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Week 7 Start 'Em and Sit 'Em

Fantasy Writer
  •  

I am not a superstitious man by nature, but even I am wondering just what NBA fans did to deserve the rash of injuries that have come to define this season. Another week, another player went down with a big injury, as Pelicans forward Anthony Davis suffered a fractured hand.

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This is an especially big blow, as Davis has been one of the league's elite Fantasy options this season while emerging as a true star. The Pelicans should be able to weather the storm of his loss on offense, but this is yet another blow for Fantasy owners. There simply isn't a replacement out there on waivers who can be expected to step up in Davis' absence, as Ryan Anderson is almost assuredly owned and started in any league you are in.

Injuries often open up new opportunities for unheralded players to blossom, but the Pelican's situation shows that isn't always the case. While Fantasy owners who lost Davis or Tyreke Evans (ankle) might hope for a replacement to step up, the best bets in New Orleans are imperfect at best; either Anthony Morrow or Al-Farouq Aminu will see a bump in playing time.

At least we finally have some good concrete news regarding injuries, as Kobe Bryant announced his return over the weekend in typically over-the-top fashion; a two-minute video via his Facebook page featuring his iconic Lakers '24' jersey surviving some of the wackiest weather the Los Angeles metropolitan area has ever experienced.

By the time you read this, Kobe likely will have played his first game of the season, as his debut is set for Sunday against the Raptors. His return marks the completion of a somewhat miraculous recovery from a ruptured Achilles. Chances are, you'll just be placing Kobe into a lineup slot for Week 7 (Dec. 9-15) once occupied by Deron Williams, Derrick Rose or Bradley Beal.

It's just been that kind of season.

(All stats up to date through Nov. 22 games)

Atlanta Hawks

Kyle Korver returned from a brief absence of his own this week, and picked up right where he left off, scoring in double figures both nights and contributing eight 3-pointers over the two games. At this point, he is an absolute must-start option in any category-based Fantasy leagues; he is one of just three players in NBA history (joined by Ryan Anderson and Wesley Matthews this season) to make at least 2.5 3-pointers per game while making at least half of his attempts. DeMarre Carroll is also starting to look like a possible starter, averaging 11.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game over the last five. Still, against this type of schedule, I wouldn't have him active in most Fantasy formats.

Schedule:Schedule: OKC, WAS, @NY
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 27th
10-team starters: Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Cartier Martin, Lou Williams, DeMarre Carroll

Boston Celtics

Guards we like for Week 7
Player Own/Start
1. Kyle Korver, Hawks 73/26
2. Aaron Brooks, Rockets 18/10
3. Anthony Morrow, Pelicans 1/0
4. Ben McLemore, Kings 56/19
5. Andre Miller, Nuggets 18/6
6. Nate Robinson, Nuggets 28/10
7. Steve Blake, Lakers 83/48
8. Jamal Crawford, Clippers 84/55
9. Brandon Knight, Bucks 85/55
10. Tony Wroten, 76ers 48/21

Who scored 18 points for the Celtics Friday night? Kris Humphries? No, I don't believe that. This team, like a lot of struggling offenses, tends to struggle finding consistent rotations on a game-to-game basis, so every once in a while, you'll end up having someone like Kris Humphries get hot and put up solid numbers. I am not convinced that is something he can sustain, as this was the first double-digit scoring effort of his season. The Celtics get to face some of the league's worst defenses this week, and that should work out nicely for Jordan Crawford, who continues his inexplicably solid play. He is averaging nearly 30 Fantasy points per game over the last 10 games, and should be started in the majority of Fantasy formats at this point.

Schedule: @BKN, LAC, NY
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 13th
10-team starters: Jordan Crawford, Jeff Green
12-to-14-team starters: Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger
Deep-league fliers: Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace

Brooklyn Nets

Deron Williams has told reporters he is targeting a Tuesday return from his lingering ankle injury, and that should be good news. Of course, he also left his last two appearances very early after tweaking the ankle, so he still carries considerable risk moving forward. I would expect the Nets to limit his minutes, at least at first, so he should not be considered a must-start Fantasy option at this point. Joe Johnson appears to be taking advantage of Paul Pierce's absence, and should probably be active in all Fantasy formats right now.

