I somehow survived against NBA TV’s Rick Kamla in my 30-team league and beat him 5-4 in Week 2 of our Finals showdown, edging him out by one steal and five rebounds to take the championship in the hardest fantasy league I’ve ever played in. My starting roster of Marcus Thornton, Dwyane Wade, James Johnson, Greg Monroe, Spencer Hawes and Gerald Green survived nine missed games, while Kamla had to live without Kyrie Irving for four games. Kamla is one of my best friends and I almost feel bad for taking the title from him – almost. He’s been in the playoffs in this league every year, but just hasn’t been able to get over the hump. If James Johnson wouldn’t have played again last night, I would have lost by two rebounds and we’d be playing a tie-breaker this week. But as it stands, I’m the champ. It’s not a green jacket, but is the arguably the biggest accomplishment in my fantasy career. I picked up Jeremy Lin and Green off waivers, which were huge keys to my success, while drafting Johnson in Round 7 with the 187th pick turned out to be the key move for me in the draft. I eliminated David Klyce of Hoopsklyce.com, CBSSports.com’s Jamey Eisenberg, Patrick Madden of Givemetherock.com and Kamla in the playoffs to take the title. You could say it was a good day. I’ll update the rest of my leagues at the end of this column, if you’re interested.
Atlanta – The Hawks go just three times this week, meaning only Josh Smith and Joe Johnson are must-starts in most leagues. The good news is the team is healthy, and they have four games the following week.
Boston – The Celtics go five times this week, and Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley look like sneaky plays, while Greg Stiemsma might be able to help deep-leaguers with steals and blocks, but not many points.
Charlotte – The Bobcats have five games, so Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Byron Mullens look like your must-starts. D.J. Augustin is dealing with a sore right knee, so I’d bench him, while guys like Bismack Biyombo, Corey Maggette, Derrick Brown and Cory Higgins should only be given a look in deep leagues. Reggie Williams was looking like a solid option, but has been out with a knee injury.
Chicago – The Bulls play just three games this week, but Derrick Rose looked pretty good on Sunday (29 points, 8-of-26 shooting). Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are all possibilities, but Rose is the only one I’d classify as a must-start, and he still needs to prove he’s healthy.
Cleveland – The Cavs play five times and Donald Sloan (14 assists Sunday) and Lester Hudson (26 points, six 3-pointers Sunday, 23 points on Friday) are suddenly the talk of the town. I have no idea if Hudson can keep this up, but with five games this week, I’m willing to roll the dice to find out. Antawn Jamison, Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson all look like decent starts, while Kyrie Irving, Anthony Parker and Anderson Varejao are all too banged up to play. Manny Harris has been starting for Parker, but I don’t trust him.
Dallas – The Mavs play four times this week and next, meaning Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry are must-starts. Jason Kidd still has no definite timetable on a return, so I’d leave him benched, while Delonte West, Brandan Wright, Shawn Marion, Roddy Beaubois and Brendan Haywood are all low-end fantasy options. And yes, I meant to ignore Lamar Odom on purpose.
Denver – The Nuggets go four times making Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo must-start, while Al Harrington, Kenneth Faried and Andre Miller are possibilities. JaVale McGee seems to be in the doghouse, and Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari are banged up. Gallo sounds like he’ll start on Monday against the Warriors, and maybe he plays in all four, but I’d be pretty cautious about starting him this week after he’s missed the last 10 games.
Detroit – The Pistons play four times and Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey look like strong plays, while Tayshaun Prince and Brandon Knight should also be solid. Jason Maxiell and Jonas Jerebko are worth a look, but are too inconsistent for my blood unless you’re in a pretty deep league.
Golden State – Charles Jenkins and Nate Robinson have been trading good games, Brandon Rush, Dorell Wright and Klay Thompson have all been inconsistent, and Jeremy Tyler has actually looked pretty good at center. With four games this week, all of these guys will be in fantasy lineups, but none qualify as must-starts. Be prepared to take the good with the bad this week, except in the case of David Lee, who is a must-start player, as usual.
Houston – Yes, Kyle Lowry is back, but played just 18 minutes for one point and seven assists on Sunday. Yes, I am worried about Goran Dragic going forward, but my guess is he’ll be rock solid for at least the upcoming week. The following five-game week, however, is another story. Dragic, Courtney Lee, Luis Scola and Chandler Parsons are all solid prospects with four games this week, while Marcus Camby, Samuel Dalembert and Patrick Patterson are all worth a look, but are simply not trustworthy.
Indiana – With four games, Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West and Roy Hibbert are all pretty solid fantasy options this week. George Hill and Tyler Hansbrough can be given a look, but you can probably find a better player on waivers.
Clippers – Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are your must-starts, while DeAndre Jordan should also be in there for the blocks and boards. Caron Butler is finally hot and also worth a start, along with Randy Foye, who looks like a much better option than Nick Young.
Lakers – Kobe Bryant’s status is up in the air due to a shin injury and his replacement, Devin Ebanks, can’t be trusted. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Ramon Sessions are your plays, while Ron Artest might be worth a look in some leagues. As for Kobe, we’ll hopefully have a positive report on Monday afternoon, but you know he doesn’t want to miss more games with a measly shin injury, right?
Memphis – With five games this week, the must-starts are Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol, with O.J. Mayo, Marreese Speights and Zach Randolph being decent options – especially Mayo. Tony Allen should be solid, but has missed two straight games with a mouth injury. I dropped Speights for Lester Hudson around 1 a.m. Monday. We’ll see how that pans out.
Miami – The Heat go four times this week and my guess is Dwyane Wade (missed Saturday with a tweaked ankle) will play in three of them, likely sitting out the home game against the Bobcats (which is just my opinion). I think you play Wade and hope for three games this week. LeBron James and Chris Bosh are must-starts, while Mario Chalmers is worth a look in deeper leagues. James Jones went off for six 3-pointers on Sunday without Wade, but hadn’t even scored in his previous eight games. Just keep an eye on him.