Miami 2-3 – Chris Bosh has been struggling with his shot, but is still doing enough in scoring and boards to remain a must-start. LeBron James (or Littlebron, as my 4-year-old calls him) is playing like the best player in the league and Dwyane Wade looks to be as healthy as he’s been in some time. Mario Chalmers is also a fantasy option since his hand injury doesn’t appear to be limiting him. As for their teammates, continue to ignore them for now.
Milwaukee 2-4 – Ersan Ilyasova was the toast of Milwaukee on Sunday when he exploded for 29 points, a career-high 25 rebounds, two 3-pointers, a steal and a block in a win over the Nets. Brandon Jennings, Ilyasova and Carlos Delfino look like sold two-game options, while Stephen Jackson and Mike Dunleavy have fallen off the face of the earth. Shaun Livingston remains a deep-league option if you’re desperate at shooting guard.
Minnesota 2-4 – Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are probably must-starts despite the two-game week, while Luke Ridnour and Jose Juan Barea are worth a look in deeper leagues. Pekovic is right there for top waiver-wire pickup of the year.
New Jersey 2-3 – Deron Williams, Brook Lopez (nine points in 22 minutes Sunday), MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries and Anthony Morrow (inconsistent, but 17 points, two steals and two 3-pointers Sunday) all look like safe plays this week. Mehmet Okur (back injury) becomes an afterthought with the return of Lopez.
New Orleans 3-4 – The Hornets play max games over the next two weeks, making Trevor Ariza and Chris Kaman the only sure bets in fantasy right now, which tells you just how bad they are. Jarrett Jack and Greivis Vasquez are going to split time, but are both decent options, while Marco Belinelli and Gustavo Ayon will be popular additions with the fat schedule over the next two weeks.
New York 3-2 – Tyson Chandler injured both his wrists and tailbone on Sunday but X-rays were negative. However, with a game against the Nets on Monday, he’ll be very iffy, possibly turning his three-game week into a two-gamer, or less. J.R. Smith hit 6-of-16 shots and three 3-pointers for 15 points in 30 minutes off the bench Sunday, so that Mike D’Antoni talk about bringing him along slowly was, uh, garbage. Carmelo Anthony may or may not play on Monday, meaning I’ll have him on my bench yet again. Oh, and Jeremy Lin racked up a measly 28 points, four rebounds, 14 assists, five steals, a block and three 3-pointers as the world watched them beat Dallas. Yes, he had seven TOs, but should anyone really care about that right now? Steve Nash had seven TOs in his last game, and has racked up four or more in nine straight. And as an FYI, that 2-game week after the All-Star break is going to be a painful one for those of you in weekly leagues. Baron Davis might play Monday, but if a tree falls in the woods…
Oklahoma City 3-3 – The Thunder got a career-high 51 from Kevin Durant, 40 from Russell Westbrook (ankle) and a 14-point, 15-rebound, 11-block triple-double from Serge Ibaka in Sunday’s OT win against the Nuggets. Durant and Westbrook ridiculously outscored seven of 20 teams in action on Sunday, by themselves. James Harden is also a must-start with three games, but I’d ignore the rest of the Thunder this week.
Orlando 3-3 – Jason Richardson was out on Sunday with chest pains, so J.J. Redick started and had 17 points and five treys. Keep a close eye on J-Rich’s status going forward, and give Redick a look if he’s out. Hedo Turkoglu disappeared on Sunday but had been playing fairly well, so I’d keep him active. Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson remain must-starts, while Jameer Nelson and Turk are intriguing options with three games during All-Star week.
Philadelphia 2-4 – Jrue Holiday woke up with 20 points, five boards, two assists and three steals in Sunday’s loss, and is a decent two-game play for Week 9. Andre Iguodala is a must-start player, while Elton Brand is dealing with a sore thumb that he appeared to aggravate on Sunday. Check back for an update on his status, but my guess is he’s good to go. Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen are worth looks in deep leagues, while Thaddeus Young is an iffy fantasy starter for two games.
Phoenix 2-3 – Steve Nash is on an assists roll, Jared Dudley broke out of a funk with 25 points, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers on Sunday, while Marcin Gortat continues to beast along. Grant Hill is worth a look in deep leagues, while Channing Frye and Markieff Morris continue to be locked into a deadly timeshare.
Portland 2-3 – LaMarcus Aldridge played through his sprained ankle on Saturday, Raymond Felton finally played well, and Nicolas Batum added his name to the buzz list along with Lin, Ilyasova and Isaiah Thomas after averaging 21 points and a ton of goodies over his last five games. Wesley Matthews appears to be the forgotten man, making him an iffy start for two games this week.
Sacramento 2-4 – Combo-guard Isaiah Thomas blew up on Sunday for 23 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists, a block and three 3-pointers, making himself the pickup of the day in fantasy leagues, along with Ilyasova. He’s starting, and there’s even a chance the Kings could decide to start him at point guard, Marcus Thornton at shooting guard, and Tyreke Evans at small forward. The Kings have two games this week, and I’m rolling the dice on Thomas, Evans, Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins (who is playing through a sore back). Jason Thompson is worth a look in deeper leagues, but I’d think twice before starting him.
San Antonio 3-3 – Manu Ginobili is hurt again, but the oblique injury isn’t as bad as initially feared. However, we still don’t know when he’s going to play again. Gary Neal looks like a nice fill-in for three games, while DeJuan Blair should see a boost if Tiago Splitter will miss time with his calf injury. And as you know, Tony Parker is a beast when Manu’s out, so he’s a must-start, along with Tim Duncan.
Toronto 1-4 – With just one game in All-Star week, Jose Calderon, James Johnson, Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan are all possibly better served on benches in weekly leagues. And we still don’t know when Linas Kleiza will return from his knee injury, or when Andrea Bargnani will be back from his strained calf. With one game left before the break, both could be done until after next weekend.
Utah 2-4 – Raja Bell suffered an injury on Sunday, while Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap continued their strong play, while Devin Harris continues to play a little better at point guard. The small forward and shooting guard positions are a mess in Utah, but the two big men are automatic starts until further notice. Harris is not a great option with two games, but is playing well enough lately to at least be given consideration.
Washington 2-3 – Jordan Crawford is coming on, while John Wall, Nick Young and JaVale McGee look like the must-starts in Washington. Trevor Booker, Jan Vesely and Rashard Lewis are worth keeping an eye on, but you can do better off the waiver in most leagues.