Commentary

Mike Conley's slump-busting week

Updated: March 27, 2009, 6:53 PM ET
By Neil Tardy | Special to ESPN.com

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Week 23 schedule | Weekly Lineup Recommendations | Daily Lineup Recommendations

These stars players are ruining it for fantasy owners.

Yes, key players have sustained a ton of long-term injuries this season (in fact, Troy Murphy might be the next to join that list). But I'm looking at it another way. My season's on the line with every H2H matchup. I'm streaming players every day in an effort to gain an extra point or two in this roto category or that.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Morrow
Rocky Widner/Getty ImagesAnthony Morrow could excel as the fill-in for Stephen Jackson.

While I certainly don't wish people like Richard Hamilton, Caron Butler and Stephen Jackson ill health, I won't be unhappy if they stay in street clothes for the rest of the regular season. I want to see what Will Bynum, Andray Blatche and Anthony Morrow can do. Specifically, I want to pluck these guys from free agency and see what they can do for my team.

I could go on about Bynum's surge, Blatche's shot-blocking and Morrow's sharpshooting, but from a fantasy perspective, it's pretty simple. After missing six games with a groin injury, Hamilton should play Saturday at Washington; that would spell the end of Bynum's 30-minute nights. It's also possible that Butler, who's missed seven games with a hamstring problem, makes his return for that same Pistons-Wizards tilt. In that case, Blatche's numbers will take a hit. He's been starting while Butler's been out. Meanwhile, it's rumored that Jackson may be shut down for the season, but there's nothing definitive out of Oakland. If you're going to take a chance on anyone, I'd say Morrow is the guy. As our Brian McKitish notes, Morrow has the ability to be a difference-maker. As of now though, he's still waiting for the opportunity.

Hopefully you have an opportunity to earn a league championship over these final 2 ½ weeks. The Forecaster, as always, is here to help.

On tap:

Check the grid for Week 23 schedules of each NBA team. Teams with the most games in the upcoming week are listed first.

Indiana Pacers (CHI, SA, @OKC): It's safe to say that lots of owners have Troy Murphy to thank for being on the brink of championships right now. This season he is outrebounding Tim Duncan while knocking down more 3-pointers than Chauncey Billups. That, in a word, is special. Unfortunately, Murphy sustained an MCL sprain at Wednesday's shootaround, and that, in five words, is a punch to the gut. His status is up in the air, but Murphy owners should prepare for the worst. While Jeff Foster, who filled in with 16 boards and four blocks against the Heat, is the logical replacement, I'll point out that Antonio McDyess is inexplicably available in 55 percent of ESPN.com leagues. Foster should do well with this schedule (it wouldn't hurt him if Duncan got another night off), but note that Thunder opponents are actually sixth-worst in rebound differential. However, Oklahoma City opponents are fifth-best in shooting percentage, making this a good matchup for Brandon Rush, who is available in 98 percent of leagues. Rush has started the past two games and reached double figures in three straight.

Memphis Grizzlies (@GS, WAS, MIA, @MIL): While Mike Conley is shooting just 38.5 percent (15-of-39) over his past four games, you have to like his chances of heating up with this schedule. Wizards' opponents are tops in shooting percentage, 3s made and assists. Warriors' opponents, of course, are first in scoring; they're also second in assists. And Bucks' opponents have topped 105 points in five of eight games.

New Orleans Hornets (@SAC, @LAC, @GS, UTA): Tyson Chandler probably won't play in any of these games, so Hilton Armstrong may help you in cavernous leagues. Kings', Clippers' and Warriors' opponents are tops in rebound differential. While Rasual Butler, available in 91 percent of leagues, hasn't produced of late, he could give you a big boost this week. Kings', Warriors' and Clippers' opponents are first, fourth and seventh in 3-point shooting percentage.

Utah Jazz (NY, @POR, @DEN, MIN, @NO): The Jazz play five games in Week 23, and while their key players are generally rostered, double-check on the availability of Paul Millsap (believe it or not, he's free in nearly 30 percent of leagues) and even Ronnie Brewer (available in more than 15 percent of leagues). And Kyle Korver, available in 95 percent of leagues, could help you in a deep league. Nuggets' opponents are seventh in 3s, while Blazers' opponents are sixth in 3-point shooting.

Some quick tips for owners in daily leagues. Recommendations -- start, sit or add -- are made for specific days of the coming week, based on the schedule.

Chris Andersen, PF/C, Nuggets (NY, Utah, LAC, @MIN): If you need to win blocks in a H2H league, Andersen is your guy. Timberwolves' opponents are tops in rejections, while Knicks', Jazz and Clippers' opponents are all in the top 10 in blocks.

Shane Battier, SF, Rockets (@PHO, @LAL, POR): Is the veteran finally healthy? Though he's shooting less than 40 percent this season, Battier has eight 3s in his past three games. He also has five steals in that span, and Suns' and Lakers' opponents are first and fourth in takeaways. Phoenix and L.A. opponents are also third and sixth in 3s.

Rodney Carney, SF, Timberwolves (DAL, @Utah, DEN): Carney's been getting his Steve Novak on of late. After burying seven treys in Philly against his former team, Carney is averaging 2.7 3s over his past seven games. Deep-leaguers desperate for 3s could spot-start Carney, but this schedule doesn't offer much. Mavs and Jazz opponents are only 20th and 19th in 3s.

Rudy Fernandez, SG, Trail Blazers (Utah, @OKC, @HOU): After topping 50 percent from the field just once in a nine-game stretch, the ballyhooed rookie went a combined 14-for-22 (63.6 percent) with nine 3s this week against the Sixers and Suns. Perhaps his talent is finally coming through, but this schedule suggests that Fernandez, available in 63 percent of leagues, isn't worth the risk. Rockets' opponents are fourth-worst in triples, and Thunder opponents are 10th-worst.

Jason Thompson, PF, Kings (NO, @GS, @PHO, GS): Now's the time to add Thompson, who's available in nearly 90 percent of leagues. Starting with the March 27 game versus Memphis, the Kings play 12 times over the season's final 20 days. Over his past six, the rookie's averaging 14.7 points, 10.7 boards and 1.3 blocks. The home-and-home with the Warriors alone is enough to make this a productive week for him.

Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

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Fantasy Basketball
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com