Brandan Wright is a stellar shot-blocker, while Marquis Daniels is basking in Mike Dunleavy's absence. That's why they're my top pickups for Week 3.
Evil's Outlook goes around the league, team by team, and examines which players are hot and cold, and which players are worth keeping an eye on. The outlook for Week 3 suggests 93 players who are safe starts and 54 who are borderline decisions, so if your league is much smaller or much larger, adjust accordingly.
Listed first are the number of games played for each team, followed by five teams with poor and favorable schedules. After that are my Top 3 Pickups for deep leagues and my Top 5 Fill-Ins for short-term help. Lastly, all 30 NBA teams are listed in alphabetical order. Ideally, you'll be able to get a good feel of what's going on around the league just by reading this, even if you didn't watch a single game or look at any boxscores this past week.
4 games: ATL, BOS, DAL, DEN, DET, IND, MIA, MIL, NJN, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, PHO, POR, SAC, SA, UTA
3 games: CHA, CHI, CLE, GSW, HOU, LAL, MEM, MIN, NOR, TOR
2 games: LAC, WAS
1. Washington Wizards (2 games - Utah, @Miami)
2. New Orleans Hornets (3 games - LA Lakers, Portland, @Houston)
3. Los Angeles Lakers (3 games - @Dallas, @New Orleans, Detroit)
4. Portland Trail Blazers (4 games - @Orlando, @Miami, @New Orleans, @Minnesota)
5. Dallas Mavericks (4 games - LA Lakers, @Chicago, Orlando, @New York)
1. New York Knicks (4 games - @San Antonio, @Memphis, Oklahoma City, Dallas)
2. Indiana Pacers (4 games - Oklahoma City, @New Jersey, Philadelphia, @Chicago)
3. San Antonio Spurs (4 games - New York, @Milwaukee, Houston, @Sacramento)
4. Minnesota Timberwolves (3 games - @Golden State, Portland, @Denver)
5. Los Angeles Clippers (2 games - Sacramento, Golden State)
1.Marquis Daniels (Pacers)
After five games, Daniels is averaging 15 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.2 steals, .8 threes, and .6 blocks in 35.8 minutes per game. Those are excellent all-around numbers, and as long as Mike Dunleavy is out, he'll continue to be a solid fantasy starter. Daniels is shooting just 19% from beyond the arc and he's never been a great outside shooter, but people were saying good things about him in training camp, and he's seized a golden opportunity to start the season. Mike Jr. has no idea when he's going to return, and it doesn't sound like his knee problems are going away anytime soon, so pickup Marquis ASAP if he's still available.
2. Brandan Wright (Warriors)
If you've never seen Wright play before, just watch these 3 videos:
1. Throwing it down on Josh Smith
2. Blocking Kevin Durant at the apex
3. SOARING past Matt Carroll
Wright's extra-long wingspan allows him to meet guys like Josh Smith and Rudy Gay above the rim, so it shouldn't surprise you that he has already blocked 9 shots in just 77 minutes this season. He's still quite raw offensively, but he has a nice lefty touch and a high release point (of course) on his jumper. With Al Harrington potentially being traded soon, Wright should be picked up in nearly all leagues. He just turned 21, so you shouldn't expect too much out of him, but at least he doesn't get into foul trouble a la Amir Johnson.
3. Sebastian Telfair (Timberwolves)
Minnesota coach Randy Wittman decided to mix things up by starting Telfair at point guard when he returned from his suspension. He's responded by posting 21 assists to just three turnovers in his first three games. Unfortunately, he's made just 10-of-26 shots, which is in line with his poor career mark of 39% FG shooting. He won't make a ton of threes or get a bunch of steals, but you get Telfair for the assists... anything else is just a bonus. In 51 starts last season, he averaged 6.2 dimes to just 1.9 turnovers in 33.6 minutes per game, so he's extra valuable if your league uses ast/to ratio. Randy Foye is still getting a lot of playing time off the bench, but if Telfair continues to start and get 26+ minutes per game, he'll be worth owning in most leagues.
My Top 3 Pickups are guys who have the potential to provide solid long-term help for fantasy teams, but my Top 5 Fill-Ins are guys you should consider picking up if you need short-term help in certain categories or positions. Even in deep leagues, most of these players will usually fly under the radar, but they could fill-in quite nicely.
