- Josh Whitling, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Friday, March 13
Andrew Bogut, C, Bucks (back)
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (shin)
Josh Howard, SF, Mavericks (ankle)
Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs (ankle)
Allen Iverson, PG/SG, Pistons (back)
Greg Oden, C, Blazers, (knee)
Michael Redd, SG, Bucks (knee)
Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics (ankle)
Brian Scalabrine, PF, Celtics (concussion)
Marvin Williams, SF/PF, Hawks (back)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Paul Millsap has been performing nicely off the bench for the Jazz, averaging 18.6 points and 9.7 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the floor over his past three contests. As long as he gets 30 minutes per game he'll be a force in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage, and is still a nightly start despite his bench status behind Carlos Boozer. Travis Outlaw is another player coming off the bench but still performing at a high level, as he's averaging 18.4 points per game in his past five contests. He should fare even better if Rudy Fernandez misses another game. Regardless, Outlaw is in line for increased minutes as the Blazers will likely ease Fernandez back into the swing of things. O.J. Mayo has been slumping, and the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports coach Lionel Hollins blames it on recent offensive schemes. A comment like that leads me to believe he's going to take steps to accommodate his young star and help him play better, so I see Mayo snapping out of it somewhat, although overall it's looking like he's already played his best basketball this season. Corey Maggette has gone to the free throw line 31 times in his past two contests, and for years he's been one of the top players in terms of frequency and efficiency from the stripe. Even though his numbers have taken a dip this season, he's still a must-start if you're trying to make up ground or engaged in a close weekly battle in that category. Josh Smith has been terrific lately, averaging 18 points, 12.6 rebounds and three blocks in his past three games, and the team will lean heavily upon him for frontcourt scoring with Marvin Williams sidelined indefinitely, potentially for the remainder of the season. His huge drop in blocks this season has been well-documented, but if his recent play is any indication, Smith is in line for a monster finish to a disappointing season.
The Ryan Gomes train keeps rolling, as he's scored in double figures with at least one 3-pointer in every game this month, and had 25 points, five assists, five rebounds and three assists Wednesday night. Anytime a player faces the Knicks, I'm more apt to start him, and Gomes is a no-brainer Friday. Courtney Lee isn't flashy and hasn't dominated but he's been starting recently, dropped 14, six rebounds, two steals and two 3s Wednesday night, and faces the abysmal Wizards' defense, who allow opponents to shoot nearly 48 percent from the floor. Thaddeus Young is feeling it lately, averaging 24.5 points per game in his past two contests. He's primed for fantasy stardom with his ability to contribute in multiple categories, and he's an absolute thief, averaging 1.9 steals per game since the All-Star break. Leon Powe is a grown man, and has benefited from the absence of Kevin Garnett. Wednesday night he had 23 points, 13 rebounds, shot 7-for-14 from the floor and 9-for-13 from the stripe. In his past three games, Powe is averaging 18.3 points and 10.3 boards, and I like his long-term prospects much better than those of Glen Davis. Powe is a great short-term option in shallow leagues with Garnett out, and should have some value for the rest of the season in deeper leagues, especially as they rest KG for the playoffs. Joel Przybilla has been a monster on the boards with Greg Oden sidelined recently, and is averaging 11.6 boards per game this month, which includes one three-rebound contest. Oden will be out until at least Sunday, so take advantage of Przybilla's free rein of the middle Friday night. Anthony Carter returned Wednesday night, after missing four contests, and dished 12 dimes off the bench in 26 minutes. He's an assists, steals, and 3s only option in the deepest of leagues, but y'all need attention too, and Carter puts up decent numbers in limited minutes. Renaldo Balkman had 14 points and 14 rebounds with two steals and a block Wednesday night, starting in place of Kenyon Martin. Martin's status is questionable for Friday night's game, as he sat Wednesday and left Monday's game halfway through, so I'd expect Balkman to produce numbers well above his season averages once again. Kelenna Azubuike returned to action Wednesday night after missing three games with back problems, but played just eight minutes and scored four points. I'd wait until he's produced a solid game to start him if you've got other options.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
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