There are many ways to play fantasy basketball — rotisserie, head to head, lineups that can be changed any time and lineups that lock just prior to Monday night’s tip. With that in mind, Athlon Sports will give you the Fantasy Dime each week. These are 10 things to assist you before you have to lock in that lineup for the week.
Houston, we have a backcourt problem
Ankle injuries sidelined Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin over the weekend. Brooks, the team's PG, thinks he will be out 4-6 weeks with the injury, while Martin (SG) returned the next night, but has a history of injury problems. PG Kyle Lowry has missed the last two games with back spasms, and has only played in two of six games thus far — shooting 21 percent with six assists.
Ishamel Smith filled in for Brooks on Sunday as the team recorded its first win of the season over the miserable Minnesota Timberwolves. But be wary of picking him up as he is shooting 25 percent for the year and has just 13 assists in nearly 76 minutes of action over the last two games.
And on the frontcourt end, Luis Scola is carrying the Rockets to what little respectability they have this season. A deal for Erick Dampier fell through when he decided not to sign with the team. Meanwhile, Yao Ming (limited minutes and not playing back to backs) and Brad Miller (ankle in the preseason) are not providing the presence needed to compete in the Western Conference.
So stick with Scola and avoid the rest.
Hornets still stinging foes sans Peja
New Orleans' guard/forward Peja Stojakovic has been a healthy scratch the last four games for the undefeated Hornets. "It's obvious I'm not in the plans," the once prolific scorer told the Times-Picayune.
The 15-year veteran has started no games and is averaging 5 ppg, to go with a steal, assist and 3-pointer a game in a total of 21:26 played. If he was drafted by you as a sleeper or you were hoping he would bounce back after a lackluster 2009-10 campaign, go ahead and cut him loose. It's obvious the Hornets are going younger and are instilling a defensive mindset — two characteristics that are anti-Peja.
Who's King of the Kings' frontcourt?
So last week Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said that things were fine the way they were with DeMarcus Cousins as the starting center and that Samuel Dalembert would come off the bench as he returned from injury. Well, Dalembert returned from injury and was eased into the lineup with games of 16 minutes, 22 minutes and 28 minutes. See a trend?
He went from coming off the bench to replacing Cousins as the starter on Saturday against Memphis. Dalembert played 32 minutes, shot 37.5 percent from the field, grabbed 12 boards and had a set of fives — blocks, steals and turnovers — to go with eight points.
Since Dalembert's 16-minute return, Cousins has played 28, 17, 20 and 23 minutes. The 23 came off the bench against Memphis as the rookie from Kentucky shot 20 percent, 50 from the line, grabbed just three boards, turned the ball over four times, fouled five times and had four points.
This is going to be a tricky situation to deal with until the team gets a good feel for how to work these two centers in. If you have to lock a lineup in today and have to play one of these two, I would go with Dalembert. Westphal's already flip-flopped on who will start, but if it's Dalembert who's in there now, stick with him as the Kings play host to Minnesota, travel to Phoenix and play host to Detroit this week. There's the potential for three OK plays this week.
The veteran Spur you might have forgotten about
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli make up the trio that everyone thinks of one when thinking of the veteran (read: old) San Antonio Spurs. There's another nine-year veteran on that roster not to be forgotten: Richard Jefferson.
The former first-round pick is averaging 20.4 points a game over 32 minutes a night while shooting 65 percent from the field and 60 from beyond the arc with 12 3-pointers made. The forward is pulling down 3.2 boards, dishing out 1.2 assists with seven turnovers. The only negative side thus far is his 69 percent from the stripe.
Get him in your lineup this week as the Spurs have four games against weak defensive teams — Clippers, 76ers, Thunder and Bulls — that allow an average of 103 points a game at an average of 45 percent from the field.
Gilbert Arenas has finally returned from his ankle injury to join rookie standout John Wall in the Wizard backcourt. Free agent signing Kirk Hinrich has been starting in place of Arenas in his absence, and doing well in the process. So what do you do with the Washington trio?
Arenas has averaged almost 26 minutes over two games, shooting 38.5 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point land and 80 percent from the free throw line. He is averaging 15.5 ppg, but is not a fantasy contributor in much more than points and 3-pointers made so far.
Hinrich played 33 and 37 minutes in the two games Arenas has played and was averaging over 39 in the first three games. He is scoring 11.2 a game while shooting 43 percent from the field, 34.6 from deep with nine 3-pointers made, 90 percent from the stripe. He also averages 2.8 boards and 4.2 assists.
The Wizards play three games this week — Houston, Charlotte and at Chicago. It's probably a safe bet to play all three this week as Arenas will ease back in, Wall will do what he has done and Hinrich will either get starter minutes for Arenas or spell both guards off the bench.
