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Wired: Top Pickups for Week 19

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NBA News is hard to come by at this time of year, but Aaron Bruski cracks open his dead zone diary and …

Games Played for Week 19

4 Games Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Denver, Golden State, L.A. Lakers, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Portland, Sacramento, Toronto, Utah

3 Games Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Phoenix, Washington

2 Games San Antonio

See the end of this column for a list of each team’s remaining weekly games-played schedule, and follow me on Twitter by clicking here.

Guards

Isaiah Thomas SAC – Thomas is still only owned in 71 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, and while Wednesday’s 14-minute disaster is a concern, he played 48 minutes in the prior game, and 24 minutes on Friday, and is still averaging 16.0 points, 5.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.6 3-pointers over his last five, despite scoring just two points with two assists in Wednesday’s blowout win over the Magic. Simply put, he should be owned in all leagues, but beware of a two-game week starting March 11, and then a string of three straight three-game weeks to end the season.

Kirk Hinrich CHI – Hinrich has played in three straight games and has not only wrecked the value of Nate Robinson, but is actually providing some of his own, averaging 12.7 points, 3.3 boards, 7.0 assists, a block and 2.0 3-pointers over that stretch. He could go down again at any time, as he had missed 10 of 11 games with an elbow injury, but might finally be ready to roll. Of course, there’s always a chance that Derrick Rose could return at any time and rain on his parade, but I’m not sure we can sit around and worry about it unless we get a concrete report that Rose is set to return. The Bulls play three times this week and just two games in the following scoring period, but then go on a nice run to finish out the season. And given Hinrich’s injury history, it’s not a bad idea to hold Robinson if you are going to take a flier on Hinrich.

Brandon Knight DET – Knight is back from his knee injury and in a big way. After missing three straight games, he returned on Wednesday and exploded for a career-high 32 points and five 3-pointers, and then had 22 points and two 3-pointers on Friday.  That’s a pretty small sample size, but he also had 21 points and three 3-pointers on Feb. 20, right before he went down with the knee problem. Prior to that he was pretty unspectacular and I’m not going to go so far as to say I fully trust him.  It does appear that he’s going to play heavy minutes down the stretch for the awful Pistons, but you should keep in mind their remaining weekly schedule is pretty awful.

Devin Harris ATL – Like Hinrich, Harris has trouble staying healthy, and has bounced in and out of the starting lineup, coming off the bench in two of his last four games. But he has looked pretty good in those four, scoring 12, 12, 11 and 21 points in each of them. He’s also been a nice source of assists, steals and 3-pointers, and the kicker is the Hawks play four games every week the rest of the way, until the final full week of the season, when they play two games in Week 24.

Luke Ridnour & J.J. Barea MIN – The Timberwolves have a flawless schedule the rest of the way, playing four games per week until the cows come home. Ridnour is not the most exciting guy around, but has quietly hit double figures in scoring in five straight games, and 10 of his last 11. He’s averaging 14.2 points, 5.0 assists and 0.8 3-pointers on 45 percent shooting over his last five games and with the great schedule, could be a very solid pickup in many leagues.

Barea hasn’t been as consistent as Ridnour, but is also playing well as Alexey Shved has cooled off over the last month or so. Barea has scored 14, 20, 16, 4 and 14 points over his last five games and the Wolves aren’t getting any healthier, with Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic joining Kevin Love in street clothes lately. However, there are rumblings that Brandon Roy is going to try to play again, but I just can’t see him getting heavy minutes, and he may just be trying to finish up his career on his own terms. In any case, both of these guards look like they could help most teams in head-to-head playoff leagues, and possibly even in some Roto leagues, as well.

Other Guards To Consider

Manu Ginobili, Nando De Colo & Patrick Mills SAS – Tony Parker is going to be out for the next month, and as we’ve seen in the past, Ginobili usually goes on a tear when Parker is out. While I don’t trust him, Manu has played between 23 and 30 minutes over his last four games and is averaging 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.8 steals, and has been shooting threes, but hitting just 3-of-14 over his last five games. The Spurs’ schedule is pretty poor and they play just twice this week, but Ginobili could finally be ready to go on a run, although a couple more random DNP’s could also be in his future.

De Colo and Mills should draw most of the starts in Parker’s absence, although it‘s tough to say whom Gregg Popovich will go with as the starter from night to night. Neither player is must-own at this point, but you should keep an eye on both of them going forward. I’d be more excited about both of them if the Spurs’ schedule wasn’t so bad.

Thabo Sefolosha OKC – Sefolosha blew up for 28 points, five boards, three assists, two blocks and six 3-pointers a week ago Wednesday and is averaging 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.0 3-pointers on 54 percent shooting over his last five games. He’s also on fire from downtown, hitting 53 percent of his shots from beyond the arc over that stretch. He’s getting 32 minutes per game over his last five, but if you grab him, be prepared for plenty of single-digit scoring nights and beware of the Thunder’s less than ideal remaining schedule.

