November 03, 2008

Let's go around the league, team by team, and examine which players are hot, which players are cold, and which players are worth keeping an eye on. This week's outlook suggests 85 players who are safe starts and 50 players who are borderline starters, so if your league is much smaller or larger, adjust accordingly.

First, though, let's take a look at the schedules for the upcoming week.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (2 games: LA Clippers, Houston)2. Portland Trail Blazers (3 games: @Utah, Houston, Minnesota)3. Oklahoma City Thunder (3 games: Boston, @Utah, Atlanta)4. Los Angeles Clippers (4 games: Utah, @LA Lakers, Houston, Dallas)5. Houston Rockets (4 games: Boston, @Portland, @LA Clippers, @LA Lakers)

1. Memphis Grizzlies (4 games: Golden State, @Sacramento, @Golden State, @Denver)2. Golden State Warriors (4 games: @Memphis, Denver, Memphis, @Sacramento)3. Utah Jazz (4 games: @LA Clippers, Portland, Oklahoma City, @New York)4. Sacramento Kings (4 games: @Philadelphia, Memphis, Minnesota, Golden State)5. Denver Nuggets (3 games: @Golden State, Dallas, Memphis)

1. Ramon Sessions, Bucks

With Luke Ridnour out with a bad back, Sessions has stepped in as the starter and is averaging 40 minutes, 15 points, and 8.5 assists per game. If he keeps it up, he could hang on to the starting job when Ridnour returns. If he's still available in your league, pick him up ASAP. He single-handedly won leagues for people at the end of last season, and his upside is huge.

2. Kelenna Azubuike, Warriors

With Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barnes on other teams, and Marco Belinelli and Anthony Randolph not ready for big minutes, Azubuike is undoubtedly the Warriors' top swingman off the bench this year. He's versatile, too, as he can play power forward or point guard in a pinch (against Toronto, Don Nelson went with a huge lineup that featured Stephen Jackson or Azubuike at PG, Corey Maggette at SG, Al Harrington at SF, Ronny Turiaf at PF, and Andris Biedrins at C. Astute owners picked him up after he dropped 17 points and grabbed 3 steals in the season opener, but 'Buike is still available in many leagues. Trust me, he's going to have a bunch of big games this season.

3. Jason Maxiell, Pistons

With Antonio McDyess leaving town, Maxiell will see a significant increase in playing time. Amir Johnson has enough trouble not fouling out in 20 minutes per game, so Jason will get the bulk of McDyess' minutes. Yes, there's a chance that McDyess could be bought out and will return to Detroit, but if that happened, he would still have to wait 30 days before re-signing a la Brent Barry last season. Which means you'll still get a full month of solid production from Maxiell. Expect 10 points, 6-7 rebounds, 1.25 blocks, and excellent field goal shooting.

4. Roger Mason, Spurs

The Spurs offseason signing of Mason is already paying dividends, as he's scored 26 points, made five and dished out seven assists in their first two games. At 28 years old, Mason is a youngster compared to most of San Antonio's roster. They need his scoring ability and athleticism, so he should continue to excel while Manu Ginobili's out.

5. Rasual Butler, Hornets

He is simply a short-term pickup while Peja Stojakovic nurses a sprained ankle. If you need threes, he's worth a look, because he made three treys on Saturday and averaged 1.7 threes per game in '06-07. He might even block a shot or two for you.

Atlanta Hawks (3 games)

Joe Johnson is off to a great start, averaging 30 points on 58 percent shooting from the field. More assists will come when his teammates start knocking down some shots. Josh Smith has made just 12-of-27 shots thus far and is averaging a mediocre 15.5 points per game, but the high-flyer has already racked up 21 boards, 7 steals, and 7 blocks in just two games. Zaza Pachulia is averaging just 16.5 minutes per game, but he deserves a mention because he's pulled down a whopping 13 offensive rebounds in two contests! Marvin Williams was suspended for Game 1, but he played only 20 minutes in Game 2 and shot just 1-for-7 from the field, making him a risky start this week.

Sure starts: J-Smoov, Johnson, Horford, BibbyBorderline: M. Williams

Boston Celtics (4 games)

Leon Powe is one of Boston's most reliable players right now. In just 19.3 minutes of action, he's averaging 13.7 points on 68.8 percent FG shooting. If he could only get more minutes ... I thought that KG was going to bounce back this season, but he's off to a slow start. He's averaging more turnovers (3.7) than free-throw attempts (3.0), which is very poor for such a skilled offensive player. Kendrick Perkins has pulled down 21 rebounds in three games, but he's also picked up 14 fouls and has scored just 10 points. It's his sixth NBA season, but it looks like he's going to be inconsistent once again. Tony Allen isn't playing that great, as he's shooting just 34.5 percent from the field and has posted 2 assists to 4 turnovers. Ray Allen has been terrible. Thru three games, he's totaled just 32 points and 3 threes, while posting a terrible ratio of 2 assists to 10 turnovers. If you drafted him, you should be very worried right now. Eddie House is throwing up bricks, as he's made just 1-of-12 threes and 3-of-18 shots overall. Mr. "instant offense" has been ice cold thus far.

