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Week 1 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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I don't think anyone will miss last year's lockout-shortened mess of a season. It wore on the players, led to sloppy play, and is largely to blame for an 11-point drop in league-wide shooting numbers.

One thing the compressed schedule did do was make this column a bit easier. Now that we're back to a normal schedule beginning in Week 1 (Oct. 30-Nov. 4), there will not be quite as much variance in the number of games teams play every week. While last season featured 37 different examples of a team playing five times in a week, there are only three such weeks this season, which makes stacking your lineup with as many games as possible a less useful option.

Nevertheless, we will work with what the schedule brings us from week to week. And, in the case of Week 1, the Lakers stand out. The new-look Lakers are the only team in the league to play four times in the first scoring period, thanks to a back-to-back tilt against the Mavericks and Portland to begin the season.

Antawn Jamison is just one of a number of new faces for the Lakers this season, and he clearly is not the biggest name. He is, however, a great option right out of the gate in our opinion. Jamison is likely looking at a reduced role this season, coming off the bench to fill in at both forward spots. While we expect his numbers to take a hit in this new role, Jamison should still be a somewhat useful Fantasy option in the right situations.

Week 1, against a depleted Mavericks team, as well as the Blazers, Clippers and Pistons, would seem to be one of those situations. With the exception of Dallas, each of those teams finished in the bottom half of the league in defensive efficiency (points allowed, per-100 possessions) last season. With an extra game on the schedule, consider Jamison a worthy option in many formats.

Guards

Start 'Em

Brandon Roy, Timberwolves (SAC, @TOR): Nobody really knows what to expect from Roy this season. He is a full season removed from appearing in an NBA game after an aborted retirement, and he is much further removed from actually being an impactful player. His knees are going to be an issue to monitor all season long, but all indications are he is in great shape at this early stage of the season. He averaged 10.0 points and 2.0 assists per game in 21.3 minutes per game in seven appearances in the exhibition schedule. The Kings and Raptors should provide a fairly soft landing in his return to the court, as they ranked just 30th and 14th in defensive efficiency a year ago.

Anthony Morrow, Hawks (HOU, @OKC): We know exactly what to expect from Anthony Morrow at this point in his career; a lot of three-pointers. That's it, really. He is joining his third team in five seasons, and the only constant is that he will chuck up and connect on as many three-pointers as anyone in the league. While neither the Rockets nor Thunder particularly struggled to defend the three-point line last season, they both allowed points at an above average pace overall. The Hawks revamped their backcourt this season and they will need Morrow to provide valuable floor spacing. Morrow only has two games this week, but expect Morrow to be productive in both.

Sleeper Alert: Kendall Marshall, Suns (GS, DET, @ORL): At this point, it is not clear how many minutes Marshall will get as a rookie. The Suns invested the No. 13 pick in Marshall this season after a solid two-year career at the University of North Carolina and then signed Goran Dragic to man the point this season. That leaves Marshall on somewhat shaky ground. What we do know is that Marshall has phenomenal ball-handling and play-making skills and should be able to rack up assists at an excellent per-minute rate. The Suns open the season with matchups against three defensive lightweights, so Marshall could have an opportunity to make an impact even without big minutes. Marshall could make a solid impact in deeper Rotisserie formats this week.

Sit 'Em

Jose Calderon, Raptors (IND, @BKN, MIN): Calderon is perfectly-suited for the backup point guard role, which is a wonderful asset for the Raptors to have as they look to return to the playoffs. Unfortunately, Calderon does not seem to agree with that assessment, as rumors have spread that he is looking for a way out of Toronto. Barring something crazy happening in the next 48 hours (and after the James Harden mega-deal, don't count anything out), Calderon will be the team's backup at the point whether he likes it or not. History has shown us that tuned-out players can kill your Fantasy team, so don't take the risk on Calderon until we see how he approaches his new role.

Jason Richardson, 76ers (DEN, @NY): The 76ers brought in Richardson along with Andrew Bynum in their blockbuster trade, presumably with the idea that Richardson would thrive as a spot-up shooter with Bynum drawing doubles in the post. Apparently they didn't pay attention to how that worked in Orlando, as Richardson is coming off some of the worst performances of his career with the Magic. Worse still, the 76ers will be without Bynum for the beginning of the season, which will give Richardson even less room to operate on the perimeter. When you add those facts Richardson's ugly numbers against Denver and New York last season (9.0 points on 33.3 percent shooting in four games), and he is not a recommended option for the first scoring period.

Bust Alert: Arron Afflalo, Magic (DEN, PHO): I legitimately think Afflalo could build on his breakout campaign now that he is expected to be given an even bigger role this season on a rebuilding Orlando team. Unfortunately, there are warning signs that Afflalo might be looking at a tough go of things, at least until he figures his role on the team out. Afflalo averaged 12.7 points per game before the All-Star break last season before taking his game to another level in the second half. However, that was in a fast-paced and well-oiled offense that generated plenty of open shots for him. Afflalo will be asked to create more of his own offense in Orlando, a role he is not accustomed to. A total of 76.3 percent of Afflalo's baskets in 2011-12 were assisted on, a number that is generally reserved for catch-and-shoot players, not primary offensive options. Afflalo will get his numbers eventually, but a slow start would not surprise on what looks like potentially one of the worst offenses in basketball.

Forwards

Start 'Em

Metta World Peace, Lakers (DAL, @POR, LAC, DET): Metta's shooting hit rock bottom last season, though he showed signs of life late. He averaged 11.7 points per game in the postseason after 10.7 after the All-Star break. Now, he is in a better offense with a point guard in Steve Nash who knows when and where to get the ball to everyone in the offense. World Peace's production can only improve this season as the Lakers will likely be a machine on offense. He is a low-end Fantasy option most weeks, but World Peace could have value this week.

Derrick Williams, Timberwolves (SAC, @TOR): This might end up being the last time for a while that anyone can play up Williams as a potentially underrated Fantasy option. He is set to join the starting lineup for the first month of the season with Kevin Love's broken hand, and he could be in position to excel. Williams really struggled in his first season, but that was with him playing mostly on the wing, away from the basket. With Love out, he should have more chances to play power forward, which should do wonders for his efficiency. Williams might end up being too productive right out of the gate to end up on this list -- or the waiver wires -- for long. An easy early schedule should only help.

Sleeper Alert: Jae Crowder, Mavericks (@LAL, @UTA, CHA): Crowder ended up being one of the pleasant surprises of the summer league and preseason, and he looks likely to be the best player drafted in the second round this season. Crowder is a bit undersized for a forward (he measured at 6' 3.75” at the combine), but he is a bundle of energy who has endeared himself to the coaching staff in Dallas already. He averaged 11.4 points per game in the preseason while filling the stat sheet up, and he should slot in nicely in the rotation. He is owned in 17 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues right now, but with two matchups against porous defenses looming, he could have some low-end value.

Sit 'Em

Alonzo Gee, Cavaliers (WAS, CHI, @MIL): A lot of people like Alonzo Gee as a breakout candidate this season, and for good reason. He emerged as a solid play for the Cavaliers last season in a contract year, which is why it is hard to understand their offseason logic. They acquired Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles and seem to have slotted both in ahead of him on the depth chart. Gee averaged just 9.6 points per game as a reserve last season, so that shift in his role is worrisome. He'll get back to the starting lineup before long; neither Miles nor Waiters is likely to run away with things. In the early going, you might want to avoid him, however.

Amar'e Stoudemire, Knicks (@BKN, MIA, PHI): There seems to be an inordinate number of early-round Fantasy options who are beginning the season on the shelf for a variety of reasons this year. By now, you should know that Stoudemire is almost certainly going to miss the entirety of the first week of the season due to a knee issue. And yet, 'Stat' is still in 44 percent of starting lineups in CBSSports.com leagues as of this writing. The same goes for Dirk Nowitzki (39 percent), Kevin Love (31 percent), John Wall (42 percent), and Andrew Bynum (64 percent). Consider this a friendly reminder that you'll need to get those studs out of the lineup for at least the first week, and likely a bit longer. Your Week 1 opponents will thank you if you don't.