Schedule: BOS, LAC, @DET
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 19th
10-team starters: Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson
12-to-14-team starters: Deron Williams,
Deep-league fliers: Andray Blatche, Kevin Garnett, Shaun Livingston

Charlotte Bobcats

With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out for at least a month with a hand injury, I am very interested to see how Jeff Taylor fits in the starting lineup. He's a better shooter than MKG, and probably a better one than he has shown in his NBA career thus far; he shot 42.3 percent from deep as a senior at Vanderbilt, but is down just at just 32.2 percent in one-plus NBA season. He hasn't shown much yet this season, but he threw up 20 points and eight rebounds in his first start, I certainly don't expect him to lead the team in scoring every night, but I would certainly take a chance on Taylor this week, with four games and some solid matchups on the way.

Schedule: GS, ORL, @IND, LAL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 7th
10-team starters: Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson
12-to-14-team starters: Gerald Henderson, Josh McRoberts, Jeff Taylor
Deep-league fliers: Ramon Sessions, Bismack Biyombo

Chicago Bulls

Luol Deng sat out Saturday's game with a calf injury, but there isn't much reason to think it will slow him down. That's a good thing, because he's been everything for the Bulls since Derrick Rose went down. He has scored 20-plus points in a career-high six straight games, and is averaging 26.2 points, 6.0 assists 5.8 rebounds per game. He is a must-start Fantasy option at this point, and probably the only one on this team's roster right now. I will tentatively bump Taj Gibson up a tier after he scored at least 18 points in four straight games, an unprecedented scoring outburst for him. I'm not convinced he can keep this up, but it is hard to ignore that kind of play, especially with four games on the schedule.

Schedule: MIL, @NY, @MIL, TOR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 23rd
10-team starters: Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng
12-to-14-team starters: Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson
Deep-league fliers: Mike Dunleavy

Cleveland Cavaliers

After getting benched in the second half Friday, Kyrie Irving has probably hit rock bottom, right? It almost literally cannot get worse than 0 for 9 with no points in 20 minutes. This team just doesn't have anyone that can be relief on a day-to-day basis, even while acknowledging, that Andrew Bynum has scored 20 points in two of the last three games, with a 14-point performance sandwiched in. I don't want to recommend Bynum, but his matchups for Week 7 might be too enticing to turn down. His size alone might be enough to overpower Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh, and the Magic could be without Nikola Vucevic, who is dealing with an ankle injury that cost him Friday's game. I'm not impressed with what I've seen from Bynum, but he could be worth starting this week.

Schedule: NY, @ORL, @MIA
Strength-of-schedule ranking:22nd
10-team starters: Kyrie Irving
12-to-14-team starters: Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Bynum
Deep-league fliers: Jarrett Jack, C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, Earl Clark

Dallas Mavericks

I keep waiting for things to change for this team, but they've been remarkably consistent this season. There is an established hierarchy here, with two high-usage players dominating the ball on offense. Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis remain fantastic Fantasy options, but everyone else is a borderline starter in most cases. Week 7 presents mostly middle-of-the-road opportunities, so expect more of the same from this squad.

Schedule: @SAC, @GS, MIL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 18th
10-team starters: Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis
12-to-14-team starters: Jose Calderon, Shawn Marion
Deep-league fliers: Vince Carter, Samuel Dalembert, DeJuan Blair, Jae Crowder

Denver Nuggets

It is so hard to get a read on what this team wants to do with its frontcourt. If you have JJ Hickson, Kenneth Faried or Timofey Mozgov, it is pretty much impossible to know what to expect on a given night. At this point, Ty Lawson is really the only truly reliable Nugget on a nightly basis, and he is dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out Saturday. If he is forced to miss much time beyond that, Andre Miller and Nate Robinson would receive a bump, but I'm not sure I'd want to rely on anyone here with Lawson out and only decent matchups on the way.