Sure starts:Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon RondoBorderline: R. Allen, PerkinsBench: T. AllenWatch: Powe

Charlotte Bobcats (4 games)

Gerald Wallace had a monster game on Saturday, and is now averaging 23.5 points on 57.7 percent shooting from the field. He's racked up 5 steals and 3 blocks in two games, which is a great sign for his possible career year. Raymond Felton has dropped 13 dimes in two games, but he's scored just 11 total points and has only 1 steal and 1 three. The rookie D.J. Augustin is getting big minutes off the bench, but he has 7 assists to 8 turnovers, has picked up 9 fouls in two games, and is 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. Nazr Mohammed grabbed just 1 rebound in 13 minutes in Game 1, while Matt Carroll had 0 points in the same amount of time. In Game 2, both players received DNP-CD's, so they're clearly not key players in Larry Brown's rotation. The Sean May experiment didn't last long. After starting the season opener and shooting 0-for-6 from the field, May didn't play at all in Game 2. He was terrible in the preseason, and he clearly isn't ready to play big minutes yet. Jared Dudley is now starting, so keep an eye on him.

Sure starts:Jason Richardson, Wallace, Emeka OkaforBorderline: FeltonWatch: Dudley, Augustin

Chicago Bulls (4 games)

If you throw out his stinker against Boston, Drew Gooden has been pretty solid. He dominated Memphis' frontline en route to 20 boards and 3 blocks, and he'll get more playing time if he can keep it up. Derrick Rose's numbers haven't been very consistent, but his averages after three games are very solid and he's only getting warmed up. After a solid opening night, Deng has been pretty quiet. He's averaging just 13.3 points on 38.9 percent shooting, and his all-around stats aren't what they used to be. Tyrus Thomas has been very active defensively (4 steals and 8 blocks in three games), but he's shooting just 7-for-32 from the field, which is beyond awful for a big man. Joakim Noah managed to pull down 13 boards in just 23 minutes on Friday, but he played just 7 minutes on Saturday and cannot be relied on at this point. However, I don't suggest dropping him just yet. Ben Gordon is averaging just 13.3 points per game on 37.5 perecent shooting, but you should be more worried about his 10.7 shot attempts and 24 minutes per game. Andres Nocioni is just 5-for-16 from the field, and he continues to struggle after a poor preseason.

Sure starts: Rose, Gooden, Thomas, Luol DengBorderline: Kirk Hinrich, GordonBench: Noah

Cleveland Cavaliers (4 games)

LeBron James' 9.3 assists per game are outstanding, but he's 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, is shooting just 43 percent on field goals and 63 percent from the line and is averaging just 19.7 points per game. If you picked him over Chris Paul, and you're not regretting it, something's wrong with you. Mo Williams is averaging just 13.3 points, 4.3 assists and .7 steals through three games, which are well below his numbers from previous years. A decline in rebounds was expected, but Big Z is averaging just 5.3 boards per game thus far. After a subpar game 1 vs. Boston, Daniel Gibson has made 6-of-11 threes and scored 39 points in 2 games. He's coming off the bench, but is still averaging around 30 minutes per game. Sasha Pavlovic played just 4 minutes on Saturday and appears to be out of Mike Brown's rotation at the moment.

Sure starts: LeBron, Big Z, Mo WilliamsBorderline:Delonte West, Gibson, Ben WallaceWatch:Anderson Varejao

Dallas Mavericks (4 games)

Jason Kidd has made just 1 three and scored only 16 points through two games, but he's dished out 19 assists to just 2 turnovers, and has pulled down 16 boards and grabbed 8 steals. Those are excellent numbers for a guy who many people wanted to write off this year. Josh Howard had a subpar performance on Saturday, but he was extremely impressive in the season opener, which is a good sign for the season ahead. No one expected big numbers from Erick Dampier, but 5 rebounds and .5 blocks per game is disappointing, even by his standards. Meanwhile, DeSagana Diop received just 11 minutes in the opener, but he played 28 solid minutes in game 2, posting 6 boards, 3 blocks, and even 4 assists. As always, keep an eye on him if you need blocks. Stackhouse has scored just 4 points and is 2-for-11 from the field thru 2 games, but he started on Saturday and could be due for more minutes. The Antoine Wright experiment didn't last very long. He started the season opener, but he shot just 1-for-6 in 17 minutes, to go along 2 turnovers and 3 fouls. In Game 2, not only did he not start, but he received a DNP-CD.

