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Rotisserie specials for Week 15

by | Fantasy Writer
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The Celtics' luck went from bad to worse last week as rookie forward Jared Sullinger will miss the rest of the season after undergoing lumbar disc surgery. This comes just days after Rajon Rondo was ruled out for the remainder of the year with a torn ACL. While the loss of Sullinger does not have as much Fantasy impact as Rondo, it still leaves a gaping hole at power forward. The first-year forward's recent strong play had been taking minutes away from Brandon Bass and he had just cracked the starting lineup two games prior to his injury.

Coach Doc Rivers and the 39 percent of Fantasy owners who owned Sullinger will now have to try and replace the 7.8 points and 7.1 rebounds the rookie was putting up over his last 10 games heading into Fantasy Week 15 (Feb. 4-10) and beyond. Bass is expected to resume his spot as the team's starting power forward, but Boston did recall Fab Melo from the D-League and veteran Chris Wilcox is also expected to see a larger role moving forward. However, Bass should see the biggest boost in playing time -- at least in the short term.

Bass put up career numbers during his first season in Boston, but he has been unable to duplicate that success thus far this year. The 27-year-old has been in and out of the starting lineup over the past few weeks and is averaging just 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds over his first 15 games in January. He was only seeing around 25 minutes per game over that stretch as his recent struggles combined with the emergence of Sullinger led to his minutes being reduced. Still, Bass has another chance to show what he can do as a starter this week against three of the bottom-tier defenses in the league. All three of the Celtics' upcoming opponents are surrendering more than 100 points per game, while Toronto and Los Angeles rank near the bottom of the pack in terms of points in the paint. While Bass will likely be on a short leash with Wilcox and Melo waiting in the wings, he looks to be the best option out of the three for the upcoming scoring period. Despite his recent struggles, Bass has proved to be a decent source for points, rebounds and both field-goal and free-throw percentages when he is on, so owners scrambling for a last-second replacement should consider him this week.

Find a place for 'em

J.J. Barea, G, Timberwolves (POR, SA, NY, @MEM): Minnesota has been absolutely decimated by injuries, which has led to a ton of lineup changes and inconsistent production from the team across the board. However, Barea has been one of the few steadying forces on the roster over the past few weeks. With Alexey Shved and Ricky Rubio still nursing injuries, Barea has had time at both guard spots and giving the T'Wolves and Fantasy owners a nice lift off the bench. The 28-year-old has scored in double figures in each of his last six games and is averaging 13.7 points on 45 percent shooting from the field to go along with 5.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds over that span. He also is giving owners 1.8 made 3-pointers during his hot streak while seeing around 25 minutes per game. Still, Barea's streaky shooting damages his value in Rotisserie formats as his 41 percent field-goal percentage on the year ranks 47th at his position. Despite his inconsistent shooting numbers, two of his four upcoming opponents rank near the bottom of the pack in opposition field-goal percentage and Barea posted a 15-6-2 stat line in his lone meeting against the Spurs earlier in the season. Fantasy owners should consider rolling with Barea this week. (owned in 35 percent of leagues)

Nick Young, G, 76ers (ORL, IND, CHA): Young has been one of the more inconsistent options in Fantasy this season as there seems to be no middle ground with the 27-year-old. He always seems to be either red hot or ice cold, which makes it difficult to start him for long stretches of time. However, a knee injury to Jason Richardson has given the player -- who is lovingly known as Swaggy P -- a chance to see some extra minutes. Young has more than taken advantage of his extra playing time, scoring in double figures in seven of his last eight games while averaging 15.1 points over that span. He's also been good for two treys during his latest hot streak and is seeing more than 30 minutes per game as he has started each of Philadelphia's last five contests. There has still been no official timetable announced for Richardson's return, which means Young should continue to see starter minutes in the upcoming scoring period. While he usually can't be counted on for anything other than scoring and 3-pointers, Fantasy owners should continue to ride his hot hand in Week 15. (owned in 35 percent of leagues)

Jimmy Butler, F, Bulls(@IND, @DEN, @UTA): After averaging just 17 minutes per game over the first 37 contests of the season, an injury to Luol Deng has allowed Butler to see some extended minutes for the Bulls. The rookie has taken advantage of his extended playing time, scoring in double figures in seven of his last eight games and averaging 15.1 points on 53 percent shooting from the field to go along with 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals. Even with Deng now back, Butler's strong showing in his absence seems to have earned him an increased role in coach Tom Thibodeau's rotation as he has logged 30-plus minutes in the last four games since Deng's return to the lineup. The Bulls have been high on Butler for quite some time, but his limited role earlier in the season didn't give him the minutes necessary to become a consistent producer. However, that is not the case anymore as Butler is proving to be a nice source for points, rebounds, field-goal and free-throw percentage as well as steals. While the Bulls face some of the stingier defensive teams in the league during the upcoming scoring period, owners looking for low-end help at the forward position should consider rolling with Butler this week. (owned in 46 percent of leagues)

