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Week 15 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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There was some confusion when the Trail Blazers added forward J.J. Hickson to their roster once he was waived by the Kings a few weeks back, as there didn't appear to be much room on their roster for another offensive-minded forward, even if it didn't cost them anything.

The move was criticized heavily by many, with some pointing to it as an example of the Blazers attempting to expedite the tanking (and subsequent rebuilding) process by adding an offensive black hole who plays no defense. And at the time, it certainly didn't seem like an unfair characterization; after all, Hickson had just spent 35 games floundering with the lottery-bound Kings, shooting 37.0 percent from the field on his way to 4.7 points per game, while adding just .5 blocks per game as well.

Sleepers for Week 15
Player % Started
1. Charles Jenkins, G, Warriors 2
2. Tony Allen, G, Grizzlies 19
3. Kevin Seraphin, F, Wizards 7
4. Brandan Wright, F, Mavericks 2
5. Mario Chalmers, G, Heat 22
6. Donald Sloan, G, Cavaliers 0
7. Chase Budinger, F, Rockets 3
8. Linas Kleiza, F, Raptors 4
9. Greivis Vasquez, G, Hornets 13
10. Zaza Pachulia, C, Hawks 54

With all of that being said, it is probably an understatement to say Hickson has been a pleasant surprise in his limited time with the Blazers so far; he has been downright impressive. After Friday's 29- point, 13-rebound performance in LaMarcus Aldridge's absence against the Clippers, Hickson is now averaging 16.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in five games.

Hickson has even managed to make an impact in games where Aldridge has played, as the Blazers have made use of him at center, meaning that even if Aldridge's sprained left elbow is better by the time Week 15 (April 2-8) starts up, Hickson should be able to continue producing at a high level, which earns him the Start of the Week honors.

We have seen this type of play from Hickson before, as he put up very solid numbers last year with the Cavaliers, especially after the All-Star break, when he averaged 16.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game as the team's primary offensive weapon.

Hickson may not help the Blazers win too many games down the stretch, as the concerns about his lack of attention to detail on defense still hold true, however he very well may help some savvy Fantasy owners put themselves over the top in the season's last few weeks with this kind of production. With games against the 24th, 22nd, 7th and 21st ranked defenses in the NBA on the way in Week 15, expect Hickson to continue to impress offensively.

Guards

Start 'Em

Gerald Green, Nets (@LAL, @POR, WAS, CLE): The great thing about the end of the NBA season is that seemingly every season sees one player plucked from obscurity out of the D-League step up to play a big role on a lottery team. This season Green has been that guy, as he has been on fire for the Nets since joining the team. Green is averaging 14.0 points per game on 53.7 percent shooting in the last 10 games, topping 20 points in three of them. Green is a former first-round pick, so him showing flashes of talent is not surprising; however he has done a lot more than show flashes. With four games on the way and an increased role in the offense, Green should continue to play well in Week 15.

Shannon Brown, Suns (@SAC, @UTA, @DEN, LAL): Brown has stepped into the starting lineup recently after news broke that Grant Hill underwent knee surgery that would require him to miss at least a few weeks, and has done a solid job of providing some scoring punch with the first unit. Brown is averaging 22.5 points in the two games he has started since Hill's injury and 18.5 overall in four starts on the season. Brown should remain the starter for the time being, and with the Suns facing three of the league's seven-worst defenses to start the week, he should be able to remain productive.

Sleeper Alert: Avery Bradley, Celtics (SA, @CHI, @IND, PHI): Bradley has been filling in for the injured Ray Allen over the last few games, and has surprisingly taken on a large role on the team, playing an average of 40.3 minutes per game over the last four games and averaging 15.0 points per game in that span. Allen could return at anytime as he continues to deal with a bum ankle that has been bothering him for some time. Fantasy owners who have Allen may want to pick up Bradley as a handcuff option, especially in daily leagues, where you can determine which to go with based on Allen's health.