Sure starts:Dirk Nowitzki, Kidd, J. Howard, Jason TerryBench: DampierWatch: Diop, Jerry Stackhouse

Denver Nuggets (3 games)

Is something wrong with Allen Iverson? He's averaging just 18.7 points, 1 steal, and 3.3 turnovers per game. On Friday, the Clippers' announcers commented on how listless he looked, and when they asked someone from Denver about it, they were told that he's been looking that way in practice as well. Maybe his spirits, and play, will be picked up by huis trade to the Pistons. Carmelo Anthony returned from his two-game suspension to shoot just 5-for-15 from the field and 0-for-4 from the line, with 5 turnovers to boot. Hopefully all of the rust is off now. Kenyon Martin is shooting just 45 percent from the field, but he's averaging 16.3 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game, and has even made two treys already! J.R. Smith is averaging 15.7 points per game, but he's just 5-for-17 from 3-point range, and fans expected more buckets when Carmelo was out. Anthony Carter has played big minutes to start the season, and his numbers are very good. He's averaging 15 points on 69 percent shooting, to go along with 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Not bad for a guy who was ignored by most people. Chris Andersen is averaging a rock solid 6.0 boards and 2.3 blocks in just 17.7 minutes off the bench. Watch the "Bidrman" if you need a big man. A lot of people expected big things from Linas Kleiza while Anthony was suspended, but he's averaging just 5 points per game on 22.7 percent shooting, including a dreadful 0-for-10 from beyond the arc. There's no point in waiting for him to get hot, so cut his ass if you haven't already.

Sure starts: Anthony, K-Mart, Chauncey BillupsBorderline: J.R. Smith, NeneBench: A. CarterWatch: Andersen

Detroit Pistons (4 games)

Chauncey Billups is averaging a solid 7.5 assists and 1.5 steals thus far, but he's shooting just 33 percent from the field and has gotten extra playing time due to Rodney Stuckey's foul trouble. He likely will find a little time to rest with Anthony Carter backing him up in Denver. Rasheed Wallace destroyed Washington to the tune of 17 points, 12 boards, 6 blocks and 2 threes, and is showing that he still has plenty of gas left in his tank. After posting 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 foul in 21 minutes in the opener, Amir Johnson had 2 rebounds, 0 blocks, and 5 fouls in 11 minutes in Game 2. If you want the blocks, you'll have to get used to the up and down numbers. Detroit signed Jason Maxiell to a four-year contract extension for $20 million, but he's playing just 17.5 minutes per game to start the season. Stuckey is supposed to Detroit's "sixth starter," but he's averaging just 17 minutes per game due to foul trouble. I said to be careful of him in my Pistons team preview, and I'm glad that I didn't gamble on him. In my Pistons team preview, I said not to sleep on Walter Herrmann, and he's responded with 26 points and 5 threes in just 39 minutes off the bench through two games!

Sure starts: Iverson, Rip Hamilton, R. WallaceBorderline:Tayshaun Prince, Johnson, StuckeyWatch:Walter Herrmann

Golden St. Warriors (4 games)

Andris Biedrins has posted three straight double-doubles to start the season, but he's also scoring a whopping 18 points per game on 65.6 percent FG shooting. A breakout season indeed. Stephen Jackson's turnovers are high and his shooting is poor, but he's dishing out 6 assists per game as a point guard, and still making four treys per game as the Warriors' No. 1 scorer. Al Harrington is red hot from behind the arc, as he's made 11-of-23 treys through 3 games. A very good start to Harrington's '08-09 season. Corey Maggette is pulling down 8.7 rebounds and getting the line 11.3 times per game, but he's shooting just 38.5 percent from the field and committing 3.7 turnovers. His numbers should improve once he gets more comfortable in Nellie's system. Kelenna Azubuike is the Warriors' sixth man this season, and he's going to have plenty of big games. Ronny Turiaf is averaging only two 2 points per game, but he's already swatted 10 shots in just 69 total minutes. Brandan Wright has played just 15 total minutes in 3 games, while Marcus Williams, Marco Belinelli and Anthony Randolph have yet to see any real game action. Rather than give the young guys playing time, Nelson is opting to play his veterans 40-plus minutes every night. With two games vs. Memphis, one game vs. Denver, and one game vs. Sacramento this week, expect several high-scoring affairs.

Sure starts: Jackson, Biedrins, Maggette, HarringtonBorderline: AzubuikeWatch: Turiaf

Houston Rockets (4 games)

Through three games, Yao Ming is averaging 22.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and only 1.3 turnovers per contest. He's also shooting 52 percent from the field and has missed just one free throw in 22 attempts. Artest is shooting under 40 percent from the field, but he's made seven treys in three games, has yet to miss a free throw, and he looks like a very good fit in Houston. Are Tracy McGrady's injuries affecting his shot? He's shooting just 37 percent from the field and has made only two treys in three games. Rafer Alston is no stranger to slow starts and shooting woes, but he's been especially bad thus far. He's gotten plenty of minutes, but he's averaging just 3 assists and .7 steals per game, while shooting a miserable 21.7 percent from the field. After missing the season opener, Aaron Brooks has been a sparkplug off the bench. It looks like he's going to get solid minutes this season. Before the season started, I said that Carl Landry would have more value than Luis Scola sooner than people think, and Landry went for 14 points, 11 boards, and 2 steals in 28 minutes on Saturday.

Sure starts: Yao, Artest, T-MacBorderline: AlstonBench: ScolaWatch: Brooks, Landry

Indiana Pacers (3 games)

Danny Granger has made just 3-of-11 threes, but he's averaging 26.5 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, and has racked up 3 steals and 5 blocks in just two games (against last year's top two Eastern Conference teams no less). Troy Murphy is shooting just 38 percent from the field, but in two games, he's already compiled 23 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 threes, 4 steals and 3 blocks. He was one of my career-year candidates, so I hope you gambled on him. T.J. Ford is scoring efficiently, but his fantasy owners want steals and assists, and his current averages of 1.0 and 4.5 are not going to cut it. Marquis Daniels is starting in place of Mike Dunleavy and putting up solid all-around numbers. Jarrett Jack is receiving decent minutes off the bench, but he's totaled just 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 three in two games, which aren't fantasy-worthy numbers. Nesterovic hurt his ankle on Saturday, which could open up more minutes for Jeff Foster and Roy Hibbert if he's out for awhile. Watch all three guys to see if one emerges.

Sure starts: Granger, Murphy, FordBorderline: M. DanielsBench: DunleavyWatch: Jack, Rasho Nesterovic, Foster, Hibbert

L.A. Clippers (4 games)

After a mediocre season opener vs. the Lakers, Baron Davis landed hard on his left hip on Friday and is currently sidelined. Keep him benched until he returns. Chris Kaman is currently shooting just 31 percent from the field, while coughing the ball up 3.3 times per game. 10.7 boards and 2.0 blocks isn't bad, but owners were hoping for more with Marcus Camby out. Marcus is targeting Monday for his first game this season, but owners will have to see it to believe it. I'm glad I don't own either player this season. Al Thornton had a big game on Friday vs. Denver, but he played 48 minutes because it went into OT and the Clipps were missing Baron and Camby. If you throw that game out, his numbers are very mediocre, but he's worth starting for now. Mobley is averaging 15 points, 14.3 FG attempts, and 1.7 steals per game, but those numbers are sure to fall when Baron returns. Tim Thomas has started at power forward in place of Camby. He's made just 3 threes in three games, but he's averaging 15.7 points and 7.3 boards. Keep an eye on him in case Camby continues to miss games. Even with Baron ailing, Ricky Davis has contributed very little. He's averaging just 2.3 points per game on 18.8% FG shooting, and coach Mike Dunleavy has no reason to give him more than 20 minutes per game until he starts to play better. If he doesn't heat up in the next 10 days, you should probably drop him.

Sure starts: Kaman, ThorntonBorderline: Camby, Cuttino MobleyBench: B. Davis, Ricky DavisWatch: Thomas

L.A. Lakers (2 games)

Matchup of the week: Kobe Bryant vs. Ron Artest on Sunday. Sure enough, Kobe's minutes and stats are down this season. He averaged 37-42 mpg in each of the past 10 seasons, but is currently playing just 32 minutes per game. His assists and three-point attempts have also taken big hits, but things should get better for Bryant. The 2.3 blocked shots are nice, but Andrew Bynum is averaging just 8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 24.7 minutes per game thus far. However, he's been in foul trouble every game, so when that aspect improves, the rest of his numbers will follow. Lamar Odom owners should be much more worried. Despite Bynum's foul troubles, Lamar is averaging just 26 minutes per game and has yet to score more than 10 points. His trade value is minimal right now, so all you can do is bench him. Derek Fisher is still solid. In three games, he's knocked down 5 treys and dished out 10 assists to just three turnovers. It's a shame that Trevor Ariza can't get more playing time, because he's averaging 9.7 points and 1.7 steals in just 20 minutes per game. He's also made 5-of-6 shots from beyond the arc thus far, which is a great sign for Lakers fans. Despite inconsistent minutes, Vlad Radmanovic has knocked down 2 treys in every single game thus far. Sasha Vujacic is still nursing an ankle injury, which helps to explain his limited minutes (15 mpg) and poor shooting (35 percent from the field.

