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It’s back. We are mere hours away from the tipoff to real, meaningful, albeit regular season hoops. Every team, coach, player, and fan base believes they have a shot at winning it all this season. Well, except Clint Capela…
Hey, you can’t be mad at a guy for setting more realistic goals, we stan a player setting achievable goals.
Anyway, point is, it’s the time of year for optimism. The Kings finally nailed a pick with Keegan Murray, the Knicks definitely didn’t overpay Jalen Brunson, and running it back with Russ is exactly what the Lakers need!
Same goes for your NBA pools, the slate is clean and it’s your year to beat all your friends. Well, I’m here to help in any way that I can with some non-expert picks and advice. Each week I’ll give you a survivor trap game to avoid, my top three survivor game picks, and three game picks that I like.
That way if you lose, blame it on me, but that definitely won’t happen. So let’s dive in.
Week 1 Game Picks
Warriors -6.5 over the Lakers
Have to pick an opening night game right? As much as LeBron & AD will want to come out and spoil the Warriors coronation as champs, I just don’t see it happening. The Dubs found a way to bring back (and lock in) nearly every single core piece from their title run whereas the Lakers now get a healthy Kendrick Nunn? Yes, AD is healthy too, but these are two teams on different ends of the spectrum right now, Dubs roll.
Knicks +6.5 against the Grizzlies
Is a ‘big three’ of Jalen Brunson, RJ Barret, and Julius Randle going to get you a title? Hell no. But that doesn’t mean this team won’t be competitive. Couple that up with the Grizzlies missing JJJ to start the year and this spread feels a bit to wide to start the season. Give me the young and hungry Knicks to cover against the new age grit and grind Grizz on the road. (If your pool is straight-up, take the Grizz at home).
Nuggets -7.5 over the Jazz
The Jazz are bad. Incase you checked out for the offseason, they shipped Rudy Gobert up to Minnesota and Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland. This team blew it up to enter the Victor Wembayana sweepstakes and will struggle to compete this season. Meanwhile, the Nuggets are looking to jump back up into the top tier of teams in the league after a bit of a disappointing 2022 campaign. They get their star PG Jamal Murray back and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Nuggets win big to open the year.
Week 1 Survivor Picks
This is where it gets tricky, any team can win any night in the NBA, and late scratches can impact these decisions. Not to mention, you don’t want to use a team like the Warriors or Bucks early in the year. Here are two solid options for Survivor to start the year.
Timberwolves over the Jazz 10/21
As I just mentioned, the Jazz are bad, like Kelly Olynyk might play 25+ minutes bad. On the other hand, the Timberwolves made a surprising win now move by pairing Rudy Gobert with Karl Anthony-Towns. I can’t wait to see how that pairing works out, it’s an interesting zig by leaning into two bigs, while the rest of the league is pace and space. Add in another expected leap from Anthony Edwards and theres a big talent gap here. Lock in the Wolves at home for a week one survivor dub.
Nuggets over Thunder 10/22
Another case of a tanking team vs a team trying to contender. The Nuggets draw teh Thunder at home to start the season, and while the Thunder have some exciting young guns in SGA, Josh Giddey, and Poku, they can’t compete with the Nuggets right now (nor are they trying to). Another ‘safe’ bet to survive the first week.
Week 1 Survivor Traps
What’s a survivor trap you ask? Well its a term coined by yours truly in the NFL offseason around games that may be highly picked but could wind up knocking teams out. Here are two games to avoid week 1.
Hawks over Rockets
There’s no doubt the Hawks are the better team here. They are 10 point favorites and should easily roll over the Rockets at home. Key word, should. This is the NBA, and the Hawks aren’t necessarily up there with the likes of the Warriors or Bucks. The Rockets have a great mix of young and exciting players like KPJ, Jalen Green, and Jabari Smith JR. Will they win a lot of games this year? Probably not, but the Hawks will be without Bogdan Bogdonavic and in general, weird things happen early in the year. Stay away.
Nets over Pelicans
This one is a much closer spread between two teams that differ greatly by name and reputation. Sure the Nets have KD, Kyrie, and are getting back Ben Simmons, but the Pelicans are loaded with young talent too. CJ McCollum, BI, and Zion are all ready to roll and I, for one, wouldn’t be shocked if they pull off and early season upset on the road in BK. This might be one you weren’t targeting in the first place, but stay away.