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Rotisserie specials for Week 18

by | Fantasy Writer
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The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and things were surprisingly quiet this season. While there were plenty of deals involving low-end players, none of the bigger names that were reportedly on the block ended up changing teams. One of the teams that decided to stand pat at this year's deadline was the Lakers. Los Angeles will try to make the postseason with its current roster intact and the team is finally starting to string some wins together. One of the reasons for this is the fact that coach Mike D'Antoni has finally narrowed his rotation. D'Antoni has only been using eight players over the past few weeks, including veteran Antawn Jamison.

Jamison has been in and out of the rotation for most of the season, but has finally settled into his current bench role. Jamison has been seeing a healthy dose of minutes over the past few weeks, resulting in the veteran's most productive stretch of the season. In fact, Jamison has scored in double figures in a season-best five straight games and is averaging 16 points and six rebounds over that stretch on 43 percent shooting. He is also shooting 44 percent from downtown and attempting 2.8 3-pointers over that span as he continues to see open looks from deep in the Lakers' free-flowing offense. While at age 36 Jamison is no longer the high-end option he was back in his earlier days, he is proving he can still be a useful option on Fantasy teams when seeing consistent minutes. With the defensively challenged Nuggets and Timberwolves on the slate this week, owners are highly encouraged to leave Jamison active in the upcoming scoring period.

Find a place for 'em

Isaiah Thomas, G, Kings (@MIA, @ORL, @SA, CHA): The Kings seem to making news for all the wrong reasons lately as the team's possible move to Seattle and trade of No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson have made national headlines. However, the one story nobody seems to be talking about is the improved play of Thomas. The second-year guard has been on quite a run of late as he has scored in double figures in each of his last eight games and is averaging 19.5 points over that span on 48 percent shooting from the field. Thomas has been especially hot from 3-point land during his run as he has knocked down eight treys over his last four games and is making 45 percent of his shots from behind the arc. While the Kings look to have some tough matchups on tap this week, Thomas has thrived against Sacramento's next four opponents. In fact, he posted a 15-7-5 stat line in his lone meeting against the Bobcats this season, and torched the Heat for a career-best 34 points back in January. Thomas also went for 17 points when he faced the Magic back in December and is averaging 16.2 points and 4.8 assists in five career games -- four starts -- against the Spurs. Fantasy owners should continue to ride Thomas' hot hand this week.(owned in 78 percent of leagues)

Danny Green, G, Spurs (PHO, SAC, DET): The Spurs keep racking up the wins and while Tony Parker and Tim Duncan garner most of the attention, Green's recent play is a big reason for the team's success. The 25-year-old has caught fire in recent weeks as he entered Sunday's matchup against the Suns averaging 16.7 points over his last 10 games. He is shooting 54 percent from the field during his recent run and is also giving owners 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.9 steals while seeing more than 31 minutes per game (31.5). However, Green's biggest asset to Fantasy owners is his ability to knock down 3-pointers and that is exactly what he has been doing. The second-year guard has made at least two treys in nine of his last 10 games and is shooting a whopping 54 percent from behind the arc over that span. Green should be able to keep things rolling in Week 18 as he looks to have some favorable matchups on tap. The Suns are allowing opponents to shoot 39 percent from downtown on the year -- which ranks dead last -- while the Trail Blazers rank near the bottom of the pack in points allowed (99.9) and opponent field-goal percentage (46.7). Green also knocked down seven 3-pointers during his lone meeting against the Pistons earlier in the month so owners looking for help at guard this week should consider rolling with the sharp-shooter while he is red-hot.(owned in 63 percent of leagues)

Maurice Harkless, F, Magic (@PHI, SAC, HOU, MEM): The Magic were one of the more active teams at the trade deadline as Orlando shipped out a ton of rotation players, including J.J. Redick. That means some of Orlando's younger players will get a chance to see increased minutes moving forward as the Magic evaluate its roster for the future. Harkless has already been asked to take on a larger role as the rookie was pressed back into the starting lineup once Glen Davis went down for the year. He has more than responded to his increased role, averaging 11.5 points and 6.4 rebounds over his last 13 games as a starter. However, he has been especially hot of late as he is putting 16.8 points and seven rebounds during his last four games and is shooting 49 percent from the field over that span. With Redick now gone, Harkless will be asked to continue to shoulder an increased scoring load and based on some of his Week 18 matchups, he should be able to maintain his productive ways. The Rockets and Kings are both ranked last and next-to-last in scoring defense while the 76ers are surrendering an average of 101.6 points over their last five games. Harkless also finished with 19 points and nine rebounds against the Grizzlies in Week 17 (Feb. 18-24) and we see no reason why he can't do it again. Consider rolling with the 19-year-old in the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 52 percent of leagues)

Derrick Williams, F, T'Wolves (@PHO, @LAL, @POR): While the losses continue to mount up in Minnesota, the recent play of Williams has been one of the few bright spots for the Timberwolves. The 21-year-old continues to earn starts at power forward for coach Rick Adelman as he has scored in double figures in six of his past eight contests and is averaging a healthy 16.1 points and 8.8 rebounds over that span. He is shooting 44 percent from the field during his recent hot streak and looks to have some favorable matchups on the docket this week as well. The Trail Blazers and Suns both rank near the bottom of the pack in points allowed and opposition field-goal percentage, while the Lakers are also surrendering more than 100 points per game. Williams dropped in 15 points and nine rebounds in his lone contest against Los Angeles earlier in the year and has averaged more than 20-plus Fantasy points in each of the last three scoring periods. Fantasy owners looking for help at the forward position should continue to roll with Williams this week. (owned in 65 percent of leagues)