Schedule: @WAS, UTA, NO
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 14th
10-team starters: Ty Lawson
12-to-14-team starters: Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, JJ Hickson
Deep-league fliers: Timofey Mozgov, Andre Miller, Randy Foye, Nate Robinson

Detroit Pistons

Josh Smith's owners have a real dilemma on their hands. He was drafted too high to really sell low on him, because you won't get proper value back, and he's still too productive to outright consider benching him. So, you just have to deal with his frustrating nightly performance as a starter, and hope he doesn't kill you too much with one of his off nights. Luckily, this should be a good week for him to provide value, as the Pistons face a slew of poor defenses in their four games. While acknowledging that Smith has and likely will continue to be a massive disappointment this season, he has to be active this week.

Schedule: MIN, @NO, BKN, POR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 1st
10-team starters: Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Brandon Jennings
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Rodney Stuckey, Kyle Singler

Golden State Warriors

I'm pretty worried about what is going to happen to Harrison Barnes once Andre Iguodala comes back, and that could impact him as soon as this week. Barnes could remain worth starting even with Iguodala back, but I'm not entirely convinced; he doesn't do enough beyond scoring to really think he can contribute as a Fantasy starter if he's playing consistently less than 30 minutes per game. It will be something to keep an eye on moving forward, but I wouldn't expect to be an issue in Week 7. The Warriors' schedule is too promising to think Barnes won't put up numbers this week.

Schedule: @CHA, DAL, HOU, @PHO
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 9th
10-team starters: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Andrew Bogut

Houston Rockets

Aaron Brooks has stepped up in Jeremy Lin's absence, but his production has been so inconsistent, you can't consider him much more than a low-end option at this point. Given that Patrick Beverley hasn't exactly lived up to expectations this season, this team is pretty easy to figure out right now. The only question for them in Week 7 is Chandler Parsons' back, which cost him two games this week and will likely be a lingering issue for some time. He was clearly bothered Friday, scoring just eight points. with only three games on the schedule, he might be a risky start. In a shallow league, I might even consider sitting Parsons for a healthier option.

Schedule: @POR, @GS, @SAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 17th
10-team starters: James Harden, Dwight Howard, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin
12-to-14-team starters: Patrick Beverley, Terrence Jones
Deep-league fliers: Aaron Brooks, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi

Indiana Pacers

With just two games on the slate, both against top-10 defenses, this is a particularly difficult group to judge. I am inclined to just say start Paul George and bench the rest, but Roy Hibbert has probably earned the right to be active even with just two games. Beyond that, Lance Stephenson, George Hill and David West are too prone to lapses to really be worth the risk, and the bench is barren. Look elsewhere.

Schedule: MIA, CHA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 30th
10-team starters: Paul George, Roy Hibbert
12-to-14-team starters: George Hill, David West, Lance Stephenson
Deep-league fliers: Luis Scola, C.J. Watson

Los Angeles Clippers

So far, J.J. Redick's absence has been mostly made up for by Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison increasing their scoring off the bench. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as Willie Green simply isn't good enough to provide much Fantasy value, even as a starter. Of these players mentioned, Crawford is the only one I could even consider starting this week, even against a solid schedule. The rest have to show me more than a few good games before I trust them.

Schedule: @PHI, @BOS, @BKN, @WAS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 5th
10-team starters: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan,
12-to-14-team starters: Jamal Crawford
Deep-league fliers: Jared Dudley

Los Angeles Lakers

I really wish I was writing this after getting to watch how the offense works with Kobe Bryant in it, because he could throw a wrench into everything. That's not a knock on Kobe; he's just such a powerful force, everything seems to gravitate towards him. This team has thrived (relatively speaking) by spreading the ball around and running, but Bryant has a tendency to slow the offense down, brilliant as he is. I would guess there won't be a league in the world which doesn't have Kobe in a starting lineup this week, even without knowing how his body has reacted to such a devastating injury. I am most interested in seeing how Steve Blake's role changes with Bryant back; he has been tremendous running the point over the last few weeks. For now, everything is in flux in this team, but I'll still roll the dice on Pau Gasol, Blake and Bryant.

