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Courtside Seat: Back in the nick of time?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Fantasy playoffs are approaching in many leagues, and owners want to know if some of their injured stars will be there to help. We're not about to play doctor, but we can take a look at the injury report to help you make some decisions.

For example, you should expect someone like Nikola Pekovic (ankle) or Rodney Stuckey (toe) to return soon since their injuries haven't kept them out for an extended period of time. We hope the same could be said about Tony Parker (hamstring), who was injured Wednesday.

What we're here to do is look at injuries that have kept players out for several games or even weeks and evaluate whether or not they can return in time for the playoffs to make a difference to a championship run. Otherwise, it might be time to cut them and add someone who can actually help your roster.

Andray Blatche, PF, Wizards
Injury: Calf
Expected return: Early April
Will he help you in the playoffs: No
The Wizards decided to shut down Blatche so he could work on his conditioning after being out almost all of February with a calf injury. He should return in time for the Fantasy playoffs in most formats, but he is not worth waiting for. Blatche is having a down year at 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, and the Wizards will likely feature new center Nene and give Trevor Booker a longer look at power forward. You should be able to find more production elsewhere than Blatche.

Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors
Injury: Ankle
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: No
The Warriors are hoping to get Curry back at some point this season, but they are not going to play him until he's 100 percent. Since Golden State will miss the playoffs, there's no need for Curry to rush back. He could be headed toward the best production of his career once he does return with Monta Ellis now traded to Milwaukee, but we hope Curry doesn't have ankle and foot problems the rest of his career.

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Danilo Gallinari, SF, Nuggets
Injury: Thumb
Expected return: Early April
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
Gallinari suffered a fracture on his left, non-shooting hand, and he is going to try and play through the injury even though doctors told him he could be out four weeks. Gallinari was just getting back to his old form after being out 13 games with a sprained left ankle, but he could still be a starting option in most leagues if he plays through the thumb injury. His rebounding could take a hit, but hopefully he can continue to score as long as the thumb doesn't bother him.

Brook Lopez, C, Nets
Injury: Ankle
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: No
Lopez was just starting to play like a star again when he suffered the ankle injury. He had missed the first 32 games of the season with a broken foot, but he finally started to look healthy before he went down again. The Nets hope he can return this season, but they won't rush him back since they're out of the playoff race. Lopez has more value to them long-term and they obviously hope he can return at 100 percent. The only problem is that won't happen this year.

Kyle Lowry, PG, Rockets
Injury: Illness
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
Lowry has been one of the best Fantasy options this year since he was drafted in Round 5 based on his Average Draft Position but has performed like a Top 20 player. We hope he can return soon, and the Rockets could definitely use him for a playoff push. Goran Dragic has been fantastic since Lowry went down, but Lowry is a stat stuffer in all categories. He might take a while to get back to 100 percent, but he is worth waiting for based on his talent.

Kevin Martin, SG, Rockets
Injury: Shoulder
Expected return: Day to day
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
Martin's injury has lingered longer than expected, and he could return any game now from his shoulder injury, which has kept him out for five games. Martin should be able to close the season strong, and hopefully coach Kevin McHale will give him the minutes to be successful. The problem for Martin is since he went down Courtney Lee has emerged, but Martin is the better player and should earn his spot back once he's healthy.

Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
Injury: Groin
Expected return: Day to day
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
The Bulls are going to be cautious with Rose because they want to make sure he is 100 percent healthy for the NBA playoffs. That isn't a good thing for Fantasy owners, but it doesn't sound like Rose will miss several weeks. And once he gets back on the court he should be able to play at an MVP level again. Rose has struggled with injuries all year, but he should be a difference maker for Fantasy owners in the playoffs once he gets past this groin problem.

Anderson Varejao, C, Cavaliers
Injury: Wrist
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
The Cavs are hoping Varejao is ready to return by the end of March and help them with a potential playoff push after he broke his wrist Feb. 10. He was having a career season before he went down at 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds, and we hope he can pick up where he left off. Fantasy owners who stashed Varejao will be getting a No. 2 Fantasy center, and with the lack of talent at that position he will help as a huge addition to a playoff roster.

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

Guys on the rise

Here is a look at the five players who have improved their performance over the past seven days. We want to let you know if they can keep it up at this level.

Luke Ridnour, PG, Timberwolves
Key stats for the past seven days: 11.6 points, 7.4 assists, 1.2 steals

Nate Robinson, PG, Warriors
Key stats for the past seven days: 13.3 points, 6.8 assists, 2.0 steals

Jason Thompson, PF, Kings
Key stats for the past seven days: 16.0 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists

Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors
Key stats for the past seven days: 20.0 points, 1.5 steals, 12 3-pointers

Marcus Thornton, SG, Kings
Key stats for the past seven days: 30.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 steals

Ridnour had a rough game Wednesday at San Antonio and was outplayed by J.J. Barea, but Ridnour should close the season on a high note with Ricky Rubio (torn ACL) out. Robinson has stepped up with Curry out, and Thompson has done a nice job replacing Ellis for the Warriors. Thompson has really shined and should finish strong with J.J. Hickson no longer in Sacramento. We hope Thornton can also stay hot, but he could lose some production once Tyreke Evans (ankle) is back at 100 percent.

