- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Sunday, Feb. 22
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 a team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Mike Dunleavy, SG/SF, Pacers (knee)
Chris Kaman, C, Clippers (foot)
Kevin Garnett, PF, Celtics (knee)
Danny Granger, SF, Pacers (foot)
Delonte West, PG/SG, Cavaliers (wrist)
Zach Randolph, PF/C, Clippers (suspension)
Amare Stoudemire, PF/C, Suns (eye)
Start 'em, sit 'em
We have a chance Sunday night to see John Salmons and Brad Miller on the Bulls, Larry Hughes and Chris Wilcox on the Knicks and Rafer Alston on the Magic, but it's important not to read too much into the stats of a first game for a new team (or second, in Alston's case), as we can expect the players to be eased into their new roles. There might be some odd lineups and minute distributions as coaches adjust to and tinker with their new toys. One player whose value won't change at all is Jerome James, who should remain consistent as long as they have snacks and comfortable chairs in Chicago. We also get to see whether Phoenix can score at least 140 points for the fourth consecutive game. Much of the credit for the prolific scoring spree goes to Leandro Barbosa, who went for 41 points, five 3s, seven rebounds, seven assists and six steals Friday night. Now that he's starting at shooting guard and playing in an offense more suited to his game, Barbosa is again a top-tier fantasy option. Another Suns player to watch closely is Grant Hill, who is going to start at power forward in coach Alvin Gentry's small lineup and should see a bump in value. He left Friday's game with a knee injury but should be ready to go Sunday. If Marcus Camby is able to guzzle some Children's Tylenol (grape flavor is delicious) and play through his ear pain, he should go off with Zach Randolph sitting because of suspension. Chris Bosh returned to the court Friday, scoring 12 points with nine boards and three blocks in 30 minutes. He started and played significant minutes, so it looks like all systems go for Bosh.
The earth-shattering, girly warble you heard a few days ago was my reaction to Danny Granger's injury (and no, it's not because I think we'd be really good friends; I have him on almost all my teams). Friday night's game gave us a sample of how the Pacers will cope (I journal), and Marquis Daniels looks like he'll be the immediate beneficiary. He played almost 42 minutes and scored 24 points on 11-for-18 shooting. The minutes and shot attempts are the key stats, and with Mike Dunleavy out indefinitely, Daniels will shoulder a huge load for the Pacers; his stats should respond handsomely. Daniels undoubtedly is worth adding in all formats and should recapture his early season glory. Kevin Garnett's strained knee will sideline him for a few weeks, and we'll see whether the Celtics' lack of frontcourt depth is exposed. Leon Powe and Glen Davis will vie for most of his minutes, and Sunday's contest provides an opportunity to see which one Doc Rivers turns to first. I like Powe better, although it'll come down to who gets the minutes. Monitor this situation closely in deep leagues, although Sunday's contest could be a bit skewed since the Suns are allowing 112 points per game during their 140-plus rampage. Ryan Gomes will be rocketing up the most-added list with Al Jefferson out and his 26-point, two-3, two-steal performance Friday. His 3-point shot helps compensate for his lack of rebounds and blocks, and he's in line for heavy playing time with the big guy sidelined. He's stepped up in the past when given the opportunity, and if you're looking for points, 3s, steals and free throw percentage, Gomes is an excellent option. Aaron Brooks started at point guard Friday, and even if Kyle Lowry eventually wrestles the job from him, Brooks should be owned in nearly all formats, especially if you need 3s (1.3 per game in just 23 minutes). He scored 19 points with three 3s, six rebounds, eight assists and two steals in almost 34 minutes Friday night and will have much more value than Lowry, potentially starting at point for the rest of the season. Luke Ridnour returned to action Friday night after missing five games with a fractured thumb that was supposed to keep him out for at least a month. Now everybody is calling him a tough guy. His stats likely won't reach the level they were at pre-injury, but Ridnour does once again have fantasy value and will provide assists and steals immediately. Downgrade Ramon Sessions and view this as a timeshare that harms the value of each. I'm intrigued to see how Chris Wilcox does in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offense. He has clear holes in his game -- poor defense, lapses in focus -- but his athleticism is top tier, and he can do some damage to the rim in the open court. Depending on how much playing time he gets, he could become a force in points and field goal percentage. D.J. Augustin has sputtered since returning to the bench, and even though he has a fantastic career ahead of him, the only category in which I'd bank on him this season is 3s, with inconsistent but moderate production in assists and steals.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Josh Whitling previews Sunday in the NBA and notes that Aaron Brooks looks to have decent valute, at least temporarily.