A look ahead to Week 12 of the fantasy basketball season.
Four-game teams: DET, IND, LAC, MIA, MIL, NOR, NYK, OKC, PHO, SAS, UTH, WAS
Three-game teams: ATL, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, GSW, HOU, LAL, MEM, MIN, ORL, PHI, SAC, TOR
Two-game teams: NJN, POR
Pickups/Plug-ins – Players owned in less than 40% of Yahoo! leagues
• Rafer Alston(notes) - Alston will be given every chance to monopolize the point guard position for the Heat, as evidenced by his 35 minutes in a somewhat surprising start Friday. His line in 428 career starts [splits] is a reasonable place to set expectations - 12.8 points on 39-percent shooting, 1.8 threes, 5.8 assists, 2.1 turnovers, and 1.5 steals. In general, unchallenged starters at point guard don't appear on the wire with tremendous frequency and the Heat play the most games in each of the schedule's next six weeks. Week 12: @UTH, @GSW, @HOU, @OKC
• Kirk Hinrich(notes) - Hinrich is back in the Bulls' starting lineup and has been putting up useful fantasy numbers for most of the past month. Over his past 11 games, he's averaged 11.7 points, 1.9 threes, 4.1 boards, 4.9 assists, 1.1 turnovers, and 1.1 steals. Derrick Rose's(notes) elevated play has coincided with Hinrich's promotion, so he's not heading back to the bench any time soon. Week 12: DET, @BOS, WAS
• Matt Barnes(notes) - That balanced overall game that has made Barnes a real fantasy asset any time he's seen 30-plus minutes is still with him. In 14 starts for the Magic, he's averaged 12.5 points on 50-percent shooting, 1.1 threes, 7.4 boards, and 1.5 steals-plus-blocks, and Mickael Pietrus(notes) won't be challenging him for starts any time soon. Week 12: @SAC, @DEN, @POR
• Erick Dampier(notes) - There's not much to say here other than Damp deserves to be widely-rostered any time he's on the court. He had 13 boards Sunday and his season averages include 8 points on 67-percent shooting, 9.4 boards, and 1.7 blocks. Week 12: LAL, OKC, @TOR
• Rasual Butler(notes) - Butler is back in the starting lineup for the Clippers, ahead of Al Thornton(notes), and the team has won three straight games since the move. In fact, the Clippers are 6-1 in games where Thornton has been a reserve to this point (16-18 overall). Butler's role was established well before the move, however - over the past 12 games, he's averaged 14.3 points on 48-percent shooting, 2.3 threes, and 1.5 steals-plus-blocks in 31 minutes. Week 12: @MEM, @NOR, @LAL, CLE
• Ersan Ilyasova(notes) - I'm sure I don't need to remind too many of you how inconsistent Ilyasova has been this season [game log]. Some reasons to think about an add at this point, if you are currently in the market for a free agent: Scott Skiles has stuck with him through the ups and downs, his Week 12 schedule is very friendly (@PHO, @POR, @GSW, @UTH), and the Bucks are tied with the Heat for the most games over the next seven weeks (25).