Marcus Thornton SAC – Thornton has had a disastrous campaign under Keith Smart, but has finally gotten hot, and could be ready to finish up in a flurry. Thornton, who is available in 16 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, has scored 25, 20 and 36 points over his last three games, hitting 12 3-pointers and shooting lights out by hitting 25-of-44 shots during that stretch. Yes, he could disappear and fall into another funk for the fickle Smart at any time, but Thornton should be grabbed in all leagues until further notice.

Avery Bradley BOS – Bradley’s checking in at 10.6 points, 3.0 boards, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals and nearly a 3-pointer per game in 31 minutes over his last five. The Celtics play four games per week in four of their next five scoring periods and could make for a nice pickup down the stretch. Courtney Lee and Jason Terry are also worth a look, but I’d put Bradley slightly ahead of both of them in the pecking order.

Ray Allen & Shane Battier MIA – Allen is averaging 13.0 points and 3.0 3-pointers in 29 minutes over his last five, and the Heat’s schedule is pretty sweet going forward, making him worth a look if you need threes. Battier’s also worth a deep-league look, averaging 9.3 points and 2.8 3-pointers over his last four, but I don’t trust him nearly as much as Allen.

Tony Allen MEM – This Allen isn’t going to have a lot of big scoring nights, but is productive in most categories outside of 3-point shooting. He’s in a shooting slump, hitting just 38 percent of his shots over the last five, but is also averaging 10.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 steals and a block in 30 minutes over his last five. And the schedule is pretty good for Memphis after the upcoming week, when they play four games in four straight after going three times in this scoring period.

Alec Burks UTA – Burks has been hit or miss, but is getting minutes for the Jazz. He’s averaging 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.8 3-pointers on 42 percent shooting in 29 minutes per game over his last five. Give him a look if you’re in a deep league, and keep in mind the Utah schedule is very fantasy friendly going forward.

Alan Anderson TOR – Anderson has been shooting it poorly for most of the season (38%) and is at 35 percent over his last five games. However, he has gotten hot over his last two games, scoring 21 and 14 points, but is just 1-of-12 from downtown over that stretch, and hasn’t done much of anything else. He’s at least worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues.

E'Twaun Moore & Beno Udrih ORL - Jameer Nelson may play on Sunday, and if it happens, both Moore and Udrih will take a hit. But anytime Nelson is out, both players are worth throwing into fantasy lineups. 

Shaun Livingston CLE – Livingston has started three straight games in place of Kyrie Irving, scoring 15, 15 and 10 points in them, while racking up some decent rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, and shooting it very well. Irving could return on Monday, and Livingston will take a hit when it happens. But if Irving goes down again at some point, Livingston should be worth a look.

Forwards

Derrick Williams MIN – Williams has been cooking over his last four games, scoring between 23 and 15 points in each of them, and is averaging 18.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over his last five on 44 percent shooting. Andrei Kirilenko could be out for “a while,” and the only thing that can slow Williams down right now would be the return of Kevin Love. But Love’s return is far from guaranteed and with Minnesota’s great remaining schedule, Williams looks like a must-own player to me.

Jeff Green BOS – Green had a 3-of-10 shooting night for just six points on Monday, but has been pretty stellar outside of that one, averaging 16.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.8 blocks and 0.8 3-pointers on 51 percent shooting over his last five games. He’s getting 32 minutes a night and is going to continue to see heavy minutes going forward, albeit off the bench. The Celtics play four games per week in four of their next five, and I see no reason why Green’s not owned in all leagues – which I say every week.

Tobias Harris, Moe Harkless & Andrew Nicholson ORL – Harris has absolutely been killing it ever since he stepped off the plane in Orlando, averaging 20.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.3 3-pointers on 70 percent shooting over his last five. That’s not a typo. He’s scored 27 and 23 points in his last two and it looks like the Magic are going to roll with him going forward, even though he’s coming off the bench. And despite the fact he’s killing it, he’s owned in just 36 percent of Yahoo! Leagues right now. Orlando plays four times per week in three of their next five.

Harkless is averaging 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers on 56 percent shooting over his last five, and it looks like he’ll be able to co-exist with Harris going forward. Nicholson has taken a hit, playing just 17 minutes per game in each of his last three, but has scored 17, 8 and 13 points in those limited minutes. But I’d much rather own Harris or Harkless at this point.

Thaddeus Young PHI- Young has been back in action for four games since returning from a hamstring injury and is averaging 10.5 points, 11.3 boards, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks since then, despite hitting just 39 percent of his shots. His shooting will improve, meaning the rest of his numbers may follow, although it’s hard to imagine him grabbing more than 10 boards a night the rest of the way. But if he was dropped in your league and still hasn’t been picked up, make the move.

