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What's on the Schedule: Week 11

Fantasy Writer
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After two straight shortened scoring periods, things return to normal during Fantasy Week 11 (March 5-11). There are 57 games scheduled over the next seven days and 29 of the 30 NBA teams will play at least three times during the period. With only a few weeks left before the start of the playoffs in most Fantasy leagues, it is important for Fantasy owners to set the best lineup possible as they make their final push toward the postseason. To help, we have highlighted the seven teams which have the most intriguing schedules this week.

The Dallas Mavericks are the only team slated to play five times this week after playing four games the week following the All-Star break. Dallas is starting a grueling stretch in which it will play nine games over 12 days, including six of those contests on the road. The Mavericks will start the week in Oklahoma City for a matchup with the Thunder before heading home to face the Knicks Tuesday night. After a day off, Dallas will embark on its lone triple set of the season starting Thursday night at Phoenix. The Mavericks will then be in Sacramento Friday against the Kings before closing out the period Saturday night at Golden State.

With so many games crammed into such a small time frame, fatigue could certainly be a factor, especially near the end of the week. However, Dirk Nowitzki and crew do look to have some favorable matchups on tap. Three of the five teams Dallas will face are ranked in the bottom five in points allowed this season and the Mavericks have scored more than 100 points in two of their three contests against the Thunder. New York has also shown some flaws defensively of late, so we fully anticipate the Mavericks being able to score some points this week. Coach Rick Carlisle could be forced to go to his bench a bit more than usual over this crowded stretch, which makes this a good week to get most of Dallas' main Fantasy options active. While Nowtizki is a must-start option, Fantasy owners should make sure to get Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd active this week. Even Brendan Haywood and the suddenly emerging Roddy Beaubois deserve some consideration in most leagues.

Southwest: San Antonio Spurs (NY, LAC) We highlighted the Spurs' schedule last week, but with San Antonio the lone team with just two games on the docket we felt it pertinent to mention them again. The Spurs will play their first game of the scoring period on Wednesday against the Knicks before wrapping things up on Friday against the Clippers. While both games are at home, two games don't leave much room for error and one poor performance could really put Fantasy owners in a hole. As a result, we don't recommend using most of the Spurs' Fantasy options this week. Only Tony Paker should be left active in most formats.

Southwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Mavericks @OKC NY @PHO @SAC @GS
Rockets @BOS @TOR @NJ @CLE
Grizzlies @GS @PHO @DEN
Hornets @POR @SAC @DEN @MIN
Spurs NY LAC

Northwest: Denver Nuggets (SAC, CLE, NO, MEM) The Nuggets are slated to play four games during Week 11 and are the only team to will play four games without any back-to-back sets. Denver will start the week with a matchup against the Kings Monday night before welcoming the Cavaliers to town Wednesday. The Nuggets will then host New Orleans Friday and wrap up the period Sunday against the Grizzlies. While Denver looks to have some favorable matchups on the docket, the Nuggets are a team going through transition. Nene, Danilo Gallinari and Rudy Fernandez are all expected to return this week, which will likely throw a monkey wrench into coach George Karl's current rotation. Corey Brewer and Kenneth Faried will likely have their minutes affected the most this week. Plus, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos, Arron Afflalo and even Al Harington could see their playing time take a small hit. Because of all the uncertainty surrounding Denver's rotation at the moment, we would caution Fantasy owners about using some of the team's options. Sure Gallinari and Nene can be plugged back into most lineups as soon as they return, but Ty Lawson looks to be the only other sure bet this week. Owners should consider the rest of Denver's pieces risky plays -- at best -- for the upcoming scoring period.

Northwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Nuggets SAC CLE NO MEM
T'Woves LAC POR LAL NO
Thunder DAL PHO CLE CHA
Trail Blazers NO @MIN @BOS @WAS
Jazz @CLE @CHA @PHI @CHI

