Matchups for Friday, Jan. 9
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.
Carmelo Anthony, SF, Nuggets (hand)
Shane Battier, SF, Rockets (foot)
Elton Brand, PF, 76ers (shoulder)
Baron Davis, PG, Clippers (tailbone)
Ricky Davis, SG/SF, Clippers (suspension)
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (ankle)
Kirk Hinrich, PG, Bulls (thumb)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, C, Cavaliers (ankle)
Chris Kaman, C, Clippers (foot)
Mickael Pietrus, SG/SF, Magic (wrist)
Zach Randolph, PF, Clippers (knee)
DeShawn Stevenson, SG, Wizards (back)
Tony Allen, SG, Celtics (ankle)
Raja Bell, SG, Bobcats (groin)
Andrew Bogut, C, Bucks (back)
Jose Calderon, PG, Raptors (hamstring)
Nick Collison, PF/C, Thunder (thumb)
Daequan Cook, SG, Heat (knee)
Marquis Daniels, SG/SF, Pacers (groin)
Mike Dunleavy, SG/SF, Pacers (knee)
T.J. Ford, PG, Pacers (back)
Richard Hamilton, SG, Pistons (groin)
Devin Harris, PG, Nets (hamstring)
Tracy McGrady, SG/SF, Rockets (knee)
Jamario Moon, SF, Raptors (personal)
Lamar Odom, SF/PF, Lakers (knee)
Jermaine O'Neal, PF/C, Raptors (knee)
Rasheed Wallace, PF/C, Pistons (foot)
Start 'em, sit 'em
After struggling to score a bit upon coming back from his injury, the Hawks' Josh Smith has been on a tear of late. He's putting up 20.8 points on 60 percent shooting from the floor in his past five games, including 10-for-15 shooting in the Hawks' loss to the Magic on Wednesday night. If you were sitting him at any point, he's back to being an automatic start for sure. Kendrick Perkins had been getting some fantasy love but has cooled off pretty fiercely of late for the Celtics. In fact, he was held scoreless on Wednesday night at home against Yao and the Rockets, and I'm not expecting him to fare any better against Anderson Varejao and Ben Wallace on Friday in Cleveland. Perkins should be on your bench until the Celtics ship rights itself. On the other hand, with the Cavs' defense on opposing point guards still suspect, I'd get Rajon Rondo into your lineup, even despite his recent struggles. I was down on Vince Carter big-time to start this season, and I still think he'll end up frustrating you if you own him before this season is out, but even I have to admit he has been killing it with Devin Harris out of the lineup. In the past three games with Harris sidelined, Carter is averaging 24.7 points, 8.3 assists and 8.0 rebounds. New Jersey has a tough matchup against the Bucks, who have really defended well this season (especially against shooting guards, according to 82games.com), but obviously Carter needs to be in your lineup every night these days, regardless of the matchup.
Keep an eye on Magic rookie Courtney Lee. He played 37 minutes against the Hawks in Keith Bogans' stead on Wednesday night and had been playing more minutes of late even before Bogans went out. Lee is averaging 9.4 points, 1.4 3-pointers, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks in his past five games. Those numbers aren't great, but it's clear the coaching staff trusts him, and if he continues to see minutes, the combination of 3s, steals and blocks could make him special. I'm going to keep mentioning Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook in this space until he is owned in more than 50 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues, so consider this your daily Westbrook reminder. What did he do now? Well, in a blowout loss to the Timberwolves in which none of the other Thunder starters played well at all, Westbrook went for 16 points and 12 assists on an efficient 10 shots from the floor, and -- get this -- he had only two turnovers. By my count, that's the best assist-to-turnover ratio he's had thus far this season (besides a six-dime, zero-turnover affair against the Grizzlies back in early December). The Thunder's acquiring Chucky Atkins is not going to negatively impact Westbrook's minutes. Pick him up, play him, enjoy. While Carmelo Anthony is sidelined for the Nuggets, you're probably going to want to roll with Linas Kleiza. He went for 21 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four 3s against the Heat on Wednesday night (with Dick Vitale cheering him on from the sidelines!) and should continue putting up good numbers as long as he's in the starting lineup. He's likely available in your league, but he likely won't be in a few days. Get him now.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.