Commentary

Daily Notes for Friday: Manu is back, but don't start him yet

Updated: March 26, 2009, 12:51 PM ET
By Josh Whitling | Special to ESPN.com

Matchups for Friday, March 27

Time Visitors Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff. Home Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff.
7:00 p.m. Milwaukee Bucks 100.1 .457 +0.5
@
Orlando Magic 95.0 .433 +1.5
7:00 p.m. Charlotte Bobcats 94.7 .454 +0.4
@
Philadelphia 76ers 96.9 .459 +2.2
7:00 p.m. Oklahoma City Thunder 102.9 .474 +2.3
@
Toronto Raptors 101.0 .462 -2.2
7:30 p.m. Boston Celtics 92.8 .429 +5.0
@
Atlanta Hawks 96.3 .452 -1.9
7:30 p.m. Minnesota Timberwolves 103.1 .474 +1.0
@
Cleveland Cavaliers 91.3 .430 +2.7
7:30 p.m. Los Angeles Lakers 100.4 .449 +3.0
@
New Jersey Nets 101.0 .462 -1.8
7:30 p.m. New Orleans Hornets 93.3 .448 +0.4
@
New York Knicks 108.2 .480 -3.9
8:30 p.m. Denver Nuggets 100.6 .441 +0.7
@
Dallas Mavericks 99.9 .453 +1.0
8:30 p.m. Los Angeles Clippers 103.7 .470 -4.2
@
San Antonio Spurs 93.0 .450 +0.5
10:00 p.m. Memphis Grizzlies 99.7 .474 -1.5
@
Sacramento Kings 108.4 .481 -5.0
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.

Out
Andrew Bogut, C, Bucks (back)
Nene Hilario, PF/C, Nuggets (suspension)
Leon Powe, PF, Celtics (knee)
Michael Redd, SG, Bucks (knee)
Brian Scalabrine, PF, Celtics (concussion)
Marvin Williams, SF/PF, Hawks (back)

Day-to-day
Tyson Chandler, C, Hornets (ankle)
Tim Duncan, PF/C, Spurs (knee)
Devin Harris, PG, Nets (shoulder, deltoid)
Josh Howard, SG/SF, Mavericks (ankle)
Troy Murphy, PC/C, Pacers (knee)
Luke Ridnour, PG, Bucks (back)
Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics (ankle)
Peja Stojakovic, SF, Hornets (back)

Start 'em, sit 'em

Manu Ginobili returned to the Spurs' lineup Wednesday after missing 19 games and scored two points on 1-for-7 shooting in 14 minutes played. The plan is to bring him back slowly and limit his minutes at first, so even though he's a fantasy marvel when at full strength, he's not a must-start until he's playing more than 20 minutes per game. Monitor his progress closely, because you don't want to miss a vintage performance from him, but I don't expect more than 20 minutes from him Friday, so it's safe to keep him on your bench if you have a more reliable option. … Nene will miss Friday's game while serving the second game of his two-game suspension handed down after he head-butted Louis Amundson. This gives you even more reason to be confident in starting Chris Andersen, who is averaging 7.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 0.8 steals while shooting 82.8 percent from behind the stripe in March. He's almost a one-trick pony, but that one trick is mighty impressive (as are his tats, by the way), and you'd be hard pressed to find a fantasy league without a team that could use his ample block totals. … Devin Harris might return for Friday's contest, although there's some mystery surrounding his shoulder and deltoid injuries. I'd approach him like Ginobli and wait until you see evidence that he can be on the court long enough to contribute statistically before reinserting him in your lineup, especially since the team continues to say there's no timetable for his return. In his absence, Keyon Dooling's steady play continued Wednesday, as he scored 11 points with 10 assists and a 3-pointer. With the uncertainty surrounding Harris, Dooling's recent success should continue. … Luke Ridnour missed Wednesday's game and Ramon Sessions responded, as he typically does when Ridnour is sidelined, with a solid game -- 18 points and seven assists. The Bucks are banged up, and after posting 20 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals and four 3s in almost 34 minutes off the bench, Charlie Bell undoubtedly is a short-term option, as he and Sessions will shoulder the bulk of the backcourt scoring Friday.

Waiver-wire pickups

In perhaps the most unexpected performance of the season, Clippers second-round pick Mike Taylor, a 6-foot-2 rookie guard from Iowa State, scored 35 points on 14-for-20 shooting from the floor and 7-for-7 shooting from the stripe with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals off the bench Wednesday night. He's had a few other decent performances this season, and this shining moment puts him on the sleeper radar for next season. But the fact that he doesn't shoot 3s and Baron Davis and Eric Gordon have the Clippers' backcourt on lockdown makes me leery. Don't jump to add him; wait until he puts together a string of games that have a semblance of consistency. … Julian Wright has started all but one game in March and is averaging 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per game in that span. His offensive game is nonexistent, and he's not productive enough yet to add unless you're desperate for steals and blocks in deep formats, but that combination bodes well for his fantasy future, and he'll be a player to watch closely next fall. I always love it when my players are facing the Knicks, so if you do by some chance own Wright (like in a keeper format, in a very deep format or if you're related to him), he likely will have an above-average scoring performance Friday. … Rodney Carney started Wednesday along with the rest of the Timberwolves' reserves and scored 21 points on 7-for-8 shooting from behind the 3-point line. Ryan Gomes, Randy Foye, Mike Miller and Kevin Love all sat on the bench to begin the game, and it's difficult to say what the lineup will look like Friday night. Regardless, Carney quickly has become an intriguing option, scoring in double digits in five of his past seven contests and absolutely draining from behind the arc, averaging 2.7 3s in that span. It looks like his minutes are on the upswing, and if you specifically need 3s (because he'll provide little else), Carney is a valid option, especially during his current hot streak. … Maurice Evans scored in single digits Wednesday for the first time in five games, but he still notched two 3s. He's been starting and playing heavy minutes, and despite Wednesday's mediocre effort, he's averaging two 3s per game in his past five, 1.5 per game in his past 18. He has been a decent source of 3s, points and steals in deep formats since entering the starting lineup March 9. … After missing the previous two games with a swollen knee, Erick Dampier returned Wednesday and snared 10 rebounds, his third double-digit effort on the boards in his past four games. He is not flashy and has no upside, but he will be a steady source of rebounds if you're addressing that very specific need.

Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

Josh Whitling

Fantasy Basketball
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

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