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What's on the Schedule: Week 12

Fantasy Writer
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Fantasy Week 12 (March 12-18) is one of the busier periods of the season as there are 59 games scheduled over the next seven days. Four teams will play five games this week and there are 33 back-to-back sets, including one back-to-back-to-back. And with the NBA's trade deadline upon us, there could be some players on the move this week, which will add an additional challenge to Fantasy owners and teams as both continue to navigate what has been anything but a normal NBA season.

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While it is difficult to predict which players will be on the move, we have highlighted the seven teams we feel have the most intriguing matchups this week and who could also be affected by trades, starting with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers only played 30 games prior to the All-Star break but have been one of the busiest teams since play resumed. Los Angeles played four times in each of the last two weeks but will now be one of four teams with five games scheduled this period. However, the Clippers are the only team that will get to play all five of their games at home starting Monday night against the Celtics. Chris Paul and Co. will then face the Hawks Wednesday, followed by a visit from the Suns Thursday night. After a day off, Los Angeles will close out the period with a back-to-back set against the Rockets and Pistons on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, respectively.

While playing seven games over a 10-day stretch will present plenty of challenges, the Clippers should benefit greatly from playing at the Staples Center. Coach Vinny Del Negro's squad is averaging 99.8 points per game at home and is making 47 percent of field goals in their own pad. That should help when facing the defensive-minded Celtics and Hawks during the early portion of the week. Things look to get easier as the week progresses as the Clippers have scored more than 100 points in each of their two matchups against the Rockets this year. Despite Detroit's improved play lately, the Pistons are allowing their opponents to convert 47 percent of their field-goal attempts, which ranks 28th out of the 30 NBA teams. The Suns held Los Angeles to a season-low 78 points during their lone meeting this season, but we don't foresee that happening again.

Despite the obvious challenges of playing so many games over such a small time frame, this looks to be a great week to use most of the Clippers' Fantasy options. In addition to must-start options Blake Griffin and Paul, owners should make sure to get DeAndre Jordan, Mo Williams and Randy Foye active. Even Kenyon Martin could have some run in deeper formats.

Pacific: Sacramento Kings (GS, DET, BOS, MIN) The Kings are scheduled to play four times during Week 12 but will have the luxury of playing all four at home. Sacramento will open the period with its lone back-to-back set against the Warriors and Pistons on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The Kings will then welcome the Celtics to town Friday before closing out the week Sunday evening against the Timberwolves. Despite the Kings' sub-.500 record, this looks to be a great week to start most of their main Fantasy options. Both the Pistons and Warriors have been spotty at best on defense this season and the Timberwolves have surrendered an average of 99.8 points over their last five games. The Celtics are the lone team on the schedule this week which could present a defensive challenge but the Kings usually find a way to score points at home. In fact, coach Keith Smart's squad is averaging 99 points per game at home this season, which is five points more than their average on the road. DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas should all be active this week and even Jason Thompson, Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons can be considered viable options in deeper formats.

Pacific Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Warriors @SAC BOS MIL @UTA
Clippers BOS ATL PHO HOU DET
Lakers @MEM @NO MIN UTA
Suns MIN UTA @LAC DET HOU
Kings GS DET BOS MIN

Northwest: Minnesota Timberwolves (@PHO, @UTA, @LAL, @SAC) The Timberwolves are slated to play four games during Week 12 as they get ready to begin life without Ricky Rubio. Minnesota will be on the road for the duration of the scoring period, starting Monday night in Phoenix. The T'wolves will then take on the Jazz and Lakers in a back-to-back set Thursday and Friday night, respectively, before closing out the week at Sacramento on Sunday. While Minnesota looks to have some favorable matchups on the docket, the Timberwolves will have to find a way to replace the 10.6 points and 8.2 assists Rubio gave them on a nightly basis. Kevin Love's production should remain unchanged, but many are wondering how Fantasy sensation Nikola Pekovic will fare without some of Rubio's precise passes to him in the post. That doesn't mean Pekovic's production will be non-existstent without Rubio, but it could take a hit. Luke Ridnour and Jose Juan Barea -- if healthy – should see a boost in production this week and even Martell Webster's minutes will likely increase. However, because no one knows for sure how Minnesota will look moving forward, some of its options could be considered a bit risky this week. Other than Love, Pekovic and Ridnour, we would recommend leaving most of the T'Wolves' other options reserved.

Northwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Nuggets ATL OKC BOS
T'Wolves @PHO @UTA @LAL @SAC
Thunder HOU @DEN SA POR
Trail Blazers @IND @NY @CHI @OKC
Jazz DET @PHO MIN GS @LAL

Southwest: Houston Rockets (@OKC, CHA, @LAC, @PHO) The Rockets are one of the 20 teams scheduled to play four times this week. Houston will start the scoring period on the road for a matchup against the Thunder Tuesday night. The Rockets will take on the Bobcats back in Houston Wednesday before closing out the scoring period with a pair of road games against the Clippers Saturday and Suns on Sunday. While Houston will have to play three of its four contests away from home, the Rockets are actually one of the more efficient road teams in the league, averaging 95.7 points in other arenas. Combine that with the fact that Luis Scola and Co. have already put up more than 100 points on the Clippers and Thunder this season and this looks to be a good week to use most of Houston's Fantasy options. Fantasy owners should make sure Scola, Kevin Martin and Samuel Dalembet are all active this week. With Kyle Lowry sidelined for a few weeks, Goran Dragic should be activated heading into the scoring period.

Southwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Mavericks WAS CHA SA
Rockets @OKC CHA @LAC @PHO
Grizzlies LAL TOR WAS
Hornets CHA LAL WAS @NJ
Spurs WAS ORL @OKC @DAL

Central: Detroit Pistons (@UTA, @SAC, @PHO, @LAC) The Pistons enter Week 12 playing some of their best basketball of the season and are scheduled for four games over the next seven days. All four contests will be on the road, starting Monday at Utah. Detroit will then take on the Kings Wednesday night before wrapping up the period against the Suns Friday and Clippers Sunday in a matinee. While the Pistons have not fared well on the road this season, they look to have some favorable matchups on tap. The Jazz and Suns both rank in the bottom tier in points allowed this season and the Suns have been anything but a defensive juggernaut. The Clippers could present a challenge but not enough to worry about sitting most of Detroit's main Fantasy options. Make sure to leave Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight and Tayshaun Price active this week. Even the emerging Jason Maxiell could be worth starting in some deeper formats.

Central Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Bulls NY MIA POR PHI
Cavaliers TOR @MIL ATL
Pistons @UTA @SAC @PHO @LAC
Pacers POR PHI @NY NY
Bucks @NJ CLE @GS

Southeast: Washington Wizards (@SA, @DAL, @NO, @ATL, @MEM) The Wizards will play five times during Week 12, with all five contests coming on the road. Washington will start the week in Texas with a back-to-back set against the Spurs and Mavericks on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. The Wizards then take on the Hornets Thursday and Hawks Friday before wrapping up the scoring period against Memphis Sunday evening. If playing five road games over seven days wasn't challenging enough, Washington's roster could look completely different by the week's end. General manager Ernie Grunfeld has made it clear everyone not named John Wall is on the trading block, making most of the Wizards' Fantasy options risky plays this week. While it won't be feasible for some owners, we recommend trying to avoid using Jordan Crawford, Nick Young and Andray Blatche if possible. The center position is too thin to sit JaVale McGee, but Trevor Booker is another player who could be dealt. Wall appears to be the only sure bet this week, which is why he is the only player we feel comfortable fully endorsing for the scoring period.

Southeast Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Hawks @DEN @LAC WAS @CLE
Bobcats @NO @HOU @DAL TOR
Heat @ORL @CHI @PHI ORL
Magic MIA @SA NJ @MIA
Wizards @SA @DAL @NO @ATL @MEM

Atlantic: Philadelphia 76ers (@IND, MIA, @CHI) The 76ers are one of the few teams slated to play only three games during Week 12. Philadelphia will start the week at Indiana on Wednesday before taking on the Heat at home Friday night. The 76ers will then face the Bulls in Chicago Saturday night, wrapping up a very tough three-game stretch. Indiana, Miami and Chicago all rank in the top 10 in points allowed and opposition field-goal percentage this season, making this a brutal stretch for Philadelphia. Points will likely come at a premium this week and Philadelphia's balanced scoring attack makes this a tough week to endorse most of its Fantasy options. Only Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and the emerging Evan Turner look like safe plays. Start the slumping Jrue Holiday and inconsistent Elton Brand at your own risk.

Atalntic Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Celtics @LAC @GS @SAC @DEN
Nets MIL TOR @ORL NO
Knicks @CHI POR IND @IND
76ers @IND MIA @CHI
Raptors @CLE @NJ @MEM @CHA

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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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