Setting the stage for Week 15 of the fantasy basketball season.
Four-game teams: ATL, BOS, CHI, DEN, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, NJN, NOR, POR, SAC, WAS
Three-game teams: CHA, CLE, DAL, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAC, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, PHO, SAS, TOR, UTH
Two-game teams: MIN
Pickups/Plug-ins – Players owned in fewer than 40% of Yahoo! leagues
• Marcus Thornton(notes) - The Devin Brown(notes) trade has cleared the way for Thornton to take over as the Hornets' starting shooting guard, and he hasn't disappointed. In his four starts since the trade, the rookie has averaged 17.8 points, 2.3 threes (50%), 92-percent foul shooting, 4.3 boards, and 1.1 steals-plus-blocks in 39 minutes. Thornton's overall line may not be massive, but you can pencil him in among the league's leaders in threes made from here on out. Week 15: PHO, OKC, PHI, @CHA
• Brandon Rush(notes) - So maybe Rush just needed a few months before he was ready to live up to preseason expectations. He's back in the Pacers' starting lineup, monopolizing the team's minutes at shooting guard, hitting lots of threes, and putting up very useful fantasy numbers overall. Over the past five games, he's averaged 14.8 points, 2.8 threes (48%), 5.4 boards, 0.6 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 36 minutes. Rush appears poised to be a real second-half difference maker, just as he was last season. Week 15: TOR, DET, @MIL
• George Hill(notes) - Hill has been in the starting lineup for the Spurs for each of the past six games, averaging 15.5 points on 49-percent shooting, 1.3 threes, 2.7 assists, 1.2 turnovers, and 1 steal in 33 minutes. He's currently running the point in place of the injured Tony Parker(notes), but his role as a starter in general seems very secure, and Parker's issues with plantar fasciitis only serve to reinforce Hill's long-term fantasy potential. Week 15: @SAC, @POR, @LAC
• Goran Dragic(notes) - Dragic inherited Leandro Barbosa's(notes) role of instant offense off the bench when Barbosa went under the knife, and it's a role he's taken to very well. Over the past four games, Dragic has averaged 19.3 points on 63-percent shooting, 3 treys, 84-percent foul shooting, 2.5 assists, 1.8 turnovers, and 1 steal in 24 minutes. As with Barbosa, some matchups will lend themselves more towards his skills than others, but overall the numbers should continue to look good. Week 15: @NOR, @DEN, @SAC
• Anthony Tolliver(notes) - Tolliver has averaged 14.7 points on 58-percent shooting, 1 three, and 9 boards in his three starts and is the only Warrior to have posted back-to-back double-doubles on the season. His willingness to defend and rebound should give him the edge over Vladimir Radmanovic(notes) for playing time, and there's upside any time you are talking about a reasonably athletic big with three-point abilities in the Warriors' system. There are certainly worse ways to speculate with a roster spot. Week 15: @HOU, @DAL, OK
• Kris Humphries(notes) - Humphries has established himself as a key reserve for the Nets, averaging 26 minutes over the past seven games. During that time he's posted numbers that include 13.9 points on 51-percent shooting, 6.1 boards, and 1.3 steals-plus-blocks. How much upside you see here should be directly tied to how likely you think it is that Yi Jianlian(notes) will remain both healthy and productive in the season's second half. Week 15: DET, @TOR, @BOS, @DET
• Arron Afflalo(notes) - Afflalo has endeared himself to George Karl and his teammates with a very productive January. In 14 games, he's averaged 11.9 points on 52-percent shooting, 2.2 threes, 3 boards, and 1.2 steals-plus-blocks in 29 minutes. While there's not significant upside here alongside the team's usage hogs, there's also not significant downside because he's locked in as the starting shooting guard. Week 15: SAC, PHO, @LAL, @UTH
• Craig Smith(notes) - While Smith's playing time has been a bit erratic in recent weeks, his averages over the past nine games (13.8 points, 60% FG, 5.3 boards) should have deep-leaguers taking notice. If Chris Kaman's(notes) current ankle injury could be a sign of more issues to come, and Smith is among the major benefactors when Kaman misses time. Week 15: @CHI, @ATL, SAS
• Keyon Dooling(notes) - Dooling has averaged 9.5 points, 1.5 threes, 5 assists, 1.8 turnovers, and 1 steal in his four starts on the season, and the Nets are not going to bring Devin Harris(notes) back before he's absolutely ready. He's a solid short-term add for the Nets' upcoming four-game week. Week 15: DET, @TOR, @BOS, @DET
• Carmelo Anthony(notes) - Anthony has missed the past three games with a sprained left ankle, but he's optimistic that he'll return Sunday against the Spurs. He practiced Saturday but will see how he feels after Sunday's pregame workout before a final decision is made.
• Leandro Barbosa - Barbosa is expected to miss three to five more weeks due to surgery to remove a cyst from his right wrist.
• Michael Beasley(notes) - Beasley has missed the past two games because of a hyperextended right knee. He's hopeful that he'll be able to return Monday, but he's yet to try serious jumping and cutting and questionable at this point.
• Carlos Boozer(notes) - Boozer is currently out with a right calf strain. He'll be re-evaluated Monday, after which should see a timeframe for his return emerge, but odds are that he'll be out most (if not all) of Week 15.
• Francisco Garcia(notes) - Garcia suffered a setback Thursday when he fell on his right wrist in practice. While there was optimism in recent weeks that he'd be able to return around February 1, there is no specific timetable and Paul Westphal simply said "He'll be ready when he's ready." The small forward position remains in flux for the Kings, but standard-leaguers who recently rostered Garcia won't be faulted if they make a move here and look for more immediate help.
• Devin Harris - Harris continues to deal with pain in his wrist when he shoots from any distance and could sit out at least the Nets' next two games. He played with tendinitis in the wrist for a month that was then complicated when he fell on it on January 22, and the team has no interest in putting him back on the court before he's closer to 100 percent. Keyon Dooling will continue to start for as long as Harris sits.
• Chris Kaman - Kaman missed Friday's game with a sprained left ankle and is questionable for Sunday.
• Tony Parker - Parker (ankle) will miss his second consecutive game Sunday, but could be back for the Spurs' following game (Wednesday).
• Leon Powe(notes) - Powe, just under nine months removed from ACL replacement and microfracture surgery on his left knee, has resumed practicing and is expected to be added to the Cavs' active roster sometime after the All-Star break.
• Dwyane Wade(notes) - Wade played through back spasms Saturday, saying that it was "tight the whole night." He's hoping that it will loosen up by the time the Heat play Monday, and there has yet to be talk of him missing any games.
• Delonte West(notes) - The Cavs remain cryptic when it comes to West's status - some of him teammates thought he would be back already, but he's out again Sunday and is still being called day-to-day.
• Mo Williams(notes) - Williams will miss four to six weeks with a left shoulder strain, suffered on January 19. He's due to be re-evaluated sometime this week, at which point we should have a more precise timeframe for his return.
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