For Steals & Assists: George Hill (Spurs) & C.J. Watson (Warriors)
I've yet to see Hill play, but he's slated to start for San Antonio now that Tony Parker is injured. Hill attended Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which is neither Indiana nor Purdue, but IUPUI (of course). In his final college season, he averaged 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.5 threes, and 2.9 turnovers in 36.8 minutes per game, while shooting a rock solid 54.5% from the field, 45% from beyond the arc, and 81.2% from the line. Those are juicy numbers, but there's a big difference between The Summit League and the NBA. So I don't know what kind of potential he has, but someone's gotta put up numbers while Parker is out, and Jacque Vaughn is old and Roger Mason can only do so much. Give Hill a look if you need short-term guard help.
Watson has started the last three games for the Warriors and averaged a solid 11 points, 5 assists, one steal, and a turnover in 37 minutes per game. He deserves props because he's playing with a torn ligament in his shooting elbow (thus the giant brace), which has to be affecting his shot. However, he looks comfortable playing big minutes and is worth owning as long as he's starting for the Warriors. Just don't expect him to be a long-term solution for your fantasy team, because he doesn't make many threes or get many steals, and Marcus Williams is slowly earning more playing time.
For Threes & FT%: Chris Quinn (Heat) & Ime Udoka (Spurs)
In '07-08, Quinn attempted just 2.7 threes in 22.3 minutes per game, even though he shot over 40% from beyond the arc. This season, Miami is asking him to be more of a shooter, and he's responded by taking 13 threes (making 9) in his last two games. The Heat are in dire need of outside shooting help due to James Jones' injury, so Quinn has been given the green light and is red hot right now. If you need some treys, consider picking him.
I would have chosen Michael Finley, but he's shooting an ice cold 26.8% from the field. So I suggest turning to Udoka for 3-point help. The depleted Spurs need people to score, so Udoka attempted 10 shots on Friday (third highest total on the team behind Duncan & Mason). Half of those shot attempts were threes, and he made three of them. If you recall Udoka's 20'06-07 season, he made 89 threes in 75 games for Portland while shooting 40.6% from beyond the arc, so his range is solid. If Quinn is gone, feel free to gamble on Udoka.
For Boards & Blocks: Solomon Jones (Hawks)
Chris Andersen fractured a rib on Sunday, so I dropped him for Jones. 'Solo is getting extra playing time due to Josh Smith's injury, and he's totaled 19 boards and five blocks in 47 minutes in Atlanta's last two games. Jones is long and lean, and the Hawks need him to step up right now. He doesn't have much of an offensive game, but he's made 73 of 99 free throws during his NBA career, which could certainly be a lot worse. Give him a look if you need another leather-slapper.
Josh Smith is out two-to-four weeks with a sprained ankle, which opens up more minutes for Zaza Pachulia and Solomon Jones, who has pulled down 19 boards and blocked five shots in his last two games, so he could be worth a pickup if you need help in those cats. Flip Murray and Mo Evans will also be asked to score more off the bench now, so keep an eye on them.
START: J. Johnson, Horford, Bibby, M. Williams BORDERLINE: S. Jones
WATCH: Pachulia, Murray, Evans
Ray Allen is playing a little better after a slow start. Kendrick Perkins has pulled down 34 rebounds and blocked 17 shots in his last four games, so feel free to start him if you need help in those cats. Tony Allen finally had a big game on Sunday (23 points, 5 boards, 2 steals), but he's not a reliable starter yet.
START: Garnett, Pierce, Rondo, R. Allen, Perkins
BORDERLINE: T. Allen
After dropping 34 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals, and 2 threes in the season opener, Gerald Wallace has cooled considerably. His name has been involved in several trade rumors recently, which may be affecting his play. Rookie guard D.J. Augustin is averaging 24 minutes, 13 points, 4 assists, 1.7 threes, and just one turnover in his last three games, so he's worth a pickup.
START: J-Rich, G. Wallace
BORDERLINE: Okafor, Felton BENCH: Augustin
Kirk Hinrich could miss up to tjree months with a torn ligament in his thumb, which is a big blow to Chicago's backcourt. If you don't have an IR spot for him, you may want to drop him. Ben Gordon will get big minutes until Larry Hughes returns, and Thabo Sefolosha is now worth watching. Joakim Noah is getting decent playing time, so consider picking him up if someone dropped him. Andres Nocioni played 38 minutes on Saturday because Drew Gooden was injured, so monitor that situation.