Other Forwards To Consider

Antawn Jamison & Earl Clark LAL – Pau Gasol’s not coming back anytime soon and Jamison has been pretty solid and very consistent since he went down. Over his last five, Jamison has scored between 13 and 17 points, averaging 15.0 per game, along with 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 3-pointers on 52 percent shooting.  Some assists, blocks and steals would be nice, but at least Jamison can be relied upon for scoring and threes, with some decent rebounding numbers mixed in. Clark has hit a bit of a wall, scoring eight or fewer points in each of his last three games, with a total of just 11 rebounds. I’m not sure what his problem is and while I’m guessing he’ll bounce back, I trust Jamison more at this point.

Carlos Delfino HOU – Delfino has played well over the past few weeks and saw a big boost when he was starting at power forward. However, that job currently belongs to Donatas Motiejunas, which means Delfino is coming off the bench again. He’s averaging 15.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals and a whopping 3.8 3-pointers per game over his last five. He’ll have some bad games when his shot’s not falling and the Rockets play just three games per in all but one of the remaining scoring periods. But if you can live with the inconsistency, Delfino looks primed to keep it going through the end of the season, as long as he can stay healthy.

Al-Farouq Aminu NOH – AFA hasn’t scored more than eight points in six straight games, but has hit double digits in rebounding in three of those and is averaging 6.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and1.8 blocks over his last five. He’s shooting just 35 percent over that stretch and the scoring is a major concern, but the Hornets play four times this week and maybe he’ll break out of the funk while he’s at it.

John Salmons SAC –Salmons went on a three-game tear recently, blowing up for 21, 15 and 18 points in three straight starts, while piling up 3-pointers, assists and steals. However, he had eight points in the game prior to the streak, and hit just 1-of-7 shots for three points on Friday. Another concern is that he’s played 21 & 22 minutes in each of his last two games, while Marcus Thornton is surging and probably hurting Salmons’ minutes. He’s worth keeping an eye on, but one look at his game log will tell you he’s gone on several short hot streaks like this one this season, and they seem to end as quickly as they start.

Caron Butler LAC –Butler has been playing really well lately and we can even forgive him for his 1-of-9 shooting Thursday, when he had just two points and missed all six of his 3-point attempts. Butler’s been hot in six of his last seven games and is averaging 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 3-pointers on 45 percent shooting over his last five. He’ll get some rebounds and steals, but isn’t really killing it anywhere outside of the scoring category right now, while the Clippers’ schedule goes 3-2-3 over the next three weeks, meaning he’s going to be tough to own in many leagues.  Lamar Odom is also worth a deep-league look after averaging 8.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 1.9 blocks and 0.8 3-pointers over his last five.

Carl Landry GSW – Landry has hit double figures in scoring in seven straight games and is averaging 13.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals over his last five. As long as Andrew Bogut is out with his back injury, Landry is a solid option. But keep in mind the Warriors’ schedule is pretty bad after they play four games in each of the next two weeks. Harrison Barnes is also worth a look, but has been too inconsistent for my blood.

Martell Webster & Trevor Ariza WAS – Webster averaged 12.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.6 3-pointers per game in the month of February, shooting 52 percent in 12 games. And even with Trevor Ariza coming on, Webster still played 37 minutes on Friday night, when he scored nine points and hit a 3-pointer. As long as Webster’s starting over Ariza, he’s worth owning in deeper leagues, and the Wizards play four games per week in four straight after this scoring period’s three-game week.

Wilson Chandler DEN – Danilo Gallinari actually played on Friday, but that didn’t stop Chandler from going off for a career-high 35 points with six 3-pointers on 13-of-19 shooting. Chandler is always a decent roll of the dice when Gallo is out, but that’s all we really know. When Gallinari is back at full strength, it’s hard to imagine Chandler being consistent enough of use in most leagues.

Quincy Pondexter MEM – QP has quietly been seeing more minutes recently and is in a timeshare with Tayshaun Prince. He’s averaging 11 points, 1.5 3-pointers and 24 minutes over his last two games, meaning owners in extremely deep leagues should have him on their radar.

Centers

Donatas Motiejunas HOU – Motiejunas has now started two straight games at power forward and is averaging 15.0 points, 5.0 boards, 3.0 assists, 0.5 steals and 1.5 3-pointers in them. He also played well just before entering the starting five, going for 11 points, six boards and two 3-pointers in last Saturday. The Rockets play just three games a week for the next four, but Motiejunas looks like a guy that should be picked up in a lot of leagues, especially with the 3-pointers.