Andray Blatche, C, Nets (@NO, DAL, @CHI): After completely falling off the Fantasy map for a few weeks, it looks like Blatche is slowly but surely starting to work his way back into form. The 26-year-old has managed to score in double figures in three of his last four contests and is putting up a respectable 10 points and 6.5 rebounds over that span on 55 percent shooting from the field. He is also seeing 19 minutes per game during his mini run as coach P.J. Carlisemo continues to dish out his minutes based on matchups and game flow. The Nets will likely lean on the veteran this week as the Brooklyn will be facing some bigger teams. While the Mavericks play with a small lineup most of the time, the Hornets have a ton of big bodies on their front line as do the Bulls. Blacthe has averaged 10 points and 4.5 rebounds in his two previous meeting against Chicago this season and has averaged 19.4 minutes in those meetings. We would expect Blatche to at least be able to match that this week, which makes him a viable low-end option at the extremely thin center position.(owned in 38 percent of leagues)

Put 'em on your bench

Jerryd Bayless, G, Memphis (DAL, @MIA, @ORL): After spending much of the season as a Fantasy afterthought, Bayless turned a few heads and gained new owners after his torrid nine-game stretch that started at the end of January and lasted into early February. He averaged 16.4 points and 4.6 assists on 53 percent shooting from the field over that span, but has since fallen back down to Earth. The 24-year-old made a loud dud when he landed as he is averaging just six points over his last six games and was even shutout in his last contest. Bayless is shooting just 35 percent from the field during his slide but has still managed to put up 3.7 assists. Bayless is clearly trending downward at the moment and things won't get any easier this week with the stingy Heat and Mavericks on the schedule. Despite the promise of seeing 20-plus minutes over the next week, owners are best to look at other options at the guard spot.(owned in 52 percent of leagues)

Kendall Marshall, G, Suns (MIN, @SA, ATL): After spending much of the first four-plus months of his NBA career on the bench or in the D-League, the Suns have finally decided to give Marshall a look. The team traded backup point guard Sebastian Telfair to the Raptors last week to open up some minutes for the rookie from the University of North Carolina. While his ownership has already started -- and will continue -- to grow moving forward, owners would be best to exercise some patience for the time being. Marshall is still being eased into the rotation and has scored a combined nine points in his four games since the All-Star break. He has averaged 11 minutes over that span, but we would expect his playing time and production to be on the rise in the coming weeks. However, with the playoffs a mere six weeks away in most leagues, owners are best to take a wait-and-see approach with Marshall for the time being. We strongly recommend leaving Marshall reserved heading into Week 18.(owned in five percent of leagues)

Kyle Singler, F, Pistons (ATL, @WAS, @NO, @SA): The Pistons have really struggled coming out of the All-Star break and unfortunately for Fantasy owners, so has Singler. The rookie has scored a combined 19 points on 34 percent shooting from the field since play resumed last week, which isn't going to help many owners out this time of year. We have seen this from Singler before this season as he has gone through the typical ups and downs that most first-year players in the association go through. At his best, Singler can be considered a decent source for points, rebounds and even 3-pointers as evidenced back in January. However, his inconsistent production has made him more of a liability rather than an asset of late -- especially for owners in category-based formats. While the Pistons are slated to play four times this week, Singler's recent cold spell makes him an extremely risky start. Owners should consider looking at other options in Week 18.(owned in 26 percent of leagues)

Brandon Bass, F, Celtics (@UTA, GS): Injuries have helped Bass reclaim a starting role for the Celtics, but the 27-year-old has not been able to take advantage of his increased playing time. In fact, Bass has only managed to score in double figures in two of his last 10 games entering Sunday's tilt at Portland and he is averaging a very pedestrian 7.8 points and 5.9 rebounds over that span. While those numbers aren't terrible, most expected a bit more from Bass. However, the days of him consistently scoring in double figures seems to be long gone -- even on Boston's depleted roster. While Bass will still post a stat line or two that will turn a few heads, his overall production has been that of merely a low-end option. Boston is one of two teams scheduled to play only twice in the upcoming scoring period, which doesn't give owners a ton of room for error. Fantasy owners should leave Bass reserved heading into the upcoming scoring period. (owned in 27 percent of leagues)

Chris Kaman, C, Mavericks(MIL, @MEM, @BKN, @HOU): After missing nearly three weeks with a concussion, Kaman was finally able to get back on the court during Dallas' latest loss to the Lakers. While that should be a welcome sight for the 50 percent of Fantasy owners in CBSSports.com standard formats who own the 7-footer, we would not recommend getting him active this week. Kaman only logged eight minutes during his first game back on the court and that trend is likely to continue moving forward as the Mavericks will look to ease the 30-year-old back into action. Fantasy owners should also keep in mind that Kaman's playing time was starting to dwindle prior to his injury as coach Rick Carlisle was giving rookie Bernard James more run at the five. In fact, Kaman lost his starting job to James just two games prior to his concussion and was averaging just 11.6 minutes in a reserve role. Wait until Kaman proves to be healthy and productive before getting him active again -- especially in this scoring period. (owned in 50 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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