Schedule: PHO, @OKC, @CHA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 28th
10-team starters: Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Jodie Meeks, Jordan Hill, Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson

Memphis Grizzlies

Kosta Koufos has been putting up solid numbers recently, and is probably worth starting as a low-end option at center right now. This is a pretty barren roster beyond that, and I wouldn't feel comfortable starting anyone beyond the top two, even with a week full of solid matchups. Ed Davis probably only has value when Zach Randolph is out, and nobody else has proven reliable at this point. Marc Gasol's loss shifted things in a big way for this roster.

Schedule: ORL, OKC, @NO, MIN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 3rd
10-team starters: Mike Conley, Zach Randolph
12-to-14-team starters: Kosta Koufos
Deep-league fliers: Ed Davis, Tony Allen, Jerryd Bayless, Tayshaun Prince, Mike Miller, Quincy Pondexter

Miami Heat

Forwards we like for Week 7
Player Own/Start
1. Jeff Taylor, Bobcats 17/8
2. Taj Gibson, Bulls 65/36
3. Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers 96/61
4. John Henson, Bucks 84/63
5. Khris Middleton, Bucks 36/19
6. Markieff Morris, Suns 68/30
7. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs 97/69
8. Richard Jefferson, Jazz 10/6
9. Amir Johnson, Raptors 73/35
10. Trevor Ariza, Wizards 95/57

The Heat have reportedly begun shopping for guard depth, as they look for help when Dwyane Wade's balky knees force him to sit. The problem for Miami in recent games is that Wade's absence coincided with Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen and Norris Cole hitting cold streaks. Increasingly, this is looking like a three-man team with only one truly reliable Fantasy option, which is a bummer for anyone who invested in Chris Bosh and Wade. All three remain must-start options, but LeBron James is the only player here who isn't disappointing right now. It might not be crazy to suggest sitting Bosh or Wade, if you have a backup with four games on the schedule.

Schedule: @IND, CLE
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 29th
10-team starters: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
12-to-14-team starters: Mario Chalmers
Deep-league fliers: Ray Allen, Michael Beasley

Milwaukee Bucks

At some point, this team is going to realize that their best bet is to throw Giannis Antetokounmpo to the wolves and let him get on-the-job training. For now, he simply isn't a worthwhile Fantasy option. One young player who seems like he might be worth your time, however, is Khris Middleton, who scored at least 14 in three straight games, including a 29-point outburst Friday against the Wizards. The Bucks don't have the best matchups this week, but they do play four times, so I might be willing to throw Middleton into my starting lineup over someone like Nick Young or Jared Dudley.

Schedule: @CHI, SA, CHI, @DAL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 26th
10-team starters: O.J. Mayo
12-to-14-team starters: Ersan Ilyasova, Caron Butler
Deep-league fliers: Luke Ridnour, John Henson, Brandon Knight

Minnesota Timberwolves

You know the drill here. With four games on the schedule, everyone in the starting lineup except Corey Brewer should be in your starting lineup. Brewer is still averaging 13.1 points per game over the last 10 games, which keeps him firmly in the fringe-y starter category, especially since the game against Philadelphia is likely to turn into a track meet. As we noted in our podcast this week, the 76ers are Fantasy steroids for opposing teams, especially on the perimeter. That game alone makes me want to start Brewer this week.

