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FANTASY BASKETBALL: JUMP SHOTS

Daniel Dobish January 9, 2012 2:15AM EDT

Philadelphia 76ers C Spencer Hawes (back) has not just been playing well this season, but he has been All-Star caliber. He is not exactly Mike Gminski or Jeff Ruland, people.

Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, Hawes initially looks like a question mark heading into the new week, one which features a five-game schedule in seven days. He left the game against the Raptors Saturday due to a lower back ailment. However, CSNPhilly.com is reporting that Hawes could have returned if needed, so that should set your minds at ease. Hawes has been a beast, snagging 11 or more boards in five of his seven games. He was averaging 2.2 blocks per game heading into Saturday’s game with Toronto, but didn’t swat a shot in 17 minutes before departing early with the back ailment.

Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry should be reserved in all leagues this week. Photo Credit: Keith Allison

It looks like the Sacramento Kings and PF/C DeMarcus Cousins have made nice. In fact, it’s a bit of a mess in Sacto right now. They ended up firing head coach Paul Westphal after he and Cousins had a verbal sparring which caused D.C. to be sent away from the team on New Year’s Day. Now, in Cali’s capital, Cousins still has a job, and Westphal is reading the classifieds. Cousins is back on track for his Fantasy owners under the tutelage of Keith Smart. He remains a must-start in all leagues, and the Maloof Brothers made it clear he is going nowhere any time soon.

The offense for the Kings has been atrocious this season, despite a bevy of young talent. They don’t play defense, as is indicated by their 102.1 points per game allowed, third-worst in the NBA behind only the Charlotte Bobcats and Houston Rockets.

Speaking of those Rockets, they have an awfully favorable schedule with a game in Charlotte and a home game with Sacramento. This should be a huge week for PG Kyle Lowry, who will face two of the worst defensive clubs in the NBA. The fact that the Rockets don’t play good defense, who cares? Fantasy is all about what they’re doing at the other end of the floor. PF Luis Scola should also have a giant week, and SG Kevin Martin is in line for big production. PG Goran Dragic might also be a sneaky play, especially if you are starting someone like Orlando Magic SG J.J. Redick or SG Jason Richardson, since the Magic have just two games on the upcoming schedule.

INJURIES

Golden State Warriors PG Stephen Curry (ankle) continues to battle trouble with his surgically-repaired right ankle, and his return date is uncertain. Curry is scheduled to meet with his surgeon Monday in Charlotte, although that doesn’t mean something bad. He is just going to be evaluated. He remains hopeful of returning to the floor for Thursday’s game against Orlando, but at this point, he should be reserved in all Fantasy leagues. That’s not a certainty he will play, and if so, he would miss most, if not all, of the week. Be smart. Rookie PG Klay Thompson has been the beneficiary of more minutes with Curry on the mend, but he is still only worth a look in deeper formats and long-term keeper leagues right now. Again, if you’re looking for a short-term replacement, Dragic of Houston is a nice add with a favorable schedule, and Hornets PG Greivis Vasquez might be worth a look. New Jersey Nets PG Sundiata Gaines has also seen some value in multiple categories, and could be a nice stopgap option.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that PG Jason Kidd (back) will miss at least two more games due to his lower back injury, although he will travel with the team Tuesday and Wednesday. The fact he will be subjected to air travel and the rigors that come with that, it’s a good sign that his injured back is just wonky and not something more serious. After all, Kidd is, well, no kid. However, the earliest we are likely to see the veteran is Friday, so reserve him in all cumulative leagues. It appears Gs Delonte West and Roddy Beaubois will split up his minutes, and each are decent plays heading into the new week in leagues of 12 or more teams, and/or daily formats.

The news is not great out of Memphis, as PF Zach Randolph (knee) will likely be sidelined until early March due to a knee injury. It’s great news if you’re a Fantasy owner of C Marc Gasol or SF Rudy Gay, who should see slight upticks in their rebound numbers. However, PG Mike Conley might see a bit of a decrease in his assist totals. Also, keep an eye on C Marreese Speights, as he is worth adding to your bench in all Fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams. Initially, he is expected to simply serve as a backup center, but he might be a huge Fantasy option if he starts logging 20-25 minutes per game.

CATEGORY HELP

If you’re lagging in certain categories, we’re here to help. Try these guys on for size if you need a boost in specific areas. These Fantasy players are likely available in a majority of leagues:

Assists: T.J. Ford, PG, SA (4.5 AST over his past eight games)

Blocks: Bismack Biyombo, C, CHA (1.4 BLK over his past eight games)

Points: Byron Mullens, C, CHA (11.4 PTS over his past eight games)

Steals: Delonte West, PG, DAL (1.4 STL over his past nine games)

Rebounds: Kwame Brown, C, GS (6.4 REB over his past eight games)

3-pointers: Daniel Gibson, PG, CLE (14 3-pointers made over his past seven games)

JUMP SHOTS

Kings PG Marcus Thornton had been productive in his first two seasons with Sacramento, averaging 14.5 ppg in his rookie season of 2009-10 in New Orleans, and 12.8 ppg in 73 games last season splitting time between NOLA and Sacramento. However, this season he is up to 19.4 ppg, and among the league leaders in scoring in the Western Conference. If you drafted Thornton in the middle to late rounds on Draft Day, he is the kind of player that will lead you to a championship, just like Hawes of the Sixers… Los Angeles Lakers SF Metta World Peace should have changed his name to ‘Metta Brick Layer’. Over the past six games, the basketball player formerly known as Ron Artest has hit just nine of his 36 field goal attempts (25 percent). His playing time continues to dwindle, as he logged just 10 minutes for head coach Mike Brown against the Warriors Friday. The countdown is now on for when he has a meltdown. Over/under is 12 more games. Which one do you pick? As far as Fantasy is concerned, obviously reserve him in all leagues, but don’t drop him just yet… The ageless Boston Celtics SG Ray Allen continues to march on. He has canned 26 of his 41 three-point attempts this season, shooting a cool 63.4 percent from behind the arc to lead the league (minimum 10 attempts). Jesus Shuttlesworth remains a useful Fantasy option, even at 36 years old, in all formats… Say what you want about Los Angeles Clippers PG Chauncey Billups, but he remains amazingly consistent at the free-throw line. He has hit all 24 of his attempts from the charity stripe this season… Miami Heat PF Udonis Haslem has averaged 10.3 rpg through nine games, tying him for fourth in the NBA. He is available in a lot of Fantasy leagues still. He shouldn’t be… Only Lowry and Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo have averaged more than 10 assists per game during the early going.

* Statistics from Dec. 25-Jan. 7

Need more Fantasy Basketball advice, drop us a line via our Email Advice. If you’d rather get your advice LIVE, then check out our Live Advice feature.

Daniel E. Dobish has won consecutive Fantasy championships in the UBC – Ultimate Basketball Challenge, an ultra-challenging fantasy league among experts in the industry. Email him for advice at danieledobish@rotoexperts.com or follow Dan at http://twitter.com/danieledobish. Follow RotoExperts on Twitter or check us out on our Facebook page.

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