START: Rose, B. Gordon, Deng
BORDERLINE: Gooden, Ty Thomas, Noah
LeBron James has made 46 of his last 55 free throws (83.6%), but don't expect that to last. Anderson Varejao is starting to put up decent stats, so pick him up if you need a third center. Ben Wallace is averaging 16.1 rebounds, but just 4.4 points per 48 minutes.
START: LeBron, Big Z, Mo Williams
BORDERLINE: D. West
BENCH: Gibson, Varejao, B. Wallace
Josh Howard sat out Sunday's game with a wrist injury, making him a questionable start this week. Gerald Green filled in admirably, going for 13 points and 12 rebounds. Keep an eye on him in case he earns more minutes. Jason Terry has started the last three games, so you can start him with confidence now.
START: Dirk, Kidd, Terry
BORDERLINE: J. Howard
WATCH: G. Green
Kenyon Martin sat out Sunday's game with a wrist injury and Chris Andersen left Sunday's with a fractured rib, so Denver's frontcourt is hurting. Watch Linas Kleiza and Renaldo Balkman in case Martin misses more games. Nene is dominating the paint and looks like one of the best value picks of '08. J.R. Smith had a horrible game on Sunday (4 points, 3 turnovers, and 5 fouls in just 14 minutes), but I'm sure he'll get hot soon.
START: Anthony, Billups, Nene
BORDERLINE: JR Smith, K-Mart
WATCH: Kleiza, Balkman
DROP: A. Carter, C. Andersen
Tayshaun Prince is on fire (averaging 23 points, 9.3 rebounds, and two threes in his last three games), so he's a must-start right now. Amir Johnson finally had a solid game on Sunday (7 points, 5 boards, 2 steals, and 3 blocks in just 22 minutes), but he's still very unreliable at this point. Jason Maxiell has struggled big time since McDyess got traded, but I'm confident that he'll turn it around soon. Stuckey played just 12 minutes on Sunday before leaving the game feeling lightheaded.
START: Iverson, Hamilton, Prince, R. Wallace
BENCH: Stuckey, Maxiell
Andris Biedrins is simply dominant right now, and appears to be this year's version of Chris Kaman. Corey Maggete (hamstring) and Al Harrington (back) have each missed the past two games, which has opened up minutes for Brandan Wright and others.
START: S. Jackson, Biedrins
BORDERLINE: Azubuike, B. Wright
BENCH: Maggette, Harrington, CJ Watson
Yao's stats have been very mediocre recently, so I'm expecting him to bounce back in Week 3. Tracy McGrady is just 1-for-16 in his last two games, but I suggest starting him and hoping for the best. Aaron Brooks had 20 points, 4 assists, and 3 threes on Sunday, so he's definitely worth watching if you need guard help.
START: Yao, Artest, T-Mac
BENCH: Alston, Battier
WATCH: Brooks, Landry
Troy Murphy has three double-doubles in five games and is averaging 2.4 treys, which make him a must-start player right now. Marquis Daniels continues to put up solid all-around stats in Mike Dunleavy's absence, so pick him up if he's still available. Jeff Foster erupted for 12 points and 13 boards on Saturday, so consider starting him this Week 3 due to Indy's favorable schedule.
START: Granger, Murphy, Ford, M. Daniels
Baron Davis and Marcus Camby returned in Week 2, and both are starting to heat up, so make sure they're in your lineups. Meanwhile, Tim Thomas sprained his ankle, so drop him if you picked him up. Eric Gordon played 30 minutes and made three threes on Sunday. Keep an eye on the rookie.
START: B. Davis, Kaman, Camby
BENCH: Mobley, R. Davis
WATCH: E. Gordon
DROP: T. Thomas
Pau Gasol is averaging 14 rebounds in his last three games, while Lamar Odom's stats are mediocre at best. Through five games, Kobe Bryant is averaging just .6 threes and 3.4 assists (1.8 threes and 5.4 assists in '07-08). Trevor Ariza is playing great (5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1.2 threes), but he's not getting enough minutes yet to count on him.
START: Kobe, P. Gasol, Bynum
BENCH: Odom, Fisher, Radmanovic
WATCH: Ariza, Farmar
In his last three games, O.J. Mayo has made 11 threes and scored a total of 79 points. He's getting rave reviews around the league, and he'll only get better. Marc Gasol has fallen back to earth after his monster game vs. Golden State, making him just a so-so option for Week 3. Mike Conley is in a funk, so keep an eye on Kyle Lowry (total of 12 assists, 5 steals, 3 threes in his last three games). Darko Milicic picked up five fouls in just nine minutes on Sunday, so you can safely drop him and let him fade into oblivion.
