NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Games Played for Week 16 (All-Star break)
3 Games – L.A. Clippers
2 Games – Atlanta, Boston, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, L.A. Lakers, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, Toronto, Utah, Washington
1 Game – Golden State, Memphis, New York, Orlando, Phoenix
ESPN Leagues (combine Week 16 & 17)
6 Games – Boston, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans, San Antonio
5 Games - Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Golden State, Houston, Indiana, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Toronto, Washington
4 Games – New York, Utah
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Atlanta – The Hawks play twice this week so Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver are must-starts. Outside of those four, I’d be hesitant to start any Hawks. And owners of Smith have to hope he doesn’t get traded while he’s stuck in your lineup.
Boston – Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have been hot since Rajon Rondo went down, while Jeff Green is a nice sleeper. Avery Bradley, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee are all worth a look, along with Brandon Bass, but none of them have been very consistent. Pierce went off on Sunday with 27 points, 14 boards and 14 dimes for a massive triple-double. While I don't believe the Celtics are better without Rondo, they've somehow won seven straight games, as Pierce and KG are going off.
Brooklyn – Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez are must-starts with two games, while Reggie Evans can be used if you are desperate for boards and don’t care about points. Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries have been walking disasters and while I still think there’s a chance Wallace will figure it out, he shouldn’t be in lineups when you can help it. At least he’s getting minutes, unlike Humps.
Charlotte – Kemba Walker was awful on Sunday but I’d still plan on using him this week, along with Byron Mullens, Ramon Sessions and Gerald Henderson. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is back from his concussion, but is far too inconsistent for my taste, along with Bismack Biyombo.
Chicago – Nate Robinson is on fire and should be starting until further notice, as it could take Derrick Rose a few games to get back into game shape once he returns after the break, while Joakim Noah is playing through his sore feet. I’d start Robinson, Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng this week, and give consideration to Marco Belinelli and Taj Gibson in deeper leagues. Gibson played well on Friday, despite coming off the bench. I love Jimmy Butler’s game, but it looks like Belinelli and Richard Hamilton are squeezing him out of the rotation.
Cleveland – As usual, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson are your must-starts, while Dion Waiters (who was awful on Saturday) and Alonzo Gee (who was great on Saturday) are also worth a look. Marreese Speights hit just 1-of-10 shots for five points on Saturday, but is still getting enough minutes and playing well enough to also be given serious fantasy consideration.
Dallas – Dirk Nowitzki, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Shawn Marion are your must-starts for Dallas, while Elton Brand is worth a look with Chris Kaman still sitting with a concussion. Vince Carter is also a decent play, now that his illness is behind him. Marion seems to be playing at a different level while trying to convince the Mavs not to trade him.
Denver – Andre Iguodala suffered a neck injury on Sunday night but it doesn’t sound too serious and he is planning on playing Tuesday against the Raptors. Watch for news. Ty Lawson went off on Sunday, while Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried are also hot. Andre Miller, JaVale McGee, Wilson Chandler and Corey Brewer are all interesting options, but chances are you have a safer option on your team.
Detroit – Greg Monroe, Jose Calderon, Brandon Knight (24 points Friday) and Charlie Villanueva (19.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.5 3-pointers over his last two) all look like strong plays this week, while Jason Maxiell and Kyle Singler are worth a look in deeper leagues. Andre Drummond will miss four to six weeks with a fractured vertebra in his back, which is the reason for the rise of Villanueva. Guard Will Bynum is also someone worth a look in deeper leagues, along with a struggling Rodney Stuckey, who has actually played well in his last two.
Golden State – The Warriors play just one game this week, leaving owners of Stephen Curry and David Lee with a tough decision. Jarrett Jack is dealing with a shoulder injury and sat out on Saturday, while Andrew Bogut also missed that one, as he’s still not playing in back-to-backs. I’d lean toward playing Curry and Lee, but the rest of the Warriors, including Carl Landry, aren’t worth using with just one game.
Houston – James Harden is the next best thing not named LeBron James, and is as must-start as they come these days. Jeremy Lin, Patrick Patterson, Chandler Parsons (awful Sunday) and Omer Asik are all strong plays this week. Carlos Delfino might be worth a look now that his shoulder injury is behind him, but I’m not comfortable with starting him right now (although he played well on Sunday). Harden appeared to hurt his leg on Sunday night, but played through it.
Indiana – Danny Granger could make his season debut on Wednesday, but could also wait until after the break to come back for the Pacers. He will be rusty and I wouldn’t risk playing him at this point. Paul George, David West, George Hill and Roy Hibbert are all strong plays, but I wouldn’t mess with Lance Stephenson, especially with Granger possibly ready to return.
L.A. Clippers – The Clips are the only team to play three games this week, meaning Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford are all must-starts, while DeAndre Jordan, who was hot coming into Sunday, all but disappeared in that one, and Matt Barnes are also worth a close look. Eric Bledsoe played well on Sunday, but I don’t really trust him with CP3 healthy, and Caron Butler left Sunday with a back injury, meaning he’s too risky to start. If he’s out, Barnes looks like a safe play.
L.A. Lakers – Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace and Earl Clark are your must-starts for the Lakers, although starting MWP could do serious damage to your field goal percentage. Steve Nash is also a pretty solid play, even though he’s looking like a 40-year-old, defenseless point guard instead of vintage Nash. Jodie Meeks is also worth a look in deeper leagues, as is Antawn Jamison. However, Jamison has struggled to produce and get minutes over his last three games, making him a pretty risky play. I still think Jamison will bounce back soon, as he’s going to have to see minutes with Pau Gasol out indefinitely.
