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Week 4 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
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When news broke Friday that Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard would miss up to two weeks as a result of tendinitis in his left knee, it had the effect of opening up close to 30 minutes per game in one of the league's most dangerous offenses. Fantasy owners know that whoever takes Leonard's minutes and role in the offense will see a big boost in value, so the question becomes who that player will be.

Smart money is on the Spurs turning to yet another veteran in the starting lineup, which is why the fifth-most viewed player in the hours after news broke in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues was Stephen Jackson. Jackson has had a limited and inconsistent role with the team so far this season, but he should be able to step up nicely in Leonard's absence, which is why he is the Start of the Week for Week 4 (Nov. 19-25).

San Antonio plays four times in Week 4, against the Clippers, Celtics, Pacers and Raptors. The first three teams rank among the better defenses in the league thus far, but the Spurs' offense is the type of well-oiled machine that should be able to keep running against any opponent. Jackson should be a big part of that, as he brings roughly similar skills to the table to Leonard, who was averaging 10.6 points per game.

Jackson is probably an even better scorer than Leonard at this point, even if his 8.3 points per game average on 37.5 percent shooting might not show that this season. Jackson is just two years removed from scoring 18.5 points per game, so Fantasy owners should not forget what kind of impact he could have. The Spurs won't need anything close to 18.5 points from Jackson with Leonard out, but he is still averaging 12.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per-36 minutes.

Jackson has an opportunity to show he still has something left in the tank in these next few weeks, so Fantasy owners should consider taking a chance on the veteran.

Guards

Start 'Em

Alexey Shved, Timberwolves (DEN, @POR, @GSW): The Timberwolves have been absolutely decimated by injuries this season, with three of their top five options in the backcourt dealing with injuries of varying severity. As a result, they have been forced to rely on the 23-year-old from Russia for far more than they probably expected this early. Luckily, Shved's flashy playing style has been exactly what the Wolves have needed, as he has scored in double figures in five of the last seven games, including a career-best 22-point showing Friday. Shved, a veteran of European professional leagues as well as the Russian National team, is still prone to some bad passes and questionable decisions, but he has actually kept his turnovers surprisingly low at 1.8 per game. With Ricky Rubio, Jose Juan Barea and Brandon Roy still likely to miss time, Shved should continue to see 25-plus minutes per game between both guard positions, and he could get close to double-figures in most games against three poor defensive clubs.

Danny Green, Spurs (LAC, @BOS, @IND, @TOR): The other part of the equation when it comes to filling in for Leonard, Green has already done a good job of proving his offensive worth this season. He is averaging 11.3 points per game, thanks to a deadeye three-point shot that he is making two times per game at a 43.9 percent clip. Green is already playing roughly 30 minutes per game, so it is not clear how much more the Spurs will lean on him; he will likely see a few more shots each time out though. Green has been a perfect fit for the Spurs' offense, and will have plenty of opportunities to jack up three-pointers this week.

Sleeper Alert: Kyle Singler, Pistons (@ORL, TOR, @NYK): Singler was generally not considered NBA ready a year ago when the Pistons selected him with a second-round pick in the 2011 draft. A year of conditioning in Europe has been good for Singler's game, as he has acquitted himself very nicely through his first 10 games of NBA action. Singler has scored in double figures in two games in a row now, and has established himself as perhaps the only reliable shooter on Detroit's roster. Singler actually found himself moved into the starting lineup Friday against the Magic, and he ended up playing close to 30 minutes. Singler has a pair of easy matchups to start the week, so consider using him in deeper, category-based Fantasy formats.

Sit 'Em

Kirk Hinrich, Bulls (@HOU, @MIL): The Bulls play just twice this week, but that isn't why Hinrich is here. Even if Hinrich was playing five times against the five worst defenses in the league, I'm not sure he is someone I could recommend as a starting Fantasy option at this point. Hinrich is essentially only a game manager at this point, as he has been held below 10 points in all but one of his games so far this season. He is averaging just 5.3 points and 5.3 assists per game this season, on 32.6 percent shooting. The fact that he plays just twice this week just makes him that much worse of a start.

Devin Harris, Hawks (ORL, WAS, @CHA, LAC): Harris has some truly excellent matchups this week, but like Hinrich, he has been so bad in his new home that matchups don't really matter. The Hawks talked about running some dual point guard lineups this season, but Harris' play has been so poor so far that they essentially abandoned that idea after the first game of the season, with Harris moving to a reserve role from that point on. He is shooting just 38.2 percent from the field right now and has yet to reach double figures in scoring, so Fantasy owners should make sure the accomplished veteran is on the bench.

