Dion Waiters solid in debut
Opening night in the NBA featured a nationally televised ring ceremony in Miami and an unceremonious egg-laying in Los Angeles. But we're fantasy owners, so let's start with that other game.
Tuesday's Washington Wizards-Cleveland Cavaliers tilt brought us last season's NBA Rookie of the Year and perhaps this season's ROY. Of course Kyrie Irving (29 points) and Anderson Varejao (23 boards) put up the big numbers, but Dion Waiters also put together a nice debut: 17 points, a couple of 3-pointers and three steals in 28 minutes.
Admittedly, this came against an undermanned Wizards team (no John Wall, no Nene), but the one thing to note about Waiters' near-term fantasy prospects is that he came into Cavs camp with only C.J. Miles to beat out for a starting spot. So count on the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft getting every opportunity to produce. Also figure that, if you didn't move on Waiters last night, it's likely too late now. His ownership rose from 82 percent on Tuesday to 98 percent on Wednesday morning.
• While the new-look Los Angeles Lakers struggled, UCLA product Darren Collison (17 points, 4 assists, 2 steals) made himself at home in Staples Center. Coming off two disappointing seasons with the Indiana Pacers, the new Dallas Mavericks point guard went 8-of-12 from the floor. Perhaps I was wrong when I said point guard bargains would be hard to come by this season. While we're on the Mavs, see if Shawn Marion (11 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) is available to you. He'll do some nice stat-filling while Dirk Nowitzki is out. I'd definitely take him over Steve Novak, who, incredibly, was being drafted ahead of Marion in ESPN.com leagues.
• Now about those Lakers: Kobe Bryant (foot) played but was surprisingly one-dimensional (22 points on 11-of-14 shooting but just one rebound, one steal and nothing else). Meanwhile, Steve Nash had just four assists -- or one fewer than the dimes dished out by that noted playmaker, Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson, on Tuesday. And Dwight Howard's 19-and-10 was seriously diminished by his preposterous 3-of-14 foul shooting. Pau Gasol (23 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks) was the only player in gold making his fantasy owners happy.
• After taking Kevin Garnett's pregame snub, Ray Allen (19 points, two 3s) showed what an all-time great shooter can do while opponents are chasing LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. I could be overreacting to one game, but I'm thinking 50 percent shooting and 2.5 triples are achievable for Allen this season.
• Danny Granger could be out a while. He originally hurt his left knee in the playoffs and then aggravated it during the summer. Now, reportedly he'll get a second opinion on his injury. Gerald Green will start in Granger's place, and in leagues of at least 12 teams I'm definitely interested. As a member of the New Jersey Nets in 2011-12, Green averaged 12.9 points, 1.4 3s and 0.9 steals in only 25 minutes per game. The medical news is much more promising on George Hill, who is expected to play in Wednesday's opener against the Toronto Raptors. The Pacers want to limit Hill to about 30 minutes early on, as he missed the entire preseason with a thumb injury and a hip pointer.
• James Harden makes his Houston Rockets debut in the Motor City against the Detroit Pistons. Since Harden is bound to be shooting a lot more with his new team, I'll note that Pistons opponents were sixth-best in field-goal percentage in 2011-12.
• Stephen Curry continued to have ankle problems in the preseason, but he is expected to play for the Golden State Warriors, who visit the Phoenix Suns. Warriors head coach Mark Jackson named rookie Harrison Barnes the starting small forward.
• Some other rook is making his pro debut -- oh yeah, Anthony Davis. The No. 1 overall pick averaged 14.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in the preseason. The New Orleans Hornets host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.