Schedule: @DET, PHI, @SA, @MEM
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 15th
10-team starters: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin
12-to-14-team starters: Corey Brewer
Deep-league fliers: J.J. Barea

New Orleans Pelicans

Ryan Anderson simply isn't the same kind of all-around force Anthony Davis is, but he has assumed must-start Fantasy status at this point, especially with Davis out. He is averaging a career-high 21.7 points per game, and has improved his rebounding after a slow start. Tyreke Evans' ugly ankle injury Friday might keep him off the floor this week, and I might consider starting Anthony Morrow as a result, especially if I'm playing in a category-based format and I need some 3-pointers.

Schedule: DET, MEM, @DEN
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 20th
10-team starters: Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Tyreke Evans, Anthony Morrow, Jason Smith, Al-Farouq Aminu

New York Knicks

Seemingly overnight, the Knicks rediscovered their identity as an offense built around bombing away from three-point range. It probably helps that they got to face the hapless Nets and a poor Magic defense, but still, these are promising signs nonetheless. Still, this team is pretty crowded out on the wings, which is going to continue to limit guys like Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith's value even with the offense humming. Four games on the schedule should mitigate some of the nightly inconsistency much of the roster is prone to, but I'm still not feeling confident in anyone beyond Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani.

Schedule: @CLE, CHI, @BOS, ATL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 21st
10-team starters: Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani
12-to-14-team starters: J.R. Smith
Deep-league fliers: Raymond Felton, Metta World Peace, Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway

Oklahoma City Thunder

Reggie Jackson probably needs more minutes at this point. He's turning into exactly the kind of bench scorer the Thunder need, averaging 13.3 points and 3.0 assists per game while shooting 50.9 percent from the field. Wouldn't the Thunder better served taking the 13.1 minutes per game currently going to Derek Fisher (three 3-pointers on the season) and giving them to Jackson? I'd hope his role continues to increase, but for now, he still remains a mid-tier Fantasy option. I think he's in for a solid performance in Week 7 with a bunch of solid matchups on the way, so get him in your starting lineup if you don't love another one of your guard's matchup.

Schedule: @ATL, @MEM, LAL, ORL
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 6th
10-team starters: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Russell Westbrook
12-to-14-team starters: Reggie Jackson
Deep-league fliers: Jeremy Lamb, Thabo Sefolosha, Steven Adams, Kendrick Perkins

Orlando Magic

Glen Davis' return has not been quite as triumphant as some of his Fantasy owners might have hoped. Despite reportedly being in the best shape of his life, Davis has been unable to string together more than two or three solid games in a row, and has now scored in double figures in just four of his first eight games. I'm not buying Glen Davis stock right now. I will buy Victor Oladipo stock, however, as the rookie has figured out how to get into the lane and get to the free-throw line, which has jumpstarted his game. He is averaging 16.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game over the last 10, and is probably nearing must-start status, especially with four games on the schedule.

Schedule: @MEM, @CHA, CLE, @OKC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 25th
10-team starters: Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Victor Oladipo
12-to-14-team starters: Jameer Nelson
Deep-league fliers: Glen Davis, Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson

Philadelphia 76ers

Early Rookie of the Year leader Michael Carter-Williams has struggled with injuries over the last few weeks, and has now missed six of the team's first 21 games. He is currently in the hospital dealing with a skin infection that has led to soreness in his right knee, and it isn't really clear when he can return. He might miss just one game this week, he might have to sit out the entire game, and at this point we can’t say with any certainty which outcome is more likely. In what is likely to be a recurring theme throughout the season, Tony Wroten looks like a must-start option anytime Carter-Williams sits, averaging 19.8 points and 5.3 assists per game in six starts. With Carter-Williams very much in doubt for Week 7, go ahead and take a chance on Wroten's considerable upside as a starter.

Schedule: LAC, @MIN, @TOR, POR
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 8th
10-team starters: Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Michael Carter-Williams
12-to-14-team starters: Thaddeus Young
Deep-league fliers: Tony Wroten, James Anderson

Phoenix Suns

Well, of course, as soon as I endorse Gerald Green, his shot stops falling. The Suns are fast becoming one of the most frustrating teams in the leaguer for Fantasy purposes, with a revolving door of stretch-fours and wings vying for shots and playing time. Just when you think Channing Frye is worth your time, Markieff Morris swoops in with an 11-for-14 games to take his minutes. At some point, things should settle down, but we're 20 games into the season already, and Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe look like the only consistently reliable options here. Bledsoe and Dragic are must-start options moving forward, and everything else is negotiable with some solid matchups on the way.

Schedule: @LAL, SAC, GS
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 10th
10-team starters: Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: P.J. Tucker, Channing Frye, Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green, Markieff Morris

Portland Trail Blazers

An injury seems to be the only thing that could possibly disrupt this well-oiled offensive machine, which makes figuring them out on a weekly basis a pretty easy task. With one of the best matchups in the league on the way in Week 7, expect the usual guys to go off here, but the reserves remain very risky. Even Mo Williams, who has looked like a solid sparkplug off the bench at times, is averaging just 7.8 points per game over the last 5. On the plus side, LaMarcus Aldridge owners have to be loving the leap he has made this season averaging career-highs across the board despite playing fewer minutes than last season.

Schedule: @UTA, HOU, @PHI, @DET
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 2nd
10-team starters: Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews
12-to-14-team starters: Robin Lopez
Deep-league fliers: Dorell Wright, Mo Williams

Sacramento Kings

Centers we like for Week 7
Player Own/Start
1. Marcin Gortat, Wizards 99/64
2. Enes Kanter, Jazz 86/42
3. Andrew Bynum, Cavaliers 88/40
4. Robin Lopez, Trail Blazer 75/52

And now, for the weekly grumble about the Kings' point guard situation. Look, if either Greivis Vasquez or Isaiah Thomas took a firm grasp on the role and relegated the other to the bench, I would be hard pressed to find any room to complain. Both are fine players and enjoyable to watch, and more importantly, strong Fantasy options when given the roles. Unfortunately, they seem to be trading off every other week, with Thomas getting the bulk of the playing time and production this week. The pattern would suggest Vasquez gets his this week, but that's not really how it works; neither one can be a reliable option while the other remains on the team, it appears. Having said that, I would probably consider starting both in Week 7, however, given the Kings' promising schedule.

Schedule: DAL, UTA, @PHO, HOU
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 4th
10-team starters: DeMarcus Cousins
12-to-14-team starters: Isaiah Thomas, Greivis Vasquez
Deep-league fliers: Marcus Thornton, Patrick Patterson, Jason Thompson, Ben McLemore, John Salmons

San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan is back, as he emphatically announced with a 20-20 performance last week. He got off to a pretty slow start this season, but is not yet ready to give in to the relentless march of time. This is good news for Fantasy owners, who might have been panicking after his slow start to the season. Unfortunately, the rest of the roster is still very much failing to live up to expectations, with the obvious exception of the always-stellar Tony Parker. With four games on the schedule, Parker and Duncan are must-start options, but there isn't much to like beyond those two.

Schedule: @TOR, @MIL, MIN, @UTA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 11th
10-team starters: Tony Parker, Tim Duncan
12-to-14-team starters: Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter
Deep-league fliers: Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw

Toronto Raptors

Apparently, getting move to the bench was all the motivation Amir Johnson needed to get going, as he recorded 22 and 16 points off the bench Tuesday and Friday this week. Fantasy owners might be wondering at this point what Jonas Valanciunas has to do to get some of that Dwane Casey doghouse magic, as he continues to underwhelm. I'm joking, but a move to the second unit might not be a terrible outcome for Valanciunas, as there are more shot opportunities available when you aren't watching DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay jacking up 19 footers and hi-jacking the offense. The Raptors face one fantastic matchup sandwiched between a pair of top-5 defensive teams, so don't expect Valanciunas' breakout to come this week.