Free agent watch

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

Boris Diaw, SF, free agent
Owned: 56 percent of leagues

Chandler Parsons, SF, Rockets
Owned: 36 percent of leagues

Ben Gordon, SG, Pistons
Owned: 36 percent of leagues

Courtney Lee, SG, Rockets
Owned: 13 percent of leagues

Gary Neal, PG, Spurs
Owned: 8 percent of leagues

Diaw recently received a buyout from the Bobcats, and while it's unlikely he will land in a spot where he can get increased playing time, you never know based on his skill set. He needs to get in shape, but Diaw could be useful in deeper formats. The Rockets have gotten quality production from Lee with Martin out, and he could be a short-term investment. Parsons has been playing well of late with 11.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his past five games, and he has benefited with the injuries in Houston as well. Gordon had 45 points and eight assists against Denver on Wednesday with Stuckey out, and he's worth a look since he can get hot at any moment. And Neal could benefit if Parker is out for an extended period of time since he has done well in the past when Parker has missed time.

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

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Player News
Rockets C Dwight Howard dealing with edema in knee
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:00 am ET) An MRI on the injured knee of Rockets center Dwight Howard has revealed edema, the team announced.

The team didn't specify whether Howard is dealing with swelling within a bone or in the soft tissue of the knee, but the center will be "evaluated further in the coming days." He missed his second straight game Wednesday, and the Rockets have two more games scheduled for Friday and Saturday before receiving a three-day break.


76ers SG JaKarr Sampson scores 13 in rare start Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) 76ers shooting guard JaKarr Sampson started for the first time since Dec. 30 Wednesday and scored a season-high 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds in his team's 89-69 win over the Pistons.

''His energy, his toughness and athleticism really complemented the starting group,'' coach Brett Brown said after the game, per the Associated Press.

Sampson, who also recorded two steals in 24 minutes, entered the game averaging just 4.8 points and 12.7 minutes in January, but the team was able to lean on him for a season-best scoring performance on an efficient shooting night. He'll square off with the Timberwolves Friday.


Knicks SF Carmelo Anthony questionable to play Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony said after Wednesday's win that he's unsure whether he'll play Thursday against the Pacers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Anthony was rested Saturday before coming back strong Wednesday night, scoring 31 points on 12 of 28 shooting and hauling in 10 rebounds. However, he may get to rest his knee yet again Thursday after seeing 38 minutes of action Wednesday night.

The Knicks are 9-point underdogs in Indiana Thursday.


Jazz C Enes Kanter delivers 21-11 line vs. Clippers Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Jazz center Enes Kanter scored a team-high 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting while hauling in 11 rebounds in his team's 94-89 loss to the Clippers Wednesday.

It's the fourth 20-point performance and third double-double in Kanter's last five games despite averaging just 14.1 points and 7.5 rebounds heading into Wednesday's action. The center also managed to record one assist and one block in 36 minutes of action. He'll square off with the Warriors Friday.


Clippers SG Jamal Crawford scores 21 points vs. Jazz
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford shared the team scoring lead with 21 points on 5 of 14 shooting, including 4 of 7 shooting from three-point range, in his team's 94-89 win over the Jazz Wednesday.

Crawford played a season-high 40 minutes in Wednesday's win, and he's delivered back-to-back 20-point efforts for the first time this month. He also kicked in three rebounds and two assists in the victory. Crawford will square off with the Pelicans Friday.


Clippers PG Chris Paul scores 21 points vs. Jazz
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Clippers point guard Chris Paul shared the team scoring lead Wednesday, tallying 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting in his team's 94-89 win over the Jazz in Utah.

Paul played 35 minutes as the Clippers won their sixth straight game, but he managed just six assists to go with five rebounds and one steal. The Clippers will look to keep rolling Friday in New Orleans against a Pelicans team that may be without Anthony Davis (groin).


Hawks PG Jeff Teague doubles up vs. Nets Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Hawks point guard Jeff Teague scored 13 points on 6 of 16 shooting while dishing out 11 assists in his team's 113-102 win over the Nets Wednesday.

Teague has delivered six double-doubles during his team's current 17-game winning streak, reaching double digits in points in each of those games. He also chipped in one rebound in 30 minutes of action. The Hawks play home games Friday and Saturday in search of a perfect 17-0 record in the month of January.


Hawks C Al Horford doubles up vs. Nets Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Hawks center Al Horford scored 20 points on 10 of 13 shooting while hauling in 10 rebounds in his team's 113-102 win over the Nets Wednesday,

Horford has been a key part in the Hawks extending their winning streak to 17 games, making a stunning 74.1 percent of his shots in his last eight appearances. The double-double was just his eighth of the season but his fourth in the month of January. Horford also kicked in five assists in his 33 minutes of action Wednesday. The Hawks will look for an 18th straight win Friday against the Blazers.


Hawks PF Paul Millsap posts 28-15 line vs. Nets Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Hawks power forward Paul Millsap scored a team-high 28 points on 5 of 9 shooting from the field, including 3 of 5 shooting from behind arc, while hauling in 15 rebounds in his team's 113-102 win over the Nets Wednesday.

Millsap was sent to the free-throw line constantly Wednesday, but the 74-percent free-throw shooter (in 2014-15) managed to knock down 15 of his 16 attempts from the charity stripe to help buoy his point total. He also chipped in two blocks, one assist and one steal in 35 minutes in the win, the Hawks 17th straight. The team has two home games scheduled at home against Portland and Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday, respectively, as it attempts to post a perfect January record.


Spurs' Tim Duncan doubles up on the Hornets
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Spurs forward Tim Duncan posted a double-double on Wednesday against the Hornets.

Duncan shot 5-12 from the field. He sunk two free throws, finishing with 12 points. Duncan was also active on the boards, coming down with 14 rebounds. He managed to pull down 13 of those rebounds on the defensive end of the court. Duncan finished with three blocks, two steals and two assists. 


 
 
 
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