Memphis – The Grizzlies play just one game this week, so owners of Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have tough decisions to make. Tayshaun Prince, Jerryd Bayless, Austin Daye and Tony Allen may all be worth owning in fantasy leagues, but I wouldn’t plan on starting any of them this week. I probably should have included Daye in Waiver Wired, as he’s averaging 14 points, four rebounds and 2.5 3-pointers over his last two games.
Miami – LeBron James is on an historic run right now, becoming the third player ever to score 30 points and shoot over 60 percent in five straight games. The Heat have two games this week and four in Week 17, so Bron’s owners are about to go on a run. Dwyane Wade (also on fire) and Chris Bosh are also must-starts, while Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen are at least worth a look. Chalmers had 13 points, four boards and three dimes on Sunday, while Allen returned from the flu and had two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Milwaukee – Brandon Jennings is struggling with his shot and hasn’t shot it well from the line lately (13-of-20 in last three), but remains a must-start, along with Monta Ellis and Ersan Ilyasova. Samuel Dalembert is playing well enough to be used, while Larry Sanders missed Saturday’s game with his back injury and is iffy for Monday against the Wizards. Owners will have to watch for news, and Larry’s return will hurt Dalembert, although Sammy has earned more minutes going forward. My guess is Sanders will play on Monday, but it’s truly a guess.
Minnesota – J.J. Barea missed Sunday’s game with a foot injury, meaning he should be benched for now, while Mickael Gelabale is suddenly relevant after scoring 14 with two 3-pointers in 36 minutes on Sunday. He’s possibly a deep-league special. Ricky Rubio is hot and Andrei Kirilenko will miss more games, and I doubt we see him until after the All-Star break, which is the reason for Gelabale’s rise. Nikola Pekovic is a must-start, while Luke Ridnour, Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved and Dante Cunningham are all worth a deep-league look.
New Orleans – Anthony Davis disappeared on Sunday and Eric Gordon had just six points, but both look like solid options this week, although owners should watch for news on Gordon, as the Hornets play Monday and they may still be holding him out of back-to-back situations. Greivis Vasquez (triple-double Friday) and Ryan Anderson are truly must-starts. Robin Lopez is also worth a look if you need a two-game center option. He had 17 points, eight boards and three blocks Friday, but Al-Farouq Aminu has been too inconsistent for my blood lately.
New York – J.R. Smith has shot it poorly in four straight games and bottomed out on Sunday, hitting 1-of-9 shots. Carmelo Anthony is still hot and had 42 in that one, but with one game, he looks like the only must-start in New York.
Oklahoma City – Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are all must-starts with two games, while Thabo Sefolosha is playing well enough to be given a close look. Kevin Martin was out on Sunday with the flu, making him a risky play this week, while Sefolosha would benefit if he misses more time (as he did Sunday).
Orlando – The Magic are another one-game team, so they’re all pretty shaky starters. Nikola Vucevic’s dream season continues, and Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick are back. Start any of them at your own risk this week. Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson are both worth owning right now, but I wouldn’t play them.
Philadelphia – Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Nick Young and Spencer Hawes all look like solid plays, while Lavoy Allen is suddenly worth a close look in all leagues with Thaddeus Young out with a hamstring injury. He’s another guy I overlooked in Waiver Wired, as he is averaging 10.8 points, 9.6 boards and 1.2 blocks over his last five games. Yes, Andrew Bynum could return at any time, but I’m not holding my breath, either for his return or for him to dominate when it happens.
Phoenix – The Suns also have just one game this week and are a disaster, in every sense of the word. All of them should be benched for now, and owners just have to hope that Marcin Gortat gets things figured out in the near future. If you want to cut Jared Dudley, I wouldn’t be mad at you, while Kendall Marshall is a guy to keep an eye on.
Portland – The Blazers have no bench, meaning that Damian Lillard (1-of-16 shooting Sunday), Nicolas Batum (playing through a sore wrist), Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson are all must-starts, as usual.
Sacramento – Isaiah Thomas is hot, DeMarcus Cousins is a must-start and I’d probably play Tyreke Evans, despite his six-point game on Sunday. John Salmons is racking up minutes and had 23 points on Sunday, but was really struggling before that one. Jason Thompson is playing better, and Marcus Thornton is still hit-or-miss (three points Sunday), so the only guys I trust on this team are IT2, DMC and Reke.
San Antonio – Tony Parker has been on fire with Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan both resting with injuries, while Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are both decent starts right now, along with Tiago Splitter. Yes, Manu and Duncan might play this week, but I don’t trust Gregg Popovich enough to play either of them. Boris Diaw is another deep-league option if Duncan is out.
Toronto – Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan (only seven points Sunday) all remain must-start players right now, while Jonas Valanciunas started for a flu-ridden Andrea Bargnani on Sunday. He had 11 points, 10 boards and two blocks, and is really coming on over his last two games. Bench Bargs.
Utah – Paul Millsap had five fouls in 19 minutes on Saturday, while Al Jefferson also struggled in that one. Both remain must-start fantasy players, while Randy Foye, Derrick Favors, Marvin Williams and Alec Burks are all worth deep-league looks. Gordon Hayward missed his eighth straight game on Saturday and I wouldn’t show him the light of day until after the All-Star break, and even then we don’t know when he’ll be ready to play again.
Washington – John Wall, Martell Webster, Nene and Emeka Okafor all look like must-starts this week, while Bradley Beal should be benched until he gets hot again. Trevor Ariza is worth keeping a close eye on, as he’s coming on, and Jordan Crawford is ‘cut’ material because he’s stuck in Randy Wittman’s doghouse. Kevin Seraphin is struggling enough that I’m not into holding him right now.
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