17 points, seven boards, four assists, one steal and one block in 38 strong minutes. He shouldn’t be looked over anymore.
Danny Green kept the Lakers close, going off for 28 points, seven three-pointers, seven boards, two steals and one block. This is a classic sell-high. I would take anyone projected to be in the top-100. LeBron and AD survived on 40 shots for 43 points, which goes to show the type of night it ended up being for the Lakers. This team just has no depth, which will be their Achilles heel against contenders.
AROUND THE ASSOCIATION
- Blake Griffin (knee) is out until November. Sadly, it’s the same story with him every year. He will be “re-evaluated” in November, suggesting he could miss more time. No thanks.
- Steve Kerr still won’t completely rule out Klay Thompson (torn ACL) for the season. It’s a long season with twists and turns, so you can’t blame him for the lack of forecasting six months in advance. Still, Thompson shouldn’t be on any rosters, even with IL spots. You will need them eventually.
- Kyle Kuzma (left foot stress reaction) is likely out for a week, if not longer. He hasn’t begun practicing with contact yet. The Lakers need him to be right.
- Dwight Powell (left hamstring strain) is out for at least the next two Mavs games this Wednesday and Friday. He hasn’t practiced fully since October 5th. Hopefully he can return soon. Powell has serious sleeper potential this season. In the meantime, you can mess with the Boban if you dare.