Games Played for Week 24
Four games: Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Rockets, Heat, Wolves, Thunder, Kings
Three games: Celtics, Bobcats, Bulls, Cavs, Mavs, Nuggets, Warriors, Pacers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Pelicans, Magic, Sixers, Suns, Blazers, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards
Two games: Clippers, Knicks
Next Week (Week 25)
Two games: Hawks, Nets, Celtics, Bobcats, Bulls, Nuggets, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers, Grizzlies, Heat, Wolves, Bucks, Pelicans, Knicks, Thunder, Magic, Sixers, Suns, Spurs, Raptors, Jazz, Wizards
One game: Cavs, Mavs, Pistons, Pacers, Blazers, Kings
A championship of any kind can come on all luck, all skill, but 99 times out of 100 it’s both. Fantasy basketball championships will fall in that 99 percent every time. You can’t draft four superstars to carry you like in fantasy football and there are not going to be 100 players going on the DL like in baseball. Plus, savvy fantasy basketball owners can really use the schedule to their advantage.
Well, it’s championship week and if you’re reading this, things are likely going well. Unlike last week, it is not a level playing field as far as the schedule goes. Only six teams last week had three games, but that’s not the case this week at all.
As usual, the NBA takes a night off on Monday when the Kentucky Wildcats will play the Connecticut Huskies for 2014 NCAA championship. Consequently, there are going to be a lot of teams with three games in the six-day week and the Clippers and Knicks have just two games. The eight teams above with four games get a huge bump and will have double the action of the Clips and Knicks. Additionally, the Hawks, Nets, Rockets, Heat, Wolves and Thunder follow up with a two-game week next week, so they have six games for those in a two-week championship. You’ll see a handful of guys on those teams in this edition.
On the downside, the Cavs, Mavs, Blazers, Knicks and Clippers get just four games in the next two weeks. The tough part about that is there are a heck of a lot of studs on those five teams. Plus, potential pickups like J.J. Redick won’t be on this week’s Waiver Wired because they’re only going to get 66.7 percent of the games the rest of the way.
For the second week in a row, the Mavericks have a favorable schedule in daily leagues. They play on a six-game Tuesday, a two-game Thursday and an eight-game Saturday. Outside of that light Thursday, the rest of the week is fairly busy with at least six games per night. Fantasy owners will want to see how their roster shakes out and look which players might be on their bench for a 12-game Wednesday and 13-game Friday.
One last thing owners will want to keep tabs on is possible shut down guys. Here is a list of players who are candidates:
Probable shutdown (cut these guys): Pau Gasol (illness), Steve Nash (old), Wilson Chandler (groin), Jamal Crawford (calf), Danny Granger (hamstring), O.J. Mayo (ankle, conditioning), Eric Gordon (knee), Patrick Beverley (knee)
Questionable shutdown (Not worth starting in weekly): Isaiah Thomas (quad), Dwyane Wade (hamstring), Dwight Howard (ankle) Josh McRoberts (ankle), Avery Bradley (Achilles)
We had a good week on pickups last week and called Greivis Vasquez’s big week even before the Kyle Lowry (knee) injury, so let’s keep the party going.
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Reggie Jackson OKC
He’s an obvious must-own player for a few reasons. Russell Westbrook is going to sit out at least two of his remaining six games, his shooting percentage issue from about a month ago has been fixed and he’s been much better at stealing the ball. When taking into account how he and the Thunder may have the best schedule the rest of the way, Jackson is looking at a huge finish.
Ray McCallum SAC
We still don’t exactly know what’s wrong with Isaiah Thomas, but we do know that McCallum has been outstanding in the starting lineup. Coach Mike Malone hasn’t even used a team approach in losing IT2 and McCallum is all the way up to a ridiculous 45.4 minutes per game over his last five. In that span, he averaged 16.4 points, 3.2 boards, 7.6 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 triples.
On the downside, he did shoot just 40.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from the line in his coming-out party. He’s actually been aggressive and taking good shots, which wasn’t really his calling card back when he had his last chance to shine in Las Vegas Summer League. He’s a must-own player until further notice and has five games the rest of the way.
