Fantasy Forecaster: Good week to focus on 3-pointers
What has gotten into DeShawn Stevenson? He swished 15 3-pointers last week -- almost 10 percent of his total (158) in his 490-game NBA career.
Stevenson says it's a matter of rhythm and opportunity. "I started off slow last year, and I started off slow this season. It takes time to get my rhythm," he told The Associated Press. "I don't get a lot of shots with Gilbert."
Gilbert, of course, is Gilbert Arenas, who is out at least another two months following knee surgery. Stevenson's Wizards also are missing their second-string point guard, Antonio Daniels, for two to four weeks. Those absences are giving more opportunities to Stevenson, who, until last week, had managed to play seven NBA seasons without distinguishing himself in any way to fantasy owners.
If you need an infusion of 3s and missed out on Stevenson, there are other options available deeper down the free-agent list. It's all in this week's Forecaster. Read on.On Tap (schedules through Dec. 23)
Teams with four games
Chicago Bulls (LAL, @ WAS, @ BOS, HOU)
Lineup locks: Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Andres Nocioni
Outlook: Hinrich made the most of a sweet schedule last week, totaling 41 points, 30 assists, 19 rebounds, five steals and four 3s against the Sonics, Pacers and Knicks. However, he could regress this week. The Celtics and Rockets allow the fewest assists in the league.
Cleveland Cavaliers (MIL, @ NY, LAL, GS)
Lineup locks: LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Outlook: This should be a glorious week to play Daniel Gibson -- provided he plays. Boobie missed two of the past three games because of complications stemming from a pulled wisdom tooth. He had the procedure Monday, missed a game, then played a game -- and promptly got whacked in the mouth. As somebody who had four major orthodontic surgeries in childhood (my baby and adult teeth grew in simultaneously), I can empathize. But with the Bucks, Knicks, Lakers and Warriors all allowing more than 6.5 3s per night, Gibson has to suck it up. You could go with Larry Hughes, who is shooting 35.3 percent from the field, but that would make you braver than me. And I'm pretty brave, having survived all that time in the dentist's chair. Did I mention I once had my tongue accidentally pricked with a needle full of Novocaine? Yup, it's true.
Houston Rockets (ORL, @ DEN, @ CHI, @ DET)
Lineup locks: Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady
Outlook: Luther Head averaged 25 minutes over his past three games, and between this schedule -- the Rockets play four games in five nights -- and Rafer Alston's groin problem, he's not a bad pickup right now. The Magic, Nuggets and Bulls give up their share of 3s.
Golden State Warriors (@ MEM, @ MIN, @ NJ, @ CLE)
Lineup locks: Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson
Outlook: Golden State began a five-game, eight-day trip Sunday in Detroit. It sounds tough, but with the Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Cavs all allowing more than 100 points per game and the Nets in a free fall, your Warriors should clean up. Definitely activate Monta Ellis, who's healthy again, and Andris Biedrins. I'd also take my chances on Al Harrington.
Indiana Pacers (@ NY, PHI, @ MIN, WAS)
Lineup locks: Jermaine O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy
Outlook: If you are desperate for 3s, try Kareem Rush this week. After playing fewer than 11 minutes per night through November, Rush averaged 24 minutes and 1.8 3s in the past four games. The Wizards allow the most treys in the league -- a stunning 8.3 per game -- and the Knicks, Sixers and Timberwolves all yield six or more 3-pointers per game.
Los Angeles Lakers (@ CHI, @ CLE, @ PHI, @ NY)
Lineup locks: Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum
Outlook: After struggling early, Lamar Odom is averaging 15.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists in six December games. The boards might be harder to come by this week, however, as each of these opponents is out-rebounding its opposition.
Memphis Grizzlies (GS, SA, @ DET, PHI)
Lineup locks: Mike Miller, Rudy Gay
Outlook: Don't activate Pau Gasol. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Gasol's toe injury should keep him sidelined through Christmas. And that's a Christmas gift to Juan Carlos Navarro owners, because without Gasol, JCN is part of the Grizzlies' small-ball crew of starters. However, this isn't a great week to play Navarro, given that the Pistons and Spurs allow the fewest and third-fewest 3s, respectively.
Miami Heat (MIN, @ ATL, NJ, Utah)
Lineup lock: Dwyane Wade
Outlook: Good news on D-Wade: He averaged 8.7 assists over his past seven games. Now, the not-so-good news: Wade also committed 41 turnovers in that span. Look for more dimes and more d'ohs, as Pat Riley seems to be down on Jason Williams.
Minnesota Timberwolves (@ MIA, GS, IND, @ NO)
Lineup lock: Al Jefferson
Outlook: Never thought I'd say this, but play Rashad McCants this week. The Heat and Pacers allow 7.4 3s per night, while the Warriors resemble the end of your FM dial in points allowed per night (106.9).
New York Knicks (IND, CLE, @ CHA, LAL)
Lineup locks: None
Outlook: I recently was offered Jamal Crawford in a trade, but I turned it down because I still am more horrified by his 40.4 shooting percentage and 2.8 turnovers per game than I am impressed by his 18.6 points, 4.5 assists and 1.7 3-pointers per game. Now, if I could have rented him for this week, I'd have been down with it. The Pacers and Lakers allow more than seven 3s a game, while the Cavs and Bobcats allow opponents to shoot better than 46 percent.