Sure starts: Kobe, Pau GasolBordeline: BynumBench; Odom, Fisher, RadmanovicWatch: Ariza, Jordan Farmar

Memphis Grizzlies (4 games)

With two games against the Warriors, one game against the Kings and one game against the Nuggets this week, the Grizz will have excellent opportunities to put numbers on the board. The points, steals, blocks and shot attempts are there, but Rudy Gay is just 1-for-11 from beyond the arc and is pulling down just 4.3 rebounds per game. O.J. Mayo is shooting just 37 percent from the field and commiting 4 turnovers per game, but he's receiving nearly 40 minutes of playing time, which means that decent numbers are right around the corner. He's made just 42 percent of his shots thus far, but Marc Gasol is rebounding well (8.3 boards per game) and contributing in other categories (5 assists, 4 blocks, and 2 steals in 3 games). Not bad for a rookie. Mike Conley is off to a terrible start this season. He's averaging just 7 points and 2.3 assists per game, and is shooting just 36% from the field and 17% from beyond the arc. I warned you about drafting point guards on losing teams, and Conley is no exception. After exploding for 21 boards and 4 blocks in his first two NBA games, Darrell Arthur fell back to Earth on Saturday, pulling down just 3 rebounds in 13 minutes. I think it's going to take an injury for him to be a consistent fantasy performer. Hakim Warrick played just 15 minutes in the season opener, but is slowly working his way out of coach Marc Iavaroni's doghouse. He went for 18 points, 7 boards, a steal, and a block in 35 minutes on Saturday, which is a sign that better days could be ahead.

Sure starts: Gay, Mayo, GasolBorderline: Conley, Arthur, WarrickBench:Darko MilicicWatch: Lowry

Miami Heat (3 games)

He's shooting just 41 percent from the field and 70 percent from the line, but Dwyane Wade is filling up the stat sheet like the player that we know and love. Just wait'll he gets hot. He's scoring just 12 points per game on 43 percent shooting, but Shawn Marion is also averaging 9.7 boards, 1.7 steals, and 2.7 blocks per game, helping him maintain his elite status. Michael Beasley had a very quiet NBA debut (9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers) and his numbers have been up and down, but he had a nice game on Saturday and it looks like he might be starting to warm up. Udonis Haslem is off to a great start, scoring 17.7 points on a scorching 70.6 percent from the field, to go along with 7.7 rebounds per game. Ride the hot streak while it lasts, but remember that Haslem gets very few steals and blocks (if you get a nice trade offer, you might want to sell high). In his first 3 NBA games, Mario Chalmers has totaled 18 assists, 6 steals, 4 threes and just 4 turnovers, which is pretty good for a rookie point guard. Daequan Cook knocked down 6 treys in Miami's first two games, but he had a 1-for-8 stinker on Saturday. He doesn't get many steals or assists, which makes him a very risky fantasy option. After sitting out the first two games, Chris Quinn played 11 minutes on Saturday and scored just 2 points. He has a long way to before making a fantasy impact. No one expected much from Mark Blount, but the veteran big man has pulled down just 2 rebounds in 27 total minutes, and is clearly out of the rotation.

Sure starts: Wade, Marion, BeasleyBordeline: Haslem, ChalmersWatch: Cook

Milwaukee Bucks (3 games)

Michael Redd is averaging 21.3 points and 2.8 treys per game, but he's doing little else to help out his fantasy owners. He sprained his ankle on Sunday, so he's a questionable start this week. Andrew Bogut has been nursing an ankle injury, so his slow start isn't a big surprise. Expect better numbers going forward. Richard Jefferson is off to a slow start, shooting just 34.5 percent from the field. Luke Ridnour averaged just 4.5 points and 4.5 assists in 26.5 minutes in Milwaukee's first two games, then missed Saturday's game with a back injury. I'm going to hang onto him a bit longer, but I can't blame you if you decide to drop him. Meanwhile, Ramon Sessions didn't even play in the Bucks' first two games, but his outlook is much brighter now. He's started two games in place of Ridnour, and scored 30 points and dropped 17 assists. If he continues to play well, he may steal the starting job away from Ridnour, so grab him if you can in case it happens. UCLA rookie Luc Mbah a Moute is averaging just 23 minutes per game, but he's already making an impact defensively (1.3 steals and .8 blocks per game) and may earn more minutes going forward.