Schedule: SA, PHI, @CHI
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 24th
10-team starters: Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry
12-to-14-team starters: Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas
Deep-league fliers: Tyler Hansbrough

Utah Jazz

Trey Burke is still figuring out the intricacies of running an NBA offense, and has been unable to strike just the right balance between looking for his own shot while creating for others. That should come, but his current production is much lower than his eventual ceiling should be. For now, he remains more of a low-end starting option, along with Enes Kanter, who has been a big-time disappointment recently. Kanter scored 20 points Wednesday, but followed that up with just six points and two rebounds Friday, and is averaging just 9.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per game over the last 10 games. Assuming Derrick Favors' back injury does not linger, he and Gordon Hayward are the only must-start options here, even with four games on the schedule.

Schedule: POR, @SAC, @DEN, @SA
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 12th
10-team starters: Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors
12-to-14-team starters: Trey Burke, Enes Kanter
Deep-league fliers: Alec Burks, Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams

Washington Wizards

Fitting with the trend of the season, Martell Webster and Nene went down with injuries Friday. While Webster's ankle injury certainly looked worse, Nene's foot issues apparently have been bothering him over the last few weeks and could be a more long-term problem. For Week 7, however, this probably knocks both of down a spot, since we simply don't know how their injuries are going to limit them. It wouldn't be a surprise if both players sat out the entire week, making them both huge risks. Trevor Ariza should continue to take on a huge role, Marcin Gortat is more than capable of stepping up in the frontcourt. Beyond that, I'm not sure I trust anyone here, especially since rookie Otto Porter is learning on the job after making his NBA debut Friday. Depth remains a big concern for this Wizards' team, and I simply don't trust any of the reserves to step up if needed in Week 7.

Schedule: DEN, @ATL, LAC
Strength-of-schedule ranking: 16th
10-team starters: John Wall, Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat
12-to-14-team starters: None
Deep-league fliers: Martell Webster, Nene

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Player News
Jonas Jerebko will be part of Pistons' 10-man rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:24 pm ET) Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy indicated Wednesday forward Jonas Jerebko will be part of a 10-man rotation this season.

"We'll play at least nine on a nightly basis but probably 10 a lot, based on the way Jonas has played in September and in camp," Van Gundy said after Wednesday's morning practice, per the team's official website. "I've been really happy (with him). Nobody put more time in here this summer than Jonas did. Because of his play with the national team in years past, he's never really been able to devote as much time to his own development and his own game. He's gotten stronger. He's in tremendous shape.

"I think the key to Jonas -- and we talked about this early on -- is he has to get back to being the guy he was when he first came into the league, that hungry guy playing with incredible energy, trying to make his spot. What we've seen in September, he looks like a guy who is committed to being a high-energy guy."


D.J. Stephens added to Pelicans' training camp roster
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:34 pm ET) The Pelicans added guard/forward D.J. Stephens to the training camp roster, according to The Times-Picayune. Stephens appeared in three games for the Bucks in 2013-14, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds.

Josh McRoberts expects to be ready by Heat season opener
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:31 pm ET) Heat forward Josh McRoberts will not play in Wednesday's scrimmage due to a toe injury, according to the Sun-Sentinel. McRoberts, who had toe surgery in the offseason, said he has dealt with the issue for years.

"I've needed surgery for a couple years," McRoberts said. "We kind of figured out last year before the season started. I knew right when the playoffs ended, so it was something I had planned for."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat are just being cautious to avoid McRoberts aggravating the injury. However, McRoberts expects to be ready by the season opener in late October.

"I'm just kind of easing back into things," McRoberts said. "It takes time to recover from something like this. I'm just trying not to overdo it."


Heat forward Chris Andersen working on jump shot
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:24 pm ET) Heat forward Chris Andersen is spending extra time after practice during training camp to work on jumpers from the elbow and baseline, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Andersen is putting in the extra work because the Heat feel he can be used in more than just pick-and-roll situations.

