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Courtside Seat: Do the Knicks have a point?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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MIAMI -- Knicks point guard Baron Davis is not expected to play in Fantasy Week 6 with his back injury, but he could return soon. Coach Mike D'Antoni is hopeful Davis is back in Week 7, but Fantasy owners shouldn't be holding their breath since he has yet to play this year.

In the meantime, several players have emerged as legitimate Fantasy options as the Knicks sort out their backcourt. The player to benefit the most has been rookie Iman Shumpert, who got off to a hot start but has cooled off of late.

Shumpert said in an interview with CBSSports.com that he remains confident in his ability and expects to finish the season strong, including when Davis returns.

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"I feel like the season has been a little fast," said Shumpert, who is averaging 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists. "For myself individually, I feel like I've been up and down. I have to try and stay consistent and try to keep my mindset the same every game."

Shumpert remains a key reserve for Fantasy owners, and he could emerge as a starting option in all leagues if he starts playing with more consistency, as he said. Another Knicks guard who is on the rise is Landry Fields, who is averaging 12.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his past five games. Fields has scored in double figures in seven of his past eight games and should be considered a starting Fantasy option in deeper leagues.

Toney Douglas, despite scoring 16 points at Miami on Friday, has also slowed down of late and is averaging just 8.8 points and 3.6 assists in his past five games. Still, he remains confident in his game and expects to remain a contributor once Davis starts playing.

"I just have to stay on top of everything and keep working," Douglas said. "As the season goes on I'll be fine. It's a long year."

Fantasy owners shouldn't expect much from Douglas once Davis is active, but Shumpert and Fields should be fine as part of a three-guard rotation, especially in deeper leagues. We expect Davis to have the most Fantasy value of the trio, but he has to get on the court and start playing now before it's too late.

Each week we will take a look at a variety of topics around the NBA. We will look at guys to trade, trade for, add off the waiver wire and also answer some of your social media questions, among other things.

More on the Knicks

Amar'e Stoudemire is having a down year as he tries to adjust to playing with Carmelo Anthony. He is averaging 17.6 points and 8.0 rebounds, which are his lowest stats since 2005. But Stoudemire said he's not concerned and expects to improve.

"It's just a matter of us moving the ball," Stoudemire said. "It will loosen up out there. When we move the ball, they can't guard everyone. They can key in on me, that's fine. We have four other people on the court who are deadly weapons, and we just have to exploit that."

Stoudemire is a good buy-low candidate. He still has eight double-doubles on the season in 19 games, and when the Knicks are 100 percent healthy with Davis we could see the best stretch of production from Stoudemire this year.

Buy-low candidates

Gerald Henderson, SG, Bobcats
Why you should trade for him: Henderson has been slowed of late due to a lower-back injury, but he played 30 minutes Tuesday night at the Lakers and should be fine going forward. Some Fantasy owners might think the start he had this season was a fluke, but team owner Michael Jordan has invested plenty of time in making sure Henderson plays well. He should continue to thrive this year with the Bobcats in need of scoring, especially with Corey Maggette (hamstring) still out.

Jrue Holiday, PG, Sixers
Why you should trade for him: Holiday has not taken the leap in production many hoped for this season since his assists are down from last year and his scoring has only improved marginally. But even though Holiday has struggled he remains a Top 20 guard in Head-to-Head leagues and should continue to post quality production. He also has room to improve, and if you can get him for the right price from a disgruntled owner he could pay dividends to close the season.

Stephen Jackson, SG, Bucks
Why you should trade for him: There's a chance you might find Jackson on the waiver wire soon since some owners in shallow leagues could drop him. But we suggest holding on to Jackson in case he's traded or the Bucks start using him with Andrew Bogut (ankle) out. And if someone is willing to part with him for nothing then you might want to acquire him because if he's traded to a team in need of scoring he could close the season on a high note. We don't have high expectations for Jackson, but in the right scenario he could play well.

Chris Kaman, C, Hornets
Why you should trade for him: We know the Hornets plan to trade Kaman soon, and in the right scenario he could be helpful to Fantasy owners. This is, after all, a center who averaged 12.4 points and 7.0 rebounds last season with the chance to be 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds like he was in 2009. He may never reach those stats again, but he could end up as a No. 2 Fantasy center if he's traded to a team where he can get significant playing time. If you do get Kaman just be patient until he is traded, which hopefully will be soon.

Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks
Why you should trade for him: Nowitzki has struggled in the two games he played after missing four with a knee injury. He averaged 10.0 points and 8.5 rebounds over that span, which is a shell of what Nowitzki is capable of doing. There are going to be plenty of disgruntled Nowitzki owners, and we expect him to improve as the year goes on. In one mixed Rotisserie league on CBSSports.com, Nowitzki was traded for Ricky Rubio and he also was traded for Brandon Jennings in a Head-to-Head league. Those are two good trades to buy low on Nowitzki with the chance for him to play like he has historically.

Free agent watch

Here are five guys I am looking at in my leagues:

Anthony Morrow, SG, Nets
Owned: 60 percent of leagues

Jerryd Bayless, PG, Raptors
Owned: 46 percent of leagues

Ersan Ilyasova, PF, Bucks
Owned: 40 percent of leagues

Jason Thompson, PF, Kings
Owned: 31 percent of leagues

Trevor Booker, PF, Wizards
Owned: 18 percent of leagues

Morrow has stepped up his game since MarShon Brooks (toes) went down. He is averaging 19.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in his past five games with 11 3-pointers over that span. Brooks is out indefinitely, and Morrow's value will continue to rise, especially if he does more than just score. Bayless has done well since he moved into the starting lineup at shooting guard, and hopefully he will continue to get playing time. Ilyasova is averaging 9.4 points and 9.4 rebounds in his past five games and will be counted on to help replace Bogut. Thompson is coming off a double-double Tuesday against Golden State and has done well even with Chuck Hayes (shoulder) coming back. And Booker has scored 14 points in each of his past two games, narrowly missing a double-double Monday against Chicago, and should benefit with Andray Blatche (calf) out 3-5 weeks.

Social media corner

@Big_Head0184 on Twitter wants to know: Trade Wesley Matthews for DeMar DeRozan?

It depends on what you are looking for. DeRozan has more upside since the Raptors need him to succeed. Matthews is just a role player for the Trail Blazers, who have plenty of weapons. The stats are similar for both players, but I would take the upside of DeRozan, especially with his move to small forward. The only reason to keep Matthews is he is a better shooter with more made 3-pointers and better percentages from the field and foul line.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyNews . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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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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