Michael Beasley, F, Suns(@MEM, @NO, @OKC, OKC): They say everyone deserves a second chance and after essentially being banished from the rotation a few weeks back, Beasley is getting exactly that. Interim coach Lindsey Hunter has put Beasley back into the rotation and the 24-year-old is finally starting to take advantage of his recent increase in playing time. After averaging just 13.5 minutes during the last 10 games of coach Alvin Gentry's tenure, Beasley has logged 20-plus minutes in each of his first five games under Hunter and is averaging 18.2 points on 53 percent shooting from the field over that span. The former No. 2 overall pick has even talked about playing looser under Hunter as Gentry was quick to get him off the floor after he would take questionable shots. The problem for Beasley has never been a lack of talent. His issues stem from the mental aspects of the game. However, he has always had high-end potential and now is getting a second chance to show what he can do for Phoenix. While the Suns don't necessarily have the most favorable matchups on tap, owners who have had Beasley wasting away on their bench should feel free to get him active now that he is playing and producing again. (owned in 75 percent of leagues)

DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers (@WAS, @ORL, @MIA, @NY): After going through a bit of an offensive lull a few weeks ago, Jordan has gotten himself back on track over the past few games. The 7-footer is averaging 10.4 points on 69 percent shooting from the field over his last five contests to go along with seven rebounds and a block. Jordan has always been considered a decent source for rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage, but his poor free-throw shooting and inconsistent offensive output have once again limited his value. However, he looks to have some favorable matchups during the upcoming scoring period, which hopefully will help him keep his scoring up. While the Wizards have been very good at defending the paint this season, the Heat and Knicks have struggled in that area in recent weeks, while the Raptors rank near the bottom of the pack in terms of opposition field-goal percentage, points allowed and points allowed in the paint. Fantasy owners should take advantage of the soft schedule and get Jordan active in Week 15. (owned in 72 percent of leagues)

Put 'em on your bench

Marcus Thornton, G, Kings(@UTA, UTA, HOU): Thornton continues to disappoint as he has not looked like the same player since returning from an ankle injury last month. In fact, Thornton has scored in double figures in just four of the 13 games in which he has been back in the lineup, and he is averaging just 8.2 points over that stretch on 39 percent shooting from the field. His scoring average on the year has dropped nearly two whole points during his cold streak and his minutes have been on the steady decline as coach Keith Smart has been forced to seek more productive options. Thornton's two main assets to Fantasy owners over the years have been his ability to rack up the points and 3-pointers, but Fantasy owners should continue to leave him on the bench heading into Week 15 as he is not contributing much in either category right now. (owned in 57 percent of leagues)

Iman Shumpert, G, Knicks (DET, @WAS, @MIN, LAC): We listed Shumpert as a sit a few weeks back when he first returned from his injury as he wasn't ready to contribute right away. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, that trend has continued despite the second-year guard's minute restrictions now being a thing of the past. While he continues to play great defense, the 22-year-old has scored in double figures in just one of the seven games in which he has been back on the court and he is averaging just 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds over that span. He's also giving owners 1.2 steals per contest, but is shooting just 34 percent from the field while seeing 20 minutes per game. With the Knicks having so much offensive fire power on their roster, Shumpert isn't being asked to score as much as he was last season, and the result is him posting fairly pedestrian stat lines. While we expect to see some improvement in his offensive output in the coming weeks, Fantasy owners should continue to seek out a more productive option at the guard position for Week 15.(owned in 27 percent of leagues)

C.J. Miles, F, Cavaliers(CHA, ORL, DEN): Miles became the flavor of the month in Cleveland a few weeks back as an injury to Dion Waiters gave him a chance to start. He took off once the lineup move was made, but an ankle injury sidelined him for a few games and he is once again coming off the bench. There has been no word from coach Byron Scott on whether or not Miles will continue to come off the bench or regain his starting job, which would make all the difference in the world for Fantasy owners. The 25-year-old is averaging 8.9 points and 2.3 rebounds as a reserve compared to 15.2 points and 3.2 rebounds as a starter. Without the guarantee of getting back in the starting lineup, owners may want to leave Miles reserved for at least one more scoring period.(owned in 18 percent of leagues)

Jason Maxiell, F, Pistons(@NY, BKN, SA, @MIL): Maxiell has been a pleasant surprise in the Fantasy world thus far as he averaged a very productive 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks on 48 percent shooting from the field over his first 37 games. However, all good things come to an end, and based on his recent stat lines, things have caught up to Maxiell. The 29-year-old has scored in double figures in just one of his last nine games and is averaging just 4.8 points and 5.3 rebounds over that stretch. He also has seen his minutes drop of late as the emergence of Andre Drummond has allowed coach Lawrence Frank to play the 7-footer alongside Greg Monroe at the expense of Maxiell. Fantasy owners should seek a more productive option at the forward position heading into Week 15.(owned in 22 percent of leagues)

Kevin Seraphin, C, Wizards( LAC, NY, BKN): While the Wizards are playing some of their best basketball of the year, Seraphin is one of the few players on Washington's squad who has seen his numbers take a dip in recent weeks. The 23-year-old has just two games with double-figure scoring under his belt in his last eight and is averaging 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds over that span. He also has seen his playing time decrease during his downward trend as Emeka Okafor and Nene are both healthy and finally starting to produce as expected. Seraphin does a lot of scoring in the paint for the Wizards, which might make it tough for him to get back on track during the upcoming scoring period -- the Knicks and Clippers have been very good at defending near the rim thus far. Despite Seraphin posting a double-double in his lone meeting against New York earlier in the season, his declining production makes him a prime sit candidate this week.(owned in 33 percent of leagues)

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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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