"To step out and have that confidence to shoot the 15-footer, a lot of people haven't seen it or don't expect it," Andersen said. "This year, [coach Erik Spoelstra] says he's going to implement it into the game plan. I look forward to getting that opportunity."


Norris Cole looking to become a scoring threat for Heat
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:43 pm ET) Heat guard Norris Cole said he wants to become more of a scoring threat this season, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

"We had so many playmakers [last year] that there were times I deferred to let those guys make the plays," Cole said. "They were great at it…. But I also I saw [plays] where I could have been more aggressive to attack."

The Heat are expected to have more balanced scoring in 2014-15 since LeBron James is no longer on the roster.

"He's gotten better individually for sure," guard Dwayne Wade said. "He had a hell of a summer working out and getting prepared. Defensively, he's a monster. The next wave for him is how to be effective as a point guard and effective as a scoring guard. He's going to have to figure out the perfect way to do that. It's not always easy for guys but if he can figure it out he can be very dangerous for us."


Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge expected to attempt more 3-pointers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:35 pm ET) Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts expects power forward LaMarcus Aldridge to attempt more than the 15 3-pointers he took last season during the 2014-15 campaign, according to The Oregonian. However, it doesn't appear Aldridge will become a 3-point specialist any time soon.

"This summer, I worked on it a lot more, so we'll see this season," he said. "If it's there, I'll take it. I'm not going to force it at all."


DeMar DeRozan feels he can play 40 minutes a game for Raptors
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(1:16 pm ET) Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan said he spent a lot of time in the offseason working on his ball-handling skills in order to make him an even more dangerous player in 2014-15, according to the Toronto Sun.

"I kind of wanted to tighten up on a lot of things I didn’t feel comfortable with last year," DeRozan said. "I got a lot stronger, I really worked on my conditioning. … I could probably play a 40-minute game (now).

"I was trying to be more ambidextrous, somewhat, try to get more comfortable with my off hand, finishing with my off hand, doing a lot of little things that probably go unnoticed. I’m just trying to find new challenges, honestly, within myself to find something else to get better."


Jazz center Enes Kanter gets green light to attempt more 3-pointers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:08 pm ET) Jazz center Enes Kanter has attempted just three 3-pointers over his first three seasons in the NBA. However, Kanter said he has finally been given the green light to start shooting more often from long range, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

"I’m rehabbing in Chicago and coach Quin [Snyder] came to visit me and he said, ‘You know you’re going to shoot some 3s this year,’" Kanter said. "I was just shocked that the first time he met me, he give me that confidence. It means a lot."


Raptors expect Jonas Valanciunas to be 'more involved' on offense
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:01 pm ET) Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas said he spent part of the summer working with former NBA center Hakeem Olajuwon, according to the Toronto Sun.

"I worked a lot this summer. I was working out with Hakeem with a running coach, so I think that’s going to help me out a lot, especially in the low post," Valanciunas said. "He’s one of the greatest players. He moves fantastic, so I want to get something from him and I want to use something that he taught me."

The work with Olajuwon could pay dividends for Valanciunas since his teammates are expecting him to have a bigger role on offense this season.

"We have to start games off (feeding Valanciunas in the post), we need him, we’re going to put some pressure on him to score the ball for us," guard Kyle Lowry said. "We can’t just do all guard-oriented types of things. We have to make sure he’s more involved and have to put a little pressure on him to score the ball."


Manu Ginobili has no restrictions as Spurs camp opens
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:47 pm ET) Spurs guard Manu Ginobili has been a full participant in practice to open training camp and has not dealt with any lingering issues after being diagnosed with a stress fracture of the fibula days after the NBA Finals last season, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

"(I've done) everything," Ginobili said after Tuesday's practice. "There is a point when the practice gets too long or too rough when Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) gives me a little extra rest, but I have not been told, 'You can't do this.'

"Maybe related to my conditioning, I am a little behind, but I'm actually very happy with what I've been doing and how I'm playing, considering the summer I had. Not bad."


 
 
 
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