Orlando Magic (@ DAL, @ HOU, Utah, @ BOS)
Lineup locks: Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson
Outlook: Pass on Keith Bogans this week. The Mavs, Rockets and Celtics all limit opponents to fewer than six 3s per game.
Toronto Raptors (@ LAC, @ POR, @ SEA, @ PHO)
Lineup locks: Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon
Outlook: Only Santa's elves are busier than the Raptors right now. Toronto will conclude a stretch of 15 games in 25 days with these four games in five days. I've been adding Kris Humphries in all my leagues -- perhaps it's because, like him, I'm from Minnesota and I sometimes take nights off. Still, even once Andrea Bargnani gets it together, I think Humphries, who is averaging 11.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 61.7 percent from the floor in December, will continue to get minutes in a thin Raptors front court.
Utah Jazz (@ ATL, @ CHA, @ ORL, @ MIA)
Lineup locks: Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko
Outlook: As a result of Mehmet Okur's shoulder problems, Paul Millsap is playing more (27 minutes per game over his past five games). Millsap is an excellent option as the Jazz swing southeast. The Hawks, Bobcats, Magic and Heat all are being out-rebounded this season.
Teams with three games
Unless otherwise noted, stick to your locks from here.
Atlanta Hawks (Utah, MIA, @ WAS)
Lineup locks: Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Al Horford
Outlook: The Hawks currently are ranked 26th in the league in team field goal percentage (43.5). However, Smith, who is shooting 40.3 percent while taking almost 15 shots per game, and Johnson, who is shooting 41.1 percent on 18.8 shots per game, could find the mark a bit more often this week. Opponents are shooting better than 45 percent against the Jazz, the Heat and the Wizards.
Boston Celtics (DET, CHI, ORL)
Lineup locks: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen
Outlook: Best guess is that Allen is ready for the Pistons on Wednesday, but cautious owners can be excused for sitting him this week. Detroit allows the fewest 3-pointers in the league, while Orlando holds opponents to just 32.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc (third-best in the NBA).
Charlotte Bobcats (Utah, NY, @ MIL)
Lineup locks: Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, Emeka Okafor
Outlook: If you are seeking a second center, the newly acquired Nazr Mohammed is a decent option, at least for now. The Jazz and Knicks are the only two teams getting blocked more than six times per night.
Detroit Pistons (@ BOS, MEM, HOU)
Lineup locks: Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace
Outlook: It should be interesting to see how many minutes Walter Herrmann gets in Detroit. But don't put too much into how he does this week, as the Celtics and Rockets hold opponents to fewer than six 3s per game.
Milwaukee Bucks (@ CLE, SAC, CHA)
Lineup locks: Michael Redd, Mo Williams, Andrew Bogut
Outlook: In his past three games, Yi Jianlian averaged 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 63.3 percent from the field. This week, he stands a good chance of bettering his 1.0 block-per-game pace, too, as the Cavs, Kings and Bobcats all get more than five shots rejected per game.
New Jersey Nets (SAC, @ MIA, GS)
Lineup locks: Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson
Outlook: With five losses in six games, the Nets look like a team on the verge of implosion, even though Carter (24.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.0 3s per game) is having a nice December. Josh Boone's fantasy fortunes also seem to be on the rise; he averaged 27 minutes, 9.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in his past four games. Play Boone this week, as the Kings, Heat and Warriors are three of the NBA's nine worst teams in rebound differential.
New Orleans Hornets (@ POR, @ SEA, MIN)
Lineup locks: Chris Paul, David West, Tyson Chandler
Outlook: With Peja Stojakovic still being bothered by a groin problem, Rasual Butler is worth a look. The Blazers, Sonics and Timberwolves all allow more than 6.5 3s per game.
Philadelphia 76ers (@ IND, LAL, @ MEM)
Lineup locks: Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Samuel Dalembert
Outlook: Looking for another player who does little more than score? There's always Willie Green. The Pacers, Lakers and Grizzlies all allow more than 102 points per game.
Portland Trail Blazers (NO, TOR, DEN)
Lineup locks: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge
Outlook: Still not done recommending 3-point gunners. With Portland, your option is James Jones, who's averaging 12.4 points, 2.4 3s and 58.1 percent shooting in December, after he appeared in just four previous games. Hang on to Joel Przybilla for now, but Aldridge is expected to play against the Hornets on Monday.
San Antonio Spurs (PHO, @ MEM, LAC)
Lineup locks: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili
Outlook: In December, Fabricio Oberto is averaging 8.5 points and 10.0 rebounds. Play him this week, as the Suns, Grizzlies and Clippers are three of the league's six worst teams in rebound differential.
Washington Wizards (CHI, ATL, @ IND)
Lineup locks: Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler
Outlook: While DeShawn Stevenson has been huge over the past few days, don't forget about Roger Mason, who is averaging 12.1 points and 1.9 3s this month. However, this schedule best plays to the strengths of Brendan Haywood. The Bulls and Pacers stand third and fifth, respectively, in most shots blocked, while the Hawks are 10th.
Teams with two games
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball writer for ESPN.com.
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