Fantasy Basketball Tips for the First Week of the Season

The first week of the NBA season is finally here. This means plenty of basketball to watch, but it also marks the beginning of a new season of fantasy basketball. While there is always plenty of speculation in the pre-season over which players are going to have breakout seasons, until they actually take the court it’s impossible to tell.

Still, as of now not all teams have played a game yet this season. The teams yet to make their debut, the Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks, will both tip off their seasons tonight.

Still, with at least one game in the books for every other team it’s time to look back on which players made an impact in their opening night games for their team. We will also look ahead to some favorable matchups for the rest of the week.

Fantasy Performance of the Week: LeBron James vs. Dallas Mavericks

With just two days of games behind us there isn’t a lot to choose from. Still, LeBron James’ performance on opening day against the Dallas Mavericks clearly stood out. James shot 11-19 from the floor, including 15-19 from the free throw line. He scored 37 total points while adding 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Lamar Odom vs. Miami Heat/Denver Nuggets

After being traded from the L.A. Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks many thought Odom’s numbers might actually improve due to an increased opportunity to score. However, through the first two games of the season Odom looks disinterested and uninspired. Through two games Odom has scored just 10 total points and pulled down 11 rebounds. To make matters worse for fantasy players who count technical fouls, Odom was ejected in the season opener against Miami. Ouch.

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Top 5 Guards for Dec. 27 – Jan. 1

1. Dwyane Wade: Out of all the guards it appears that Wade may have the best week out of all of them, at least he should if you look at the schedule. Wade finds himself up against the Bobcats, Timberwolves, and Bobcats again this week. Wade should have little trouble exceeding his averages against two teams that are historically near the bottom of the league in defense.

2. Derrick Rose: The reigning MVP has a favorable week of matchups as he will go against the L.A. Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and Memphis Grizzlies. All three teams have decent point guards, but none of them are super strong defensively. Rose should be able to put up strong numbers in each game despite a slow start to the season.

3/4. Monta Ellis/Stephen Curry: Golden State’s golden backcourt tandem should have a solid week. They find themselves up against the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. The Knicks defense is anything but stout, and even though the Sixers are an up-and-coming team, Ellis and Curry should have little trouble putting up solid numbers.

5. Joe Johnson: This is a unique situation because Johnson actually will be playing in four games this week in the form of a pair of back to backs. Still, Johnson will have fresh legs on Tuesday when he takes on New Jersey, and should have little trouble with the Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets later on in the week.

Top 5 Forwards for Dec. 27 – Jan. 1

1. LeBron James: I feel a little redundant putting the top choice in two straight categories as a member of the same team, but the Heat just have too favorable of a schedule to overlook this week (Bobcats, Timberwolves, Bobcats). Couple that with the fact that James scored 37 points while dishing out six assists and hauling in 10 rebounds against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and you’re looking at a potential fantasy explosion.

2. Kevin Durant: Is it too early to start MVP hype? Durant is averaging 31.5 points, 4.5 assists and five rebounds over the first two games of the season. It won’t get much tougher for him this week, either, as he will take on the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Suns. Neither of those three teams are known as defensive stalwarts, so expect Durant to have a strong week.

3. Carmelo Anthony: This is going to be a logjam every single week when it comes to fantasy players. There are so many strong forwards in the league that it’s hard to choose which one is best. Anthony started his season on a tremendous note, scoring 37 points against the Celtics. This week Anthony finds himself up against the Warriors, Lakers and Kings – three teams that are known for everything but their defense.

4. Kevin Love: Even though Love doesn’t have as simple of a schedule as some of the other guys on the list, he’s started the season strong and should continue to get his numbers all year. Love will face Milwaukee, Miami and Dallas this week. While the Heat are a strong defensive team, they don’t have a lot of inside players to disrupt Love or keep him off the glass. The same goes for the Mavericks. Love should have no problem getting his double doubles this week.

5. LaMarcus Aldridge: Portland started their season off with a win over the 76ers, and LaMarcus Aldridge put up numbers that will help kill the rumors that last season was a fluke. With Brandon Roy out of the picture Aldridge has a chance to be the main option on offense. In Portland’s opener on Monday night Aldridge put up 25 points and seven rebounds, as well as three assists, three blocks and three steals.

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Top 3 Centers for Dec. 27 – Jan. 1

1. Dwight Howard: Until Andrew Bynum returns there really isn’t going to be any competition at the top of this list. Howard is the alpha and omega of centers in the NBA right now, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Howard faces New Jersey, Charlotte and Toronto this week. With Brook Lopez hurt the Nets won’t have anyone to get in Howard’s way, and the same goes for the Bobcats and Raptors.

2. Al Jefferson: While the Jazz may not win very many games this year Jefferson should still be a strong fantasy choice. This week might be especially favorable as he finds himself up against a Lakers frontline that won’t include Andrew Bynum. He will also face the Nuggets, Sixers and Spurs to close out the week. Jefferson may wear down by the end of the week, but he should still be one of the most productive centers in the league.

3. JaVale McGee: Much like Jefferson, McGee is on a team that isn’t expected to win a ton of games in 2011-12. But, also much like Jefferson, McGee is expected to be one of the most productive fantasy centers this year. This week McGee will face off against the Hawks and Bucks before a tough game with the Celtics. After putting up 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks in his season debut, McGee is looking like a strong candidate at the center position.

Waiver Wire

With the season just two days old there isn’t a lot of noise on the waiver wire just yet. Next week we will expand more on this and try and find some steals that you can take advantage of later in the season.

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