- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Thursday, Nov. 13
All times are ET.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Chris Andersen, PF, Nuggets (ribs)
Chucky Atkins, PG, Nuggets (knee)
Monta Ellis, PG/SG, Warriors (ankle)
Al Harrington, PF/C, Warriors (back)
Kirk Hinrich, PG/SG, Bulls (thumb)
Steven Hunter, PF/C, Nuggets (knee)
Darnell Jackson, PF, Cavaliers (wrist)
Devean George, SF, Mavericks (hand)
Drew Gooden, PF, Bulls (ankle)
Josh Howard, SF, Mavericks (wrist)
Larry Hughes, SG, Bulls (shoulder)
Corey Maggette, SG/SF, Warriors (hamstring)
Kenyon Martin, PF, Nuggets (wrist)
Rodney Stuckey, PG/SG, Pistons (dizziness)
Start 'em, sit 'em
I too thought J.R. Smith was headed for a breakout season in 2008-09. But the minutes speak for themselves: 35 in the first two games, 26-28 in the next three and 14 and 18 in the past two. Yikes. For those sticking by him, Thursday's opposition, the Cavs, have been so-so at defending the 3. Jason Terry is averaging 19.5 points, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals. And he doesn't even have his outside game working yet. The career 38.5 percent 3-point shooter has hit barely a quarter of his attempts from beyond the arc this season. Bulls opponents average just 14.1 3-point attempts, though they're shooting 37.2 percent from downtown. With Drew Gooden and Kirk Hinrich sidelined, the Bulls are counting on Andres Nocioni's offense off the bench. Noc has back-to-back games of 20 and 16 points, with a combined eight 3-pointers. However, Dallas holds opponents to 4.9 3s a night. See if you can deal for Tayshaun Prince. While he has never averaged more than 15.0 points, 5.5 rebounds or 1.0 3-pointers in six NBA seasons, I think he comfortably tops those numbers in 2008-09. New coach Michael Curry wants Prince to handle the ball more to allow the newly acquired Allen Iverson to focus on scoring. And obviously, that responsibility isn't limiting Prince's offense. He's averaging 24.5 points and 9.5 boards in two games with AI. One thing that can't last, though, is Prince's obscene 64.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc. On that note, it might surprise you to learn that Golden State opponents are making just 31.3 percent of their 3s. In four games without Corey Maggette, Kelenna Azubuike is averaging 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 3-pointers while shooting 46.8 percent. Given Thursday's light schedule, Azubuike is clearly worth starting. However, Maggette could return against the Pistons; check for late word on his availability.
Renaldo Balkman isn't a bad add for one night. In two games without Kenyon Martin, the former Knick is averaging 13.5 points, 6.5 boards and 2.0 steals. Of course none of that matters when Martin returns, and he's considered 50-50 for Charlotte on Wednesday. Save for one huge game against the Bobcats, Daniel Gibson has struggled this season. While he's a tempting play against the visiting Nuggets, note that Denver, after allowing 7.6 3-pointers per game in 2007-08, is holding opponents to just 5.4 3s so far. Gerald Green has been decent in place of Josh Howard. In two starts, he's averaging 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds, but he has also committed eight turnovers and shot just 40.7 percent (11-of-27). The Chicago Tribune says Larry Hughes will make his 2008-09 debut Thursday or Saturday. The same article claimed it's "possible, if not likely" that Hughes winds up starting next to Derrick Rose. Ben Gordon owners, take note. Another Warrior whose fantasy value has spiked in Maggette's absence is Brandan Wright. While Wright is averaging 11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks since Maggette's injury, don't expect a lot of the latter against Detroit. Pistons opponents average just 3.9 rejections a night.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
19hEthan Sherwood Strauss