Sit 'Em

D.J. Augustin, Bobcats (@TOR, @ATL, @MIL, ATL): A terrible season continues to just get worse seemingly every day for Augustin, who appears to have hit bottom recently, averaging 2.8 points per game on 21.7 percent shooting over the last five games. Augustin has been dealing with some soreness in one of his knees, which Bobcats coach Paul Silas blamed partially for his struggles, however Fantasy owners should not be concerned with why he is struggling, unless he can figure out a way to turn it around. Augustin is showing no signs of doing so right now, so Fantasy owners need to avoid him, especially with a couple of matchups with the tough Hawks.

Jamal Crawford, Trail Blazers (UTA, NJ, @DAL, @MIL): Crawford has been struggling even worse than Augustin with his shot recently, and unlike Augustin, he does not have a physical problem to point to as a potential excuse for shooting 20.4 percent over his last five games. Crawford's minutes have stayed mostly the same in this time span, however his overall production has just evaporated, down to 6.4 points and 1.8 assists. And this is not really a small sample size issue, as he slogged through the month of March on 34.0 percent shooting. Crawford actually faces some decent matchups in Week 14, however his matchup has not made an impact recently; he has simply been bad against everyone. At this point, Crawford looks like he is just going through the motions until he can opt-out of his contract at the end of the season, so don't expect him to get his spark back this week.

Bust Alert: Richard Hamilton, Bulls (HOU, BOS, @NY): Hamilton should finally be back on the floor for Week 15, although we have been saying that for a while now, as the Bulls continue to play coy with the status of their injured players. Hamilton has been a game-time decision for well over a week, suggesting that the health and stability of his shoulder is still a question. Even if Hamilton does return this week, he has hardly earned the benefit of the doubt from Fantasy owners this season, so don't expect much from the veteran as he works his way back into game shape.

Forwards

Start 'Em

Zach Randolph, Grizzlies (@OKC, GS, @DAL, @MIA, DAL): Z-Bo hasn't been himself since returning from a knee injury midway through March. In fact, he has been struggling so much that the team has decided to move him back out of the starting lineup, a move that has been met with a drop in his Fantasy value, as he has averaged just 8.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in the three games since his demotion. Hardly numbers that bring to mind a must-start Fantasy option. While Randolph is by no means a must-start Fantasy option right now, his Grizzlies do play five games in Week 15, with a couple against subpar defenses to start the week to give him a chance to get his footing. He should provide much better value this week.

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs (@CLE, @BOS, NO, UTA): Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is a tough nut to crack; he is singular among NBA coaches in his willingness to change his rotations at the drop of a hat, which causes all sorts of problems for Fantasy owners trying to gauge the value of his players. Luckily for Leonard, he has found himself back in Pop's good graces recently, and he is responding with the best play of his young career, averaging 11.9 points and 7.3 rebounds on 55.3 percent shooting over the last 10 games. Besides the Celtics, none of the Spurs' Week 15 opponents rank among the NBA's top-10 defenses, meaning Leonard should be able to continue right on with his strong play.

Sleeper Alert: Gary Forbes, Raptors (CHA, @PHI, CLE, @OKC): The Raptors have had any number of different players take their turns putting up numbers on the wing, and Forbes is the next one in line. The second-year small forward has been taking advantage recently, averaging 11.3 points per game over the last 10 games and besting that in the last five with averages of 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds. Forbes has two double-doubles to his name in the last five games while also hitting exactly half of his attempts from three-point range. If injuries have left you scrambling, Forbes is not a bad option for Week 15, especially with lightweights like Cleveland and Charlotte on the way.

Sit 'Em

Steve Novak, Knicks (@IND, @ORL, CHI): Novak has become something of a cult figure in New York this season, as he has been just about automatic from three-point range all year as a member of the team's hugely popular bench unit. He has been less valued in Fantasy leagues, however he has become pretty valuable as a low-end specialist in Rotisserie formats. However, even with a rash of injuries that continues to open up minutes for him, it is hard to see him continuing to play well in Week 15 against three of the league's top six defenses, so keep him inactive.

