Tuesday night’s opening NBA slate features two games with a couple notable injuries and questionable players.
- New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors: 8 p.m. ET
- Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers: 10:30 p.m. ET
New Orleans Pelicans
Injuries: Zion Williamson (knee) is out. Derrick Favors (soreness) is not on the injury report.
Injury background: On Monday, the Pelicans reported that Zion underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. He will miss 6-8 weeks.
Tonight’s impact: With Zion out, the Pelicans will shift wing Brandon Ingram up to the power forward spot and start three guards in Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick.
Current odds: Raptors -7; over/under 230 (via PointsBet — claim your 200% deposit match, an exclusive promotion for Action Network users)
These teams both project to play uptempo, especially with them starting small-ball lineups (the Raptors with Pascal Siakam at the 4). For what it’s worth, in the preseason, which is a small sample size and perhaps not indicative of regular-season strategies, the Pels and Raptors both ranked in the top-five in pace.
Redick’s inclusion in the starting lineup will certainly help shooting, as none of the other four starters eclipsed 33% from beyond the arc last season. That’s the biggest question mark for the Pels, especially early on without the hyper-efficient Zion to attack the rim for easy looks.
I bet Raptors at -5.5 after the Zion news, and it’s already moved to Raptors -7 at time of writing, although a couple sharper books currently have it at -6.5, indicating the consensus could move down. I think the betting value is largely out at the current number.
For DFS, we have Holiday with the highest projected minutes (slightly more than 36) and usage rate (slightly more than 26%). He’s a nice value at $7,900. The entire starting lineup is in play on the limited slate (and given their likely condensed roster without Zion). Derrick Favors is especially intriguing on FanDuel at $6,700 given he’s the lone true big man in the starting unit and thus has nice upside for blocks and rebounds.
Los Angeles Lakers
Injuries: Kyle Kuzma (foot) is out. Rajon Rondo (calf) is questionable. Alex Caruso (pelvic bone) is probable. Anthony Davis (thumb) will play.
Injury background: Kuzma suffered a stress reaction in his left foot at USA Basketball training camp in August and has already been ruled out to start the season. He was cleared for noncontact practice last week, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
Davis sprained his thumb in the preseason but will play in Tuesday’s season-opener. He and LeBron James won’t have a minutes limit.
Rondo is dealing with soreness in his calf. It’s unclear whether he’ll be a game-time decision or whether the team will announce information earlier.
Tonight’s impact: The starting lineup is still in flux, so be sure to monitor news on our FantasyLabsNBA twitter feed up to lock. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, it’s unclear whether Rondo’s status and the starting lineup will be announced before lineup lock, although there could be an edge in the single-game contests later in the evening.
Current odds: Lakers -3.5; over/under 223.5 (via PointsBet — claim your 200% deposit match, an exclusive promotion for Action Network users)
For betting, Kuzma’s absence was expected long before odds were posted, and I don’t think Rondo’s status is worth anything to the spread. The biggest news came yesterday when the Lakers announced that LeBron James and Davis would not have a minutes restriction to start the season.
This line has moved a ton since opening, with bettors taking it all the way from Lakers +1 to currently -3.5. Read PJ Walsh’s Sharp Report on tonight’s game for more information. The total has also been pushed down: We’ve tracked steam moves on under 227 and 226. It now sits at 223.5 at most books.
For DFS, Davis ($10,200) and LeBron ($9,900) are the most expensive options on the slate on DraftKings, although our projections are still expecting them to outperform salary-based expectations. JaVale McGee will be an interesting play tonight: He’s shown a high ceiling but should be lower-owned considering he’s close in price to Marc Gasol ($5,500) and Serge Ibaka ($5,200), who are perhaps the best value plays on the entire slate.
If Rondo is unable to go, I’d expect most of his minutes to go to Alex Caruso and Quinn Cook, with more going to the former. Both are dealing with injuries of their own, however: Caruso is probable with a pelvic contusion and Cook has a calf injury (the Lakers said they would monitor his minutes). Given all of that information, LeBron might have to take a heavier-than-usual load in terms of playmaking tonight.