Sure starts: Bogut, R. JeffersonBorderline: Redd, Charlie Villanueva, SessionsBench: RidnourWatch; Mbah a Moute

Minnesota Timberwolves (3 games)

Al Jefferson had a 5-for-15 stinker vs. Dallas, but his numbers are still pretty solid thus far. While 3 blocks in three games is a nice surprise, Mike Miller is just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc and the rest of his numbers aren't very impressive. He's on a new team, so give him some time to get adjusted. Randy Foye is shooting a terrible 22 percent from the field, and his averages of 7.3 points and 5.0 dimes per game are very mediocre. Ryan Gomes has actually made 50 percent of his shots and he's starting at power forward, but he's not getting enough minutes (27.3 mpg) or touches to fill the stat sheet like he did last season. Rashad McCants was averaging 16.5 points on 50 percent FG shooting after two games, but he scored just four points on Sunday and won't be a reliable option until someone gets hurt.

Sure starts: A. JeffersonBorderline: M. MillerBench: Foye, Gomes, Kevin Love, Corey Brewer, McCants

New Jersey Nets (3 games)

Devin Harris is shooting just 36 percent from the field and has only 1 steal and 0 threes in two games. 13 points and 5 assists is decent, but I'm expecting a lot more. Bobby Simmons is starting at small forward, but it might not last very long. He's made just 3-of-13 shots and has compiled 10 points, 3 rebounds and 9 fouls in 47 total minutes. If he's on your team, you should start considering other options. Josh Boone was average in the season opener, but he exploded for 17 points, 14 boards, and 3 blocks in Game 2 vs. Golden State. Keep an eye on him if you need a big man. Brook Lopez had a solid preseason, and he's carried that play into the regular season, averaging 9 points, 8 boards, and 2 blocks in just 22 minutes per game off the bench. If he keeps producing at a high level, Lawrence Frank will have no choice but to give him more minutes. Fellow rookie Ryan Anderson has received 33 total minutes in New Jersey's first 2 games, and he's tallied 17 points, 7 boards, 3 threes, 2 steals, 2 assists, and a block. If he continues to knock down outside shots, his role could expand. Sean Williams has yet to play in a game this season, and now he's really angry, because he asked New Jersey to NOT pick up the option on his contract and they did so anyway.

Sure starts:Vince Carter, HarrisBorderline:Yi Jianlian, Boone, B. LopezBench: B. SimmonsWatch: R. Anderson

New Orleans Hornets (3 games)

Chris Paul wasted no time in proving why he's the No. 1 fantasy player around, as he's already averaging 21.7 points, 12 assists, 5.3 boards, and 2.3 steals per game on 50 percent field-goal shooting and 87 percent from the line. CP3 cannot be stopped! Peja Stojakovic & Tyson Chandler got off to solid starts, but both guys are nursing ankle injuries at the moment. As expected, James Posey has been an excellent addition to the Hornets. He's made a whopping 10-of-16 threes already, and is averaging 13 points in just 28 minutes off the bench. Rasual Butler was in Byron Scott's doghouse for most of last season, but he's gotten a fresh start and is playing much better this year. He started Saturday's game in place of Peja Stojakovic, and dropped 14 points, 3 threes, and 3 assists in 37 minutes. He'll be a nice source of threes while Peja's out.

Sure starts: Paul, David West, PoseyBorderline:Tyson Chandler, Peterson, R. ButlerBench: Stojakovic

New York Knicks (3 games)

David Lee was averaging 14.5 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals per contest after two games, but for some reason he played only 20 minutes on Sunday. I'm not worried about Randolph shooting just 35 percent from the field after three games, but I am concerned with the fact that he's playing just 31 minutes per game, despite not being in foul trouble. If this becomes a trend, his value will be somewhat limited. After an excellent season opener, Jamal Crawford has been pretty quiet, making him a questionable start for week 2. Nate Robinson has racked up 13 assists, 8 steals and 5 threes in just three games, but he's made just 37 percent of his shots. Likewise, Duhon has tallied 13 assists, 4 steals, and 5 threes, but is shooting just 30 percent from the field. Once they get hot, their stats should be solid. Quentin Richardson exploded for 28 points, 9 boards and 5 treys on Sunday, so pick him up if he's still available. Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury have yet to see any game action, and that might not change anytime soon. Curry was just placed on the inactive list with a "knee injury," and Marbury may be bought out of his contract at any moment.