Lee lost in the Bay
Fantasy players want East Coast David Lee back, because West Coast David Lee isn't performing at the spot in which he was picked in most drafts — he had an ADP of 13.5 in Yahoo and 28 in ESPN.
In a nine-category Yahoo league, Golden State's big free agent signing is ranked 161st, while ESPN has him 133rd in player ratings. All of his numbers are down against his six-year career averages. He is shooting a miserable 40.6 percent from the field for a big man and 69.6 from the stripe against 55.4 and 77.2 career averages. His assist numbers, steals and blocks are all down, and his points are down from 20.3 a game last year in New York to 12.0 in Oakland.
Lee's only saving grace so far this year is his 11.3 rebounds a game, but still down from the 11.7 he's averaged the last two seasons.
Of course you are not going to bail on what was probably your second- or third-round pick. He is learning a new offense as is the whole team going from Don Nelson to Keith Smart. The Warriors head east for four games this week as they travel to Toronto tonight, then New York, Chicago and Milwaukee Saturday. Lee has to be in the lineup, but temper your expectations for a while.
With Baron away, Bledsoe will play
Eric Bledsoe is certainly making the most of Baron Davis being sidelined with a knee injury.
The other, other rookie from Kentucky, Bledsoe has started the last four games after playing just under 22 minutes combined in the first three. He has averaged 13 points and 40 minutes in his four starts, shooting 55 percent from the field, 80 percent from beyond the arc (4 of 5), and averages four rebounds a game in the four starts. The seven assists and 1.8 steals aren't too shabby, either.
The Clippers have three games this week, traveling to New Orleans and San Antonio before returning to play host to Detroit. And don't let the opponent discourage you, as Bledsoe's four starts have been against the Spurs, Thunder, Nuggets and Jazz — four Western Conference playoff teams.
If he's available in your league you first need to pick him up and second, send out a message taunting other team managers for not jumping on him earlier.
Philly's rook for real?
So is it officially about to get congested in the City of Brotherly Love?
No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner got his first start Sunday night, playing 35 minutes, shooting 54.6 percent from the field, grabbing 10 rebounds with three assists, a steal, five turnovers and four fouls. He got the start after Andre Iguodala (Achilles) failed to suit up for the first time in 252 games.
Iguodala obviously is not going to miss many games and Turner needs to be on the court for a rebuilding 76ers squad. He was already playing over 25 minutes with Iguodala in the lineup, and it will be interesting to see how the Philly staff handles the rotation.
The 76ers play three games this week, all tough road matchups at Oklahoma City, Dallas and San Antonio.
Excelling in limited New York minutes
Toney Douglas is getting around 28 minutes a game for the Knicks as the backup point guard to Raymond Felton, but the 2009 first-round pick of the Lakers is getting the most out of his playing time.
He is averaging 16,5 points a game on 48.7 percent from the field, 33 from beyond the arc (11 of 33) and 84 from the line (16 of 19). The 6-2, 190 Douglas is also adding five steals, 4.2 boards, 2.2 assists and just two turnovers a game.
If you have a deep bench, an injury or are just struggling at the PG/SG spot, scoop up Douglas as the Knicks play four games this week (at Milwaukee, host Golden State, at Minnesota and hosting Houston).
Big Two ... and Chris Bosh
So far the Big Three in Miami have been the Big Two. Or at least it seems that way.
Rarely do you see Chris Bosh in the Miami Heat highlights — kind of hard to when Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are teaming up for coast-to-coast alley-oop plays and dropping in 24.1 and 20.7 a night. Bosh is kind of getting it done in fantasy basketball — albeit certainly not giving you the return for where he was drafted (ADP of 21.2 in Yahoo). He is the 40th-best player in a nine-category Yahoo league and ESPN has him 63rd in its player rater.
It took Bosh until Saturday night to get his first 20-point game, and he has only pulled down double digit rebounds once (10 on Oct. 29 in a 96-70 win against Orlando). He is averaging 5.4 boards a game — down from 10.8 last year and 9.3 for his career. "I get a little lost out there because it's different," the Miami Herald reported of a conversation Bosh had with James.
Since you might have used a second-round pick for the clear "third" of the Big Three you might not get the same value in a trade, but it might be worth it to start shopping him. Granted, the Heat have only played seven games with the Big Three, and it could take a little longer for Bosh to mesh with Wade and James. But Wade and James are doing their part and have the Heat at 5-2, so where will Bosh fit in all this fantasy-wise?
I would say he fits on someone else's roster in your league.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter