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Week 19 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Sergio Gonzalez
Fantasy Writer
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Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is our weekly look at players around the NBA we feel could help or hurt your Fantasy squad based upon matchups and other factors. Don't expect to read about why you should start LeBron James or why you should sit Brian Scalabrine. In this space, we will try to help you make the call on players you could be on the fence about while also pointing out some players you may not have thought about sitting, but you should consider doing so.

Nick Young should be licking his chops entering Week 19. So should his Fantasy owners.

Heading into the final stretch of what has been a breakout season for the former USC standout, Young might be on the verge of one of his more productive scoring periods of the season. A four-game week stocked with high-volume matchups should allow the young gunner to light up some box scores and help Fantasy owners during one of the most critical scoring periods of the season. With that in mind, Young is our selection as the Start of the Week for Fantasy Week 19 (Feb. 28-March 6).

Young has flourished as a starter for the Wizards since the team dealt away Gilbert Arenas, averaging 20.7 points in 33 starts. His production outside of the scoring column has left much to be desired, but while Fantasy owners might not get a whole lot out of Young in terms of boards or assists this week he will certainly be offering up plenty of help in points, 3-point shooting and free throws.

The scoring period begins with a tough one against a Bulls team that allows just 92.5 points per game. He does have a good record against the Bulls this season as a starter, however, as he managed 22 points against them on Dec. 22.

The scoring period should get a lot easier from that point on.

Young has matchups against the Warriors, Timberwolves and Pistons the remainder of Week 19. The Warriors give up 105.5 points per game, the Timberwolves a league-high 107.4 points per game and Detroit allows around 100 points per game. The Pistons, however, are in the midst of serious player/coach struggles that have caused all sorts of turmoil over the past two weeks. They have allowed an average of 109.0 points per game in that span.

Expect Young, who has averaged around 17.2 shot attempts in his 33 starts, to see an increase in shot volume this week. He should be able to get to the foul line often as well -- where he is shooting 82.5 percent for the season -- and Fantasy owners should also expect him to contribute high-end numbers from beyond the arc.

Guards

Start 'Em

Kyle Lowry (@POR, @LAC, IND): The trade that sent Aaron Brooks off the Phoenix seals Lowry's fate as the primary point guard in Houston for the remainder of the season. Expect his playing time to rise down the stretch and he could even begin to improve upon his averages as a starter this season (12.1 points, 7.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds) with the added PT.

Ramon Sessions (SA, @NY, NO): Baron Davis' situation is tentative at best as he joined the Cavaliers with a knee injury and the understandable disgruntlement that comes with joining a team that is 11-47. Sessions has earned his playing time, Davis or no Davis, but the real chance that his playing time will come without much competition makes him a savory play this week. He has averaged 20.0 points and 7.0 assists with 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals over his last five games.

Sit 'Em

Raymond Felton (ATL, CHA, @UTA, @LAC): One of the bigger Fantasy losers at the deadline, Felton will see his production cut in half in Denver as he is in line to share playing time with Ty Lawson. His first two games have produced nice results for the Nuggets, but not his Fantasy owners as he has averaged just 5.5 points and 6.0 assists in his first two appearances.

Aaron Brooks (@NJ, @BOS, @MIL, @OKC): Brooks was dealt to the Suns at the deadline and will serve as Steve Nash's backup (and eventual heir apparent). He underwhelmed in Houston this season due to injuries and the emergence of Lowry, but there was a small chance he could return to a more active role somewhere down the line in Houston. There will be no such luck in Phoenix, barring injury.

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Forwards

Start 'Em

Wilson Chandler (ATL, CHA, @UTA, @LAC): There was some concern expressed by this Fantasy hoops writer that Chandler and Danilo Gallinari could be on the verge of losing much of their Fantasy appeal following their trade from New York to Denver. The early results for Chandler have quelled much of the worry. Chandler has been a featured part of the offense in Denver in his first two games, even scoring 20 points with six boards, two blocks and two assists on Feb. 25 against a tough Trail Blazers team -- a line that could have been copied over from many of his Knicks performances.

John Salmons (DET, PHO, BOS): Salmons has been asked to play big minutes in Milwaukee of late, averaging 40.4 minutes over his last five games. The result has been more shot attempts (15.8 per game) and scoring (20.4 per game) with solid contributions in assists (5.2 per game) and 3-point shooting. Salmons should be able to light up the box score against the likes of Detroit and Phoenix this week.

Sit 'Em

Hedo Turkoglu (NY, @MIA, CHI): Turkoglu does not seem to be 100 percent. Despite playing on, it would appear the back issues that have been plaguing him for some time now continue to be an issue as he has struggled to maintain any type of consistency despite the occasional outburst. He has been held below 10 points in three of his last four games and is averaging just 9.6 points over his last 10 appearances. He will also have to deal with two tough defensive opponents in a three-game week, meaning you might only be able to count on him for help in assists and rebounds -- two categories where he has remained adequately consistent.

Tayshaun Prince (@MIL, MIN, WAS): The Pistons are a real mess right now with reports of a mutiny on coach John Kuester's hands. Prince has missed the team's last two games with what the team has reported as an upset stomach. There is some belief that Prince is one of several players who have been involved in 'boycotting' Kuester. Until his situation clears up, he is a player to avoid activating despite having been one of the team's more reliable players of late.

Centers

Start 'Em

Marcin Gortat (@NJ, @BOS, @MIL, @OKC): Gortat entered play Sunday averaging nearly a double-double (12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) over his previous 10 appearances and has settled in with the Suns quite nicely. He is the team's primary center now and is getting around 30 minutes per game despite the fact Robin Lopez is still technically the team's "starter."

Joakim Noah (@WAS, @ATL, @ORL, @MIA): Noah returned from a 30-game absence this week following his recovery from a broken thumb. His minutes have risen in each game and while his offense has not reached double digits yet his rebounding efforts and overall conditioning inspire a lot of confidence. He is never going to be much of an offensive weapon, but we would anticipate him returning to the 13.3 points per game he averaged prior to getting hurt fairly soon. At the very least, the 13.7 rebounds he has averaged over his first three games back is a good indication he is ready to be activated once again in Fantasy.

Sit 'Em

Marc Gasol (SA, NO, @DAL): Gasol enters Week 19 active in over 75 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, but his recent performances have not warranted such confidence. He has been unproductive on the glass (5.2 rebounds over his last five games) and has not scored double figures in back-to-back games since Feb. 7-8. To make things worse, he will be up against three teams that allow fewer than 97 points per game and have strong inside big men.

Darko Milicic (LAL, @DET, @PHI, @WAS): Darko has been less than productive this past week after going into the All-Star break on a high note. He entered play on Sunday having averaged just 6.0 points and 6.6 rebounds in three games since the break with lingering pain the result of a lingering hip flexor injury the possible culprit.

Do you have a Fantasy hoops question for our staff? You can e-mail us at DMFantasyHoops@cbs.com. Be sure to put Attn: Start 'Em and Sit 'Em in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state. You can also follow Sergio on Twitter (@CBSGonzalez).

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Player News
Omer Asik ready to clean up in return to starting role
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Last season was a rough one for Omer Asik, who had to deal with returning to a reserve role after really shining as a starter the previous year. He should be much happier with his role this season, as the Pelicans acquired him this offseason with the intention of installing him as the starting center.

The Pelicans should have a fearsome frontcourt with Asik starting next to Anthony Davis, and Davis' presence should free Asik up to do the kind of work he excels at. Asik isn't a great offensive player, but he can be a dominant offensive rebounder, and should have many chances to clean up the boards with teams keying in on Davis offensively. Among players who have logged at least 5,000 minutes in the NBA, Asik is 22nd all-time in offensive rebounding percentage.

Asik had trouble staying healthy last season, but that was the first time he had ever missed a regular-season game in his career, so we can probably write that off as a fluke. He averaged a double-double with 1.1 blocks per game in 30.0 minutes per game two years ago, and should be capable of similar production as he returns to a starting role.

Asik should be viewed as a starting Fantasy option this season, though he may not have the upside of some other younger centers at this point. 


Tobias Harris' Fantasy value a mystery at this point
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Perception is a funny thing. Just ask Magic forward Tobias Harris, who enjoyed by far the most productive season of his career in 2013-14 but was somehow viewed as a Fantasy disappointment.

Part of that stemmed from Harris' issues with availability, as he missed 20 games and got off to a slow start to the season as a result. It really took until January for Harris to find his stride, but he averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game from Jan. 1 on, without missing a contest.

Harris was probably better than the general perception of him a year ago, but the power of expectations hurt him. And now he enters his fourth season as something of a career crossroads, and it is hard to say just how Fantasy owners should approach him this season.

The Magic added Channing Frye and Aaron Gordon to the roster this season, further confusing what was already one of the most crowded frontcourts in the league. Harris can play both forward spots, but he is probably best used as a small-ball power forward; the presence of Frye, one of the league's elite stretch-fours certainly complicates matters for Harris, then.

At just 22, Harris still has a world of potential ahead of him. However, he probably profiles best as a reserve Fantasy option heading into the season, given concerns about his role.   


Hype may be too high for Giannis Antetokounmpo
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) No matter what he accomplishes in his second NBA season, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is likely to be a historical outlier, given his age. The question is, how much of a leap can the now-20-year-old take next season.

Only 15 players in NBA history have logged as many minutes in a single season as a teenager as Antetokounmpo's 1,897, so he is occupying fairly rarified air already. His age is a big part of why he is considered a big-time breakout prospect for Fantasy purposes, but he has a long way to go from a statistical standpoint.

Antetokounmpo was good for a 19-year-old rookie, but his season averages of 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game left a lot to be desired. It is easy to dream about a Antetokounmpo taking a big step forward, but that next step is never guaranteed -- for every Anthony Davis there is a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist whose development follows a slower, less linear path. 

Antetokounmpo was very good -- for a 19-year-old. However, Fantasy owners don't get extra points, rebounds or assists if the degree of difficulty is higher, so you are betting on Giannis taking a huge step forward at the age of 20. Antetokounmpo has become something of an internet darling, and his play in Summer League and the FIBA World Cup dominated much of the offseason discussion, which only helped build the hype to potentially unsustainable levels. 

He is a lottery ticket, for sure, but he is one that might not be worth the cost at this point. 


Improved jump shot all Jimmy Butler needs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had the breakout season many expected from him a year ago, but there were still plenty of flaws apparent in his game as he finished his third NBA season. With a better team around him, Butler just might have enough help to vault him to stardom.

Butler's jump shot abandoned him last season, especially after a toe injury forced him to miss 11 games in November and December. He was shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range prior to the injury, but connected on just 39.3 percent of his shots overall and 27.1 percent from three-point range from that point on.

We can blame Butler's season-long shooting slump on the injury or his increased offensive role, but he should have neither excuse available for him this season. Butler should be healthy, and the Bulls added plenty of offensive firepower this offseason, in the form of Pau Gasol and Doug McDermott, not to mention a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose. Butler took 154 shots off the dribble last season, per Stats.NBA.com, and made just 30.7 percent of them. With a better team around him, Butler should get many more opportunities to shoot with his feet set.

Butler has the skill set to be a tremendously efficient offensive player, given how often he bullies his way to the free-throw line. Last season, Butler filled up the box score extremely well, but his poor shooting limited his Fantasy value somewhat. If a new role helps his efficiency, he could be one of the very best guards in the league in category-based formats. 


Lance Stephenson set for bigger role in new setting
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Though there were fits and starts, Lance Stephenson finally began to live up to his considerable promise last season. Now in a new home in Charlotte, will Stephenson take another step forward in 2014-15?

By the end of last season, the Pacers were a mess, and Stephenson caught plenty of the blame for that. Still, he might have been arguably the team's most consistent player throughout the season, averaging between 25.8 and 29.7 Fantasy points per game from before and after the All-Star break as well as the playoffs. For as much of a mess as that team was, Stephenson emerged as something of a rock, at least for Fantasy purposes.

The Hornets are actually built in a somewhat similar way to the Pacers, so there wont' be much of a stylistic shift for Stephenson to get used to. Per MySynergySports.com, 11.8 percent of the then-Bobcats' possessions ended in post-ups, actually down from the 13.2 percent mark the Pacers' posted. Stephenson struggled at times with his post-entry passing, though his off-target feeds might find their mark more often when being lobbed in to the soft hands of Al Jefferson, as opposed to Roy Hibbert.

The Hornets might lean even more heavily on Stephenson than the Pacers did, since Indiana liked to spread the ball around with their starting five. The Hornets, on the other hand, look to be extremely top-heavy, and Stephenson will get plenty of chances to be the second or third option. We have him projected for 29.1 Fantasy points per game, and consider Stephenson a borderline top-50 Fantasy option for this season.  


Move to Houston won't alter Trevor Ariza's trajectory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Trevor Ariza parlayed a career-year into a lucrative free-agency contract with the Rockets this offseason -- stop me if you've heard this story before.

Ariza was largely a disappointment in his first stint with the Rockets, though it did lead him to the best per-game numbers of his career. Still, Ariza was obviously miscast as a primary offensive option the last time he was in Houston, and that won't be a problem this time around.

Ariza joins a Rockets team with two established stars, and will likely spend much of his time trying to fill the departed Chandler Parsons' role. That should suit him nicely, as Ariza has just enough of an off-the-bounce game to serve as the team's third ballhandler when the shot clock gets deep. Ariza attempted 11.1 field-goal attempts per game last season, and should see a boost given Parsons' role; he attempted 13.3 shots per game.

Ariza's improved three-point shot seems legitimate, as he is shooting 38.6 percent from long range over 738 attempts since 2012. However, he will no longer have John Wall feeding him for juicy corner 3-pointers; Wall to Ariza was the league's most productive corner-three combination last season. His shooting numbers may take a hit with his move.

Even acknowledging the loss of Wall's help, we know the Houston offense is set up to get every player the most efficient shots possible, so Ariza shouldn't see much of a dip in his efficiency. His ability to fill up the box score makes him a perfect No. 2 option at forward in category-based leagues, especially now that he is a high-volume shooter. 


Despite new role, don't write off Isaiah Thomas entirely
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Suns guard Isaiah Thomas might see one of the biggest dropoffs in his Fantasy value from last season to this, as he joins the crowded Suns' backcourt.

The Suns might have three All-Star caliber guards in the backcourt now, with Thomas likely to backup Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe this season. That should put a serious dent in Thomas' value; Thomas finished 13th in Fantasy scoring among guards a year ago, but is projected to finish just 43rd this season.

Still, Thomas is definitely someone you'll want to add to your team when drafting, and almost certainly before the rest of the No. 4-type guards he is grouped with. Thomas is likely to see his numbers fall off from the 20.3 points and 6.3 assists he averaged a year ago, at least at first. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him end up starting upwards of 25 games throughout the year, given Bledsoe's injury-proneness. Bledsoe has missed at least 25 games in two of the last three seasons for knee issues.

Thomas probably profiles as more of a bench option for Fantasy purposes next season, but you'll be targeting him much earlier than nearly any other reserve. His upside as a handcuff option for either Bledsoe or Dragic is sky-high, and will make him well worth your attention on Draft Day. 


Eric Gordon cleared for contact
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Eric Gordon has been cleared to take part in full-contact offseason drills ahead of training camp, The Times-Picayune reports.

Gordon underwent season-ending knee surgery last April, but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. 


Jrue Holiday cleared for contact ahead of camp
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was able to participate in full-contact offseason drills last week, the first time he has done so since undergoing season-ending surgery last January.

"Getting out playing has been a joy," Holiday told The Times-Picayune. "I've been running and jumping and stuff, but getting my rhythm back on the court is definitely a big thing right now for me."

The Pelicans open training camp Sept. 30, and Holiday is not expected to have any limitations as the team prepares for the start of the season. Holiday averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season prior to the injury.


Kent Bazemore focused on conditioning in recovery
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(9/17/2014) Newly signed Hawks guard Kent Bazemore did not pick up a basketball until August, preferring to focus on conditioning in his recovery from foot surgery in April.

"I think the injury was definitely a blessing," he told the Daily Press, "because I was able to step away from the game of basketball. I took myself out of my element all summer. I did stuff I'm not used to doing."

Bazemore signed a two-year deal with the Hawks this offseason, and is expected to compete for playing time on the wing immediately, as he is fully recovered from the surgery. 


 
 
 
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