Bust Alert: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bobcats (IND, @DAL): There is a lot to love about Kidd-Gilchrist's long-term potential; he's an athletic freak who no coach will ever need to get on about not trying hard enough due to his relentless motor. Unfortunately, it seems like that might not be enough for him to succeed right away in the NBA. We try not to put too much stock in performance during exhibition games, but MKG's numbers are flat-out startling. MKG averaged just 5.8 points per game in eight preseason games, while shooting an abysmal 31.9 percent from the field. He made no three-pointers and actually found himself out of the starting lineup for a pair of contests. His long-term potential is undeniable, but it could be a very rough landing for Kidd-Gilchrist in his first taste of NBA action. Both Indiana and Dallas finished in the top-10 in defensive efficiency last season.

Centers

Start 'Em

Spencer Hawes, 76ers (DEN, NY): For a period of about three weeks to begin last season, Hawes legitimately looked like one of the most uniquely-skilled big men in basketball. He turned back into a pumpkin before too long, but it was still impressive! Hawes was expected to be moved to power forward with the team's acquisition of Andrew Bynum, but Bynum's lingering knee injury will force Hawes to man the pivot for a few weeks. Don't expect Hawes to flirt with any triple-doubles like last season's early going, but he has a solid chance to provide surplus value with Bynum gone.

Sleeper Alert: Byron Mullens, Bobcats (IND, @DAL): Mullens was a surprisingly productive player last year for the hapless Bobcats, pouring in 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in just 22.5 minutes per game. He flashed a solid jumper, and the Bobcats seem to have given him carte blanche to fire away -- he shot 41.0 percent on 39 three-point attempts during six preseason games. He probably won't chuck up six-plus attempts from long range every game once they start to count, but it is clearly a weapon for a Bobcats team that might not have many. While Indy and Dallas are strong defenses, Mullens could get off to a fast start from three-point range if teams aren't ready to close out hard on the big man.

Sit 'Em

Drew Gooden, Bucks (@BOS, CLE): At times last season, Gooden was a legitimately useful Fantasy option. In 46 games as a starter, he averaged 15.5 points and 7.1 rebounds while filling in for Andrew Bogut at center. The Bucks realized that situation was not workable in the offseason, particularly on the defensive side of the court, so they traded for Samuel Dalembert to start at the pivot. They also drafted a young, defensive-minded power forward in the lottery in John Henson. As a result, Gooden is unlikely to play a big role for Milwaukee this year. He might still have value against the right matchups, but with the Bucks playing just twice this week against a pair of stout defensive front courts, this will not be the week. Sit him down.

Bust Alert: Emeka Okafor, Wizards (@CLE, BOS): There's quite a few reasons to like Okafor as a bounceback candidate this season. But Week 1 may not be indicative of his season as a whole. Both Boston and Cleveland have formidable frontcourts, so Okafor might not have many opportunities to produce. Additionally, the absence of Wall in the Wizards' lineup could have disastrous effects on their offensive ability. Okafor might not have many easy opportunities to score at the rim this week, so don't expect much production from him overall.

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Player News
Heat add Reggie Williams
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/16/2014) The Heat signed guard Reggie Williams to a free-agency contract last week, the team announced. Terms of the deal are not known.

Williams appeared in just three games for the Thunder last season, and has played 180 games over parts of five NBA seasons. He averages 8.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range for his career.  


Isaiah Thomas undergoes wrist surgery
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Suns newcomer Isaiah Thomas underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist, the team announced Thursday.

Thomas dealt with a sprained wrist last season but was able to play through it on his way to a career year. An MRI in February revealed no ligament damage, which would indicate this latest procedure is nothing to worry about. The team expects him to be ready for training camp. 


DeMarcus Cousins avoids serious injury at Team USA practice
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Kings center DeMarcus Cousins dodged a bullet Thursday when the MRI on his right knee came back negative.

According to Yahoo Sports, Cousins limped off the court during a Team USA training session after Anthony Davis landed on his knee during a scrimmage. Cousins later tweeted that he was "fine," helping to suppress any concerns of a serious injury. 


Pacers shopping Roy Hibbert, call Pistons about Greg Monroe
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Pacers are shopping center Roy Hibbert, and they have called the Pistons regarding a potential deal involving restricted free agent Greg Monroe, Detroit Sports 105.1 reports.

There's no word about whether the Pistons would be interested in a Monroe-for-Hibbert spot, but they are pretty well set in the middle with Andre Drummond in the starting lineup. It's a rumor that seemingly has very little chance of coming to fruition.


