- John Cregan, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Monday, Nov. 3
Start 'em, sit 'em
Going into the season, much was made of Jameer Nelson's stranglehold on Orlando's point guard duties. However, he's struggled to crack the 30 minutes per game (MPG) mark in every game so far, making him only a borderline start in most leagues. Tyrus Thomas is blowing his chance to lock down starters' minutes in the Bulls' crowded frontcourt; the blocks (8 in 5 games) just aren't enough to warrant a lineup spot. Derrick Rose's rapid rise has kept Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon playing fewer than 30 MPG. Of the two, Hinrich is the more consistent play; he'll at least give you more diversified production. Lou Williams (2 points, zero 3-pointers) cooled off on Saturday. Truth be told, even when his shot is on, he doesn't produce enough in other categories to make him fantasy worthy in the everyday sense. Until Brad Miller returns, Spencer Hawes is doing more than enough (11.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game) to make him an intriguing start. Maybe it's the weight of actual expectation, but Beno Udrih (7.7 points, 4.0 assists per game) has been a large disappointment to date and shouldn't be near a fantasy lineup until he gets straightened out. Kelenna Azubuike should get solid minutes against the Grizzlies' smaller lineup; just hope Don Nelson agrees and gives him a shot. The normally offensively anemic Grizzlies should temporarily produce versus the Warriors. The Darrell Arthur experiment could be over for now in Memphis with Warrik back on track and Darko Milicic looking for time. It should be for his owners as well. Marc Gasol should get the nod as your No. 2 center going up against Andris Biedrins. Perpetually streaky Jason Terry is currently on an upswing; feel free to start him until he cools off. In Deron Williams' absence, Andrei Kirilenko has been posting some vintage 2005-type numbers (13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game). With the Clippers also playing vintage Clippers' defense (110.3 points allowed per game), AK-47 will stuff his stat line.
If Drew Gooden ends up gaining center eligibility, he'll be worth scooping up in almost all leagues; unspectacular, but a perfect fantasy bench player. Mickael Pietrus (getting consistent minutes for the first time) had a bounceback game against the Kings (20 points, 2 3-pointers); he's a great breakout bet. If Thaddeus Young is unowned in your league, pounce. This could be your last chance to acquire his services via the wire. Despite his offensive upswing (four 3-pointers on Saturday), though, Young still has yet to collect a single steal or block this season. If you're in a deeper league, Jason Thompson is worth a speculative add. He's been very efficient so far (13.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in 22 minutes per game) and is in a good situation to earn solid minutes down the road. With only six games on tap for Monday, Hakim Warrick is a solid gamble. He's trying to play his way back into a starting gig and always seems better (18 points, 7 rebounds on Saturday) when provided with a bit of old-fashioned motivation. Looking for a short-term boost from behind the arc? Give Daniel Gibson(2.0 3-pointers per game) a chance. If you're trying to decide if Kyle Korver or Ronnie Brewer is the better pickup, you must be a big, big Jazz fan.
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
John Cregan previews all the action in the NBA on Monday, Nov. 3, for fantasy purposes.