NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Dose: Melo Suspension Coming?
Games Played for Week 18
4 Games Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Golden State, Indiana, L.A. Clippers, Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Toronto, Washington
3 Games Brooklyn, Charlotte, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, L.A. Lakers, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, San Antonio, Utah
2 Games Boston, Portland
For more information before setting lineups, follow me on Twitter, check out Waiver Wired, and join Ryan Knaus for a free live chat on Monday.
Atlanta – Josh Smith blocked just two shots last week, but it could have been much worse. Had he been traded to the Bucks, he would have lost one game and maybe more, and would have also had to learn a new system. Now Smoove will play four games in each of the next six weeks and might lead your team to a championship. Devin Harris is coming on, but is an injury risk, while Kyle Korver may still be worth a start, despite his demotion and his production tailing off in Atlanta. Obviously, Jeff Teague and Al Horford are must-starts.
Brooklyn – Joe Johnson has missed two straight and is iffy for Tuesday with his heel problem, giving owners a tough decision to make in a three-game week. Watch for more info on Monday and start him at your own risk. If he’s out, C.J. Watson should play well in his absence. Gerald Wallace doesn’t look like a great option with just three games, while Brook Lopez and Deron Williams remain must-starts.
Boston – With just two games, owners will have to think hard about whether to start Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jeff Green. I’d bench all the guards, and keep in mind Jordan Crawford failed to score in just 12 minutes on Sunday, which I don’t find all that surprising.
Charlotte – The Cats play three games this week and Byron Mullens is in a funk, hitting just 2-of-21 shots over his last two games. I think he’ll get it turned around this week, and would still lean toward playing him in most situations. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is coming on a bit so keep an eye on him, while Kemba Walker looks like a must-start. Ramon Sessions and Gerald Henderson should also be decent plays.
Chicago – Taj Gibson suffered a knee injury on Sunday night, leaving him iffy for his next game, and possibly means more minutes for Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Here is some video of Derrick Rose dunking, and while he might make a surprise return any day now, you simply can’t use him until it happens. And yes, he could also miss the rest of the season. Kirk Hinrich was out again on Sunday with his elbow injury and he’s missed nine of his last 10 games. If he’s out, Nate Robinson should be started, but we simply need more information on Hinrich than we have right now. And with four games, Luol Deng joins Boozer and Noah as must-starts.
Cleveland – Kyrie Irving is dealing with a sore knee and while it doesn’t sound like a big deal, it’s something to definitely keep an eye on. He’s averaging just 14.5 ppg over his last two. Dion Waiters is hot and with three games, owners need to weigh options carefully. Tristan Thompson is another possible fantasy starter on this team.
Dallas – With four games Dirk Nowitzki, O.J. Mayo and Shawn Marion all look like solid plays, while Darren Collison, Vince Carter and Elton Brand are also guys I wouldn’t mind throwing into a lineup this week.
Denver – Danilo Gallinari is dealing with a thigh bruise that’s limited him for the last couple games and leaves him a little iffy for Monday against the Lakers. My guess is he’ll play, but that’s just a guess. With three games, anyone not named Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala are shaky plays, although Kenneth Faried should also be in most lineups.
Detroit – Will Bynum has been suspended for a game, turning his four-game week into a three-gamer. Brandon Knight missed Saturday’s game with a knee injury, leaving him iffy for this week. If he’s out, Rodney Stuckey should be an excellent play, especially given Bynum’s suspension. Greg Monroe and Jose Calderon are the only true must-start players on this team, which is simply a fantasy mess.
Golden State – We were high on Jarrett Jack all year, and despite some struggles along the way, he’s on fire right now and is a must-own player. Andrew Bogut might be out indefinitely with a back injury, but Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee are all must-starts, while Carl Landry is worth a shot given Bogut’s injury. Start the inconsistent Harrison Barnes at your own risk, and enjoy the four-game week for the Warriors, as they have just two more after this one. I’ve pretty much bashed the idea of owning Bogut all season, and while I waivered on that last week, he now looks droppable in most leagues.
Houston – Just as fast as I picked up Thomas Robinson, I have cut him in most leagues. Weekly games played matter in most of my leagues and the Rockets’ schedule stinks. Additionally, he won’t play until he practices and we still don’t have any clue how Kevin McHale plans on using him. Meanwhile, Carlos Delfino has started at PF and played heavy minutes in his last three and I’d rather own him going forward. Just like every week from here on out, with the exception of Week 23, the Rockets play three games. James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin look like strong plays, while Delfino and Omer Asik are also worth a look.
Indiana – Danny Granger was awful in Saturday’s debut and it could be another 10 days before he is clicking. Maybe you have the guts to start him with four games this week, but I’m just not ready. Paul George, George Hill, Roy Hibbert (who has really struggled over his last five) and David West, on the other hand, all look like strong plays.
