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Week 1 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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Start 'Em & 'Em is our weekly look at players around the NBA we feel couldl 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 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 pointing out some players you may not have thought about sitting, but should consider doing so.

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Who thought at the time that when Lakers center Andrew Bynum decided to act like a petulant child -- elbowing Jose Juan Barea -- in the final game of the Lakers' Western Conference semifinal loss to the Mavericks, that it would have major repercussions for the first week of the Fantasy basketball season?

Bynum's Lakers play six games in the opening scoring period, and Bynum will miss two-thirds of them because of his recklessness, and now the Lakers are left scrambling to fill two starting positions on opening day == not to mention dealing with the prospect of Kobe Bryant trying to play through a torn wrist ligament.

Bynum's absence shifts power forward Pau Gasol to the five and opens things up for recently acquired forward Josh McRoberts to start most of the week. McRoberts is known more for his dunking ability and past relationships with a reality-TV star than his consistent production, but in a pinch for the first week of the season, he's going to be a sneaky good option, making him my start of the week for Week 1.

McRoberts' career numbers are unimpressive, to say the least; 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game with fewer than a block and steal. However, he's also simply never had the opportunity to start and play extended minutes, as he has just 54 starts in his four-year NBA career. He has shown the ability to be productive on a per-minute basis, scoring 11.9 points and grabbing 8.8 rebounds per-36 minutes in his career while showing range out to the three-point line.

McRoberts is going to get to start four games, including a back-to-back-to-back to start the season against a tough Chicago defense and two much softer opponents in Sacramento and Utah. At 24, McRoberts has the kind of young legs that could keep him in the game for long stretches during the three-game stretch, and the Lakers have very little front court depth without Bynum to push him out of the picture.

The production won't last, but for Week 1, McRoberts should be a solid option at the forward position.

Guards

Start 'Em

George Hill, Pacers (DET, SAS, @TOR, CLE, @DET) -- The Pacers acquired the combo-guard from the Spurs to backup both guard positions, and he'll get a chance to prove his worth quickly against the three teams that finished 28th, 29th and 30th in the NBA last season in Defensive Efficiency. Hill is a very good scorer, and the the Indianapolis Star speculated that he could supplant Darren Collison as the starting point guard before long. He is likely to see more playing time than the 28.3 minutes per game he received last year, and his 14.8 points, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals per-36 minutes numbers last year show a playing just waiting to breakout if given playing time. I think it could happen this week against these putrid defenses.

Arron Afflalo, Nuggets (@DAL, UTH, @POR, @LAL, LAL) -- I am a big fan of Afflalo's prospects in a five-game schedule, particularly because he averaged 15.3 points per game against these four teams last season in 12 games, better than his season average by 2.7 points per game.

Sleeper Alert: Jodie Meeks, 76ers (@POR, @PHO, @ UTH, @GSW) -- Meeks emerged as a double-digit scorer for the 76ers last season solely on the strength of his three-point shooting, as more than half of his shots last year came from behind the arc. In this matchup, he faces four teams that ranked No. 15, 26, 28 and 22 in the NBA in three-point field goals allowed last season. This seems like a good week for Meeks to do some long-range damage.

Sit 'Em

Jarrett Jack, Hornets (@PHO, BOS, PHO, @SAC) -- While we here at CBSSports.com love Jack as a breakout candidate following the Hornets' loss of Chris Paul this offseason, he is not a recommended start for Week 1 as he serves a one-game suspension to start the year. Maybe if the Hornets were scheduled for five or six games in this scoring period I'd like him still, but with a de-facto three-game schedule and a matchup against the fierce Celtics' defense in line, you should stay away, but only for this week.

Stephen Curry, Warriors (LAC, CHI, NYK, PHI) -- Normally I wouldn't even consider recommending that you bench Curry, even with tough games against the Bulls and Sixers on the schedule, but Curry's dealing with an ankle injury that is threatening to keep him out of the season opener and the Chicago game the next night. If he wasn't hurt, or if he didn't start the season on a back-to-back, I'd feel more confident in him, but for this week, you may want to look for safer options.

Bust Alert:Brandon Jennings, Bucks (@CHA, MIN, WAS) -- As the only team to play just three games in this scoring period, the Bucks are going to be well represent on this list. While they have decent matchups in all three games, they're playing fewer games than anyone else, and in many cases two fewer games. Jennings is going to have to be 40 percent more productive in his three games than your next best five-start option; considering his inconsistencies, it's tough to expect that.