Aaron Brooks DEN
For whatever reason, Brooks’ ownership didn’t really jump up much and it’s too bad because he’s been putting up top-50 value over the past week. There is still no sign of Wilson Chandler (groin) and the Nuggets could be without Ty Lawson (ankle). He should be owned everywhere, especially after he posted another monster line on Sunday night.
Jordan Farmar LAL
Kendall Marshall has really turned it around after falling off, but he’ll likely see a hit upon Farmar’s return, which could come as soon as Tuesday. To be clear, Marshall is probably the better player to own as far as risk goes, while Steve Nash is likely out for the season. The Lakers might also be losing Kent Bazemore for the season due to a right foot sprain. There are really no other point guards on the roster, so Farmar could get thrown into the fire quickly. He hit 3.0 triples per game in his last nine games before his groin injury, so he has a very real chance to put up this kind of average line: 14 points, three boards, five assists, one steal and two triples. That would be near must-start territory, but again there is some risk here. I still would add him almost anywhere.
Lou Williams ATL
He’s another guy with a favorable schedule. The Hawks have a great one with six games and start off with a bang, playing on Tuesday (six games), Wednesday and Friday. I’m not the biggest Lou Will fan in the world, but he’s probably the best option for available pickups. He’s been solid over his last five though, averaging 14.4 points, 3.2 boards, 4.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.2 triples. If you’re in a daily league, I’d highly suggest adding him, then cutting him after Friday and his three games. Just keep in mind he was a scratch against the Pacers on Sunday night due to a sore hamstring, so we’re not sure if he’s good to go next week or not.
Marcus Thornton BRK
The Nets have a great schedule and they could be resting some players the rest of the way. As history has shown, MT has put up some huge numbers when he’s called upon to be the primary option. One would think if Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston or even Deron Williams sit, Thornton would be looking at shot totals in the teens. He’s attempted 11.0 per game in his last two and half of those have been from deep, so he’s certainly capable of hitting 15 3-pointers in his remaining six games. But due to his unbearable inconsistency all season, he’s more of a daily-league guy and for owners in weekly leagues looking to bolster their treys.
Jerryd Bayless BOS
Avery Bradley could miss some more time with his Achilles issue and the Celtics are already going to be without Rajon Rondo for Saturday’s game against the Cavs. Plus, you’d think they’d want to be careful about playing Bradley in the Friday-Saturday back-to-back. Bayless was on fire for Saturday’s game against the Pistons, scoring 25 points with two boards, 11 assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. He’s been all over the place throughout the season and only has five games the rest of the way, so he’s more of a lukewarm pickup due to a slightly sub-par schedule.
Jeremy Lamb OKC
As mentioned above, the Thunder have an awesome schedule and one would think they’d take their foot off the gas pedal because they wouldn’t want their stars to get tired with so many games. Of course, Russell Westbrook is going to sit out at least two of the remaining six, but they might dial back Kevin Durant and even guys like Thabo Sefolosha, which would be good news for Lamb.
DeMarre Carroll ATL
He’s another player I’m sure 90 percent of you guys are saying “why the heck is he even in this column.” Carroll has really been great and it’s kind of dumb that he’s not owned in 100 percent of leagues, so let’s fix that – especially given the Hawks sweet remaining schedule.
Corey Brewer MIN
The Wolves have an awesome schedule. They kick off their week on a back-to-back set, then get two outstanding matchups for fantasy purposes with a game against the Rockets on Friday and the Kings on Sunday. Plus, they’ll also go to Golden State on Monday and host the Jazz on Wednesday.
They could be extremely shorthanded and that would mean more Brewer. The Wolves gave Ricky Rubio 18 shots on Saturday and they really can’t get away with doing that too often. Brewer should probably have more plays drawn up for him with Rick Adelman likely to use 3-pointers to get his offense going. The problem is Kevin Martin (foot) and Chase Budinger (ankle) could miss additional time, making Brewer an interesting prospect due to his schedule.
Anthony Morrow NOP
As mentioned above, Eric Gordon (knee) is likely a shutdown candidate and Morrow has been playing at a high level ever since he went down. He’s averaging 18.4 points and 2.4 3-pointers over his last five games, and could be one of those random pickups that ends up winning your league for you. But it would be nice if he were starting and not coming off the bench.
