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What's on the Schedule: Week 5

Fantasy Writer
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Fantasy Week 5 (Jan. 23-29) is the lightest thus far this season as there are 114 games scheduled over the next seven days. Most teams play four times this week, while seven teams are slated to play three times during the upcoming scoring period. Orlando is the only team scheduled to play five times during Week 5, which is why we chosen to highlight the Magic this week.

After playing four games last week, including three games over three consecutive days, the Magic will play five times during Week 5. However, Orlando will only play three different teams over that stretch, as Dwight Howard and Co. will face the Celtics and Pacers twice during the scoring period. The Magic start off the week with a back-to-back road set against Boston and Indiana on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Orlando will then take on the Celtics for the second time in three days at home on Wednesday night, which will be followed by a game in New Orleans on Thursday. Orlando will close out the scoring period with its second matchup of the week against the Pacers on Sunday evening, concluding a stretch of nine games over 14 days.

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The Magic have played very well during the early part of the season, although this upcoming stretch of games could prove to be challenging. All three teams Orlando will face this week are ranked in the top 10 in points allowed this season, while Indiana and Boston are also ranked near the top in defensive efficiency. That seems to suggest the Magic could be in line for some grind-it-out type affairs over the next seven days, making it very difficult for Orlando to put up the 96.7 points per game it has been averaging thus far.

However, it also means coach Stan Van Gundy will likely need to use most of the healthy bodies on his bench, which makes this a great week to start the majority of Orlando's Fantasy options. In addition to the obvious choices of Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson, Fantasy owners should make sure J.J. Redick and Glen Davis are active as well. Even Earl Clark and Von Wafer could be worth using in deeper formats.

Here are the other teams that have schedules that could help make those tough decisions a bit easier:

Southeast: Miami Heat (CLE, @DET, NY, CHI): The Heat are slated to play four times during Week 5 with three of those contests coming at home. Miami will start the scoring period with a home game against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night before heading up to Detroit for a matchup with the Pistons on Wednesday. After a day off, Miami will then draw a pair of home games to close out the scoring period as the Knicks and Bulls come to town on Friday and Sunday night, respectively. Not only do Cleveland, Detroit and New York all have losing records, but all three teams also rank near the bottom in terms of defensive efficiency thus far. That should mean another set of high scoring games for the Heat, who enter the week as the highest scoring team in the league, averaging 107 points per game. While LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are all must-start options when healthy, this looks to be a good week to start some of Miami’s lower-tier Fantasy options. Owners should consider rolling with Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole during the upcoming scoring period. Even Mike Miller and Shane Battier could be worth using in some deeper formats as well.

Southeast Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Hawks @MIL @SA @DET @NO
Bobcats NY @WAS @PHI WAS
Heat CLE @DET NY CHI
Magic @BOS @IND BOS @NO IND
Wizards @PHI CHA @HOU @CHA

Atlantic: Philadelphia 76ers (WAS, NJ, CHA, DET): The 76ers are scheduled to play four times during Week 5, with all four contests coming at home. Philadelphia will start with a game against the Wizards on Monday night, which will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams. The 76ers will then face the Nets on Wednesday night before wrapping up the scoring period with their seventh back-to-back set of the year against the Bobcats on Friday and Pistons on Saturday night. Coach Doug Collins has his team playing extremely well right now and the Sixers look to have some very favorable matchups on the docket. The Wizards, Nets and Bobcats all rank near the bottom of the pack in points allowed this season and Philadelphia scored 96 points during its lone meeting against Detroit this year. Fantasy owners should make sure to get Philly's main Fantasy options active heading into Week 5, including Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holliday, Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes. Even some of the lower-tier options such as Jodie Meeks could be worth starting in deeper formats this week.

