- John Cregan, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Monday, Jan. 5
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.
Andrew Bogut, C, Bucks (back)
Jose Calderon, PG, Raptors (hamstring)
Devin Harris, PG, Nets (hamstring)
Spencer Hawes, C, Kings (abdomen)
Nene Hilario, C, Nuggets (knee)
Jason Kapono, SG/SF, Raptors (thigh)
Corey Maggette, SF, Warriors (hamstring)
Shawn Marion, SF/PF, Heat (back)
Paul Millsap, PF/C, Jazz (knee)
Jermaine O'Neal, C, Raptors (wrist)
Fabricio Oberto, C, Spurs (foot)
Stromile Swift, PF/C Nets (ankle)
Brandan Wright, PF, Warriors (wrist)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Slowly but surely, Manu Ginobili is rounding back into form. After posting a dismal field goal percentage in December (.438), he's shot 17-for-31 from the field over his past three outings. He also purloined eight steals, a very encouraging sign, as his steals totals seem to rise and fall with his shooting. Check Shawn Marion's (back) status going into Monday evening, but I'd lean toward sitting him if you have healthier options. Mario Chalmers is also nursing an injury and has seen his numbers dip since the beginning of the year. The key for Chalmers' game is his 3-point shooting, which seems to possess no middle ground whatsoever. Michael Beasley had his best game in two weeks Saturday (17 points), but is unlikely to keep it going versus the miserly Spurs (93.8 points allowed per game). If you're looking for a more fantasy-friendly matchup, Kings-Nets should suffice. They give up a combined 207.6 points a night and both allow their opponents to shoot a generous percentage from the floor. Kevin Martin is back, albeit in a bench role as he shakes off the rust. But if 45 points on 13-for-24 shooting constitutes as shaking off of rust, I'll take it. He could easily crack 40 again on Monday. The yang to Martin's yin is unfortunately going to be Francisco Garcia, who has seen his box scores gutted since Martin's return (20 total points in his past three games). Don't cut him quite yet, but I'd keep my hand near the trigger. Beno Udrih is running the risk of no longer activating my spell check as he falls further into statistical oblivion. He's running the risk of having his season officially labeled as "injury-addled." Brad Miller's New Year's resolution was obviously to play his way the heck out of Sacramento (totally understandable given Schwarzenegger's recent job performance). Devin Harris may have sat out on Saturday, but he surely won't be able to miss the opportunity to utterly destroy what's left of Udrih. The Raptors' trainer has been really earning his paycheck as of late, as seemingly all 15 players on the Raptors' active roster are listed as day-to-day. OK, so it's not quite that bad, but check and see how Jermaine O'Neal and Jose Calderon fare Sunday before plugging them in on Monday. Andrew Bogut has been slowed by a bad back. I'd follow Scott Skiles' example and keep him benched until further notice. T.J. Ford had 16 points and seven assists off the bench Saturday, which should give you the green light to get him back into your lineups. Still, he might be looking at a timeshare if Jarrett Jack continues to impress. Have you traded Carmelo Anthony yet? If you haven't, slam your elbows onto your kitchen table a few times and then ask yourself how that feels. Andrei Kirilenko only logged 11 minutes Friday, an alarming sign that the Jazz are getting healthy and you may want to sell high.
If you find yourself in early need of 3-pointers, both Michael Finley and Roger Mason make for decent spot starts. Of the two, I'd go with Mason. Mason canned five 3s on Friday, and is capable of more diversified stats (and hits 48 percent of his 3s). Just be cautioned it's feast or famine for both of these Spurs and they'll continue to lose value as Ginobili and Parker regain their moxie. Daequan Cook has long oozed fantasy potential, and has started to produce to the point where he's landed on the radar. He's a bit limited (points and 3s), but has been positively Michael Adams-like from behind the arc over his past five games (16-for-33). Cook may also get expanded minutes if Marion is unable to go. Jason Thompson has gotten an increase in his minutes since Spencer Hawes strained his abdomen and his rebounding totals. Thompson's the future, and hopefully will continue to assert himself ahead of Mikki Moore (who can always coast on those three weeks of actual fantasy relevance he had last March). If Jermaine O'Neal is unable to go on Monday, Andrea Bargnani will have another opportunity to elevate his status above the Kwame-Darko-LaRue-Martin tier of NBA draft ignominy. He's scored 45 points on 17-for-31 shooting so far in 2009. It must be very hurtful to Brook Lopez that someone with his rebounds, blocks and SAT scores could be owned in only 39 percent of all leagues. Those of you who are holding on to Charlie Villanueva must be lighting every available candle in the hopes those Oklahoma City rumors bear fruit. If it looks like Bogut sits on Monday, the odds are he'll be a nice plug-and-play option. Those of you hanging onto a cuttable point guard should stow away your pride and give Luke Ridnour a try. If you bring up his player card, Ridnour gazes out at you like a caged puppy, begging you to free him from the waiver wire and let him give you the 10 points and six assists a night you so richly deserve. Another neglected point guard toils in Indiana, as Jarrett Jack continues to give T.J. Ford owners night sweats with his boffo performance. Mike Dunleavy is inching closer and closer to getting back onto the court. He's looking like a nice speculative pickup. J.R. Smith has a great matchup against the offensively accommodating Pacers (104.9 point allowed per game). Kelenna Azubuike, perhaps sensing his minutes are about to go down with Corey Maggette's return, put up only two points Friday night. Still, he's a good bet for a couple more games until we actually see Maggette back on the court, which is tantamount to a Bigfoot sighting.
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
John Cregan previews Monday night in the NBA and likes what Manu Ginobili has been producing lately.