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NBA Top Picks for Opening Night: Can LeBron James & Co. Set the Record Straight?

The NBA season tips off on Tuesday night with four of the top teams in the Western Conference, including the defending world champions, squaring off in a pair of marquee games to get things started. Here’s a look at the top picks for opening night.

Key Factors

  • The Nuggets saw two of their top bench players depart in the offseason. 
  • The Lakers have the advantage of depth but have already seen injuries crop up.
  • Kevin Durant plays in front of fans in Golden State for the first time since leaving.

Picks Summary

  • Lakers +5 (-110)
  • Suns +1 (-110)
  • Stephen Curry Under 30.5 Points (-115)

*All odds from Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)


Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets

Tuesday, October 24, 2023 – 07:30 PM EDT at Ball Arena


The Champ Is Here

The Denver Nuggets won the first championship in franchise history last season, led by NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic. The two-time regular season MVP and franchise player, Jokic, is back, along with the starting lineup from last season’s champions. However, the bench took a hit with the departures of two key players. Bruce Brown and Jeff Green both left in the offseason as free agents and will likely be replaced by rookies in the Denver rotation. The Nuggets’ bench ranked near the bottom of the league last year, so the losses are significant.

Denver will raise its banner on opening night in front of an opponent that is no stranger to world championships—the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron and the Lakers were sent to the play-in round of last year’s postseason but ended up advancing to the conference finals, where Denver swept them. L.A. has taken the opposite offseason approach as Denver, bulking up its bench significantly in the hopes of improving its playoff positioning for one last title run for James.

Health Concerns

For a team whose age and collective health have been an issue in recent years, the fact that the Lakers are somewhat banged up heading into the opener is a concern. Gabe Vincent, one of the offseason pickups, has been battling back problems but is cleared to go on opening night. Jarred Vanderbilt, who missed much of the preseason with a heel injury, is day-to-day, and Jalen Hood-Schifino missed the last two preseason games after getting injured. His status is still being evaluated.

The Lakers’ big guns—James and Anthony Davis—should be as healthy and energized as they’ll be all season, and James always seems to find another gear when the spotlight is on. Look for L.A. to deliver a message on opening night and get a small measure of payback for last season’s playoff sweep.

NBA Pick: Lakers +5 (-110) at Bet365


Phoenix Suns vs. Golden State Warriors

Tuesday, October 24, 2023 – 10:00 PM EDT at Chase Center


The Chris Paul Bowl

The Phoenix Suns were one of the title contenders last season, entering the playoffs as a No. 4 seed. Phoenix was bounced out of the postseason in the second round, however, the second straight year the Suns have seen an earlier-than-expected end to the year. Phoenix was clearly not satisfied and made extensive changes in the offseason. The Suns parted ways with coach Monty Williams, replacing him with defensive guru Frank Vogel.

Changes in Phoenix

Phoenix also revamped the roster, headlined by an offseason trade that sent Chris Paul to Golden State and bringing in Washington point guard Bradley Beal, who will likely be the team’s third option, behind Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. Durant will have the benefit of an offseason and training camp with Phoenix to accustom himself to the team, after joining the Suns in a mid-season trade last year and looking to fit in.

Phoenix also sent away Deandre Ayton, replacing him with rebounder Jusuf Nurkic.

The Warriors also exited the playoffs in the second round last year in what coach Steve Kerr called a “failed” year for himself and the team. In addition to adding Paul, Golden State sent away Jordan Poole.

Golden State is waiting to see if it will have the services of Draymond Green for the opener. Green played sparingly in the preseason with an ankle injury and said he’s not 100%, but he feels good. His official status for the game is questionable.

Durant will be playing in front of fans at Golden State for the first time since he left the franchise that gave him his first championship rings. His previous trips to play the Warriors were during COVID-related empty houses. He should be motivated and feeling comfortable, which could mean a long night for the home team.

NBA Pick: Suns +1 (-110) at Bet365


Steph Curry Points

Stephen Curry has been one of the most explosive scorers in the NBA for the last decade. He’ll be getting accustomed to a new point guard, with Chris Paul joining the Warriors in the offseason.

He’ll also be facing Frank Vogel, who is expected to turn the Suns into a fierce defensive team. Vogel has faced Curry 18 times as a head coach with the Pacers, Magic and Lakers, and he’s had an impact on the dynamic scorer. Curry has hit shots at a .465 rate against Vogel teams, 10 points lower than he shoots against everyone else.

Curry is also averaging slightly fewer points against Vogel teams. In his six games against the Vogel Lakers, Curry scored just 24 ppg and shot just .420, compared to 24.6 overall. 

NBA Pick: Stephen Curry Under 30.5 Points (-115) at Bet365

*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.

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