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Week 13 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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When the Warriors selected guard Klay Thompson with the 11th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, they did so with the knowledge that he would likely work under the mentorship of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, backing up the off guard spot and learning the ways of the NBA.

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The team stuck with that plan for all of 38 games before making a dramatic change last Tuesday, shipping Ellis to the Bucks in a forward-looking move that netted them injured big man Andrew Bogut and freed up Thompson to become more of a centerpiece.

Thompson has certainly shown flashes of productivity in his brief NBA career, and the Warriors' trade deadline deal was largely influenced by their confidence in his abilities to step up as a playmaking guard, and with Curry still out of the picture with an ankle injury, I've grown confident enough to bestow the title of Start of the Week for Week 13 (March 19-25) to Thompson.

With Ellis out of the way and Curry potentially out for the season the Warriors are going to lean on Thompson and live with his growing pains. A streaky shooter so far in his career, Thompson has shot just 38.6 percent from the field over his last five games, however the Warriors are going to keep giving him every opportunity to produce, and he has responded by scoring in double figures in each game, despite the shooting woes.

With five games on the schedule for Week 13, the Warriors have one of the most favorable schedules in the NBA, aided by the fact that they play just one of the NBA's top 10 defenses in New Orleans and only one other above-average defense, Portland, a team that has been slipping badly in recent weeks.

Thompson is going to have moments where he seems overwhelmed -- he just turned 22 a month ago, after all. However if the Warriors are serious about turning the reins over to him, Week 13 should be a great opportunity for him to breakout.

Guards

Start 'Em

Jordan Crawford, Wizards (@NJ, IND, ATL, @BOS) Crawford was given the starting spot in the backcourt next to John Wall a few weeks back, and with the trade of Nick Young at the deadline, there is every reason to believe that Crawford's role in the offense is only going to continue to grow. The Wizards play against three of the league's top defenses in Week 13, which should suggest struggles ahead for Crawford. However Crawford is the type of player who isn't going to stop shooting just because the defense isn't giving him looks. While his style of play might not be particularly conducive to winning basketball or efficient shooting, it leads to more than its fair share of big scoring games, which is what Fantasy owners will like from Crawford.

Sleepers for Week 13
Player % Started
1. Nate Robinson, Warriors 25
2. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Bucks 4
3. Courtney Lee, Rockets 2
4. Gerald Green, Nets 4
5. George Hill, Pacers 6
6. Kirk Hinrich, Hawks 2
7. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs 9
8. DeJuan Blair, Spurs 22
9. Gordon Hayward, Jazz 24
10. John Salmons, Kings 8

Wesley Matthews, Trail Blazers (MIL, MEM, @LAL, GS): The Trail Blazers decided to change just about everything about their team's immediate future at the deadline, opting to build for long-term. Matthews is a big part of that future, as he is signed long-term, so the team decided to move him back into the starting lineup for the last stretch of the season. Matthews disappointed in the starting role earlier this season, however Week 13 should provide an opportunity to begin to bounce back moving forward, as the Blazers take on just one of the NBA's top-10 defensive teams in four games. Matthews responded well to his re-insertion to the starting five on Friday, scoring 18 -- a good sign of things to come.

Sleeper Alert: Jerryd Bayless, Raptors (@NY, CHI, NY, @CHI): Bayless is currently enjoying arguably the best stretch of his season so far, averaging 18.2 points and 7.0 assists over his last five games. While that was largely a result of Jose Calderon's absence with an ankle injury, Bayless should be able to maintain most of his current minute totals moving forward, as the team moved Leandro Barbosa at the deadline. The Raptors have a peculiar schedule in Week 13, facing the strong defensive Bulls and the more ordinary Knicks twice each. Both teams feature strong front lines and suspect defensive backcourts, so as long as the Raptors continue to give Bayless his freedom on offense (a possibility, as Calderon could be rusty from his injury if he makes his return), he can remain a useful Fantasy option for Week 13.