Robin Lopez NOH – Ro-Lo has had some great games this season, but can also disappear without warning. He’s going to get minutes, but you just never know what you’re going to get. He’s averaging 9.4 points, 4.2 boards and 2.4 blocks over his last five games in 27 minutes per, but is shooting just 42 percent. But if you’re in a bind at center and he’s available, he probably won’t hurt you.

Spencer Hawes PHI – Hawes was a disaster on Saturday, missing all nine of his shots and failing to score in 20 minutes before Doug Collins planted him on the bench. He also had a two-point game last Saturday, but had a great line of 20 points, 15 boards and two blocks on Thursday against the Bulls. As you can see, you never know what you’re going to get from Hawes, but Andrew Bynum’s not walking through that door anytime soon, and I trust Hawes a heck of a lot more than I do Lavoy Allen. Philly plays four times per week in three of their next four, and Hawes is worth hanging onto in most leagues, despite the inconsistency.

Kosta Koufos DEN – Koufos has quietly been chugging along as a starting center in Denver all season, averaging 8.0 points, 6.6 boards and 1.4 blocks on 60 percent shooting on the season, and 7.8 points, 7.8 boards and 1.6 blocks over his last five. He’s not flashy and isn’t ever going to dominate, but does make for a decent center option if you’re desperate.

Derrick Favors & Enes Kanter UTA – With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson (ankles) banged up for the Jazz, Favors and Kanter are both getting a lot of run right now. Favors is averaging 10.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over his last five, while Kanter went crazy with 23 points, 22 rebounds and a block on Friday against the pathetic Bobcats. Jefferson and Millsap are both iffy for Monday’s game, but if they play, Kanter and Favors will be shaky plays, at best. But if everyone is healthy, Favors may still be worth a look in some leagues, while I wouldn’t mess with Kanter unless Jefferson is out. Utah’s playoff schedule is ideal though, so Kanter may still be worth a stash in case Jefferson goes down again.

Andrea Bargnani TOR – Bargnani hasn’t looked right since returning from an elbow injury, but did make a surprise start for Rudy Gay (back) on Friday and had 11 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a 3-pointer on 4-of-14 shooting. He’s shooting a laughable 29 percent over his last five and failed to even score in two of those, but he has gotten 33 minutes in each of his last two games. Bargnani’s a total wild card and Toronto’s schedule gets dicey after this four-game week, but he’s probably worth a flier in case he continues to get 30 minutes a night, as he simply can’t shoot it this poorly forever.

Elton Brand & Chris Kaman DAL – Brand has been playing well, averaging 11.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks on 53 percent shooting over his last five games, while Kaman has surprisingly started two straight, averaging 7.0 points, 4.0 boards, 1.5 steals and a block in those two games. Brand looks like a solid player to own going forward, while I’d just keep an eye on Kaman in case he continues to start and can stay healthy. Keep in mind Dallas has three four-game weeks in their next six.

Jermaine O’Neal PHX – Props to the Suns’ training staff for keeping O’Neal healthy and looking like an NBA player again this season. He’s been on a tear for a few weeks now, and is averaging 14.6 points, 10 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over his last three games, and finished February with averages of 11.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 11 games. His daughter is scheduled for heart surgery on March 5, so we don’t know how much time he’ll take off for that, while the Suns play just three times in four of the next six weeks. But if he doesn’t miss much time due to his daughter’s health, he’ll likely continue to play well for one of the league’s most dysfunctional teams.

Remaining Weekly Games Played Scheduled (Mon-Sun)

ATL – 4-4-4-4-4-2-2

BOS – 4-3-4-4-4-3-2

BRK – 3-3-4-3-3-4-2

CHA – 4-3-43-4-3-2

CHI – 3-2-4-3-4-4-2

CLE – 4-3-3-3-4-4-2

DAL – 3-4-4-3-4-3-2

DEN – 4-3-4-3-3-3-2

DET – 3-3-3-3-4-2-2

GSW – 4-4-3-3-3-3-2

HOU – 3-3-3-3-4-3-2

IND – 3-3-4-4-3-3-2

LAC – 3-2-3-4-3-3-2

LAL – 4-4-2-4-3-4-1

MEM – 3-4-4-4-4-3-2

MIA – 4-4-4-4-3-4-2

MIL – 4-4-4-3-4-4-2

MIN – 4-4-4-4-4-4-2

NOH – 4-3-3-4-3-4-1

NYK – 4-4-4-4-4-4-2

OKC – 4-4-4-3-3-3-2

ORL – 4-3-3-4-4-2-2

PHI – 4-3-4-4-3-4-2

PHO – 3-4-4-3-3-3-2

POR – 4-3-5-3-4-3-2

SAC – 4-2-4-3-3-3-2

SAS – 2-4-3-3-4-3-2

TOR – 4-3-3-3-4-3-2

UTA – 4-3-4-4-4-2-2

WAS – 3-4-4-4-4-3-2

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