• Martell Webster(notes) - Webster played monster minutes (43 per game) and put up big-time numbers (20.3 points, 50% FG, 4 threes, 7 boards, 1.5 steals-plus-blocks) in the four games that Steve Blake(notes) missed with pneumonia. Blake is expected to be back Sunday, but Webster should get a look in the event that this hot streak translates into consistency moving forward. Week 12: MIL, ORL
• Kyle Lowry(notes) - Lowry is a great complement to a team with lots of scorers but is in need of other counting stats. He's played less than 24 minutes just once since December 13, averaging 27 minutes, 9.1 points, 0.7 threes, 4.9 boards, 5.1 assists, 1.5 turnovers, and 1.3 steals in 15 games since. Week 12: @CHA, MIN, MIA
• J.J. Redick(notes) - The window isn't likely to be large, but Redick will start while Vince Carter(notes) misses time with a shoulder injury, and he's averaged 13.7 points, 2.4 threes, 95-percent foul shooting, 2.9 assists, and 0.9 turnovers in his seven starts thus far on the season. The potential for VC to need more time off than is currently thought adds a bit of intrigue here. Week 12: @SAC, @DEN, @POR
• A.J. Price(notes) - Price has accomplished more in the past five games in 19 minutes as a reserve (11.8 points, 1.4 threes, 4 assists, 1.2 turnovers, 1 steal) than Earl Watson(notes) has accomplished in 31 minutes as a starter (7 points, 0.6 threes, 6 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 0.2 steals). On Sunday, Price scored 19 of his 23 points while playing the entire fourth quarter, and we all know that Jim O'Brien hasn't exactly been shy about shaking up his starting five. Week 12: TOR, PHO, @NJN, NOR
• Devin Brown(notes) - The Hornets' current five-game winning streak has coincided with an uptick in Brown's offensive contributions, as he's averaged 15.4 points, 1.8 threes, and 84-percent foul shooting in 32 minutes during those games. Week 12: @PHI, LAC, @DET, @IND
• Flip Murray(notes) - Murray has been settling in as the Bobcats' sixth man, a role he excelled in for the Hawks last season. He's averaged 14.4 points on 47-percent shooting, 1.7 threes, 91-percent foul shooting, and 1.3 steals-plus-blocks in the past seven games where he's seen at least 20 minutes of playing time. Deep-leaguers looking for some offense could do a heck of a lot worse with a roster spot. Week 12: HOU, SAS, PHO
• Dorell Wright(notes) - Wright had one of his more productive games Friday (28 minutes, 15 points, 1 three, 7 boards, 4 steals), which also coincided with Rafer Alston's debut with the team. Alston's arrival may prompt the Heat may give more time to the athletic Wright, at the expense of the one-trick pony Quentin Richardson(notes). There are no guarantees here, but it's certainly something deep-leaguers should monitor. Wright's career per-30 minute numbers include 6.1 boards, 0.9 steals, and 1 block, and he's knocked down 37 percent of his threes so far this season (11 of 30). Week 12: @UTH, @GSW, @HOU, @OKC
• Steve Blake - Blake has participated in two straight practices and is expected to be back on the active roster for the Blazers on Sunday. He lost eight pounds while he was battling pneumonia and is likely to have him minutes limited at the outset.
• Vince Carter - VC's shoulder separation is painful but mild, and he's currently day-to-day without a specific timetable for a return. Although it's not expected to be a long-term issue at this point, consider him extremely questionable for the team's back-to-back games on Tuesday/Wednesday. J.J. Redick will start while Carter is sidelined.
• Tyson Chandler(notes) – Chandler is still in a walking boot and isn't much closer to returning to the lineup. Thursday marked the first time that he was able to walk without significant pain since being diagnosed with the stress reaction in his left foot.
• Mike Conley(notes) - Conley missed Saturday's game after a hard fall Friday left him with back pain and a groin strain. The hope is that a few days rest will allow him to return to the lineup on Tuesday. If not, the Grizzlies are then off until Friday.
• Kevin Garnett(notes) – KG missed his fifth consecutive game Sunday and the Celtics are "just going to wait" while he fully recovers from his hyper-extended knee. The vague reference puts his status for the team's three games over the next four days in doubt, but be checking for individual game-time updates.
• Blake Griffin(notes) – Griffin continues to make progress, albeit at a slower pace than was originally projected. He's expected to begin participation in non-contract drills sometime this week, but steps up to full contact and subsequent game action remain without a timetable.
• Al Harrington(notes) - Harrington has missed the past two games with a calf strain. He's hoping to return to the lineup Monday, but he needs fluid in his calf to dissipate and his status won't be known until game day.
• Anthony Randolph(notes) - Randolph's left ankle is severely sprained but not fractured, a CT scan revealed Saturday. He'll undergo more testing Sunday in an effort to establish a timeline for his return.
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