Sit 'Em

Randy Foye, Clippers (@IND, @OKC, @NO, MEM): Foye made a last-minute effort to maintain his starting role on Saturday, scoring 15 points against the Rockets, however he remains just an undersized, low-efficiency scorer, miscast as a counterpart to Chris Paul. Newly-acquired guard Nick Young is a much more natural fit in Foye's role, meaning it is only a matter of time before Foye is pushed back to the bench. Whether that happens in Week 13 remains to be seen, however Foye's struggles should continue nonetheless, as the Clippers face a back-to-back-to-back in the scoring period with three above average defensive teams waiting for them.

Marshon Brooks, Nets (CLE, WAS, @ATL, CHA): Brooks has a world of offensive potential and a cupcake schedule in Week 13, however his recent struggles and more lineup shuffling should make owners weary of relying on him for this week. Brooks put up arguably the worst game of his young career on Friday, shooting 1 of 11 in 26 minutes, and his scoring is down to 10.3 per game in the month of March. With the acquisition of Gerald Wallace, the Nets have added one more dynamic scorer to their rotation, meaning they will likely continue to rely less on Brooks' still-developing abilities. The Nets don't have much talent, however what talent they do resides on the same perimeter Brooks calls home, making him a limited Fantasy option for Week 13 as they try to sort things out.

Bust Alert: Darren Collison, Pacers (LAC, @WAS, PHO, @MIL): The schedule for the Pacers lightens up considerably in Week 13, after a two-week gauntlet that saw them go 2-6. The schedule certainly favors Collison beginning to bounce back, however he is yet another player who could see his role change as the result of a roster move, as the Pacers have added Barbosa from Toronto, freeing them up to use George Hill more at point guard, potentially taking minutes from Collison. The weak schedule should provide a soft landing if they do decide to change the rotation up, however his recent play makes Collison a risky start even against a soft schedule, as Collison is averaging just 8.4 points and 3.4 assists per game in the month of March.

Forwards

Start 'Em

Kenneth Faried, Nuggets (DAL, DET, @UTA, @MIN) Faried has been one of the best rookies in the league this season, even if his raw numbers don't show it due to a lack of playing time. He flirts with a double-double every night no matter how many minutes he plays, and his high-energy style of play translates against any opponent. In Week 13, Faried, who should be in the team's starting lineup moving forward, faces four teams that throw big front courts out every night. That would seem like a bad sign for the undersized forward, however these teams use their size mostly on offense, as only Dallas ranks among the top-10 in the league in defense. Faried showed his upside on Saturday as he has the best performance of his career, putting in a dominant 25 minutes, scoring 18 points on 5 of 5 shooting with 16 rebounds. With a small bump in minutes looming he should be able to challenge for a double-double every night.

Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers (@NJ, @ATL, @ORL, PHO): Normally a player who hasn't reached double digits in either rebounds or points since the beginning of the month isn't a great target for a starting role, however Thompson is an interesting case because he is about to see his role change in a pretty significant way. Beginning on Sunday against Atlanta, Thompson has been moved into the starting lineup for the first time, moving to the middle to play center for the Cavs as they continue to shuffle their roster. Thompson has been playing at that spot some as a reserve, but coach Byron Scott said Saturday “it was time to give him more minutes.” While Thompson will be playing center, he remains eligible at forward, and with Antawn Jamison creating space with his shooting, there should be room for the offensively limited Thompson to work as a cutter and finisher, especially against a couple of weak defensive frontcourts in New Jersey and Phoenix at the opposite ends of the week.

Sleeper Alert: Jason Maxiell, Pistons (@DEN, MIA, @NY): The Pistons play just three times in Week 13, however Maxiell has been playing well enough recently that he should be worthy sticking in the starting lineup anyways, especially in average-based leagues. Maxiell is averaging 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in the month of March, as he has been a consistent member of the front-court rotation. Maxiell is enjoying arguably the best month of his career right now, so Fantasy owners should look to pick him up and ride him in the short term.