Bust Alert: Jason Terry, Celtics (SAS, OKC, @ORL): Terry was consistent for so many years, that we probably took his production for granted. A year ago, he scored 15.1 points per game and added 3.6 assists per game, his worst numbers in seven years. Fantasy owners are certainly missing that production right now, as Terry has been unable to find a comfort level in his new home. Terry is shooting the ball extremely well from all over the floor, but he is averaging just 10.7 points and 2.2 assists per game. We did not expect to see such a drastic drop off in his production, despite his advanced age, but Terry has yet to give many signs that he is turning it around. Terry ranks just 69th among guards in CBSSports.com standard scoring formats, so Fantasy owners should not rely on him with just three matchups on the way.

Forwards

Start 'Em

Harrison Barnes, Warriors (@DAL, BKN, @DEN, MIN): Barnes entered the league with a reputation out of college as a smooth scoring wing who struggled to stay consistent at times, and he has lived up to that billing so far. We are starting to see the good side of Barnes more often recently, as he scored 19 and 18 points in back to back games last week. He is shooting 48.6 percent from the field and has also been crashing the boards recently. Barnes is averaging 13.0 points on 6.6 rebounds in 30.6 minutes per game over the last five contests, so Fantasy owners should feel comfortable getting the rookie in the lineup.

Tayshaun Prince, Pistons (@ORL, TOR, @NYK ): The Pistons have been a mess offensively, but Prince has actually been a bright spot at times. Prince has scored in double figures in all but two games this season, providing a steadying influence on an offense that too often relies on inexperienced players who are still growing. Heading into Week 4, Prince has averaged 14.8 points with 5.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game over his last five contests. Only one of Detroit's Week 4 opponents looks likely to provide a tough defensive showing. Prince has remained pretty consistent over the years, and that should continue into this scoring period.

Sleeper Alert: Dante Cunningham, Timberwolves (DEN, @POR, @GSW): Cunningham is another Timberwolves player that has been forced into a larger role due to injury. He has been a decent role player in the past, but the Timberwolves are asking him to be more than that, and he is doing well so far. Over the last five games, Cunningham is averaging 12.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game on 62.2 percent shooting, and the Wolves are still going to need him to play 25-plus minutes per game, with Nikola Pekovic dealing with an ankle injury and Kevin Love still out with a broken hand. Cunningham gives the Wolves good energy off the bench and has endeared himself to coach Rick Adelman quickly.

Sit 'Em

Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks (@CHA, @MIA, CHI): Fantasy owners are about to take to the streets to put up '"Wanted" ads out for Ilyasova, who seems to have forgotten how to play after signing a big extension this offseason. Ilyasova vowed in the offseason not to let the big contract affect his work ethic, but when player's scoring rate falls in half and he starts averaging 3.5 rebounds fewer per-36 minutes, it is hard t draw any other conclusions. Ilyasova was one of the breakout stars of last season due to his three-point shooting and rebounding prowess, but he has seen an across-the-board drop in his production so far. Both Miami and Charlotte rank in the top five in the league in three-pointers allowed, Fantasy owners have to consider Ilyasova too risky of a play at this point.

Bismack Biyombo, Bobcats (MIL, TOR, ATL, @WAS): As a raw young big man, Biyombo was certainly expected to take a step forward this year after an uneven rookie campaign. With new coach Mike Dunlap putting an emphasis on defensive pressure and a higher pace, it was easy to assume that Biyombo would see a bigger chunk of playing time this season. Instead, he has topped 20 minutes just twice in seven games, including not at all in the last three. Biyombo's lack of offensive ability has really limited his chances this season, as he is the fourth big man in the rotation at this point. None of the Bobcats' Week 4 opponents looks like a defensive juggernaut, but that does not matter for Biyombo. He plays too few minutes to be worth putting in the lineup.