Sure starts: Lee, Zach RandolphBorderline: Crawford, Nate Robinson, Q-RichBench: Duhon, Chandler

Oklahoma City Thunder (3 games)

Kevin Durant is scoring just 18.7 points on 42 percent shooting. If he slumps any further, you may want to try and trade for him. Jeff Green is averaging only 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. I hope he becomes more assertive, because Earl Watson and Johan Petro should not be attempting more shots than him. Through two games, Nick Collison was averaging just 5 rebounds in 28.5 minutes per game, but he broke out for 10 boards, 3 steals, and 2 blocks on Sunday. Chris Wilcox has been coming off the bench due to a hamstring injury, and is averaging just 9 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes per game. Keep him on your bench, and wait for his minutes to rise above 30 before starting him. Thru three games, Watson has posted 16 assists and 4 steals, but he's shooting just 28 percent from the field and has yet to make a three. The rookie Westbrook is shooting just 41 percent from the field thus far, but his other stats aren't bad for just 22 minutes per game. Petro has been starting at center, but he's shooting just 38 percent from the field and he doesn't block a ton of shots.

Sure starts: DurantBordeline: Collison, GreenBench: Wilcox, Watson, Westbrook

Orlando Magic (3 games)

Dwight Howard is off to a dominating start, averaging 21.7 points on 63 percent FG shooting, to go along with 14.3 boards and a monster 4.3 blocks per game. However, he's made just 17-of-33 free throws, so it's the same old story from the line. After fouling out in 29 minutes in the season opener, Rashard Lewis has been superb. Hedo Turkoglu has made just 29 percent of his three-pointers thus far, but the rest of his stats are actually very close to what he put up last year. Mickael Pietrus already has two 20-point games, and is a surprising 11-for-11 from the line (66.7 percent FT for his career). Jameer Nelson is averaging a very subpar 10.3 points, 3.7 dimes and .7 steals per game thus far, all below his career averages.

Sure starts: Howard, Lewis, TurkogluBorderline: PietrusBench: Nelson

Philadelphia 76ers (3 games)

He's blocked just 3 shots in tjhree games, but Elton Brand is averaging 18.3 points and a monster 14.3 rebounds per game. Iguodala is scoring just 12.7 points per game on 38 percent FG shooting, which makes him a good buy low target. There were some concerns about Samuel Dalembert this year, but he's responded by pulling down 36 boards and blocking 7 shots in just three games thus far. Strangely, Andre Miller has yet to grab a steal, but he's averaging 14.7 points and 7 assists per game. Thaddeus Young also has 0 steals thus far, but he exploded for 22 points and 4 threes on Saturday, and has pulled down 5-plus boards in each game. Louis Williams is scoring points off the bench, but he's doing little else, making him a risky play for the time being.

Sure starts: Brand, Andre Iguodala, Dalembert, MillerBorderline: YoungBench: L. Williams

Phoenix Suns (4 games)

Amare Stoudemire isn't getting quite as many shots as he did last year, but he's still scoring 22 points per game on a dominating 64 percent from the field. His stats should improve as the season rolls along. Steve Nash's steals and assists are down, but his points and FG shooting are currently at career-high levels, so he's still a stud PG. Believe it or not, Shaq is shooting 64 percent from the field and 61 percent from the line after three games. The former would be a career-high, while the latter would be his second-highest mark of all time. You could tell that Matt Barnes was forcing things in his first game, but he settled down and exploded for 21 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, 3 threes and a steal on Saturday. With four games, he's a solid start. Meanwhile, Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw aren't getting enough minutes to be reliable options at this point, so bench them and look for better options.

Sure starts: Stoudemire, Nash, S. O'Neal, BarnesBorderline: BellBench: Barbosa, Diaw

Portland Trail Blazers (3 games)

Portland has to face Utah and Houston this week, two tough defensive teams. Brandon Roy is shooting just 43 percent from the field, but he's filling up the stat sheet in a major way. As long as he's healthy, he's a must-start. LaMarcus Aldridge looks to be playing more physical this year, but the numbers don't support that, as he's averaging just 5 rebounds and shooting 40 percent from the field. The sweet-shooting Rudy Fernandez has already made 6-of-15 threes and has a 20-point game under his belt. There's plenty more where that came from. Outlaw is going to play more minutes with Greg Oden out, so he's a solid option at this point. He's made a trey in every game thus far, and more blocks should be coming soon. Blake is currently averaging 2 threes, but just 3 assists per game. If you need boards, Joel Przybilla is worth picking up while Oden's out. I don't suggest starting him this week however, as he could be guarding Carlos Boozer, Yao, and Al Jefferson. The kid Nicholas Batum (he turns 20 in December) is more NBA-ready than I thought he would be. He's definitely long and athletic, altho probably a few years away from making a fantasy impact.

