This past week was loaded with bad news and Wednesday was the worst part of it. Only one movie comes to mind as a comparison: The Empire Strikes Back. Goran Dragic got his hand cut off by Lindsey Hunter, Ty Lawson was frozen in carbonite and Brandon Jennings was dismantled in Chewbacca’s backpack with his head on backwards.
Hopefully, your team was able to survive in head-to-head playoffs and your opponent has worse luck than you did. There were a few other injuries that took place over the weekend, but none of them were of the magnitude of Ty Lawson. This could mean a few reliable players might be dicey plays due to their injuries and if they have three games, it might be enough to pick up someone with four games.
Now that we’re down the homestretch, the schedule is more important than ever -- especially in daily leagues with matchup acquisitions. It’s all about getting more games than your opponent, so today or tomorrow, you might want to try and figure out when you’re going to use your moves. Obviously, things probably won’t go as planned, but it’s still a good idea and you can say “I love it when a plan comes together” should it actually work out. As you see, there are 18 teams with four games, 12 teams with three games, and no outliers:
Three games - Nets, Nuggets, Warriors, Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Hornets, Thunder, 76ers, Suns, Kings
Four games- Hawks, Celtics, Bobcats, Bulls, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Pistons, Rockets, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Bucks, Knicks, Magic, Blazers, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards
In the following week, Week 24 (beginning April 9th) there are 10 teams with four games, 16 teams with three games, and four teams with just two games -- the Hawks, Pistons, Magic and Jazz. Presumably all head-to-head leagues will be over before the final meaningless half-week of the season (but just in case, every team plays twice with the exception of the Lakers and Hornets, who each play once). The Wednesday finale has every team playing, which should be a lot of fun to cover in the blurbs.
As eluded to earlier, players that are on back-to-back sets are valuable in acquisition-limit leagues. If you can pick up a guy that’s on a back-to-back on Tuesday-Wednesday, then cut him for a different player that’s on one Thursday-Friday, you’re going to get four games with only two moves.
There were no Monday-Tuesday back-to-backs last week and there won’t be another for the rest of the season.
Knicks and Wizards- Kenyon Martin, Garrett Temple and Trevor Ariza come to mind here.
Spurs, Nuggets and Nets- Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, JaVale McGee and Wilson Chandler are guys to think about. The Nets tempo is too slow and the Spurs are too hard to predict when it comes to waiver wire. Although, Tiago Splitter will probably be very good since Tim Duncan might sit out in one of those games. We’ll also have to see how Gary Neal fares on Sunday and Monday sans Manu Ginobili.
Thunder, Mavericks and Bulls- Brandan Wright is coming on, but the Bulls are a mess with so many players up in the air due to injuries.
Heat, Hawks, Bucks, Raptors, Sixers and Pacers- There are lots of games and you should have a good idea which categories you’ll be battling for. If you can predict where you’ll need help, try to address it with a pickup here.
Wizards and Pistons- The Pistons are pretty bad, but they’re going to be very helpful to end your week.
Three off days in a row
Pacers (Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday), Clippers (Thursday, Friday, Saturday)- Having three days off in a row stinks and middle-of-the-road guys like Matt Barnes and Lance Stephenson may be worth dropping just before their mini vacation.
You can follow me on Twitter for some favorable matchups and other useful stats @MikeSGallagher.
Let’s get to the pickups:
Kyrie Irving (4)- The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Kyrie Irving could return to the lineup “sooner rather than later” on Saturday and today the News-Herald said he has a “slight chance” to play Sunday. He’s working hard in practice and he seems like a very good bet to return at some point this week. If you’re in a weekly league or a league with no acquisition limits, you absolutely have to pick him up. Other leagues will depend on your risk management. I wouldn’t expect him to kill it right off the bat, but he should have his game set to stun.
Update: Kyrie is playing Sunday. Go get him.
Martell Webster (4)- His abdominal injury was expected to keep him down for a handful of games, but he returned on Saturday and logged an eye-catching 39 minutes and scored 19 points. He is locked in to his role of hitting about two triples per game, scoring in the mid-teens and is ranked 11th in the league for free throw percentage. He’s a must-own player for leagues that count treys.
Beno Udrih (4)- He can’t shoot worth a lick right now and made just 29.4 percent of his attempts in his last four games. On the other hand, Beno’s value surged on Saturday night with a massive line of 20 points, seven boards, eight assists one steal and two 3-pointers. He has four games this week and needs to be owned.
Evan Turner (3)- I’m probably going to regret putting him in here. Although, Turner hasn’t been burning his owners these days. In his last three games, the Buckeye shot 54.8 percent from the field while averaging 19.7 points, 9.0 boards, 3.7 assists and 1.3 triples. Yes, it’s a small sample size and he only shot above 50 percent just once in his 10 games prior to this output, but he’s taking much better shots and it’s not just luck. He only gets three games this week, so his value lies more in next week’s four-gamer.
Jodie Meeks (3)- He’s been launching triples a ton and in his last four games, he’s made seven of his 25 attempts. In the three contests without Metta World Peace, Meeks played 37.3 minutes per game and added 1.7 steals, too. The Lakers don’t have a great schedule the rest of the way, but Meeks should be in double-digit scoring with a combined 3.5 triples and steals per game.
Devin Harris (4)- He returned from his foot injury on Saturday and was impressive with a line of 17 points, four boards, six assists, one steal and two 3-pointers, matching his jersey number with 34 minutes in the win. This guy was expected to be a big-time performer with the Lou Williams ACL tear back in January, but injuries have kept him in check. Harris has all sorts of upside with his proficiency in points, assists, steals and threes, so he’s well worth a look with four games. There’s always the risk of another injury, though.
E’Twaun Moore (4)- Moore let down a lot of people on Saturday. He scored just four points in 17 minutes. The Magic went with a bigger lineup, putting Tobias Harris at small forward and Moe Harkless at shooting guard on Saturday against the Hawks. Their offense was stagnant and Jacque Vaughn might not go that route again. Moore has skills on offense and I wouldn’t cut bait, especially with four games this week.
Garrett Temple (4)- There’s a good chance that Bradley Beal could miss more time and Temple has been the main understudy at shooting guard. He’s logged a whopping 36.6 minutes per game and his 1.7 steals and 1.2 triples in that have helped him accumulate mid-round value in standard leagues in that span. His production might take a hit now that Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster are both back on the court, but he should be owned in deep leagues for his four-game schedule.
Damien Wilkins (3)- It’s a surprise to see a guy that was out of the rotation for the 2012 portion of this season come on and score 15.7 points per game in his last six games. He’s kind of a DeMar DeRozan guy because he doesn’t really fill up the stat sheet outside of points, so he’s not really someone I would want to count on with a three-game week.
Gary Neal (4)- Manu Ginobili going down opened things up for Neal and the Towson product took 10 shots, making three of them for eight points on Friday. He’s only really for people that need threes and anyone considering him should take a wait-and-see approach to see how he fares tonight vs. Miami.