Evan Fournier DEN
With Wilson Chandler all but done for the season and Ty Lawson banged up (sat out Sunday), Fournier is going to play. He’s still not a guarantee for nightly success since Brian Shaw can’t seem to make up his mind on anything, but Fournier had 26 points and six 3-pointers on Sunday night. He also scored just six points on Friday, and is only really trustworthy if Lawson continues to miss games. He’s going to be hit-or-miss, but in deep leagues, he might be the best option on your waiver wire.
Caron Butler OKC
Butler is for deep leaguers only, but could see a boost if Scott Brooks finally starts giving the regulars some rest. Butler is averaging 9.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.6 3-pointers over his last five games. Just keep in mind that he’s no spring chicken himself, and when Brooks gives his guys some rest, Butler could easily be included in the fray.
Terrence Jones HOU
Why is he only owned in 56 percent of Yahoo! leagues? He has a great schedule and has a good chance to turn in a third-round valuation the rest of the way. He had 14 points, five rebounds, two steals and three blocks on Sunday night (at least before the game went to overtime), which can be considered a down game for him at this point.
Kyle O’Quinn ORL
The Magic got a shocking disappointment on Friday with Nikola Vucevic (Achilles) as a late scratch on Friday. The starting big man also sat out on Saturday and it allowed O’Quinn to hold down the paint in both games. He was awesome in those two, averaging 12.0 points, 9.5 boards, 2.0 steals and 4.5 blocks. KOQ already was blocking 1.3 shots per game in his 16.6 minutes, so there is a lot of upside here. If you’re looking for some blocks and a guy with a decent floor, he’s your man.
Jeff Adrien and John Henson – MIL
These two still play in Milwaukee and can still disappear at any time, but they are two of the only big options, outside of Zaza Pachulia, that Larry Drew has. Adrien’s been especially hot, scoring between 14 and 21 points in each of his last four games and averaging 9.0 rebounds and 1.25 blocks over that stretch.
Henson hasn’t been quite as good, but did have 23 points, nine boards, six assists, a steals and three blocks on Saturday. And with Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders nowhere to be found, both guys (along with Zaza) are worth owning the rest of the way. Pachulia failed to score on Saturday, but should bounce back.
Draymond Green GSW
Green has been starting with David Lee and Andrew Bogut banged up, getting more than 30 minutes a night, and had 10 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers on Friday. He’s starting again on Sunday, but we won’t know the outcome of that game before this column is posted. As long as he’s starting for the Warriors, he should probably be owned in all fantasy leagues down the stretch.
Josh McRoberts is done for the season clearing the way for Zeller and Tolliver to absorb his minutes. Tolliver is averaging 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.5 3-pointers over his last three games, while Zeller has been getting more minutes and better numbers. Zeller comes in at 10.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals over his last five games. Unless you’re desperate for threes, Zeller’s the better player of these two to own down the stretch.
Gorgui Dieng MIN
The schedule is great, Nikola Pekovic could be done, and Dieng has been fantastic for more than a month. He’s as must-own as they come.
Jordan Hill LAL
Hill is finally ballin’ again, posting the following stat lines in points, rebounds and blocks over his last three games: 22-9-0, 14-10-2, and 18-15-4. Pau Gasol is probably done for the year, and Hill is the guy you want to own, at least as of Sunday night. Ryan Kelly could also come on at any time, but hasn’t scored more than six points in any of his last three games.
Omer Asik HOU
Asik went ballistic on Sunday night against the (you guessed it) Nuggets, racking up 18 points and a career-high 23 rebounds to go along with three steals and three blocks. At this point the Rockets may be ready to rest Dwight Howard until the playoffs, and while Asik was already playing well, he took it to another level on Sunday night. He won’t be this good again, but is worth owning in every league on the planet for the final week and a half of the season.
Kelly Olynyk BOS
Olynyk has been on a roll for three games, scoring between 11 and 14 points in each of them, while averaging 10.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and nearly a 3-pointer per game over his last five games. Jared Sullinger has also been on a three-game tear, but is probably already owned in your league. And if that’s the case, Olynyk looks like a decent grab right now.
Jeff Withey NOP
Anthony Davis is playing on Sunday but has had injury issues for some time now. If he misses time, Withey could be a sneaky deep-league pickup, but if Davis is playing, you can probably ignore him.