Bust Alert: Danilo Gallinari, Nuggets (LAC, @WAS, PHO, @MIL): It has been difficult to even watch Gallinari play this season, with how poorly he is shooting the ball. Gallinari is shooting just 22.2 percent from three-point range, while attempting more attempts than all but two players in the league. He has been marginally better on shots inside the arc, making 40.6 percent of them, but that is hardly anything to write home about. For a player with Gallinari's playmaking ability and athleticism, his precipitous decline at the age of 24 has been troubling. According to MySynergySports.com, Gallinari is shooting just 15.8 percent on 38 spot-up attempts this season. He is still scoring 13.9 points per game and adding 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, so there is some value for him in head-to-head scoring formats. But Gallinari is just killing you in the percentage categories in Rotisserie leagues, so wait until he finds his missing shot.

Centers

Start 'Em

Nikola Vucevic, Magic (@ATL, DET, CLE, BOS): As a rookie, it took Vucevic 31 games to record his first double-double and 11 more for the second and final one of his campaign. Vucevic recorded his second double double in the Magic's third game, and as of Friday night he has five in eight games so far. Vucevic is averaging 11.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, while providing some bulk in what is otherwise a very undersized Magic frontcourt. Vucevic has avoided foul trouble, a key for a young big man, and is looking like a pretty decent cog for Orlando in the Dwight Howard trade. The Magic face some tough frontcourts in Week 4, but Vucevic has been productive against almost every team he has faced so far this season, so expect a couple of double-doubles out of the 22-year-old.

Sleeper Alert: Brendan Haywood, Bobcats (MIL, TOR, ATL, @WAS): A major part of the reason why Bismack Biyombo has been unable to find more of the floor this season is that the Bobcats like the stout presence Haywood provides them down low. He is not quite the rim protector Biyombo is, but he gives them a more reliable option on both sides of the. Haywood is enjoying a resurgence, posting 7.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in 28.5 minutes, his best production since the 2009-10 season. Each of the Bobcats' Week 4 opponents ranks in the bottom half of the league in terms of the proportion of their own missed shots that they are able to rebound, so Haywood should be active on the glass. He could post double figures in rebounding at least a few times.

Sit 'Em

Samuel Dalembert, Bucks (@CHA, @MIA, CHI): The Bucks acquired Dalembert this offseason, presumably with the intention of making him the centerpiece of a more effective defensive scheme. Milwaukee is a much-improved defensive team, however Dalembert can hardly take the credit for that transformation, seeing as he is ninth on the team in minutes played. Dalembert has been squeezed in the rotation by the emergence of Larry Sanders as a defensive force. As a result, Dalembert has yet to reach double-figures in rebounding, and has played more than 20 minutes in a game just once. Dalembert is averaging 6.3 points per game as well, and with some tough defensive matchups on the way, you should keep him in reserves.

Bust Alert: Spencer Hawes, 76ers (TOR, @CLE, OKC, PHX): After a stellar first game of the season, it really looked like Hawes was going to benefit in a big way from the absence of Andrew Bynum. While he has played at least 20 minutes in six of nine games so far, Hawes has really failed to make an impact recently. Most distressingly for Hawes' owners is that he has seen his minutes decrease in a big way since the return of Kwame Brown. Brown is nobody's idea of an answer at this point in his career, which seems to say a lot about how the Sixers view Hawes. The fact that he is shooting just 28.6 percent from the field over the last three games probably is not helping his cause, either. Hawes should be able to prove to the Sixers that he is a better option than Brown before long; if not, all hope may be lost. For now, his role makes it difficult to rely on him this week.

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Player News
Magic guard Victor Oladipo looking iffy for season opener
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:07 am ET) It appears doubtful Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who is recovering from a sprained MCL, will be ready in time for the season opener Oct. 28 against the Pelicans, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Oladipo did attempt a few jumpers and made a few dunks at the outset of practice Monday.

"It feels a lot better," Oladipo said. "It's a day-by-day process. A sprained MCL is kind of like a scab. You've just got to let it heal. That's pretty much what I'm doing."


Amar'e Stoudemire enthusiastic as new season approaches
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:56 am ET) Only time will tell how many games Knicks veteran forward Amar'e Stoudemire will play and how much he will be able to contribute in 2014-15. However, Stoudemire said he feels healthy entering the season and clearly he isn't short on enthusiasm.

"My joy is there. My love of the game is there," the 32-year-old Stoudemire said, per the New York Post. "I feel like I’m 19 again as far as how much I love to play the game of basketball. I feel youthful. To have that type of feeling again as I had my rookie year, to want to play and just want to be out there and get better as a player is pretty encouraging."

Stoudemire received his first start of the preseason Monday against the Bucks. He had 14 points and six rebounds in close to 24 minutes.

