Evil's Outlook goes around the league and examines which players are hot and cold and which players you should keep an eye on. As usual, we start with a look at the schedule before getting into five players to start and five to bench in addition to the usual top pickups.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (2 games: Orlando, Portland)
1. Philadelphia 76ers (4 games: @LA Lakers, @Phoenix, @Golden State, @Sacramento)
In case you missed it, Ellis is back. He's averaged 24.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.3 steals in 38.7 minutes since returning to the lineup, and he's starting to look like the Ellis of old. He's dropped just six dimes in his last two games, but that's going to change soon. How come? Well for starters,
Over his last four games, Young has averaged a rock solid 24.3 points, 5.3 boards, 1 steal, 1.5 treys and just 1 turnover on 56 percent shooting from the field. He scored a career-high 31 points on Friday and is currently playing the best basketball of his career. Philly also travels West this week to face several forgiving defenses (the Lakers, Suns, Warriors and Kings), making Young a must-start in most leagues.
Just when he was being dropped in many leagues, Dalembert bounced back in a big way. In his last three games, he averaged a monster 11.7 points, 14.7 boards and 3.7 blocks in 32.7 minutes, and Philly won all three of those games. The 76ers have a full schedule the rest of the way, so if you need a center, all you can do is start Sammy and cross your fingers.
Don't be scared by his games missed over the weekend. Randolph was in Indiana attending his father's funeral, but he should return for Week 21. Assuming he's back by Tuesday, he'll get to feast on the weak frontlines of the Warriors and Wizards. On Friday, he'll face a Pistons squad that could be missing
For a guy whose nickname is "Tough Juice," Butler sure misses a lot of games. He re-injured his hamstring on Friday and missed Sunday's game, making him a very risky play this week. He's going to have an MRI on Monday, but with Washington looking for more ping-pong balls, they have no incentive to bring him back early. Another tough break for those of you who drafted the versatile forward (myself included).
Harris left Sunday night's game after taking a nasty fall and spraining his left shoulder. He's going to have an MRI on it and has already been ruled out for Monday's game at Denver. I'm guessing he'll miss Wednesday's game at New York, as well, and he could easily miss more time depending on what the MRI shows. If you have a decent replacement, you probably want to bench the emerging star this week.
Unfortunately, for their teams and fantasy owners, these veteran big men are hobbling into the home stretch. Wallace has missed three games in a row with a sore calf, and he can't even run on it yet. He's doubtful for Detroit's upcoming road trip, and he could miss the entire week. K-Mart's bad back has been even more troublesome, and he's a major question mark for the week ahead. Bench them and hope they return strong.
Daniels has had a very solid season for the Pacers, but the return of
After going for 22 points, 6 boards, and 9 assists against the Knicks last Tuesday, Sessions finished the week quietly, averaging just 24.5 minutes and 4.5 points in his last two games.
Despite owning McGuire in several leagues this season, I've been very reluctant to start him. This is because he rarely scores in double digits and was shooting just 41 percent from the field before Feb. 1. However, the athletic forward has been much more reliable since then. In his last 20 games, McGuire is averaging a respectable 33.4 minutes, 6.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, .9 steals and 1.4 blocks on 50 percent shooting. Obviously, the scoring is still very poor, but the rest of those numbers are rock solid. He's playing with a lot of confidence, and with Butler ailing, McGuire will continue to log heavy minutes. The all-around stat-stuffer is still being ignored in most leagues, but it's time to show him some love.
Dooling will move back into the starting lineup again thanks to
When asked who might step up in Kenyon Martin's absence a week ago, I mentioned Balkman as a candidate, but said it was hard to recommend him because he's limited offensively and isn't a reliable shot-blocker. He must have heard me, because he scored a career-high 22 points on Saturday and has blocked 4 shots in his last three games. The scoring will surely come down, but Balkman has been a beast on the boards lately, averaging 12.3 rips over his last four games. With K-Mart still struggling with his bad back, Balkman looks like a decent pickup.
It's a shame that Maxiell doesn't get more playing time, because he's fun to watch and is capable of putting up solid stats. He was recently moved into the starting lineup thanks to Wallace's injury, and he's racked up 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks on 14-for-18 shooting in his last two games. Since Jan. 1, he's made an impressive 63 percent of his shots! Wallace is likely to miss at least two more games, so consider picking up Maxiell if you need a big man.