Pacific: Los Angeles Lakers (@DET, @WAS, @MIN, BOS) The Lakers are slated to play four times during Week 11, although three of those contests will be on the road. Los Angeles will start the week in Detroit to take on the Pistons Tuesday night. Kobe Bryant and Co. will then face the Wizards Wednesday before wrapping up their three-game road trip against the Timberwolves Friday night. Los Angeles will close out the scoring period against the Celtics Sunday in the Staples Center, concluding a stretch of four games in eight days. While the Lakers have struggled to score points on the road this season, they look to have some favorable matchups this week. The Pistons and Wizards are both ranked in the bottom of the league in opponent field-goal percentage, while Washington is one of the few teams allowing more than 100 points per game this season. Detroit and Minnesota are surrendering 95.9 and 96.5 points per game, respectively. However, Los Angeles was able to put up more than 100 points in both its meetings against the Timberwolves this year. Sure, the Celtics will likely put up a tough defensive effort, but Boston has allowed 100.6 points over its last five contests. With the way the Lakers have been clicking on offense of late, this looks to be a good week to give some of their mid-range options some run. Outside of must-start options, Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, Metta World Peace and Matt Barnes could also be worth a look. Even Steve Blake and Derek Fisher could be worth using in deeper formats.

Pacific Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Warriors @WAS MEM DAL @LAC
Clippers @MIN @NJ @SA GS
Lakers @DET @WAS @MIN BOS
Suns @OKC DAL MEM
Kings @DEN NO DAL ATL

Atlantic: Toronto Raptors (ORL, HOU, @DET, MIL) The Raptors are slated to play four times during Week 11 and will play three of those contests north of the border. Toronto will take on the Magic Monday night before welcoming the Rockets to town on Wednesday. After a few days off, the Raptors will wrap up the scoring period with a back-to-back set at Detroit Friday before returning home to take on the Bucks Saturday. While Toronto has had a tough time scoring points this season, it looks to have some favorable matchups this week. Houston and Detroit are both ranked near the bottom of the league in opponent field-goal percentage and Toronto was able to put up 96 and 99 points, respectively, in its lone matchups with the Magic and Bucks earlier in the year. The Raptors are also averaging nearly five points more at home this season than on the road, so this could be one of the rare weeks where owners want to think about using some of the club's mid-range options. Other than DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon, make sure to get Amir Johnson, James Jones and Linas Kleiza active. For those owners feeling extremely brave, Jerryd Bayless, Ed Davis and Leandro Barbosa could also be worth a look in deeper leagues.

Atlantic Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Celtics HOU @PHI POR @LAL
Nets @MIA LAC @CHA HOU
Knicks @DAL @SA @MIL PHI
76ers @MIL BOS UTA @NY
Raptors ORL HOU @DET MIL

Central: Milwaukee Bucks (PHI, CHI, NY, @TOR) The Bucks are one of 23 teams slated to play four times during Week 11. Milwaukee will begin the week with three straight home games, starting Monday night against the 76ers. The Bucks will take on the Bulls Wednesday and then the Knicks Friday before closing the week in Canada against the Raptors Sunday. While Milwaukee appears to have some tough matchups on tap, the Bucks do have the advantage of playing in the Bradley Center. Coach Scott Skiles' club has been more efficient offensively at home this season, averaging 99.1 points compared to just 92.4 points on the road. Despite the defensive prowess of the Bulls, 76ers and even Knicks to a certain degree, Milwaukee's offensive efficiency at home is too hard to ignore. The Bucks have plenty of Fantasy options not named Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova who could help owners earn a win this week. Make sure to get the now-healthy Drew Gooden active this week as well as Carlos Delfino and Mike Dunleavy.

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

Southeast: Washington Wizards (GS, LAL, POR) The Wizards are slated to play three games -- all at home -- during Week 11. Washington will start the week with a matchup against the Warriors Monday before the Lakers come to town Wednesday. After a few days off, the Wizards will wrap up the scoring period against Portland Saturday night. While Golden State shouldn't provide much of a defensive challenge, the same cannot be said about the Lakers and Trail Blazers. Both teams have been particularly stingy on defense this season -- especially Los Angeles -- which could make points tough to come by for the Wizards. Coach Randy Wittman has been shaking up his rotation of late, which is a trend that could continue this week. He benched Nick Young and JaVale McGee recently and has been giving veterans Maurice Evans and Roger Mason Jr. extra minutes. With no clear-cut rotation and a tough schedule on tap, owners may want to avoid some of Washington's mid-range options. Other than John Wall and maybe McGee, there aren't many risk-free options on the roster. Jordan Crawford's recent play should be reason enough to get him active in deeper formats, but there is still some risk there.

Southeast Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Hawks @IND @MIA @DET @SAC
Bobcats ORL UTA NJ @OKC
Heat NJ ATL IND
Magic @TOR @CHA @CHI IND
Wizards GS LAL POR

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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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