- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Sunday, Nov. 16
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.
Start 'em, sit 'em
Fantasy owners delight in seeing their players face the Kings, who allow 104.4 points per game on 48.2 percent shooting. Michael Finley has played 30 minutes in each of his past two games and should pick up some of the scoring load with Tony Parker now sidelined alongside Manu Ginobili. He, Roger Mason and Tim Duncan should all be in line for above-average nights. As long as Jason Richardson is sitting, Raymond Felton has an increased scoring responsibility in the backcourt. He and Gerald Wallace should both score more points than usual while Richardson and his 16 shot attempts per game are on the bench. Beno Udrih has been scorching, averaging 18.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.0 3s, 1.3 steals while shooting .575 from the floor in his past four games. I expect it to continue with Kevin Martin sidelined for one to two weeks, as he and John Salmons shoulder the scoring load from the backcourt. Shaquille O'Neal is quietly having an impressive season, with his highest free-throw percentage (61.7 percent, to go along with 16.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 65 percent shooting from the floor) since 2002-2003. Now that he doesn't go to the line 10 times per game, he doesn't automatically ruin your chances in the free-throw department, and Diesel is currently ahead of Chris Kaman and Pau Gasol on the Player Rater. On Friday night he scored 29 points with 13 boards and six assists, a team-high with Steve Nash sidelined. It's clear he's becoming more comfortable in the desert, and he's doing everything he can to prove he's not off the fantasy radar yet. The Minnesota-Denver game should be interesting, as the Nuggets are second in the league in steals and the Wolves are third in the league in turnovers. The Wolves also allow a whopping 105.6 points per game, meaning that your Nuggets on the cusp should definitely be in the starting lineup Sunday. This means J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza and Renaldo Balkman all have favorable matchups and should be started if you own them. Josh Howard is back in action, and he scored 25 points with nine boards, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer Friday night. He has been rebounding the ball like mad from the guard position (eight per game), and even though his peripherals (0.4 3s, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks per game, all down from last season) are unimpressive, I think they'll pick up soon, and his involvement in the offense and activity on the court is promising. After five starts in which he averaged 18.8 points, 4.4 assists, 1.2 3s and 1.2 steals, Jason Terry resumed the role of sixth man Friday night, and was 9-for-23 from the floor. He'll still take his shots and provide points, 3s and steals, but it's frustrating for fantasy owners to see a player shifted around so often, and owners always want to see their players starting rather than coming off the bench.
Tony Parker's replacement, George Hill, had 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and a 3 on Friday night and has played well enough in his three starts to warrant a pickup while Parker is sidelined. The rookie from IUPUI has a prime opportunity to turn even more heads Sunday night against the porous Kings, and will be among the most added players in no time. Roger Mason has been struggling terribly from the floor, shooting 10-for-37 in his past three contests. I don't think he warrants his place atop the most dropped list. He's still a scoring and 3-point threat in the thin Spurs' backcourt and is just mired in a shooting slump and adjusting to defenders' increased attention. Erick Dampier has 43 rebounds and seven blocks in his past three contests, and even though he's inconsistent, he will provide about eight boards with 1.5 blocks and fantastic shooting from the floor when the numbers average out. Chris Duhon is averaging 6.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 3s per game this year, numbers you think would warrant his being owned in more than 35 percent of ESPN leagues. But his scoring is non-existent, making him a liability in the points department, which is why he fits only on a fantasy team full of scorers. Matt Barnes will miss Sunday's game because of a suspension, which should mean another big game from Grant Hill, who scored 22 points with nine rebounds, four assists and four steals with Barnes out of the lineup Friday night. I actually like Barnes a lot long-term this season, although he hasn't been fully integrated into the rotation yet because of missed time. Once he gets five to 10 consecutive starts under his belt, he'll start putting up some balanced box scores, and I foresee his becoming one of the most added players in a month or so. I warned you, and now it's happening: Adam Morrison resurfaced after spending the past year wandering the Earth and fighting crime (or rehabbing from injury -- sources are varied), and has become a primary scoring weapon off the bench for the Bobcats recently. His Friday night box score is right in line with his skill set: 15 points, three 3s, one rebound and zero assists, steals or blocks. I'm not adding him, because I like my players a bit more versatile, although with Richardson gone, I (gulp) predict some big scoring nights from Morrison in the next few weeks.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Joshua Whitling previews Sunday in the NBA from a fantasy perspective, noting that the Spurs should beat up the Kings defense.