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Week 2 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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The Bulls brought veteran Richard Hamilton in last offseason to provide another strong perimeter option besides Derrick Rose in the offense. Hamilton struggled with injuries and never really got going, especially with Rose going in and out of the lineup himself.

The Bulls offense was expected to struggle mightily without Rose this season, and nobody had much in the way of expectations for Hamilton, a 34-year-old who has been unable to stay healthy in recent seasons.

Maybe flying under the radar is just what Hamilton needs at this point in his career, as he has been on fire to start for the Bulls. Healthy and looking to convince either the Bulls or another team that there are some miles left in his veteran legs, Hamilton is off to a quick start through the first handful of games. Hamilton has scored 19 points in each of the team's first two contests heading into Week 2 and is our Start of the Week.

The Bulls lived without Rose last season and they made do with a stingy defense and patchwork offense, a pattern they will follow this year. Hamilton should continue to be a big part of patching things up, as one of just a few strong options out on the perimeter. The Bulls have a soft schedule in Week 2, with the Magic, Thunder and Timberwolves on the way. Both Oklahoma City and Minnesota finished in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game and the Magic lost a transformation defensive player in the offseason, so the Bulls should not face much resistance.

Hamilton is currently starting in just 14 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy formats, so he has a solid chance to provide you with some value this coming week.

Guards

Start 'Em

J.J. Redick, Magic (@CHI, @MIN, BKN, @BKN): The Magic got their season started a bit later than most teams, as they made their debut Friday night against the Nuggets. That limits what we've been able to see from them, which makes it hard to know how the team plans to use its rotation. Still, they make up for it with four games in Week 2 (Nov. 5-11), they should provide some solid opportunities for Redick to get going. Early indications are that Redick is going to be a major contributor, especially after Hedo Turkoglu suffered a broken hand in the opener and Redick posted 21 points and six assists. The Bulls remain a formidable defense, but both Minnesota and Brooklyn might have their flaws on that end of the floor. Redick struggle against the Bulls last season, as would be expected, but he managed 11.8 points and 3.0 assists per game against the Nets and Wolves. He won't start for the Magic, but Redick is one of their few offensive options.

Jamal Crawford, Clippers (CLE, SAS, @POR, ATL): We were a bit worried about Crawford's role in the Clippers' offense, in a deep backcourt. While it was only one game, Crawford got 30 minutes and was a major contributor in the team's first game against the Grizzlies and then saw 31 minutes two days later against the Lakers. Crawford thrived playing off Chris Paul in that game and if the team keeps giving him minutes in the high 20s, the production will be there. Three of the Los Angeles' four opponents this week ranked below the league average in points allowed per game last season. Crawford should continue to provide a spark for the Clippers in Week 2.

Sleeper Alert: Austin Rivers, Hornets (PHI, CHA): I remain skeptical on Rivers' long-term NBA potential, especially in the point-guard role that the Hornets envision him filling before long. However, with the news Friday that Eric Gordon will miss four-to-six weeks with a lingering knee issue, Rivers is cemented into the off-guard spot for the Hornets. I recommend him with serious reservations, as Rivers struggled in preseason and summer league action and has shown little in the early going of the regular season. However, he is a starting player who should see more than 25 minutes per game and has some offensive upside, so consider taking a flier on the rookie.

Sit 'Em

J.R. Smith, Knicks (@PHI, DAL): If there is one thing we know about Smith at this point in his career, it is that you never know what he will do on a nightly basis. While he should see a decent role on this Knicks team, given its need at shooting guard, there is no guarantee he'll provide production on a nightly basis. While that should even out over the long run of a season, it makes Smith difficult to count on with just two games on the schedule. His shot can disappear from night to night, as it did when he went 3 for 11 in the team's season opener Friday. You don't want to risk Smith dropping a stinker with just one chance to make up for it.

Gerald Green, Pacers (@SAS, @ATL, @MIN, WAS): Green was one of the great stories of the season last year, as he made a triumphant return to the league and quickly emerged as a weapon off the bench for the Nets. We expected more of the same this season, especially with early news of Danny Granger's lingering knee issues. Green moved into the starting lineup for the Pacers in the first week of the season, but he struggled to find the form that made him so dynamic a year ago. Perhaps, once Granger returns to the floor, Green will find his rhythm, but he seems out of sorts in the starting lineup. Green turned the ball over six times in his first game while scoring just six points. This is a decent slate of games for him to put up numbers, but the former first-round flameout is back to the point where he has to prove himself.

Bust Alert: Devin Harris, Hawks (IND, MIA, @LAC): Harris has gotten very used to being a primary ball handler in his career, so the offseason trade to Atlanta certainly puts him in an interesting place. Harris started at the off-guard spot in the team's first game, and ended up playing just 22 minutes. It remains to be seen whether that will be his role moving forward, but there is clearly going to be some adjustment for the eight-year veteran. Matchups against extremely tough defenses in Miami and Indiana this week won't help matters, so consider him a risky option while he finds himself.

Forwards

Start 'Em

Brandon Bass, Celtics (WAS, PHI, @MIL): There was a strange and pervasive lack of belief in Bass' Fantasy value this offseason. The Celtics added a bunch of depth, including a very talented rookie power forward in Jared Sullinger, so everyone just assumed that Bass would find himself as the odd man out in the offense. Only 67 percent of Fantasy owners own Bass right now, and only 33 percent of them had him in the starting lineup for the first week of the season. Bass remains in the starting lineup however, and he opened the season with a 15-point, 11-rebound night against the Heat to prove that he is still a factor. His role might reduce as the young guys progress down the line, but for now he remains firmly entrenched. Bass averaged 12.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game against Boston's Week 2 opponents, so get him in the lineup.

