Ahh, I’ve missed the loud scream of the Miami Heat PA announcer. Hearing his emotion during warmups can only mean one possible thing.
Basketball is back.
There were only three games on Tuesday night, but many fantasy headlines came about. To celebrate the first night of the 2013-14 NBA season, let’s break down all three games, highlighting the fantasy good, bad and ugly.
The return of Derrick Rose
We’ve waited 99 regular season and playoff contests, but finally, Derrick Rose is back on the court. It wasn’t the dominant debut many were hoping/expecting, however. Rose played a strong 34 minutes in his first game back, but scored just 12 points, assisted four baskets and grabbed one rebound. He also turned the ball over an ugly four times. Fantasy owners couldn’t have liked the stat line from the former MVP, but they should still like the majority of what they saw. Rose wasted no time getting back to his former self. Despite coming off a devastating ACL injury, Rose played with the exact same aggressiveness and velocity that we have been accustomed to seeing from him. He attacked the rim at will, made contact with defenders and didn’t appear phased at all. Perhaps it was just rust that explains the less than mediocre stat line, but as long as he’s on the court, Rose is going to be fine. A top-three point guard the rest of the season, no question.
Jimmy Butler proving to be very fantasy relevant
While Rose receives all the headlines, Butler has been considered a big time fantasy sleeper this season. After an extremely productive postseason, Butler is now the starting shooting guard for Chicago, a very friendly position for fantasy production. During his first game of the season, Butler was arguably the Bulls best player, scoring 20 points, posting three assists, three rebounds, a block and an impressive five steals. He also shot 50 percent from the field. That was all while playing a healthy 30 minutes, only fewer than Rose and Carlos Boozer. Butler clearly won’t be scoring 20 points every night, as Rose will play much better than he did tonight, but there’s no doubt that he is a high upside fantasy shooting guard in 2013.
In case you weren’t convinced, Paul George is a budding star
After an incredible playoff run for the Pacers, in which he played toe-to-toe with LeBron James, many pegged George as the next superstar in today’s game. Those folks were 100 percent right, and his opening night performance only confirms that. In a game-high 36 minutes, George did it all, posting 24 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal and three blocks. If you spent a top-10 pick on George this season, heck, you may have been to low on him. George is going to consistently contribute in every category this season, and the Pacers have brought in even more pieces around him, including the return of small forward Danny Granger.
Chris Paul will easily lead the NBA in assists
The return of Derrick Rose is soaking up all the headlines, but Chris Paul is still the best point guard in all of basketball. He reminded everyone on Tuesday night. Paul scored 15 points, added 11 assists, six rebounds, and, of course, five steals. Paul led the NBA in steals in every season since 2010, and it seems he is on his way to do so again. However, it’s the assist category that Paul could very well also lead the league in this year. New head coach Doc Rivers already stated he won’t be limiting Paul’s minutes this season, and it proved true on Tuesday, as Paul logged a healthy 36 minutes. Also, I did a film breakdown not too long ago about Paul and the offense, and rather than Paul dribbling around for half of the shot clock, the offensive players will be moving around without the ball. Also, the Clippers brought in some deadly perimeter shooters, which will make Paul’s job so much easier. Shooting guard J.J. Redick logged 34 minutes alongside Paul, and started the game off with a bang, scoring 13 points early on. The team also has Jared Dudley and Jamal Crawford to knock down open looks from Paul. I think this new style of offense under Rivers will help Paul easily lead the league in assists, but of course, it helps when Rajon Rondo is sidelined with injury.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.