Forwards

Start 'Em

My sleepers
Week 1
Player % Started
1. Jared Dudley, G, Suns 28
2. Devin Ebanks, F, Lakers 0
3. DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers 49
4. Corey Maggette, F, Bobcats 35
5. Ed Davis, F, Raptors 24
6. Derrick Favors, F, Jazz 22
7. Lou Williams, G, 76ers 11
8. Ben Gordon, G, Pistons 11
9. Jerryd Bayless, G, Raptors 4
10. Kenneth Faried, F, Nuggets 3

Shawn Marion, Mavericks (MIA, DEN, @OKC, TOR, @MIN) -- While he does face the formidable Heat and Thunder defenses, Marion gets to pick on three other far inferior squads in his other three games, which is why I like him for the first week. Particularly in the final two games, against Toronto and Minnesota, he should be able to put up very solid numbers. Plus the five-game schedule means he should be able to produce in volume for the scoring period.

J.J. Hickson, Kings (LAL, @POR, CHI, NYK, NOR) -- Catching the tough Bulls defense doesn't bode well for Hickson in Week 1, but he does have a five-game schedule and three favorable matchups. He's coming off a career-high 13.8 point campaign and while he'll be splitting time in a pretty loaded frontcourt, I like his chances to score in double figures for all five games.

Sleeper Alert: Ryan Anderson, Magic (@OKC, @MIN, @MEM, DAL, PHO) -- There may be some concern about how the Magic will split time between Anderson and Glen Davis, their skillsets don't overlap much, and we could see them on the floor together at times. Because of this, it's likely that Anderson gets starter's minutes this season. I like him in a five-game schedule with two back-to-backs, as his conditioning advantage could see him out on the floor more than Davis in the second nights of those games.

Sit 'Em

Paul Pierce, Celtics (@NYK, @MIA, @NOR, DET, @WAS) -- He's got a handful of pretty nice matchups in this scoring period, but Pierce may not even play in two of them, as he is doubtful for the opener against New York with a heel injury and will likely rest plenty on the second night of the back-to-back when Boston plays New Orleans. Pierce on a three-game schedule is better than most forwards, but not when he's going to be limited by injury.

Stephen Jackson, Bucks (@CHA, MIN, WAS) -- I really like Jackson's matchups this week, I just wish there were more of them. The three teams finished 17th, 27th, and 24th in the league in defensive efficiency last season, but because of a lingering back injury and the low number of opportunities, Jackson could fail to produce well in Week 1.

Bust Alert: Paul Millsap, Jazz (@LAL, @DEN, PHI, @SAS) -- Millsap averaged just 13.3 points-per game in 12 games against this four teams in 2010-11, a full four points below his season average. Even if that wasn't so, a pair of back-to-backs, a deep Jazz frountcourt and Millsap's balky right quad make Millsap a questionable start. He's going to lose minutes this season to the developing Derrick Favors, and Tyrone Corbin may choose to rest him more when they play two in a row, something they do twice this week.

Centers

Start 'Em

Mehmet Okur, Nets (@WAS, ATL, @ORL, @ATL, @CLE) -- While I don't particularly love any of the matchups for the newest Net, I simply had to put him on here as he's owned in just 34 percent of leagues but is going to be the starting center in five games for the first scoring period. Okur is coming off an injury-plagued season, but I like the possibility of him finding the old spark with Deron Williams; he averaged between 18.0 and 13.5 points-per game in his five full seasons with Williams in Utah.

Jermaine O'Neal, Celtics (@NYK, @MIA, @NOR, DET, @WAS) -- The Boston Celtics have very little in the way of depth right now, and are ill-prepared for back-to-backs, the first of which they face this week, with Miami and New Orleans. Because of this and his reported health, O'Neal will likely see a decent number of minutes, at least early on in the season while he's healthy. He's not going to be a stud, but he blocks a good amount of shots and could be relied upon more this year than last, when he averaged just 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds. He's only owned in 19 percent of leagues currently, but there are worse options at center than a guy playing five times per week.

