Miami – LeBron James is on an historic run right now, becoming the third player ever to score 30 points and shoot over 60 percent in five straight games. The Heat have two games this week and four in Week 17, so Bron’s owners are about to go on a run. Dwyane Wade (also on fire) and Chris Bosh are also must-starts, while Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen are at least worth a look. Chalmers had 13 points, four boards and three dimes on Sunday, while Allen returned from the flu and had two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Milwaukee – Brandon Jennings is struggling with his shot and hasn’t shot it well from the line lately (13-of-20 in last three), but remains a must-start, along with Monta Ellis and Ersan Ilyasova. Samuel Dalembert is playing well enough to be used, while Larry Sanders missed Saturday’s game with his back injury and is iffy for Monday against the Wizards. Owners will have to watch for news, and Larry’s return will hurt Dalembert, although Sammy has earned more minutes going forward. My guess is Sanders will play on Monday, but it’s truly a guess.
Minnesota – J.J. Barea missed Sunday’s game with a foot injury, meaning he should be benched for now, while Mickael Gelabale is suddenly relevant after scoring 14 with two 3-pointers in 36 minutes on Sunday. He’s possibly a deep-league special. Ricky Rubio is hot and Andrei Kirilenko will miss more games, and I doubt we see him until after the All-Star break, which is the reason for Gelabale’s rise. Nikola Pekovic is a must-start, while Luke Ridnour, Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved and Dante Cunningham are all worth a deep-league look.
New Orleans – Anthony Davis disappeared on Sunday and Eric Gordon had just six points, but both look like solid options this week, although owners should watch for news on Gordon, as the Hornets play Monday and they may still be holding him out of back-to-back situations. Greivis Vasquez (triple-double Friday) and Ryan Anderson are truly must-starts. Robin Lopez is also worth a look if you need a two-game center option. He had 17 points, eight boards and three blocks Friday, but Al-Farouq Aminu has been too inconsistent for my blood lately.
New York – J.R. Smith has shot it poorly in four straight games and bottomed out on Sunday, hitting 1-of-9 shots. Carmelo Anthony is still hot and had 42 in that one, but with one game, he looks like the only must-start in New York.
Oklahoma City – Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are all must-starts with two games, while Thabo Sefolosha is playing well enough to be given a close look. Kevin Martin was out on Sunday with the flu, making him a risky play this week, while Sefolosha would benefit if he misses more time (as he did Sunday).
Orlando – The Magic are another one-game team, so they’re all pretty shaky starters. Nikola Vucevic’s dream season continues, and Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick are back. Start any of them at your own risk this week. Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson are both worth owning right now, but I wouldn’t play them.
Philadelphia – Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Nick Young and Spencer Hawes all look like solid plays, while Lavoy Allen is suddenly worth a close look in all leagues with Thaddeus Young out with a hamstring injury. He’s another guy I overlooked in Waiver Wired, as he is averaging 10.8 points, 9.6 boards and 1.2 blocks over his last five games. Yes, Andrew Bynum could return at any time, but I’m not holding my breath, either for his return or for him to dominate when it happens.
Phoenix – The Suns also have just one game this week and are a disaster, in every sense of the word. All of them should be benched for now, and owners just have to hope that Marcin Gortat gets things figured out in the near future. If you want to cut Jared Dudley, I wouldn’t be mad at you, while Kendall Marshall is a guy to keep an eye on.
Portland – The Blazers have no bench, meaning that Damian Lillard (1-of-16 shooting Sunday), Nicolas Batum (playing through a sore wrist), Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson are all must-starts, as usual.
Sacramento – Isaiah Thomas is hot, DeMarcus Cousins is a must-start and I’d probably play Tyreke Evans, despite his six-point game on Sunday. John Salmons is racking up minutes and had 23 points on Sunday, but was really struggling before that one. Jason Thompson is playing better, and Marcus Thornton is still hit-or-miss (three points Sunday), so the only guys I trust on this team are IT2, DMC and Reke.
San Antonio – Tony Parker has been on fire with Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan both resting with injuries, while Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are both decent starts right now, along with Tiago Splitter. Yes, Manu and Duncan might play this week, but I don’t trust Gregg Popovich enough to play either of them. Boris Diaw is another deep-league option if Duncan is out.
Toronto – Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan (only seven points Sunday) all remain must-start players right now, while Jonas Valanciunas started for a flu-ridden Andrea Bargnani on Sunday. He had 11 points, 10 boards and two blocks, and is really coming on over his last two games. Bench Bargs.
Utah – Paul Millsap had five fouls in 19 minutes on Saturday, while Al Jefferson also struggled in that one. Both remain must-start fantasy players, while Randy Foye, Derrick Favors, Marvin Williams and Alec Burks are all worth deep-league looks. Gordon Hayward missed his eighth straight game on Saturday and I wouldn’t show him the light of day until after the All-Star break, and even then we don’t know when he’ll be ready to play again.
Washington – John Wall, Martell Webster, Nene and Emeka Okafor all look like must-starts this week, while Bradley Beal should be benched until he gets hot again. Trevor Ariza is worth keeping a close eye on, as he’s coming on, and Jordan Crawford is ‘cut’ material because he’s stuck in Randy Wittman’s doghouse. Kevin Seraphin is struggling enough that I’m not into holding him right now.