Sure starts: RoyBorderline: Aldridge, Fernandez, OutlawBench: Oden, BlakeWatch: Przybilla

Sacramento Kings (4 games)

Kevin Martin got off to a terrible 7-for-27 start, but he busted out for 31 points on Saturday. With games against Memphis and Golden State this week, expect more high-scoring performances. John Salmons is the Kings' only other reliable option on offense right now. One reason I preferred Francisco Garcia was Francisco's superior three-point shooting, and sure enough, Salmons is just 1-for-7 from beyond the arc thus far. Spencer Hawes is currently putting up 11.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 1 steal and 1 three per game, but don't expect it to continue, because Brad Miller returns later this week. Miller's return will mean fewer frontcourt minutes all around, making Jason Thompson a risky play and rendering Mikki Moore worthless. Beno Udrih isn't taking many shot attempts, but he's not exactly doing a great job of facilitating the offense (4 assists to 4 turnovers per game).

Sure starts: Kev-Mart, Salmons, HawesBorderline: Udrih, ThompsonBench: B. Miller, Garcia

San Antonio Spurs (3 games)

Timmy Duncan is averaging 29.5 points on 62.5 percent FG shooting through two games, but he's yet to block a shot and is shooting free throws poorly right off the bat. The Spurs are 0-2 to start the season, which is actually a good sign for Duncan owners, because he'll need to play big minutes while Manu Ginobili's out. I predicted a career year for Tony Parker, and he's off to a superb start. Through two games, he's averaging 28 points and 8 assists on 53.5 percent shooting and 83.3 percent from the line. Roger Mason is getting big minutes off the bench, and he's dished out 7 assists and made 5 threes in just two games. He'll be a decent option in deep leagues until Ginobili comes back. Matt Bonner is averaging just 6.5 points per game, but he's worth noting because he played 30 minutes in Game 1 and he started Game 2. He's capable of knocking down a lot of threes if he gets hot, so keep an eye on him. With Francisco Oberto out with an irregular heartbeat, you'd think that Kurt Thomas might have some fringe fantasy value. Not so. He's averaging just 2 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes per game. At 36 years old, it looks like you can officially write him off. Ditto for the 37 year old Bruce Bowen. He's still starting, but he's averaging just 21 minutes per game (his lowest mark in nine years) and has yet to score a point.

Sure starts: Duncan, T. ParkerBorderline: R. MasonBench: Ginobili, Michael FinleyWatch: Bonner

Toronto Raptors (3 games)

Chris Bosh is off to a great start, averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game on 54 percent shooting and 80 percent from the line. The extra dimes are a great bonus, so hopefully he can keep that up. Some people weren't sold on Jose Calderon's stats from last season, but he's averaging 18 points, 9.7 assists, and 2 treys per game to go along with excellent shooting. He's not scoring many points, but Jermaine O'Neal is averaging 7.3 boards, 2 blocks, and 5.3 fouls per game. I regret passing on Anthony Parker, because he's racked up 8 steals and 7 threes in just three games thus far. He isn't pulling down any boards, but Jamario Moon has already racked up 5 threes, 5 steals, and 4 blocks in three games. Andrea Bargnani sandwiched one stellar game with two mediocre performances, but he's blocking shots and not settling for threes, which is a good thing. Kapono is Toronto's leading scorer off the bench, so keep an eye on him.

Sure starts: Bosh, Calderon, J. O'Neal, A. ParkerBorderline: MoonBench: BargnaniWatch:Jason Kapono

Utah Jazz (4 games)

Boozer is off to a great start, scoring 25 points on 64 percent shooting and pulling down 12 rebounds per game. Mehmet Okur has pulled down 10 boards in each game, but is just 8-for-23 from the field and has yet to make a three thus far. Andrei Kirilenko is playing fantastic off the bench, and his all-around numbers are outstanding. Deron Williams is targeting Wednesday's home game vs. Portland for his '08-09 debut, which would give him three games this week. He's a risky start, but if you need assists, you may as well roll the dice on him. Ronnie Brewer is averaging 15.5 points per game and has already made a three, which is notable because he made just 11 in 76 games last year.

Surestarts: Boozer, Okur, Kirilenko, BrewerBorferline: DeronWatch:Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver

Washington Wizards (3 games)

Caron Butler is off to a decent start, but I'm expecting more this season. Antawn Jamison had a very poor season opener, but he dropped 24 points and 8 rebounds in game 2. DeShawn Stevenson knocked down 4 treys in the opener, but he hasn't done much else, so keep him on your bench. Antonio Daniels is good for his 4-plus assist/ turnover ratio, but that's about it. Andray Blatche played just four minutes on Saturday, and was called out by coach Eddie Jordan afterwards. That's not a good sign, but Blatche still has all kinds of potential. Nick Young exploded for 23 points in just 29 minutes on Saturday, so keep an eye on him since the Wizards need extra offense.

Sure starts: Butler, JamisonBench:Gilbert Arenas, Stevenson, A. Daniels, Etan ThomasWatch: Blatche, Young

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