- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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Randolph's 31-point, 11-rebound performance against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday was indeed an eye-opener, and yes, you should absolutely get him if you can. As of Friday morning, Randolph was available in about 60 percent of ESPN.com leagues, though I'd expect that number to drop by at least half come Saturday.
However, as good as Randolph looked against the Mavs, your expectations should be tempered by two things:
1. Love hasn't yet been ruled out for the season. It's only confirmed that he's out for this two-game road swing, which ends Saturday in Oklahoma City.
2. The schedule isn't kind to the Minnesota Timberwolves the rest of the way. More on that in a bit.
"R" matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup), and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 10 games' statistics, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their opponents' numbers in those categories. The Games T / H column lists the team's total number of games played as well as home games (T / H), and lists the overall rating from 1-10 for that week's matchups.
Teams to watch
Games galore: While 18 teams play four times, everyone else gets three games.
Dallas Mavericks (@LAC, @LAL, @GS, @POR): In two games since returning from injury, Peja Stojakovic has buried a total of nine 3-pointers. While I think that Stojakovic, at this point in his career, plays too few minutes and does too little outside of hitting 3s to merit any fantasy consideration, Peja could give you six or eight treys with this schedule. Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors opponents are all in the top 10 in 3s (though Lakers opponents are only 28th in shooting percentage from beyond the arc). So consider Stojakovic -- who's available in more than 90 percent of ESPN.com leagues -- worth a flier in leagues of at least 12 teams.
Denver Nuggets (SAC, @SAC, @LAL): From late January until this week, Al Harrington had only one game in which he scored more than 12 points. But suddenly, Harrington is looking like his old self again. He produced 15 points (along with six rebounds and six assists) against the Toronto Raptors on March 21, and then he went off for 27 points and five triples against the San Antonio Spurs on March 23. This week's schedule, however, could make Harrington's resurgence a short one, since Kings opponents are only 24th in 3s. Harrington is available in more than 40 percent of ESPN.com leagues. On the other hand, a more widely available Nuggets regular, Kenyon Martin, might make more sense as an add in leagues of at least 12 teams, since Kings opponents are also third in steals. In March, Martin is averaging 1.5 steals, along with 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 0.6 blocks. He's available in more than 80 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Houston Rockets (@NJ, @PHI, SA, ATL): Patrick Patterson played well in place of an injured Luis Scola. Perhaps even more encouragingly, he's still producing now that Scola has returned. In his past seven games (which includes three starts), the rookie is averaging 11.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Even with the four games this week, though, it's tough plugging in Patterson here, given that each of these opponents rates as average to below average in blocks. Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks opponents, who rate 22nd and 23rd in rejections, are the toughest statistical matchups.
Miami Heat (@CLE, @WAS, @MIN, @NJ): If Mike Bibby and Mike Miller are ever going to do something with the Heat, the time is now. Even with the New Jersey Nets playing fairly well, this stacks up as some sweet road trip. Cleveland Cavaliers opponents are first in 3s and third in assists, while Wolves opponents are second in both categories. And Wizards opponents are sixth in shooting percentage. All that said, don't let this schedule sway those of you in standard leagues -- neither Bibby nor Miller is worth adding in that format. But if you've hung onto to these guys for this long (and Miller is still owned in about 30 percent of ESPN.com leagues), you may as well give it another week.
Milwaukee Bucks (@CHA, @TOR, @IND, PHI): It appears Carlos Delfino finally has his stroke back. After returning from a concussion in January, Delfino shot in the mid 30s for the better part of six weeks. Needless to say, the shots are falling now. In his past three games, he's scored 30, 30 and 26 points against the Nets, New York Knicks and Kings, and is an incredible 19-for-31 (61.3 percent) from 3-point range during that stretch. Obviously, that will be tough to top, especially given that Sixers opponents are just 27th in 3s. More encouragingly, though, Charlotte Bobcats opponents are sixth in treys (and seventh in steals), while Raptors opponents are second in shooting.
Minnesota Timberwolves (CHI, MIA, @MEM): As I mentioned earlier, a tough schedule for Randolph -- not that the schedule should discourage you from acquiring him, but it should temper your expectations. The Chicago Bulls are just flat nasty defensively. Bulls opponents are last in shooting percentage and total rebounds and 29th in points. Heat opponents are last in blocks and 29th in shooting. On the bright side, Randolph should score some rejections in the week ahead, since Memphis Grizzlies opponents are tops in blocks, while Bulls opponents are sixth in this regard.
New Orleans Hornets (POR, MEM, IND): Another key player with a significant injury is David West, who is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee late in the Hornets' win against the Utah Jazz on Thursday. Carl Landry figures to fill in for West, and he could help fantasy owners in points and percentages. Indiana Pacers opponents are only 24th in field goal percentage, but really, the worst thing about this schedule is it's three games in a week where most of your players will have four.
San Antonio Spurs (POR, BOS, @HOU, PHO): The Spurs are without Tim Duncan, but they do have the Western Conference's top seed all but wrapped up. So expect them to play a lot of guys -- Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner -- at the center and power forward positions the rest of the way. This isn't a great situation for fantasy owners, but I think Blair has the best chance of helping down the stretch. Blair is tough to gauge by the schedule, but we do know that, even when he isn't scoring, he can contribute in the hustle categories. On that note, I'll point out that Phoenix Suns opponents are fourth in steals, while Rockets opponents are eighth in blocks. However, Boston Celtics opponents are only 26th in steals, while Portland Trail Blazers opponents are only 28th in blocks.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. Send him your lineup-related questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neil Tardy previews the week ahead in the NBA with an eye toward matchups for fantasy owners to be aware of.