Sit 'Em

Andrew Bynum, Lakers (Suspended four games; DEN, @ DEN) -- As stated in the opening, Bynum cost himself most of his first week with his showing during the playoffs, and he should be rewarded by Fantasy owners by being benched in all formats for the week. Even though he is one of the top centers in Fantasy, playing in just two games in a week kills his value. If you start him and lose Week 1, don't see I didn't warn you.

Andrew Bogut, Bucks (@CHA, MIN, WAS) -- It's kind of unfair to Bogut to put him here with Bynum, but his value is extremely limited this week by a lack of playing opportunities through no fault of his own. Bynum has two decent matchups, playing against the center-less Bobcats and the hapless Timberwolves, but with so many teams playing four or five games and with questions still remaining about his ability to bounce back following last year's subpar performance, you should feel okay about benching the talented Australian, but only for Week 1.

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Player News
Nuggets waive two to insure roster spot for F Alonzo Gee
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:31 am ET) The Nuggets have waived swingman Marcus Williams and forward Jerrelle Benimon, which will result in fellow forward Alonzo Gee landing a roster spot for the regular season.

Gee had been a starter with Cleveland before losing substantial playing time last year. He has struggled throughout his career to make an offensive impact.


Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins out Tuesday, likely out Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:57 am ET) Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins didn't play Tuesday and will likely miss Wednesday's game as well after taking a hard fall Sunday, the Star Tribune reports. The issue appears to be minor in nature, and the rookie is day-to-day moving forward.

Jazz C Enes Kanter explodes for 27 points in preseason win Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:05 am ET) Jazz center Enes Kanter scored a team-high 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting, including 2-for-2 shooting from downtown, while recording seven rebounds, three assists and one block in his team's 105-91 preseason win over the Thunder Tuesday.

Kanter played 29 minutes en route to his best performance of the preseason, as all five starters logged at least 28 minutes of action in the win. Kanter has a chance to build upon his career-best performance last season, in which he averaged 12.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The Jazz open the regular season at home against the Rockets on Oct. 29.


Heat SG Dwyane Wade scores 26 points in preseason win Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade scored 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting while adding six assists, two rebounds and one block in 29 minutes of action during Tuesday's 90-85 preseason win over the Rockets.

Wade is in line to be the team's top scoring option on a nightly basis in the Heat's post-LeBron era, as long as he can stay healthy. Before dropping 26 Friday, his highest scoring mark in six preseason games had been 16 points. Wade and the Heat open the regular season at home against the Wizards on Oct. 29.


Pacers G George Hill exits game with knee contusion
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Pacers guard George Hill left Tuesday's preseason game against the Timberwolves with a left knee contusion and will not return. Hill is likely day-to-day with the bruise, though he might take it easy over the next week in hopes of being 100 percent for the regular-season opener.

Kerr: 'Highly doubtful' Warriors' Shaun Livingston plays in opener
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that it's "highly doubtful" guard Shaun Livingston (toe) plays in the season opener next Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Livingston had offseason toe surgery and was reported to be targeting a return by the regular-season opener, but it appears he won't reach that goal. He averaged 8.3 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting for Brooklyn last season.


Report: Magic, Nikola Vucevic agree to four-year extension
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) The Magic and center Nikola Vucevic have agreed to a four-year, $53-million extension, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Vucevic posted a career-best 14.2 points per game last season while appearing in 57 games. He has shot 50.4 percent from the field in three seasons as a professional, the last two with Orlando.


Brooks: Thunder G Reggie Jackson expected to play in opener
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Thunder coach Scotty Brooks expects guard Reggie Jackson (wrist) to be ready for the regular-season opener, The Oklahoman reports. Jackson "didn't feel comfortable" after his Monday workout as he continues to recover from a wrist injury suffered earlier in the month.

MRI confirms sprained thumb for Bulls SG Jimmy Butler
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) An MRI has confirmed that Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler is dealing with a sprained thumb, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Butler is going to sit out practice this week as well as the team's preseason finale Friday before being re-evaluated this weekend. The Bulls open the season Oct. 29 on the road against the Knicks.


Lakers PG Jeremy Lin to return to action Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Lakers point guard Jeremy Lin will return to preseason action Tuesday, he announced.

"[A]nkles are finally feeling better ... excited to get back on the court tonight!" Lin said Tuesday.

Lin has been dealing with an ankle sprain but appears to be on track to be ready for the regular season.


 
 
 
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