Russell Westbrook’s early struggles appear to be a thing of the past and he’s back to elite status. Kevin Durant, obviously is even more elite, while James Harden is a possibility despite the three games. Serge Ibaka continues to see his minutes jerked around by coach Scott Brooks, and with three games this week, is probably best served on fantasy benches. Ibaka is a popular fantasy mystery right now, as one of the league’s biggest early disappointments. His value is too low to trade right now and owners have to pray for a couple big games in a row in order to move him at maximum value. With just three games, Kendrick Perkins, as well as Ibaka, should be on benches this week.
Jason Richardson will likely miss Monday’s game with a bad knee, so this could be the week J.J. Redick finally gets a chance to show his stuff. Dwight Howard, who attempted 39 free throws and hit just 21 of them on Thursday, is a must-start player this week, while Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu and Redick all deserve consideration. Jameer Nelson’s been struggling and is a tough call with four games this week, so weigh your options.
Spencer Hawes is playing through a sore back but the numbers are well down over his last couple games. I’m continuing to roll with him this week, but my options are limited. Make sure you don’t have someone playing better than Hawes is before sending him out there. Jrue Holiday’s been a disappointment this season, but remains a must-start player with four games, while Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand should be in all lineups this week. Evan Turner (quad injury), Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks are all borderline fantasy players this week, but Turner and Williams will likely be in many starting lineups.
Jared Dudley is still starting at shooting guard for the Suns, despite the return of Michael Redd. The two should split time, but Dudley is by far the more reliable player in both reality and fantasy. Marcin Gortat is on fire, Markieff Morris is worth owning in most leagues, and Steve Nash remains a must-start player now that he’s back. Grant Hill, Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick are always worth a look, but should be on benches in most fantasy leagues, especially with only three games this week.
Marcus Camby doesn’t appear ready to play this week due to a badly sprained ankle and Nicolas Batum went crazy on Saturday with 29 points, six 3-pointers and four blocks. I’ve been preaching for owners to hang onto Batum and Saturday’s monster line is hopefully the beginning of a hot streak. Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge are all must-start players with four games, while Jamal Crawford also deserves a look.
The Kings were a mess on Saturday, getting blown out by the Spurs. Despite a terrible night from Tyreke Evans, he should be in all lineups this week. DeMarcus Cousins is also a must-start with four games and Marcus Thornton appears to be ready to play through his thigh injury. All three should be in lineups, while J.J. Hickson, Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons can be used in a pinch.
Gary Neal left Sunday’s game with a quad contusion and didn’t return. The experiment is officially over, so drop him and pick up a hot free agent. Tim Duncan suddenly looks like the guy we knew five years ago and should be in all lineups, DeJuan Blair has looked much better over his last couple games, and as expected, Tony Parker’s numbers are up due to the absence of Manu Ginobili. All are safe starts this week, while Richard Jefferson is also worth a look with four games.
Andrea Bargnani is iffy for Monday, leaving his week in jeopardy. You should probably bench him if you have options, which will be a tough pill to swallow given how well he’s played. Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson are all worth a starting job with four games, while Ed Davis and a red-hot Leandro Barbosa are worth a look in many leagues.
Paul Millsap is finally turning it on for the Jazz, rendering Derrick Favors (sprained left ankle) useless. Al Jefferson looks like an All-Star, Devin Harris showed signs of life on Sunday, and Gordon Hayward scored 19 points. Millsap and Jefferson are must-starts, while Harris and Hayward are shaky plays with just three games. The Josh Howard hype machine took a hit on Sunday when it was announced he’d miss the game with his lingering quad injury. I’m a sucker, and picked him up in a couple leagues, but chances are he’s going to be hurt all season long.
The Wizards are a mess, but JaVale McGee is a beast. He’s the type of player who should be started in two-game weeks, and the Wizards play four times this week. I guess John Wall is a must-start player as well, given his name, but he’s been pretty awful this season. Owners are in a quandary over Andray Blatche, who has been put on the bench, along with Rashard Lewis. I’m fine with dropping Lewis, but believe that Blatche should be held until things shake out in Washington. Chris Singleton and Trevor Booker deserve a look in all leagues now that they’re the starting forward tandem, while Nick Young and Jordan Crawford also deserve attention. Young’s clearly the more consistent option, but I would be confident having either player in my lineup this week.