Atlantic Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Celtics ORL @ORL IND CLE
Nets @CHI @PHI @CLE TOR
Knicks @CHA @CLE @MIA @HOU
76ers WAS NJ CHA DET
Raptors @PHO @UTA @DEN @NJ

Central: Chicago Bulls (NJ, IND, MIL, @MIA): After playing a pair of back-to-back sets last week, the Bulls are one of the few teams that don't play any during Week 5. Chicago is slated to play four times during the upcoming scoring period, with three of those contests coming at home. The Bulls will start with a game on Monday against the Nets before facing the Pacers on Wednesday night. Chicago will then take on the Bucks on Friday before wrapping things up against the Heat down in Miami on Sunday evening. The Pacers have been stingy on defense thus far, although Miami and New Jersey have not, while Milwaukee is currently ranked 17th in points allowed heading into the upcoming scoring period. Chicago has yet to lose at home this season and most of their main Fantasy options should have no problem getting their numbers during Week 5. While Derrick Rose will likely be an injury risk, Fantasy owners should make sure Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah are all active this week.

Central Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Bulls NJ IND MIL @MIA
Cavaliers @MIA NY NJ @BOS
Pistons @OKC MIA ATL @PHI
Pacers ORL @CHI @BOS @ORL
Bucks ATL @HOU @CHI LAL

Pacific: Los Angeles Lakers (LAC, @MIL, @MIN): After playing a league-high 18 games through the first four weeks of the season, the Lakers are only slated to play three times during Week 5. Los Angeles will be off on Monday and Tuesday before playing its first game of the scoring period on Wednesday against the Clippers. The Lakers will then get two more days off before wrapping up their week with a back-to-back set against the Bucks on Friday and Timberwolves on Sunday. While the Lakers' Fantasy studs should have no problems getting their numbers this week, some of the team's lower-tier options might have some trouble following suit, especially with only three games. Only Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are worth starting in most formats this week.

Pacific Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Warriors MEM POR OKC
Clippers @LAL MEM @DEN
Lakers LAC @MIL @MIN
Suns @DAL TOR @POR MEM
Kings @POR DEN @UTA

Southwest: Dallas Mavericks (PHO, MIN, UTA, SA): The Mavericks have played four games in each of the last three weeks and that trend will continue in Week 5. Dallas has four home games slated for the upcoming scoring period and is one of the few teams not that don't have any back-to-back sets. The Mavericks will start with a game against the Suns on Monday, which will be followed by a visit from Kevin Love and the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Dallas will then face the Jazz on Friday before wrapping up the week against the Spurs on Sunday. While the Mavericks look to have some favorable matchups this week, keep in mind Dirk Nowitzki will likely miss most of the scoring period with a knee injury. That means Dallas' other Fantasy options should be in line to see a spike in production this week. Besides the obvious choices of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Lamar Odom, Fantasy owners should make sure to get Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Ian Mahinmi and Delonte West active as well. Even Roddy Beaubois and Yi Jianlian could be worth using in deeper formats.

Southwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Mavericks PHO MIN UTA SA
Rockets @MIN MIL WAS NY
Grizzlies @GS @POR @LAC @PHO
Hornets SA @OKC @ORL ATL
Spurs @NO ATL @MIN @DAL

Northwest: Portland Trail Blazers (SAC, MEM, @GS, PHO): We highlighted Portland's schedule last week as the Blazers were in the midst of their longest road trip of the season. However, that is over now and LaMarcus Aldridge and Co. are slated to play four games during Week 5, with three of those contests coming at home. The Blazers open the week with three games on three consecutive days, starting with Kings on Monday night. Portland will host the Grizzlies on Tuesday before playing its only road game of the week on Wednesday at Golden State. The Trail Blazers will then wrap up the week against the Suns on Saturday, concluding a stretch of seven games over 10 days. While playing that many games over such a small time frame could make for some tired legs, Portland looks to have some favorable matchups on the docket. Sacramento and Golden State are both ranked near the bottom of the pack in points allowed this season and Portland is averaging nearly 105 points per game at the Rose Garden. While Aldridge, Gerald Wallace, Wesley Matthews and Raymond Felton should almost always be left active, some of Portland's lower-end options should also be able to put up some numbers this week. Consider Jamal Crawford, Nicolas Batum and Marcus Camby all viable plays in most formats for Week 5.

Northwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Nuggets @SAC TOR LAC
T'Wolves @HOU @DAL SA LAL
Thunder DET NO @GS
Blazers SAC MEM @GS PHO
Jazz TOR @DAL SAC

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Player News
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. 


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. 


 
 
 
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