Derrick Williams, Timberwolves (@SAC, GS, @NO): Injuries have pressed Williams into the starting lineup over the last two weeks, and Williams is likely to stay there moving forward, as the Wolves are invested in his development. Despite this, he appears to have hit a wall here in his rookie campaign, as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 Draft is shooting just 34.8 percent from the field over the last 10 games. Williams will have the occasional solid game here and there, however the Wolves play just three times in Week 15, so you simply can't take the risk with such a small margin of error late in the year.

Bust Alert: Thaddeus Young, 76ers (@MIA, TOR, ORL, @BOS): Young has mostly managed to maintain his level of production despite the Sixers extended struggles in the second half of the season, however the losing might be taking its toll, as he has slumped to 8.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game over the last five games. Young has long been the type of Fantasy player that you like to have when things are going well, but he has hit a rough patch here, and the Week 15 schedule does not appear to do him any favors. He might disappoint when facing off against three of the top 10 defenses in the league.

Centers

Start 'Em

Marcus Camby, Rockets (@CHI, @LAL, @SAC): As of Friday, Camby was back in the starting lineup for the first time since joining the Rockets at the trade deadline, and he put up a vintage performance, scoring just seven points but adding 16 rebounds and six blocks in a big win over Memphis. Camby moved into the starting lineup because Samuel Dalembert was dealing with the flu, however given that Dalembert did actually play in the game, it seems possible Camby could remain in the starting lineup moving forward. If he does, you know what to expect: He'll crash the boards, block a bunch of shots and almost never score. Despite a brief Week 15 schedule that features just three games, there is value to be found in the veteran big man.

Sleeper Alert: Byron Mullens, Bobcats (@TOR, @ATL, @MIL, ATL): It has been a couple of months, but Mullens is back to being somewhat relevant in Fantasy, posting three games of at least 17 points in the last five. He is not a traditional big man by any stretch of the imagination, however he has been productive in stretches this season, and this is another one of those stretches. He is even back in the starting lineup due to injuries. If you need a center in an emergency for this week, Mullens' somewhat unique skill set can provide value, especially as he has hit a couple of three-pointers over the last few weeks.

Sit 'Em

Ian Mahinmi, Mavericks (LAC, MEM, POR, @MEM): Mahinmi has been stuck in low-end Fantasy limbo all season, as he has been good enough to be worth owning in many leagues at the shallow center position, but not good enough that he can be relied on with any consistency. With the return of Brendan Haywood from injury, things likely won't get any better for Mahinmi, who will now return to a center platoon that will limit his minutes and opportunities even further. Steer clear from here on out, barring further injury to Haywood.

Bust Alert: Chris Kaman, Hornets (DEN, @SA, MIN): Kaman has been dealing with an illness that has caused him to miss the last five games. The Hornets have been pretty tight-lipped about the cause of the illness or when he might be back, and they don't seem to be in a particular hurry to bring him back despite a number of other injuries on their squad. They start the week with a couple of days off before three games in four nights, and at this point it is hard to see him playing in any games this week, let alone all three, so he simply is not worth the risk.

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Player News
Rockets G James Harden dishes 12 assists in loss to Clippers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) Rockets guard James Harden scored 20 points and distributed 12 assists in Monday night's 117-101 Game 1 loss to the Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals. 

Harden scored his 20 on 6 for 13 shooting from the field, while going 3 for 6 from behind the arc. Harden also went 5 for 6 from the free-throw line. Harden, however, contributed nine turnovers in 37 minutes of playing time. 

Harden also added five rebounds and four steals. 


Rockets C Dwight Howard doubles up in Game 1 loss
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) Rockets center Dwight Howard scored 22 points and brought down 10 rebounds in Tuesday night's 117-101 loss to the Clippers. 

Howard made 9 of 13 shots from the field and went 4 for 9 from the free-throw line. He added five blocks, one steal and one assist in 39 minutes of playing time. 


Clippers F Blake Griffin posts second straight triple-double
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Clippers forward Blake Griffin posted a triple-double in Monday night's Game 1 117-101 victory over the Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals. 

Griffin scored 26 points, brought down 14 rebounds and posted 13 assists. He did this with guard Chris Paul sidelined with a hamstring injury. This is Griffin's second consecutive triple double. 

Griffin shot 9 of 19 from the field and 8 of 10 free-throw attempts. 


