Putting on 10 pounds of muscle and getting in the best shape of one's life is often a prerequisite for a cliché preseason fantasy basketball article, but the positive buzz for Tyler Herro this offseason appears real. In a drubbing of the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, the third-year guard became the first Miami Heat player with at least 25 points, five assists and five rebounds in 25 minutes or less in the past 20 years.
Even more impressively, Herro tallied this big line off the pine for Miami. Per Elias, the 42-point margin of victory tied the largest win ever in a season opener against a reigning NBA champion. It was also the Heat's largest win against the Bucks in series history and their largest win in a season-opener in franchise history.
Still a free agent in more than a quarter of ESPN leagues, Herro's path to a strong third season is clear given the team lost key complementary playmakers Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn in the offseason. It appears the opportunities to break out -- like leading the Heat in shots last night -- will be there for Herro.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: 45 points (16-25 FG, 8-13 3s), 10 rebounds
Tyler Herro, Miami Heat: 27 points (10-18 FG), 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Kyle Lowry, Miami Heat: 5 points (1-8 FG), 1 rebound, 6 assists
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks: 10 points (4-14 FG), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 TO
The Warriors edged the Clippers, 115-113, on Thursday to start the season 2-0 against the city of Los Angeles, but the real story is that Curry finished the night with 45 points and 10 rebounds, becoming the oldest guard with a 45-point, 10-rebound game since Michael Jordan in 2001. He also became the oldest Warriors player with a 40-point game since Rick Barry on March 25, 1978 against the Knicks. The rest of the Golden State lineup was quiet in the win, while Curry's bid to be the top player in fantasy hoops is off to a strong start.
Eric Bledsoe was impressive in his return to the Clippers with 22 points to go with three steals. Once an elite source of steals, Bledsoe could revive his fantasy stock this season in a high-usage role on a Clippers team in need of more scoring and defensive production from the point guard spot.
Kristaps Porzingis finished with 11 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes for the Mavericks in a loss to the Hawks. Looking solely at the box score, you'd think this was more of the same from last season's disappointing campaign for Porzingis, but he actually looked much better in regards to movement on offense and defensive activity around the rim. I'd be ready to buy, even if Porzingis has a few quiet nights to open the season.
DeAndre Hunter was really impressive on defense for Atlanta in downing Dallas, as his three combined steals and blocks signals some real defensive upside. Rostered in just a quarter of leagues, Hunter's difference-making defensive contributions should see him play ahead of Danilo Gallinari and Cam Reddish in this deep Hawks rotation.
Injuries of note
The Indiana Pacers will be without Caris LeVert due to a sore lower back. Rookie Chris Duarte will likely start and play a prominent role in LeVert's place.
Toronto's Pascal Siakam remains sidelined by a shoulder injury, opening up more opportunities for rookie Scottie Barnes.
Keep an eye on Terry Rozier's status heading into tonight's matchup against the Cavaliers. Charlotte's scoring guard missed the Hornets' opener with an ankle injury and the team could adopt a conservative approach early in the campaign.
Analytics advantage for Friday
It's only a one-game sample, but it's already time to start to monitor the league's player tracking database. The NBA uses an optical tracking system that leverages multiple cameras placed in the catwalks in all 29 NBA arenas in order to track player movement and production 25 times per second.
Some of the information, such as miles run per game, is merely fun to monitor, but there are also actionable statistics we can use to improve our fantasy rosters. One to watch early is rebounding chances, which tracks whenever a player is closest to the ball at any point in time between when the ball has crossed below the rim to when it is fully rebounded. It's essentially a positioning statistic for players busy around the glass. One interesting name to note is Washington's Kyle Kuzma, who currently ranks sixth in the league thanks to seeing 22 rebounding chances in the opener.
On a team without much size or established producers on the boards, it appears Kuzma could enjoy a big night -- and season -- on the boards.
Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder: The Aussie rookie played 28 minutes in his debut a few days ago and tonight faces a Houston team that should prove soft in perimeter defense. He can be found at reasonable price on all major formats and has real potential to compile big rebounding and assist numbers, so Giddey looks like a solid bottom-dollar option during a big 10-game slate.
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers: While the price point is lofty, there's not much in the way of another huge line for Sabonis this evening. As mentioned above, the Wizards don't have much size or talent on the block, suggesting gobs of rebounds with a big scoring line are in the works for this double-double machine.