Sit 'Em

Hedo Turkoglu, Magic (CHI, PHO, CLE): The Magic have finally managed to put the long-running Dwight Howard saga behind them for the rest of the season, which could have a positive effect on the team's outlook the rest of the way. Maybe Turkoglu can blame the distraction for his increasingly poor play, as the veteran point-forward is now working on his second straight month of failing to top 40 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent from three-point range. The Magic only play three times in Week 13, so while Turkoglu might be a decent mid-level Fantasy option most of the time, if you've got other guys playing four or five times this week, it is in your best interests to get them in the lineup instead.

Richard Jefferson, Warriors (MIN, @NO, @HOU, SAC, @POR): Jefferson cannot be too happy about the fact that, in the twilight of his career, when he reinvented himself specifically to fit into what the Spurs needed, they traded him to a team in all-out rebuild mode. Jefferson might move into the starting lineup, however early returns are not good, as he scored nine points on 2 of 14 shooting in his first appearance on Saturday. Jefferson had worked out a niche for himself as a floor spacer in the Spurs' exacting offense, but could find the Warriors' offense lacking in opportunities. Despite playing five times in Week 13, Jefferson could find the transition to his new team rough, so steer clear.

Bust Alert: Tim Duncan, Spurs (MIN, DAL, @NO, PHI): The Spurs have not been as careful with Duncan's playing time this year as one might have expected, as the 35-year old big man has missed only two games. However, with a back-to-back-to-back on the way in Week 13, it seems likely that Duncan will miss his third game of the season, likely the middle game at New Orleans. Seeing as that is the easiest game on the schedule, Duncan becomes a risky option, with just three games against sizable front lines. He may still get his, however you might want to avoid the possibility of him sitting for a night and then having another off night, so go with more trustworthy options for Week 13.

Centers

Start 'Em

Zaza Pachulia, Hawks (BOS, CLE, NJ, @WAS, UTA) Pachulia is probably reaching the point where he is worth starting in most formats as a low-end option regardless of the opponent, as he is averaging 9.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game over his last ten games after Friday's near triple-double. When you consider that, Pachulia becomes an extremely attractive Fantasy option for Week 13, as the Hawks play five times, with four of those games coming against teams in the bottom-10 of the NBA's defenses. Pachulia is never going to be a big producer, however the Hawks are more than satisfied with his play at this point, and they are relying on him heavily recently.

Sleeper Alert: Timofey Mozgov, Nuggets (DAL, DET, @UTA, @MIN): Denver is another team that was shaken up by the trade deadline, and Mozgov is likely to move into the starter's role at least for a few games as a result. The Nuggets acquired mercurial center Javale McGee from the Wizards, and while he will likely move into the starting lineup before long, Nuggets coach George Karl indicated that he would like to get him into at least one practice before joining the first unit. McGee is going from a chaotic offense in Washington to a precise, well-oiled unit in Denver, so there will be an adjustment period, and Mozgov should be able to take advantage of that time. Mozgov shouldn't see huge minutes, but he should have a few games with the first unit, making him a viable low-end option in Week 13.

Sit 'Em

Marcus Camby, Rockets (LAL, GS, DAL): Camby was both a winner and a loser at the deadline, as he made the jump from a team moving towards a rebuild to one that is surging, with its eyes on the playoffs; however he also moved from a starting role to a backup one with his new team. Camby should be able to make his debut with the Rockets during Week 13, however with Houston playing only three times in the week, the chances of him being able to even be a low-end Fantasy starter for the week are pretty remote, as he will spend his time backing up Sam Dalembert.

Bust Alert: Nene, Wizards (@NJ, IND, ATL, @BOS): Nobody can deny Nene's Fantasy impact when healthy, however health is not something he has enjoyed much this season. The veteran big man has dealt with various injuries all season, and while he is supposedly healthy at this point, the fact that the Nuggets traded him a few months after giving him a 5-year contract should give an indication of where they think his health is. If he is in shape and able to contribute, Nene is a high-end Fantasy center, however with his struggles this year, Fantasy owners will want to let Nene and his new Wizards teammates prove they have the chemistry to help him get back to his old levels of play before relying on him again.

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Player News
Andray Blatche heading to China
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) 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
(1:04 pm ET) 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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