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What's on the Schedule: Week 2

Fantasy Writer
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After an action packed first week of the season, things start to even out a bit for some teams in Fantasy Week 2 (Jan 2-8).

There are only seven days during the upcoming coming scoring period -- instead of the eight we had last week -- and only five teams play more than four times, while the rest are limited to just a handful of contests. Still, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of intriguing matchups and circumstances teams will have to deal with in Week 2. We have chosen to highlight the seven teams who we feel have the most interesting slate of games on tap this week.

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Perhaps the team with the most intriguing Week 2 schedule is the Atlanta Hawks. After playing four times during Week 1, the Hawks are slated to play five times this week, including a back-to-back set, which will be followed by their only triple of the season.

However, Atlanta will face just three different teams over the five-game stretch. The Hawks draw the Bulls and Heat twice, including on a back-to-back set at Miami and Chicago early in the week. After a day off, the Hawks host the Heat at home for the second time in four days on Jan. 5 before hopping on a plane to take on the Bobcats in Charlotte on Jan. 6. Atlanta will finally wrap the scoring period at home against the Bulls on Jan. 7, which will conclude a five-game stretch over six days and a nine-game stretch over 12 days, going back to the start of the season.

With that many games crammed into such a small window, injuries and depth will be a huge factor this week. Sure, the likes of Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford should all be able to get their numbers, but coach Larry Drew might have to start to think about limiting some of his starters' minutes during this grueling stretch -- especially with the Hawks having already played a pair of back-to-back sets during the first scoring period.

Atlanta's jam-packed schedule could translate into an increase in minutes for reserves such as Tracy McGrady, Zaza Pachulia, Vladimir Radmanovic and Jannero Pargo, just to name a few.

Here are the rest of the teams we chose to highlight in their respective divisions:

Pacific Division: L.A. Clippers (HOU, MIL)

The Clippers were one of the few teams who avoided playing a back-to-back set last week and that trend will continue this week. In fact, Los Angeles only plays twice during the upcoming scoring period, with a pair of home games against the Rockets on Jan. 4 and the Bucks on Jan. 7. The Clippers will have two days off between each of their games and should be one of the more rested teams, having played just six games over the first 14 days of the season. While Fantasy owners should still feel free to leave Chris Paul and Blake Griffin active, borderline Fantasy starters such as DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler could be hurt by the Clippers' light Week 2 schedule.

Pacific Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Warriors @PHO @SA @LAL UTA
Clippers HOU MIL
Lakers HOU @POR GS MEM
Suns GS @DAL POR MIL
Kings @MEM @DEN MIL ORL

Northwest Division: Oklahoma City Thunder (@DAL, POR, HOU, @HOU, SA)

After playing five games over the first eight days of the year, including a pair of back-to-back sets, things don't get any easier for the Thunder with five more games on the schedule in Week 2. The Thunder will start off the week in Dallas, as they face the Mavericks for the second time this season, before flying home for a matchup against Portland on Jan. 3. The Thunder will then have two days off to get their legs back before starting their first and only triple of the year at home against the Rockets on Jan. 6. Kevin Durant and Co. then face the Rockets again -- this time in Houston -- on Jan. 7 before wrapping up the week on Jan. 8 with a matchup against the Spurs. By the conclusion of Week 2, Oklahoma will have played a stretch of six games over nine days dating back to late last week, but the Thunder appear to be unfazed by their grueling schedule thus far. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden have all gotten off to good starts and are averaging right around their career numbers. While coach Scott Brooks might look to try and limit some of his superstars' minutes moving forward, keep in mind that Westbrook, Durant and Harden have all played 30-plus minutes in all but one game thus far, which was in a blow-out win over the Suns back on the Dec. 31. However, Brooks has been much more cautious in terms of monitoring his frontcourt thus far. Serge Ibaka averaged slightly less than 26 minutes per night during Oklahoma City's first two sets of back-to-backs, while Kendrick Perkins has only sniffed 30 minutes once this year. Despite the Thunder's youth, we wouldn't be surprised if Brooks goes to his bench a bit more frequently this week.

Northwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Nuggets MIL SAC @NO @SA
T'Wolves SA MEM CLE @WAS
Thunder @DAL POR HOU @HOU SA
Blazers @OKC LAL @PHO CLE
Jazz NO MIL MEM @GS

Southwest Division: San Antonio Spurs (@MIN, GS, DAL, DEN, @OKC)

The Spurs are slated to play five times during Week 2, with two more sets of back-to-backs on the docket. San Antonio started off the week at Minnesota on Jan. 2, before getting a day off to travel back home. However, then starts the stretch of four games over five nights, including a home back-to-back against the Warriors and Mavericks on Jan. 4-5. After another home game against Denver on Jan. 7, the Spurs wrap up the scoring period at Oklahoma City on Jan. 8. Coach Greg Popovich has made no secret about keeping his veteran team fresh throughout the season and that theory should get tested once again this week. We wouldn't be shocked to see Tim Duncan get a day off sometime during the period, and the same goes for Manu Ginobili. The good news for Fantasy owners is none of San Antonio's upcoming opponents are known for their defensive prowess, especially in the case of the Nuggets, Mavericks and Timberwolves, who are all allowing more than 100 points per game thus far. Still, we fully expect Duncan's and Ginobili's minutes to be severely limited at some point during the week, which should bode well for some of the Spurs' key reserves. Look for James Anderson and Tiago Splitter to be just some of the fringe players who could be in line for an increase in playing time this week.

Southwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Mavericks OKC PHO @SA NO
Rockets @LAL @LAC @OKC OKC
Grizzlies SAC @MIN @UTA @LAL
Hornets @UTA PHI DEN @DAL
Spurs @MIN GS DAL DEN @OKC

Southeast Division: Orlando Magic (@DET, WAS, CHI, @SAC)

After playing five games, including a pair of back-to-backs during the first week of the season, the Magic will have some extra down time on their hands during Week 2. Orlando is scheduled to play four times during the upcoming scoring period, and have at least one day off between each contest for three of their four scheduled games. After facing the Pistons on Jan. 2, the Magic get a day off before facing the Wizards on Jan. 4. Orlando draws the Bulls at home on Jan. 6 before closing out the period with a game at Sacramento on Jan. 8. While that means the Magic will play a stretch of five games over eight days by the end of Week 2, the Bulls are the only team considered to be elite on the defensive end. Most of Orlando's Fantasy studs should have no problem getting their numbers against the Magic's upcoming opponents, including Dwight Howard, who is averaging at least 17 ppg and 12 rpg against all four teams on the docket. Jason Richardson also has averaged at least 17 ppg and 5 rpg against those same teams, while Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson have averaged in double-digits in points in their careers against the Pistons, Wizards, Bulls and Kings.

Southeast Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Hawks @MIA @CHI MIA @CHA CHI
Bobcats @CLE @NY ATL @IND
Heat ATL IND @ATL @NJ
Magic @DET WAS CHI @SAC
Wizards @BOS @ORL NY MIN

Central Division: Milwaukee Bucks (@DEN, @UTA, @SAC, @LAC, PHO)

Milwaukee was the only team to play just three games during the first week of the season, but the Bucks better get their luggage packed as they head into Week 2. Milwaukee is slated to play five games during the upcoming scoring period, with all five contests being on the road. The Bucks, who last played on Dec. 30, opened up the week at Denver on Jan. 2 before heading out to Utah to take on the Jazz the next night for their second back-to-back of the season. After a day off, Milwaukee will be back at it against the Kings on Jan. 5 before finally closing out the week with their second back-to-back of the scoring period against the Clippers and Suns Jan. 7-8. Despite the fact that the Bucks must endure a five-game stretch over seven days in five different cities, Brandon Jennings and Co. should be able to get their numbers against their Week 2 opponents. Jennings, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson have pretty good road splits over their careers, and most of their upcoming opponents aren't known for their defensive prowess. However, fatigue could definitely become a factor on the road trip, so coach Scott Skiles may have to go to his bench a bit more. Look for players such as Beno Udrih, Carlos Delfino and even rookie Jon Leuer to possibly see some extra minutes.

Central Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Bulls ATL @DET @ORL @ATL
Cavaliers CHA @TOR @MIN @POR
Pistons ORL CHI @PHI NY
Pacers @NJ @MIA @BOS CHA
Bucks @DEN @UTA @SAC @LAC

Atlantic Division: Philadelphia 76ers (@NO, DET, TOR)

The 76ers enter Week 2 as the only team that has yet to play at home this season. Philadelphia opened the season on a five-game road trip, which will finally conclude on Jan. 4 in New Orleans. While the Sixers finally get a chance to play in front of their home fans this week, Philadelphia is only slated to play three times during the scoring period. After wrapping up their road trip against the Hornets, the 76ers play their second back-to-back of the season against the Pistons and Raptors Jan. 6-7. The 76ers should be relatively fresh by the time they finally head back to Philadelphia, although coach Doug Collins could opt to limit some of his players' minutes, including Jrue Holiday and Elton Brand, who both are dealing with minor injuries. With matchups against the defensively challenged Pistons and Raptors on the schedule, owners should feel free to go ahead and start most the Sixers' Fantasy studs in Week 2. However, three games might not be enough for some of the fringe players such as Evan Turner and Jodie Meeks to get their numbers.

Atlantic Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Celtics WAS NJ IND
Nets IND @BOS @TOR MIA
Knicks TOR CHA @WAS @DET
76ers @NO DET TOR
Raptors @NY CLE NJ @PHI -

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Player News
Lakers sign Wayne Ellington right before training camp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8:06 pm ET) With one week before the start of training camp, the Lakers have signed five-year veteran guard Wayne Ellington to a contract, the team announced. Ellington is now with his fourth team since June, after failing to crack the rotation with the Mavericks in 2013.

Ellington averaged 3.2 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field over 45 games for Dallas.

Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) Free-agent center Andray Blatche has signed a one-year deal with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. Blatche's deal with pay him almost $2.5 million, and he'll be able to rejoin an NBA team in March, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Report: Kings add Ramon Sessions
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/20/2014) The Kings have agreed to a two-year, $4.2-million deal with free-agent guard Ramon Sessions , Yahoo! Sports reports.

The team is reportedly using its bi-annual exception provision to sign Sessions, who averaged 12.3 points, 4.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 83 games between two teams last season.


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. 


 
 
 
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