L.A. Clippers – The Clippers play four times and Caron Butler is suddenly hot. I’d roll with him, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford this week. DeAndre Jordan has been too quiet lately, but is still an option with the four games, while Matt Barnes and Chauncey Billups might be worth a look in deeper formats. Lamar Odom had a season-high 18 on Saturday, but I still don’t trust him enough to start him.
L.A. Lakers – The Lakers only play three times, but Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash (who is finally coming on), Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison all look like solid options. Metta World Peace missed all six shots on Sunday and is shooting it poorly, so weigh options carefully before throwing him into your lineup. He’s shooting just 32 percent in his 10 February games. Just keep an eye out for information on Clark’s pinkie, Nash’s back and Howard’s shoulder.
Memphis – The Grizzlies play three times this week, but then go on a run of 3-4-4-4-4 over the next five weeks. I like the idea of adding Tony Allen, but he’s a shaky play with three games. Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and a struggling Marc Gasol all look like good plays, but I wouldn’t risk playing Tayshaun Prince for just three games. See Waiver Wired for more info on Allen’s strong play of late.
Miami – LeBron James and the Heat have just three games this week, but then go 4-4-4-4-3-4 to finish out the season. LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are still must-starts, while Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers are also worth a look in deeper leagues. LeBron is dealing with a quad injury, but had 28 points on Sunday, so you have to start him.
Milwaukee – Brandon Jennings was awful on Saturday with just 11 points, while J.J. Redick had 16 points in the loss to Atlanta. With three games this week, I still don’t trust Redick enough to play him, while Jennings, Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders all look like strong plays in most leagues.
Minnesota – The Wolves play just three times this week, but Ricky Rubio is on fire, Derrick Williams is playing well and a red-hot Nikola Pekovic all look like strong plays. I’d also think about giving Andrei Kirilenko a start this week, but Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved are a real roll of the dice.
New Orleans – The Hornets play three times and Eric Gordon is doubtful for either Tuesday or Wednesday, as he still hasn’t been cleared for back-to-backs. Greivis Vasquez, Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Al-Farouq Aminu are all nice options, while I’d steer away from Robin Lopez and Jason Smith if games matter in your league.
New York – Carmelo Anthony picked up a Flagrant-1 during Sunday’s game during an altercation with Spencer Hawes, which could land him a one-game suspension. He popped Hawes in the back of the head during the scrum, so watch for more info on Monday. Even if he plays just two games, Melo is still nearly a must-start player, while Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire and J.R. Smith all look like decent plays. Raymond Felton left Sunday’s game with a bruised right heel, but returned to finish, so I think he’s OK to leave in your lineup.
Oklahoma City – The Thunder go three times this week, but Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka all deserve to be in lineups, while Kevin Martin hit 1-of-5 shots for five points on Sunday. Weigh your options before considering him a must-start player. The Thunder’s schedule isn’t great, as they finish 3-4-4-4-3-3-3, which is a fantasy playoffs buzzkill.
Orlando – With four games, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo and Andrew Nicholson all look like nice plays, but Jameer Nelson sat out on Saturday with a knee injury. Any time he’s out, E’Twaun Moore and Beno Udrih are worth a close look. Nelson is iffy for Tuesday with the injury, so watch for updates. Tobias Harris played well on Saturday, but I’d be pretty leery of starting him just yet.
Philadelphia – Thaddeus Young was back in action from a hamstring injury on Sunday and had 11 points and 10 boards, making him a must-add player. With four games, Young and Jrue Holiday are must-starts, while Spencer Hawes is close. Nick Young disappeared on Sunday, but I’m not ready to write him off just yet. Dorell Wright is worth keeping an eye on, while Evan Turner should also be worth a play this week. Lavoy Allen is not someone I’d trust in my starting lineup this week.
Phoenix – The Suns play three times this week and Marcin Gortat (who is getting hot again) and Goran Dragic are still must-starts. Luis Scola, Jared Dudley and Jermaine O’Neal are all worth a look, but I don’t fully trust any of them.
San Antonio – The Spurs play just three games this week, but there aren't any back-to-backs to worry about. That means I’m guessing that Tony Parker (who rested on Sunday), Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili will play in all three games this week. But then again, you never know with Gregg Popovich.
Toronto – With four games, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Amir Johnson all look like solid plays, while Jonas Valanciunas and Alan Anderson might be worth a shot this week. Andrea Bargnani played 13 scoreless minutes on Friday, and should be on benches in all leagues until further notice, unless you just want to drop him.
Utah – With three games I’m starting Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, but guys like Randy Foye, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Marvin Williams all need to be looked at closely before running them out there. Mo Williams is still out with his thumb injury, and I’m not expecting any late miracles.
Washington – A four-game week makes John Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene and Emeka Okafor must-starts, while I would also not be afraid to run Martell Webster out there, as he’s surviving the Beal storm and starting at small forward. Trevor Ariza is also a nice sleeper option after his 18 points and four steals on Saturday. He's playing well off the bench.
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