PG - Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New York Knicks
With just three games on the schedule tonight, it’s wise to go with the sure thing, and there won’t be any bigger sure things this season than Russell Westbrook going up against New York Knicks point guards.
Have you seen who the Knicks will be trotting out at the point this year? Ramon Sessions, Frank Ntilikina, Jarrett Jack and Ron Baker. None of them have a prayer of covering the reigning MVP, who should still be able to get his numbers even with the presence of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.
Don’t expect the gaudy stats Westbrook was putting up last season, but an opening night triple-double certainly isn’t out of the question.
SG - Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is serving the first game of a two-game suspension due to drunk driving. That means Jordan Clarkson will likely start alongside Lonzo Ball in the Lakers backcourt against the Clippers.
Clarkson isn’t a stud by any means, but he can do a job when called upon. He’s come up with some big scoring games in the past when given the chance, and with both KCP and rookie Josh Hart unavailable, he’ll have that chance to get a lot of minutes and touches within this Lakers offense in the opener.
SF - Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New York Knicks
Reliable small forwards will be in short supply tonight, so might as well splurge on the most reliable one money can buy. That would be Paul George, who’s set to make his Thunder debut. He’s obviously not going to be PG-13 of his Pacers days, but he can still put up over 20 points with rebounds, steals, and threes to make him worthwhile.
The fact that he’ll be facing the porous defense of Doug McDermott and Tim Hardaway Jr. makes it more likely that he can put together a fine Thunder debut fantasy-wise.
PF - Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls @ Toronto Raptors
The Bulls were major losers recently when Bobby Portis inexplicably punched Nikola Mirotic in the face. Not only was Mirotic hospitalized for a concussion and facial fractures and will miss the next month or so, but Portis will also be out with an eight-game suspension.
If there was anyone who came out a winner in this horrible situation, though, it’s rookie Lauri Markkanen. His two main rivals for playing time at power forward both got knocked out of the picture in one fell swoop, meaning he’ll get a lot of burn in the Bulls’ season opener against the Raptors. He might not be terribly efficient, but with the Bulls out of options, he should still rack up those raw numbers.
C - Brook Lopez, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Lonzo Ball may be getting all the hype for the Lakers, but Brook Lopez is clearly the most reliable offensive player on the team. The veteran center finally looks healthy after dealing with back issues for most of the offseason, and should be a prominent part of the offense against the Clippers.
Lopez should get some open looks from beyond the arc with DeAndre Jordan unlikely to contest his jumpers from that far out. And given the lack of great rebounders on the Lakers, he’s bound to run into some boards as well.
Who have you got in your team tonight? Comment below!