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What's on the Schedule: Week 13

Fantasy Writer
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Fantasy Week 13 (March 19-25) signals the final week of the regular season in most Fantasy leagues, leaving some owners one more chance to earn a playoff berth. There are 57 games scheduled over the next seven days with plenty more intriguing matchups on the docket. A season-high five teams will play a set of three games over three consecutive days, while two clubs are slated to play five times. However, the team we have chosen to feature this week is the Chicago Bulls, who don't fall into either of those categories.

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The Bulls are one of eight teams slated to play only three games during Week 13, but Chicago is the only club that will play just two different teams over that stretch. The Bulls start the week with a prime-time matchup against the Magic Monday night before heading to Canada to face the Raptors Wednesday night. After two days off, Chicago will be back in the United Center taking on the Raptors Saturday night for the second time in four days.

While coach Tom Thibodeau has the Bulls rolling toward another No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, Chicago will likely be shorthanded once again this week. Derrick Rose seems highly unlikely to play until Saturday at the earliest due to a groin injury, while Luol Deng continues to try and play through a nagging wrist injury that has limited his production. That means some of Chicago's lower-end options should continue to see some extended run, which has worked out pretty well lately. The Bulls are 9-4 without the reigning MVP in the lineup and have averaged 96.6 points per game over that stretch. That trend should continue this week with the Magic and Raptors on the docket. Chicago is averaging 95.5 points per game against Orlando this season, while Toronto has allowed more than 100 points in each of its last two contests, including 107 points to the offensively challenged Bobcats.

While Fantasy owners should leave Rose on the bench this week due to his injury, continue to roll with Chicago's other high-end options Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. C.J. Watson will continue to start in Rose's absence and has played well in his extended opportunities, so owners looking for a replacement should consider picking him up. Even Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson should continue to see increased minutes and deserve a look in deeper formats this week.

Central: Milwaukee Bucks (@POR, BOS, @CHA, IND) The Bucks are slated to play four times during Week 13, including their first back-to-back-to-back set of the season. Milwaukee will start the week wrapping up its mini two-game West Coast trip against the Trail Blazers Tuesday night. The Bucks will then get Wednesday off before returning home to face the Celtics Thursday. Milwaukee will be at Charlotte Friday before wrapping up the scoring period at home against the Pacers Saturday night. While the Celtics and Pacers present a defensive challenge, the Bucks should have no problem putting up points on the Bobcats and Trail Blazers. Both teams have been awful on defense lately -- especially Portland, which is allowing an average of 104 points per game since the All-Star break. That should bode well for the Bucks and their new acquisitions. Fantasy owners should make sure to leave Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings, Ersan Illyasova -- if healthy -- and Drew Gooden active this week. Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Delfino are riskier options but still useable in deeper formats, however, we recommend leaving Ekpe Udoh on the bench until his role with the team becomes a bit more defined.

Central Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Bulls @ORL @TOR TOR
Cavaliers @NJ @ATL @ORL PHO
Pistons @DEN MIA @NY
Pacers LAC @WAS PHO @MIL
Bucks @POR BOS @CHA IND

Atlantic: Toronto Raptors (@NY, CHI, NY, @CHI) The Raptors are slated to play four times in Week 13, although they will only face two teams over the next seven days. Toronto will open up the week on the road against the Knicks Tuesday night before returning home to face the Bulls Wednesday. After a day off, the Raptors will take on New York again Friday before closing out the week with another matchup against the Bulls Saturday night -- this time in Chicago. While Toronto has been lighting up the scoreboard over the last few nights, points could be tough to come by this week. The Bulls are ranked second in points allowed this season (90.9) and seventh in opposition field-goal percentage (42.7 percent) and held the Raptors to a season-low 64 points in their lone meeting this season. Meanwhile, the Knicks have looked very sharp under new coach Mike Woodson, holding each of their last three opponents to an average of 89 points per game since making the coaching switch. With Toronto's tough schedule and inconsistent lineup, there aren't too many Fantasy options on its roster we would recommend using this week. Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon -- if healthy -- should be the only options considered for use.

