Matchups for Friday, April 3
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.
Leandro Barbosa, PG/SG, Suns (knee)
Tyson Chandler, C, Hornets (ankle)
Rudy Fernandez, SG, Blazers (back)
Jeff Foster, PF/C, Pacers (foot)
Randy Foye, PG/SG, Timberwolves (hip)
Peja Stojakovic, SF, Hornets (back)
Start 'em, sit 'em
Leandro Barbosa is targeting Friday night for a return to the court, and he couldn't have a better matchup than the defensively hapless Kings, who allow 109.1 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting. They don't have anybody quick enough to guard Barbosa, so even though his minutes likely will be limited and his return isn't guaranteed, I'd be surprised if he didn't drop a few 3s and double-digit points. Josh Howard is another player to get back in your lineup after he dropped 20 points, eight boards, three steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer Wednesday night in his second game back from an extended absence. The impressive peripheral stats are encouraging, as Howard's numbers have been more one-dimensional in the scoring categories this season compared to years past. The Grizzlies don't exactly pose a daunting matchup, and since every start counts this late in the season, it's imperative to get players like Howard and Barbosa back into your lineup as soon as they return. When defenses have the ability to focus on him, Kendrick Perkins turns the ball over liberally, illustrated by his seven flubs in KG's absence Wednesday night. He still is a good rebound and block option, and will get huge minutes for the rest of the regular season (thus is worth starting if you need boards and blocks), but he does come with some baggage, especially in turnover leagues.
Don't read into Sasha Vujacic's 14-point effort Wednesday, as it came on perfect shooting from the floor, from behind the arc and from the stripe. He's a streaky shooter and things were clicking, but to expect double digits regularly is unwise. Glen Davis started at power forward in place of Kevin Garnett and had five points and eight boards in 35 minutes Wednesday night. The heavy-minute load is the most encouraging stat, and if it continues, he should rebound well with regularity. The Hawks aren't a fantastic rebounding team, and in deeper leagues, Davis is an option due to his newfound opportunity. Kevin Martin's 50 points in the Kings' overtime victory against the Warriors were impressive and made it easy to ignore Francisco Garcia's 22 points, three 3s, three steals and two blocks off the bench, and the fact that Andres Nocioni started in his third consecutive game and has seen an increase in value. Both are worthy starts against the run-and-gun Suns. Shane Battier is averaging 17 points, one block, 1.3 steals and 3.3 3s in his past three games, showing the type of balanced numbers that have made him a popular fantasy commodity in the past. He also has scored in double digits in five of his past seven contests, after a string of 12 consecutive games without reaching that mark. He's not the fantasy player he used to be, but he's worth a look if you need a little bit of everything. Julian Wright has flashed glimpses of brilliance this season, including Wednesday night's 18-point, nine-rebound and two-steal effort. There will be bumps in the road, but he is entrenched in the starting lineup and has the tools to average more than one steal and one block per game for the rest of the season.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.