Fantasy Basketball Forecast: Austin Reaves on the Rise, Brook Lopez Fading

Fantasy Basketball Forecast: Austin Reaves on the Rise, Brook Lopez Fading article feature image
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Austin Reaves #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

Well, the wait is over. NBA action is upon us and it's time to get back into formation. As the opening week of the NBA 2023-24 season arrives, it's only right that we do fantasy forecasting for what's to come in upcoming matchups.

From teams that have fantasy favored schedules in their first week, injuries that you need to monitor, to even who's considered a riser and faller off the rip; we've got you covered.

Fantasy Basketball Forecast

Top-3 Fantasy Friendly Teams of Opening Week

Lakers

Tue. at Nuggets | Thu. vs. Suns | Sun. at Kings

The Lakers have three games in week one, and at least two against soft defenses. On Tuesday, they'll be in Denver to play the Nuggets, and maybe they'll lose, but they'll be out to make a statement against a team they perceive as their current western conference rivals, and of course, the defending champions.

On Thursday, the Lakers have a home opener against the Phoenix Suns, who aren't expected to have a great defense, and neither are the Sacramento Kings, who the Lakers will visit on Sunday.

If you have Anthony Davis, LeBron James or Austin Reaves, enjoy. If you have D'Angelo Russell, you know what you're going to have to live with. If you have Gabe Vincent or Rui Hachimura, Godspeed. And if you have anyone else on the team, God Bless.

That said, it's a good week to have a Laker, especially a top-four or five one.

Nuggets

Tue. vs. Lakers | Fri. at Grizzlies | Sun. at Thunder

This is too easy, but it's justifiable. The Nuggets are the defending champs, but more importantly, they have three games on opening week and no back-to-backs, unlike some others, largely because they play on Tuesday. The Nuggets have the Lakers in Denver on Tuesday night, they're in Memphis on Friday, and are in Oklahoma City on Sunday.

No easy games, but it'll be great to have Nikola Jokić this season. This week? Michael Porter Jr. isn't the easiest to trust, but he'll have three games and will hopefully deliver on two. Aaron Gordon will be a constant threat to fill up the stat sheet.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a very late-round guy, but if you have him, you're hoping for threes and defensive production, with rebounds being a bonus, and ideally, three games in five days like you are here. Christian Braun? We'll see, but if you have him, good for you.

Cavaliers

Tue. at Nets | Fri. vs. Thunder | Sat. vs. Pacers

The Cavs also have three games this week — one Wednesday, one Friday and one Saturday, but the back-to-back is at home. They start the season in Brooklyn to see the Nets before hosting the Thunder and the Indiana Pacers.

How many good defenses will they see? One? Zero? If you have Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen, you're in good shape, which should be that case for the bulk of this season, so long as healthy prevails.

Injury Pivots

Luka Doncic

Dallas Mavericks

If Luka Doncic is out for anytime, it means well for people who have … gulp … Kyrie Irving, at least in this opening week of fantasy. The Mavericks only have the Spurs in San Antonio on Wednesday before hosting the Nets on Friday. That shouldn't be attention-worthy at all. So if Doncic is out, expect more Irving, plus an uptick in usage for Tim Hardaway Jr., possibly Josh Green, too.

Draymond Green

Golden State Warriors

It's a three-game week for Golden State, who hosts Phoenix on Tuesday, is in Sacramento Friday and Houston on Sunday. Draymond Green missing anytime or being limited could mean more opportunity for Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, and perhaps most of all, Jonathan Kuminga, who could have at least a semi-breakout season if he plays consistent minutes.

Risers

Austin Reaves

Los Angeles Lakers

I mentioned this earlier, but Reaves has three games in week one, and zero back-to-backs. LeBron was deferring to this man in crunch time of playoff games, so he'll have a percentage of the keys all season, we expect, and is a Most Improved Player candidate by at least some account. I would look for Reaves as a multifaceted offensive weapon to start the season. After the All-Star Break, Reaves averaged 17.6 PPG and 5.5 APG. Reaves had a relatively stable assists floor after the break, logging four or more in 18 of 23 games out of the break.

Fallers

Brook Lopez

Milwaukee Bucks

This generally doesn't feel like a big Brook Lopez season. He's entering year-16, and now without Jrue Holiday, we'll see how his defense holds up. Regardless, he won't score a ton consistently anymore, he's never been a great rebounder for his position, and I don't see him matching his rebounds or blocks from a year ago.

Moreover, the Bucks only play twice in week one, home against the 76ers on Thursday, and home against the Hawks on Sunday. One pivot for Brook could be his 3-point volume. In an effort to space the floor for Giannis to dive into the paint, I'd expect Lopez to park himself along the perimeter. This will give Lillard and Giannis more room to operate in the pick and roll while giving both another 3 point threat.

In the one preseason game he played alongside Giannis and Dame on Oct. 15, Lopez attempted six 3s. Last season he averaged 4.1 3-point attempt and only took six or more in 27/78 Regular Season games. This is something to watch.

More NBA Opening Week Coverage

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