Andrei Kirilenko, Timberwolves (@BKN, ORL, IND, @CHI): It is understandable that some Fantasy owners might want to avoid Kirilenko, after he spent a year away from the league. He wasn't just sitting on the couch, though; Kirilenko was widely considered the best professional player in Europe last season. He showed he is still very much in NBA shape in his season debut against the Kings, with a vintage Kirilenko stat line. He had 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a block in that game. Kirilenko should continue to see strong minutes as a member of the rotation, and Week 2 offers him some solid matchups. The Nets and Magic should be porous defensively this season, so Kirilenko could get off to a quick start in this scoring period.

Sleeper Alert: Carl Landry, Warriors (@SAC, CLE, @LAL, DEN): This section was originally written about Landry's Golden State teammate Brandon Rush, however he suffered a seemingly major knee injury Friday night that looks like it could cost him a long time. Landry fits in Rush's spot perfectly; however, as he has gotten off to a very strong start to the season. He is averaging 18.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game coming off the bench for the Warriors through the season's first two games. He has proven he can be a pretty consistent 12-point, 6-rebound-per-game kind of player even in a reserve role, which definitely has value. Landry averaged 14.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in six contests against his Week 2 opponents a year ago, so we like his chances to keep rolling.

Sit 'Em

Al-Farouq Aminu, Hornets (PHI, CHA): Aminu blew up in the first game of the season, with 17 points against the Spurs. Seventeen points is not "blowing up" for a lot of players, but that is indicative of the way Aminu's career has gone. That performance and another solid one Friday might have prompted some Fantasy owners to consider adding Aminu off waivers in the hopes that the former lottery pick is starting to live up to his potential. While it is possible that he will figure things out this year, let's wait before Aminu plays more than one game. We have 147 games worth of data indicating he is a very poor player, so Fantasy owners should wait for a bigger sample size of success before counting on Aminu.

Trevor Ariza, Wizards (@BOS, MIL, @IND): Ariza can fill the box score up as well as anyone in the league when he is on; he had two blocks, three steals, four assists and three rebounds in the Wizards' season opener. Unfortunately, he has been unable to figure out how to score efficiently at this point in his career, a problem that will only be compounded by the Wizards' general offensive incompetence. Ariza has not shot better than 41.7 percent in a season since 2008-09, and he will probably continue to struggle in Week 2. Boston held opponents to just 41.9 percent shooting last year, and Indiana was only slightly worse at 43.5 percent. The Wizards offense could be in for long nights in both matchups.

Bust Alert: Antawn Jamison, Lakers (@UTA, GSW, SAC): When you're wrong, the least you can do is admit it. Especially when you're really, really wrong like I was. So that's what I'll do. I called Jamison a Start of the Week last week, due to the Lakers' four-game schedule giving him more chances to produce. I'll admit to working under a pair of assumptions that turned out not to be true through the season's first week. The first was that the Lakers would generate tons of offense in a new fast-paced style. The second was that Jamison is still a capable offensive player. While it is always advisable to take the first few games with something approaching a boulder of salt, Jamison has been a total non-factor for the Lakers. He has attempted just eight shots through the team's first three games. Jamison looks lost on a team that won't be using him as a primary offensive option -- and he brings nothing else to the table. The Lakers have some solid offensive matchups in Week 2, but it is best to steer clear of him at this point.

Centers

Start 'Em

Omer Asik, Rockets (DEN, @MEM, DET): Asik was a per-minute star and integral member of the Bulls' bench rotation last season, but there were real concerns about his ability to keep his play up as a full-time start in Houston. The offense can be ugly at times (he went 0 for 7 in the second game of the season), but he is also going to hit the boards hard and post solid defensive numbers. He averaged 12.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per-36 minutes in his Chicago career and he has lived up to that through the first few games of the season in Houston. He also has some solid chemistry with Jeremy Lin and James Harden in the pick and roll, so easy buckets will be there for him. The Rockets have a matchup against the tough Grizzlies sandwiched between a pair of fairly soft frontcourts in Week 2, so Asik should help you out.

Sleeper Alert: Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors (@OKC, @DAL, PHI): There were a lot of questions about Valanciunas' ability to help at the NBA level right away. The early going has not necessarily answered them, but he has held his own. At the very least, Valanciunas is going to block shots and grab rebounds in the 20 or so minutes he sees every night. Oklahoma City has a solid front court, but injuries have limited the Mavericks' and Sixers' options, giving them issues with depth and size.

Sit 'Em

Andre Drummond, Pistons (@DEN, @SAC, @OKC, @HOU): We have yet to see how Drummond responds to the stress of an NBA back-to-back, but Week 2 gives us two chances. He has opened the season as the Pistons' backup center and has seen less of the floor than we might have expected for a lottery pick. He played just 13 minutes in the team's opener and followed up with just 19 the next game. With four road games and pair of back-to-backs, Drummond may take some time to get up to speed. His upside is high, but this may not be the week Detroit chooses to unleash him.

Bust Alert: Andrew Bogut, Warriors (@SAC, CLE, @LAL, DEN): Bogut's ankle seems to be recovered from offseason surgery, but the team is not going to take any chances. They have already said Bogut will be limited to 20-25 minutes on most nights and will likely not play in back-to-backs. That puts Bogut out for either the Lakers or the Nuggets game. He is one of the most productive all-around centers in the game, when healthy, but the minute and role restrictions will hamper him this week.

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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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