- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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Matchups for Thursday, April 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.
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (leg)
Start 'em, sit 'em
If you've been clinging to Andrew Bynum -- and many of you have been -- get the lad into your lineup, because he could play Thursday against Denver. Since tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee 32 games ago, Bynum has done his R and R (rehab and recreation) and is apparently ready. In a daily lineup league without game limits, it's a no-brainer to activate him for Thursday's three-game slate. Beyond that, I think Bynum -- who's available in more than 30 percent of ESPN.com leagues -- has some fantasy value for the final week. Phil Jackson has already said that when Bynum does return, he'll start. Don't expect starter's minutes, but, given the coach's comments and the Lakers' need to prepare him for the postseason, I can see Bynum getting around 20 minutes a night. While I'd prefer Spencer Hawes as my center right now (more on him in a bit), Bynum is worth considering in deeper leagues. Lamar Odom owners also have something to consider, since their guy might be headed back to the bench with Bynum's return. Odom is averaging 14 points and 11 boards as a starter this season, but only 9 and 6 as a sub. Early this week, Kenyon Martin said he planned to play against the Lakers, but don't let that keep you from adding the 14 percent-owned Chris Andersen if you need blocks. Despite averaging a mere 20 minutes a night, the Birdman is second in the league with 2.4 rejections.
I've been writing about Tyrus Thomas and Jason Thompson all season, and I'm not stopping now. Thompson's ownership has finally pushed past 20 percent, but come on. The rookie is averaging 15.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in the past 13 games. Plus, the Kings have four games left after Thursday. If there's one player you should add, it's Thompson. Thomas, meanwhile, is averaging 3.2 rejections in his past nine, and he can still be had in 55 percent of leagues. Actually, Thursday is a showcase of undervalued players who are available in 25-50 percent of leagues. Add any of these guys if you can: Francisco Garcia (26 percent availability) is a hustle-cat demon who's now starting for the injured Kevin Martin. Shane Battier (34 percent availability) is, at this point, kind of poor man's Garcia, but he and Luis Scola (45 percent availability) do have the benefit of going against the Kings' embarrassingly poor defense. J.R. Smith (38 percent availability) has dropped a staggering 4.2 treys per game in his past 11. And the aforementioned Hawes just went for 21 and 15 against the Lakers. Digging a little deeper, Lou Williams (93 percent availability) is averaging 17.5 points, 1.8 steals and 1.3 3-pointers in the four games Thaddeus Young has missed.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.
Neil Tardy previews Thursday's NBA action, including a possible return from injury for Lakers big man, Andrew Bynum.