L.A. Clippers – 2-4-3-2-3-4-3-3-2 = 26
Eric Bledsoe is probably worth holding through the trade deadline in case he’s set free (Boston would be ideal), but after that, the only thing he’ll be good for is Chris Paul insurance. Chauncey Billups finished in a flurry just before the All-Star break and I actually picked him up in a couple leagues, but I seriously doubt he stays as hot as he was prior to the break. Caron Butler is back and will hurt the value of Matt Barnes, and while Barnes is one of those guys who can get hot again at any time. He is no longer a must-start player. The Clippers schedule is pretty brutal in the playoffs and they have two two-game weeks left, including the one that starts on Tuesday. I’m still good with holding DeAndre Jordan, even though he’s not exactly having anything resembling a breakout season. Lamar Odom is another guy I’d keep an eye on going forward, but is far from a must-own player right now. Their playoff schedule isn’t great, nor are the two two-game weeks. Think about upgrading by trading Chris Paul or Blake Griffin in playoff leagues.
L.A. Lakers – 3-3-4-4-2-4-3-4-1 = 28
The Lakers have been a disaster and Kobe Bryant’s confusion about whether he’s a dominant scorer or dominant point guard has made his owners a little uneasy. Dwight Howard’s shoulder is a concern (at least for me) the rest of the way, while the league is still waiting for whoever kidnapped Steve Nash to return him to L.A. Metta World Peace has been shooting with a blindfold on, while Pau Gasol may or may not be able to return to finish the season. Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison look like must-own players, while Jodie Meeks is a guy to keep a close eye on the rest of the way. The Lakers have four four-game weeks left, but also an annoying two-game week during Week 21, which starts March 18.
Memphis – 4-3-3-4-4-4-4-3-2 = 31
Jerryd Bayless has cooled off but is still worth a look in most leagues, while Tony Allen really turned it on prior to the break. He looks like a really nice pickup right now, especially with the Grizzlies’ strong schedule. After the next three weeks, the Grizz have four four-game weeks in a row, which could mean a perfect playoff schedule in your league. Austin Daye is worth watching the rest of the way, but Tayshaun Prince should keep the starting small forward job the rest of the way. He’s not exactly a must-own player, averaging 9.6 points, 3.4 boards and 3.2 assists over his last five games, despite shooting a solid 46 percent.
Miami – 4-3-4-4-4-4-3-4-2 = 32
LeBron James’ owners, when taking a break from debating whether he’s better than Michael Jordan, are getting ready to celebrate as the Heat play four games per in six of the next eight weeks. That makes Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen worth a look in some head-to-head leagues, but as usual, the only must-own players in Miami are Bron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Milwaukee – 3-3-4-4-4-3-4-4-2 = 31
Milwaukee has a nice schedule the rest of the way making Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders and Samuel Dalembert all must-own players right now. I don’t know when the Show is going to be back from his back injury, but he’s officially iffy for the upcoming week. Start him at your own risk. Guys worth keeping an eye on are Beno Udrih, who could become must-own if Jennings is traded, Mike Dunleavy and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Minnesota – 3-3-4-4-4-4-4-4-2 = 32
Minnesota’s schedule is amazing, as they play four games per in six straight weeks to finish up the season. Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour (barring trade), Andrei Kirilenko, Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic are all currently must-own players, while Alexey Shved, J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham could all be worth a look with the great schedule. Feel free to stash Kevin Love, but his return date is still unknown, and he might only be back for the last three weeks of the season, if at all.
New Orleans - 4-3-4-3-3-4-3-4-1 = 29
The Hornets schedule isn’t great, nor is it bad. Eric Gordon is a shutdown candidate and Austin Rivers might be worth grabbing if he is shut down. Roger Mason will also be worth a look in that scenario. Al-Farouq Aminu is hot again and might be available in your league if you need boards. Anthony Davis continues to see fewer minutes than Ryan Anderson, but there’s still a chance the Hornets will turn him loose as the season winds down. Robin Lopez is an interesting center and was playing very well entering the break, while Greivis Vasquez and Ryan Anderson remain must-owns in New Orleans.
New York - 3-3-4-4-4-4-4-4-2 = 32
The Knicks schedule is fantastic and Carmelo Anthony’s owners should do very well in the playoffs. Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, who is due to heat up, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler are all must-own players right now. Jason Kidd, Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak are all worth a look given the great schedule, and Chris Copeland could become relevant if Amare goes down at some point.