Atlantic Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Celtics ATL @MIL @PHI WAS
Nets CLE WAS @ATL CHA
Knicks TOR @PHI @TOR DET
76ers @CHA NY BOS @SA
Raptors @NY CHI NY @CHI

Southeast: Atlanta Hawks (BOS, CLE, NJ, @WAS, UTA) The Hawks are one of the two teams slated to play five games this week, although Atlanta will play four of those contests at home. The Hawks will open up the scoring period against the Celtics Monday night before taking on the Cavaliers Wednesday. After a day off, Atlanta will begin a back-to-back-to-back set against the Nets, Wizards and Jazz Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. While playing five games over a seven-game stretch is never an ideal situation, the Hawks will have some favorable matchups on tap. The Jazz, Wizards, Nets and Cavaliers all rank near the bottom of the pack in terms of points allowed and opposition field-goal percentage, which should translate into a high-scoring week for the Hawks. Fantasy owners should make sure to leave Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague and Zaza Paculia active this week. Even Marvin Williams -- if healthy -- and Kirk Hinrich could be worth a look in deeper formats.

Southeast Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Hawks BOS CLE NJ @WAS
Bobcats PHI MIL @NJ
Heat PHO @DET @OKC
Magic CHI PHO CLE
Wizards @NJ IND ATL

Southwest: San Antonio Spurs (MIN, DAL, @NO, PHI) The Spurs are slated to play four times during Week 13, including their first back-to-back-to-back set of the season. San Antonio will start the period by playing host to the Timberwolves Wednesday night before beginning its triple set against the Mavericks at home Friday. The Spurs will be in New Orleans Saturday night before wrapping up the week against the 76ers back in San Antonio Sunday. Coach Gregg Popovich never misses an opportunity to give his starters some extra rest and that will more than likely be the case this week. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will almost certainly be held out of one of the Spurs weekend contests and Pop could even opt to rest Tony Parker, which he has already done at times earlier in the season. Fantasy owners will have to take a hard look at their rosters when deciding about whether or not to start some of the Spurs' main options this week. While Parker should be OK, even if he does miss a game, Duncan and Ginobili's sporadic production may be more problematic. Owners with other options may want to sway that way this week, but if you don't have a choice, leave Manu and Duncan active and hope for the best. Stephen Jackson will also remain a risky play until his role becomes more defined, but DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter could be worth a look in deeper formats.

Southwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Mavericks @DEN LAL @SA @HOU
Rockets LAL GS DAL
Grizzlies @SAC @POR @LAC @LAL
Hornets GS LAC SA
Spurs MIN DAL @NO PHI

Northwest: Oklahoma City Thunder (@UTA, LAC, MIN, MIA) The Thunder are scheduled to play four times this week and will get to play three of those contests at home. Oklahoma City will start the week with its lone road contest of the scoring period Tuesday night in Utah. The Thunder will then take on the Clippers Wednesday before wrapping up the week against the Timberwolves Friday and Heat Sunday. Despite having to deal with the Clippers and Heat in the same week, Kevin Durant and Co. will have some favorable matchups. The Thunder have scored more than 100 points this season in each of their matchups against Utah, Minnesota and Los Angeles and the Heat's up-and-down tempo continues to dictate higher-scoring games. Oklahoma City also enters the week as the highest-scoring team at home this season, averaging 105.4 points at Chesapeake Energy Arena. As should be the case every week, make sure Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are all active. Even Kendrick Perkins could be worth a look in some deeper leagues.

Northwest Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Nuggets DAL DET @UTA @MIN
T'Wolves @GS @SA @OKC DEN
Thunder @UTA LAC MIN MIA
Trail Blazers MIL MEM @LAL GS
Jazz OKC @SAC DEN @ATL

Pacific: Phoenix Suns (@MIA, @ORL, @IND, @CLE) The Suns will play four times during Week 13, but all four contests will be on the road. Phoenix will be on the East Coast this week, starting Tuesday night at Miami. The Suns will then take on the Magic in Orlando Wednesday before facing the Pacers Saturday night. After a day off, Phoenix will then close out the scoring period against the Cavaliers Sunday. While Phoenix has been clicking on offense lately, three of the four teams the Suns will face are ranked in the top 10 in points allowed and opposition field-goal percentage. Cleveland shouldn't present much of a challenge but facing the Heat, Magic and Pacers in the same week could make points tough to come by. Despite coach Alvin Gentry expanding his rotation over the past few weeks, Steve Nash, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye and maybe Jared Dudley (deeper formats) should be the only Suns worthy of using this week.

Pacific Division schedule
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Warriors MIN @NO @HOU SAC
Clippers @IND @OKC @NO MEM
Lakers @HOU @DAL POR MEM
Suns @MIA @ORL @IND @CLE
Kings MEM UTA @GS

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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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