Cavs G Kyrie Irving scores 30 in Game 1 loss to Bulls
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/4/2015) Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 30 points in Monday night's 99-92 Game 1 loss to the Bulls. 

Irving, along with Iman Shumper (22 points) and LeBron James (19 points), shouldered a heavy load with Kevin Love and J.R. Smith out for the game. Love is out for the playoffs with a dislocated shoulder and Smith is suspended for the first two games of the season. 

Irving made 10 of 23 shots from the field. He made 1 of 5 three-point attempts and sank all nine of his free-throw attempts. He posted six assists and two rebounds in 44 minutes. 


Bulls F Pau Gasol posts double-double in Game 1 victory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/4/2015) Bulls forward Pau Gasol scored 21 points and posted 10 rebounds in Monday night's 99-92 Game 1 victory over the Cavaliers. 

Gasol scored his 21 on 10 of 16 shooting from the field. He made his lone free-throw attempt of the night. Gasol also had four assists in the game. Gasol did a great job in the game hitting the mid-range jumper. 


Bulls G Derrick Rose suffers shoulder stinger in Game 1
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/4/2015) Bulls guard Derrick Rose sustained a right shoulder stinger in Monday's 99-92 Game 1 victory over the Cavaliers. 

"Just a stinger. My first one. They said I'm fine, so I should be all right," Rose told CNN's Rachel Nichols in a walk-off interview after the game

Rose scored 25 points in the game on 11 of 25 shooting. He made 3 of 5 three-pointers in the game. He also had five assists and four rebounds. Rose was able to play 39 minutes against the Cavs. 


Clippers guard Chris Paul out for Game 1 with hamstring injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/4/2015) Clippers point guard Chris Paul is out for Monday's Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets, coach Doc Rivers said per the L.A. Times.

Paul suffered a hamstring injury in Game 7 of Los Angeles' opening round series against the Spurs, but was able to remain in the game. Rivers said it was not worth the risk to play Paul, particularly in the series opener.

Paul is averaging 22.7 points and 7.9 assists per game in the postseason this year. The Clippers are currently 7-point underdogs against Houston.


Warriors' Klay Thompson makes history with MVP Stephen Curry
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/4/2015) Warriors guard Stephen Curry was named this year's MVP of the NBA. However, he had some serious help in the backcourt. 

Making history was guard Klay Thompson, who averaged 21.7 points per game this season. This marks the highest scoring average for any player sharing the backcourt with an NBA MVP, according to the Contra Costa Times

"I think we all do just because we all work hard with Steph every day," Thompson said. "He pushes us to be a great team so I think we've all got a hand in it."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr credited Thompson's presence on the court in allowing Curry to further excel as a basketball player. 

"Klay being an All-Star, being his backcourt mate, and the incredible shooting range and prowess is one of the reasons Steph has as much room to roam and attack as he does because defenses have to worry about Klay, too," Kerr said. "Klay should absolutely understand he's a big part of this."


Grizzlies' Mike Conley upbeat about Game 2 status
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/4/2015) Grizzlies guard Mike Conley is confident about the chance of suiting up for his team's Game 2 matchup against the Warriors. 

Conley suffered a facial fracture in Memphis' first-round series and missed the opning game of the second-round series against Golden State. 

"I believe I will (play in Game 2)," Conley said, via FOX 13 Memphis

The Grizzlies' medical team has cleared Conley to play, though they're letting him decide when he's ready to get back on the court. During the regular season, Conley averaged 14.6 points and 6.1 assists in 80 games. 

Game 2 between the Grizzlies and Warriors is on Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. EST. 


Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert, forward Mike Miller to start Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/4/2015) Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert and forward Mike Miller will start Monday's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in place of J.R. Smith and Kevin Love, according to Cleveland.com.

Smith is suspended for the first two games of the series after getting ejected for punching Jae Crowder in Game 4 of their opening round series. Love will miss the rest of the playoffs with after undergoing shoulder surgery. 

Shumpert averaged 8.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in 62 games this season. Miller averaged 2.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in 52 games. The Cavaliers are currently 4 1/2-point favorites against the Bulls.


 
 
 
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