"I thought Amar’e was active, he did some good things. He was a good presence four us," said coach Derek Fisher, who had claimed Stoudemire at center was "something we’ve been thinking about" because of "his versatility at that position."


Thunder star Kevin Durant 'not going to rush' back from injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:46 am ET) Thunder forward Kevin Durant told reporters Tuesday he has "been antsy" since undergoing foot surgery last week. However, Durant cautioned that he has no intentions of returning sooner than the 6-8-week timeframe he was given.

"Nah, I'm not going to rush it all. That's one thing I'm not going to do," Durant said, per ESPN.

Durant is the NBA's reigning MVP after averaging a career-best 32.0 points per game in 2013-14. He also averaged a career-best 5.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game last season.


Thunder's Anthony Morrow adjusting to small-forward role
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:34 am ET) Anthony Morrow signed with the Thunder in the offseason expecting to come off the bench as a backup shooting guard. However, he has been coach Scott Brooks' choice recently to fill the starting small-forward role with star Kevin Durant sidelined due to a foot injury.

"That’s something I’ve had to do in the past, gotten used to it," Morrow said of sliding over to the small forward, per The Oklahoman. "Guarding guys like Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette (at Golden State), I learned a lot from them early on. So a lot of times I’d be playing small forward my first couple years in the league."

Morrow said he has no preference as to starting or coming off the bench.

"Your physical preparation is the same," Morrow said. "But mentally, I’m the type of guy who wants to get off to a good start. So knowing if I don’t get off to a good start, I got the rest of the game to pick it up (helps). That’s something I had to (adjust to) over the years as I’ve started to come off the bench more."


Thunder have 'very realistic' expectations for Andre Roberson
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:25 am ET) Thunder guard Andre Roberson is tasked with the responsibility of replacing Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup in 2014-15 after Sefolosha left for Atlanta in free agency. While Roberson is viewed to have similar defensive skills to Sefolosha, his offensive game is still a work in progress.

"Him and I have had many conversations on what I need from him on the offensive end. And they’re very realistic," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, per The Oklahoman. "I’m not throwing him out there to say, ‘On any given night I need you to hit 10 3s.’ That’s not the case. He just has to continue to compete on both ends of the floor and get better as the year goes on."

Roberson has appeared in all six preseason games, averaging 6.0 points on 48.3 percent shooting. He is averaging 27.5 minutes per game. Though, he has been hesitant to shoot from long range, as he has attempted only four 3-pointers.

"I got to stop hesitating and shoot it," Roberson admitted.


Stomach virus still has Nets veteran Kevin Garnett sidelined
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:06 am ET) Nets forward Kevin Garnett was sidelined again during Monday's preseason game against the 76ers due to a stomach virus. The illness is also expected to keep Garnett out of Wednesday's preseason finale against the Celtics, per the New York Post.

"I don’t want to get into his personal bathroom habits," coach Lionel Hollins said with a smile, "But he’s been sick … sick enough to the point where he’s not playing."

The Celtics open the season Oct. 29 against Boston. Garnett should have enough time to recover before the season opener.


Anthony Davis sprains right wrist
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis sprained his right wrist during Monday's game against the Wizards, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Hornets G Lance Stephenson a late scratch Monday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Hornets guard Lance Stephenson was a late scratch Monday night against the Hawks in preseason action because of more groin soreness, the Charlotte Observer reports. Stephenson returned from the injury Sunday, so it appears as if the team is taking a cautious approach with their newly-acquired shooting guard.

The Hornets will open the season Oct. 29 at home against Milwaukee.


Mavericks' Raymond Felton making progress from ankle issue
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters guard Raymond Felton is starting to make some progress in his recovery from a right ankle injury, according to the team's official website. Felton suffered the injury Oct. 10 and was given a 10-day timetable for recovery.

"He's doing much better. He's walking, and that's good," Carlisle said. "He's progressing every day."

Felton will not play Monday against the Grizzlies and will have games to return in the preseason. If he is unable to return, he'll be sidelined until Nov. 6 at Portland due to a four-game suspension.


Spurs C Tiago Splitter's status for opener becoming uncertain
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Spurs center Tiago Splitter's status for the regular season opener is starting to look cloudy, according to the San Antonio News-Express. Splitter will not play Monday against the Kings and will likely sit out the team's penultimate preseason game on Wednesday against Atlanta because of a strained right soleus.

The Spurs will open the season Oct. 28 against Dallas.


 
 
 
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