- John Cregan, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Monday, Dec. 1
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
Even on a light day, it's hard to recommend much about the Timberwolves. Their decision to shift Al Jefferson to power forward, however, opens up some new fantasy opportunities. In the short term, it bodes well for Jefferson, Mike Miller, and Randy Foye. All three have been mildly (Jefferson) to massively (Foye) disappointing this season. I've been writing this sentence for eons, but Foye has the tools to be a very special fantasy player (specifically, a point guard that can block shots.) On the other hand, Kevin Love looks like he's going to be something of a late bloomer in the world of fantasy. His shot has been MIA for much November, and you'd have to consider dropping him in shallow leagues. Jason Richardson is back, and the question is "what will happen to D.J. Augustin's minutes?" The answer for now is that he'll serve as sixth man and get enough playing time to warrant fantasy consideration (17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists on Friday.) Augustin's ascension has lit a fire under Raymond Felton (who torched Indiana for 31 points and 7 assists in the same contest.) Emeka Okafor is also on a hot streak, averaging 15 points and 17 rebounds over his past two games. If you're like me and own Kevin Garnett, my condolences. I wasn't expecting him to rain down like it was 2003, but he's being outproduced on the Player Rater by Rajon Rondo. You still have to start him out of self-defense, but if I get a good offer for his services, I'm biting. Taken as a whole, the Celtics are a homogenous mash of fantasy Cream of Wheat, offering basic sustenance, but nothing worth getting out of bed to engage. The single happy byproduct of Boston's collective cooperative nature has been Rondo, who tends to stay on the court when the blowouts occur. Dwyane Wade excepted, Miami's fantasy stars have been suffering at the hands of the recent lineup shift. At least Michael Beasley had a nice bounce-back outing Saturday, coming off the bench for 24 points and 5 rebounds. Can't say the same for Shawn Marion, who had one of his worst games (5 points, 9 rebounds) of the year. Unfortunately, if you own him, you have to keep running him out there. Udonis Haslem is rounding back into form from his toe problem. Luckily for his owners, it's Beasley who's been pulled from the starting lineup while Haslem has been penciled in at starting power forward. Since he still has center eligibility, he should be solid for the foreseeable future. Anthony Morrow is now seeing the downside of playing for Don Nelson. In a game where both teams combined for 263 points (and Stephen Jackson sat), Morrow couldn't crack 10. Sit him, cut him, just get him out of your lineup. Check to see if there's an update on Stephen Jackson's wrist on Monday before starting him. One of my favorite stats from Saturday's (fantasy) epic Warriors-Knicks matchup? Andris Biedrins' 5 steals.
Over the course of his brief career, Craig Smith has been a bit of fantasy tease, offering great per-48 minute production but suffering from an ever-changing role in Minnesota's rotation. Well, he was shifted to center on Friday and responded with a monster line (23 points, 8 rebounds). Smith at the five is an intriguing fantasy idea. Although he played 11 minutes Saturday, If he could crack 30 MPG while gaining center eligibility, he'd be a good add. Ryan Gomes is playing well and is a solid one-game rental if you have the roster room to spare. With Orlando's backcourt suddenly beset by injuries, J.J. Redick will get another opportunity at an expanded role. If you're desperate for 3-pointers, give him a look. If you're still desperate, bank on Anthony Johnson for solid yet uninspiring numbers until Nelson returns. The Current Mrs. Cregan would say (she teaches 3rd Grade) that Boston "plays well with others." EVERYONE gets a chance to produce! Inordinately depressing on the whole, but it does give Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen some tangential value. Mario Chalmers' shooting is showing signs of life (averaging 14 points over his past four games). The steals alone bear Chalmers consideration, but if he's starting to put it all together, don't wait too long to grab him. C.J. Miles is the current beneficiary of Don Nelson's restless nature. His value gets an extra boost if Stephen Jackson sits. Kelenna Azubuike isn't setting the box score on fire like he was a couple weeks back, but he's still a solid one-game start, especially on a slow night.
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
John Cregan previews Monday in the NBA from a fantasy perspective.