Every fantasy basketball player knows what happened Tuesday night.
The return of the NBA season doesn't come without weeks of agonizing through the preseason and praying your drafted players don't get injured (I hate you, BlakeGriffin), so when the games start to count, every fan is locked into TNT for the action and the live scoring is fired up on their computers (I love you, StatTracker).
Which is precisely why the Fantasy Lab, in its glorious return to SI.com, needn't waste your time reviewing what you surely saw with your own two eyes.
Yes, what happened yesterday is well documented by the time this article is live, and any competitive league has likely seen the proper transactions already executed -- Andray Blatche, Aaron Brooks, the Lab trusts you have found a roster spot if it ever was in question. What you will find is a preview of tonight's potential roster additions, when the bulk of the league is in action. Get a head start on the research your competition will be doing by knowing these players now.
Not every guy on this list will bust out tomorrow -- that would be impossible -- but there should be some names on here you weren't even considering drafting as recently as this past weekend. There are probably some guys listed below that you've never even heard of (remember Jamario Moon?). But a lot can change in a day; it's not like we're trying to build Rome, people. This is fantasyland and the landscape is forever changing so you have to be willing to embrace the next hot thing with your soft roster spot (that last guy on your roster that should be on constant rotation as you chase one of the few true impact free agents). And to do that, you've got to get the jump on the competition:
G/F Corey Brewer, Minnesota
Minnesota is already without Kevin Love for about a month and now the probable starting point guard, Jonny Flynn, might miss the opener with the flu. This just gives more opportunities to Brewer (and Ryan Gomes, who the Lab nearly listed here as well) to produce. Even the worst NBA teams score over 80 points a night and Al Jefferson isn't going to do that alone, even though it seems like he might on some nights. Very quietly -- cause it's hard to do it any other way for a T-Wolf in the preseason -- Brewer has emerged as an across-the-board fantasy threat. Showing signs of his pre-injury form that made him invaluable on two NCAA championship teams in Florida, Brewer led the team in scoring with 15.2 ppg and added 1.0 3pg, 1.8 spg, 1.9 apg, 4.2 rpg and 0.6 bpg in just 27 mpg. His long arms and anticipatory knack create steals by the bushel, which is the main reason to own him, but the other categories will be shaping up nicely as well this year.
PG/SG Lou Williams, Philadelphia
Tonight will mark this fifth-year veteran's first ever start in the NBA. Expect him to make it a special night, especially against the team that sent the Sixers packing in last year's playoffs. As a reserve, Williams proved to be a more than capable scorer. Using that ability as a threat will draw help defenders creating open looks for teammates and dimes for Williams. He'll probably crack 20 points tonight, but you're going to have to deal with some category-dragging FG% and 3PT%, but in more-standard 3PM leagues, his value there will be buoyed simply by the number of threes he jacks up on a nightly basis. Sweet Lou has a legit shot to be the number two scorer on the squad -- if he's not too busy feeding others and posting more assists than anticipated.
G/F Grant Hill, Phoenix
The Clippers will be playing for a second straight night and while they should be fresh this time of year, there's nothing like the first real game of the season to give you some tired legs the next day. Plus, the team is lacking in frontcourt depth with Blake Griffin out Hill will take advantage of some poor defenders in Rasual Butler and Al Thornton and display his all-around game for the fast-paced Suns. After a strong opening night on the heels of a full 82-game season, Hill's balanced line and strong percentages make him an attractive acquisition.
F/C Ryan Anderson, Orlando
When Rashard Lewis got slapped by the Fun Police with a 10-game suspension, most people assumed the battle for the vacated starting spot would be a battle between the two free agent acquisitions, G/F Matt Barnes and SF/PF Brandon Bass. They did battle, but neither player's skill set could help them replicate Lewis' strong, floor-spacing, three-point shooting on offense and rebounding and length on defense like Anderson. In seven preseason games, Anderson drilled 23 of 41 triples -- that's a 56 percent clip and more than three per game! Now the Lab doesn't expect Anderson to produce like Lewis, but know that in April last year when the former Pac-10 leading scorer got 25 mpg, he hit 1.9 3PM, with an 88.9 FT% for 11.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.8 spg and 0.5 bpg. He's going to hit a lot of threes for a center-eligible player.
F Ronny Turiaf, Golden State
With everyone's favorite breakthrough player, Anthony Randolph, bothered by a bad back leaving his playing status in doubt tonight, Turiaf is expected to play a lot of PF next Andris Biedrins while also backing up Biedrins. Terribly undersized, the Warriors will face a similarly height-challenged squad in the Rockets, allowing Turiaf to pile up the blocks and boards. The Lab even envisions Nellie starting Turiaf at PF since he'll want Corey Maggette's scoring coming off the bench. When Turiaf starts like he did for 26 games last year, he's a top 100 player easy with the 2.3 blocks and is a sneaky source of assists from the C spot.
F/C Nenad Krstic, Oklahoma City
It seems too many people in fantasyland have forgotten about the man known affectionately as Curly. Krstic showed a little rust when he returned for the final quarter of the season last year, but he's six months more removed from his ACL surgery and the skills never really diminished. Showing a great touch on his face-up jumper and able to shoot a good enough percentage from the line, Krstic is a player who can average 14 and 7 and a block per night on this Thunder squad as the eldest starter at just 26 years old. He should excel in a favorable matchup with the Kings who seem to be inexplicably starting Sean May at center over Spencer Hawes, but either way Krstic should feast on this matchup and set himself up for a solid yet unspectacular season.
SF/PF DeJuan Blair, San Antonio
This rookie is going to feast on a depleted New Orleans front line expecting to be without Emeka Okafor and Ike Diogu tonight. The Hornets have been one of the worst teams this preseason and, while it's foolish to put too much stock into those games, it's safe to assume the Spurs are going to be real good and this could be a blowout in San Antonio. That being the case, Blair figures to get a ton of time and will Hoover in rebounds as his athleticism and long arms belie his wide-body frame. A double-double from all those putbacks with a strong FG% will open some eyes. He's got a real chance to be the rare second-rounder that makes an impact his rookie year. It's not out of the realm of possibility he could earn center status for that delicious third position of eligibility.
SF Danilo Gallinari, New York
The hype machine was set in motion earlier this preseason when Coach D'Antoni labeled the Italian "the best shooter I've ever seen." Cruising along just below the radar at this point thanks to a bench role, the Lab has a good feeling the machine is about to kick into overdrive tonight. Facing a defenseless Miami squad, the Knicks will be up to their three-point shooting tricks and there's a strong chance that Gallinari will lead that barrage. Obviously he has the coach's full confidence and D'Antoni doesn't want to burden him with the weight of the franchise by starting him, but if he splashes a few from downtown, everyone's going to go crazy for "The New Peja."
SF Omri Casspi, Sacramento
This one's a bit of a flier, but Ii's history in the making tonight when Casspi becomes the first Israeli to play in the NBA. Though he won't start due to some virus called Desmond Mason that seems to have infected Coach Westphal, fans of basketball will be instantly attracted to Casspi's game with his inside-outside versatility and flair for the dramatic a laRudy Fernandez last year. And that's about what you can expect from Casspi, who figures to have a memorable debut against a fast-paced and defensively-weak squad in the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Hopefully that'll hold you over until next week's Fantasy Lab, published right here every Wednesday. In the meantime, for more fantasy basketball advice and NBA musings, please head over to the new basketball blog, BarkleysMouth.com.