- Brian McKitish, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Tuesday October 26
All times are ET. Statistics are from the 2007-08 season.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Larry Hughes, SG, Bulls (shoulder)
Andrew Bogut, C, Bucks (ankle)
Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers (knee)
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (toe)
Ben Gordon, SG, Bulls (toe)
Kendrick Perkins, C, Celtics (shoulder)
Vladimir Radmanovic, SF/PF, Lakers (finger)
Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics (ankle)
Tyrus Thomas, PF, Bulls (ankle)
Sasha Vujacic, SG, Lakers, (ankle)
Delonte West, PG/SG, Cavaliers (ankle)
Start 'em, sit 'em
With only three games on the docket for opening night, you won't have to be thinking too much about who to start and who to sit. You're going to play everybody you own on a day such as this where you have limited options, unless you're worried about a particular percentage category. Temper your expectations for the Cavaliers as they'll face a stiff challenge from the league's best defense in Boston. LeBron James will likely be his usual self, but this is not a particularly enticing fantasy matchup for newcomer Mo Williams and the rest of the crew. Greg Oden owners probably wish that his highly anticipated debut could have come against an easier opponent. Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge face the daunting task of going up against one of the league's best front lines in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. For Bynum and Oden, this will be as good of a test as any for the two youngsters coming off of knee surgeries. Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich figure to benefit most from the injury to Larry Hughes. Look for the two backcourt mates to start off the season hot, especially considering that Ben Gordon has barely seen the court during preseason action. Andrew Bogut seems fully recovered from a preseason ankle injury and should be able to pick up right where he left off the past season against an undersized Chicago frontcourt. Bogut isn't the only big name listed as day-to-day, but don't be too concerned; teams are simply playing it safe with minor nagging preseason injuries to keep their horses healthy for the real deal. Rest assured, Kobe Bryant, Luol Deng, Rajon Rondo and Tyrus Thomas are not expected to be limited to start the season.
Preseason statistics should always be taken with a grain of salt, but when a player with the raw talent of Tyrus Thomas starts putting up lines like 10 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 5 blocks, you better start taking notice, especially when considering that he's seen more than 30 minutes per game in preseason action. T2 is owned in just 17.2 percent of fantasy leagues; do yourself a favor and grab him before he takes off. You might not know by looking at their owned percentage, but Luke Ridnour, not Ramon Sessions, is the starting point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. It's not an ideal situation, but Ridnour was able to put up viable fantasy stats while stuck in time-shares in the past. Those looking for an upside pickup may want to keep a close eye on how Portland decides to divvy up the playing time in the backcourt with their two high profile rookies, Rudy Fernandez and Jerryd Bayless. Both appear to be coming off the bench for now, but as we all know, it's the minutes that matter, not the job description. With Larry Hughes out, and Ben Gordon severely limited in preseason action, youngster Thabo Sefolosha may get a chance to prove his worth in Chicago. Sefolosha is an impressive defender with the ability to rack up steals in volume, but has never received enough minutes to make much of a splash in the fantasy world. He may get an opportunity early in the season, which makes him an intriguing pickup option in deeper fantasy formats.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Brian McKitish looks ahead at the first night of fantasy basketball action and recommends some under-the-radar players who could start the season strong.