Rockets sign Kostas Papanikolaou
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Rockets have signed small forward Kostas Papanikolaou .

Papanikolaou gets $4.8 million guaranteed in the upcoming season, with a team option of $4.6 million for the following season. He has been playing in Europe since being drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft.


Report: Greg Oden faces felony charge
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Free agent Greg Oden is facing a felony charge after allegedly attacking his former girlfriend after a night of drinking, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Oden is accused of punching the woman in the face three times and fracturing a bone in her nose, according to court documents. The felony offense carries a penaly of one-to-six years in prison.


Markel Brown out with broken hand
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Nets guard Markel Brown will be held out of basketball activities for four-to-six weeks after being diagnosed with a nondisplaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand, the team announced Monday.

Brown was selected 44th overall in this year's draft, and the Nets acquired him for cash considerations on the night of the draft. He averaged 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his senior season at Oklahoma State.


Report: Wolves to swap Anthony Bennett for Thaddeus Young
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/8/2014) Though the trade can't go official until August 23, the deal reportedly struck between the Cavaliers and Timberwolves will lead to another trade between Minnesota and the 76ers.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported early Friday that Minnesota, upon receiving Anthony Bennett from the Cavs as part of the Kevin Love trade, would then trade him for Thaddeus Young. The Timberwolves have been showing interest in Young since Love stated his desire to be traded.

Meanwhile, the 76ers want to move Young because he's entering his prime at age 26 and only has one additional year left on his contract. Acquiring Bennett would complete a core of young talent to develop over the coming years. Young was one of the most productive forwards in the league last year playing in Brett Brown's up-tempo offense, averaging 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Bennett, on the other hand, failed to make any impact what so ever but did show signs of growth during the Summer League. 


Landing in Minnesota should improve Andrew Wiggins' value
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) The prize of the trade that ultimately sent Kevin Love to Cleveland will likely be the Timberwolves' acquisition of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins , assuming there are no unexpected changes in the deal the two sides agreed to.

If Wiggins does ultimately land in Minnesota, as expected, this should be a boon to his Fantasy value. Though Wiggins will have substantially less help as he makes the transition to the NBA than he would have in Cleveland, he is also likely to be much more of a featured option than he otherwise might have been.

Wiggins was likely going to be the third or possibly even fourth offensive option for the Cavs, and likely would have been so for some time, given the presence of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on long-term deals. Now, the Timberwolves get to build around Wiggins as their long-term centerpiece, and he should be given plenty of rope as the team tries to navigate their upcoming rebuild.

Wiggins is raw, but still put up 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 32.8 minutes per game as a freshman at the University of Kansas. There are some questions about how well his game will translate to the NBA, but he will at least have some help, in the form of point guard Ricky Rubio, who knows exactly how to set up teammates for shots they like.

Wiggins is mostly upside right now, but should be considered a second-round pick in all keeper-league Fantasy formats. In yearly re-draft leagues, he is more of a mid-round option at this point, albeit one with tremendous upside. 


Anthony Bennett a bit more intriguing following trade
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) After a rookie season that can be charitably described as lost, a change of scenery is probably the best outcome Anthony Bennett could have hoped for this offseason. He got that Thursday, with the news that the long-awaited Kevin Love trade has landed him in Minnesota.

Last year's No. 1 overall pick luckily doesn't have to join the Cavaliers with the pressure of replacing Love as the face of the franchise -- this year's No. 1 pick, Andrew Wiggin, will take that on. Bennett gets to join a Timberwolves team that can give him more consistent playing time than last year's Cavaliers afforded him, but which won't ask him to do more than he is capable.

Bennett might end up starting at power forward for the Wolves, though a bench role seems more likely at this point. He had a disastrous rookie season after entering the season out of shape, but appeared to be in better shape while playing with the Cavaliers during the Summer League in Las Vegas. He still shot the ball poorly in Vegas -- 42.6 percent from the field and just 4 of 16 from three-point range -- but Bennett looked much more capable during his time there.

Based on his rookie season, Bennett has a long way to go before he is contributing at a high level. However, Fantasy owners in deeper category-based leagues should consider taking a chance on the 21-year-old in the later rounds, because he will have the chance to earn a large role if he proves worthy. 


 
 
 
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