START: Gay, Mayo
BORDERLINE: M. Gasol, Arthur
BENCH: Conley, Warrick
In my team preview posted on Sept. 14, I said not to sleep on Mario Chalmers. A cot is a lot more comfortable. I also noted how he led the Big 12 in thefts in all three of his seasons at Kansas, and to prove that he could do the same thing in the NBA, he nabbed nine steals last Wednesday vs. Philly! Mario's value is pretty solid right now, but just wait'll he adjusts to the longer three-point line. Chris Quinn has been encouraged to become less of a playmaker and more of a spot-up shooter, and he's responded by making 9-of-13 treys in his last two games. If you need threes, he's worth a pickup, but don't expect too much or you'll be disappointed.
START: Wade, Marion, Beasley, Haslem, Chalmers
Michael Redd has missed three games in a row with a sprained ankle, so be careful. Luke Ridnour is still starting, but he's getting outplayed by Ramon Sessions at the moment. Speaking of getting outplayed, Charlie Villanueva continues to lose minutes to Mbah a Moute and should be benched until further notice.
START: Bogut, R. Jefferson, Sessions
BORDERLINE: Redd, Ridnour, Mbah a Moute
After a slow start, Mike Miller has made nine threes, grabbed 19 boards, and dished out 12 assists in his last three games. Kevin Love shot 0-for-7 on Saturday, but he's now starting, which is very good if you own him. Sebastian Telfair was also inserted into the starting lineup recently, so pick him up if you need assists. Randy Foye is still getting solid minutes off the bench, but his owners should be worried. After being one of Minnesota's most dependable players last season, it seems that Ryan Gomes is now a mere afterthought, which doesn't make sense to me.
START: A. Jefferson, M. Miller
BORDERLINE: Love, Telfair, Foye
BENCH: Gomes, C. Brewer
Devin Harris exploded for 38 points on Friday, but he sprained his ankle and missed Saturday's game. It didn't swell up too much, so he was expected back soon. I'm planning on starting him unless I hear he'll miss two more games. Yi Jianlian is shooting just 36% from the field, but he's getting enough boards and blocks to make up for it. Josh Boone has been up and down, making him a borderline start this week.
START: V. Carter, Harris, Jianlian
BENCH: B. Lopez, B. Simmons
The Hornets have three tough games this week, making anyone besides Chris Paul and David West risky plays. Peja recovered from his ankle injury quickly, and he's made 10 treys in his last two games. Morris Peterson and Rasual Butler did very little in his absence, so both can safely be dropped.
START: Paul, D. West
BORDERLINE: T. Chandler, Stojakovic
DROP: Peterson, R. Butler
The Knicks have a very favorable schedule, so start them with confidence. Jamal Crawford finally had one of his big games, dropping 32 points and five treys on Sunday. Zach Randolph has four straight double-doubles, but David Lee is coming off the bench now and his value is hurting. After a sluggish start, Chris Duhon has dropped 21 assists in his last two games, showing why I picked him to have a career year.
START: Crawford, Randolph, 'Lil Nate, Duhon, Lee, W. Chandler
Jeff Green had 22 points, three threes, and three steals on Friday, but his shot is still very inconsistent. Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox aren't doing much of anything, which makes me think that both players are nursing injuries. Joe Smith went for 14 points and 9 boards on Sunday, so keep an eye on him in case he gets more minutes.
START: Durant, Green, Watson
BENCH: Collison, Wilcox
WATCH: J. Smith
Dwight Howard had a sup-par performance on Thursday, but he bounced back with 31 points and 16 rebounds on Saturday. He's now shooting a monster 65% from the field, but a Shaq-like 48.5% from the line. Mickael Pietrus has had to battle foul trouble recently, but he's still racked up 7 threes, 5 steals, and two blocks in his last five games.
START: D. Howard, Lewis, Turkoglu
BORDERLINE: Pietrus, Nelson
Elton Brand scored just six points in his last game and is now averaging just 12.7 field goal attempts and 14.7 points per contest, well below his career averages. Andre Miller is shooting just 38.6% from the field and dishing out just 5.7 assists per game. Stop shooting and pass the rock Andre! Thaddeus Young continues to knock down treys and score at a high clip, so keep him in your lineup.
START: Brand, Iguodala, A. Miller, Dalembert, T. Young
BENCH: L. Williams
Amare Stoudemire has scored 99 points and made a whopping 49-of-53 free throws in his last three games! Shaq sat out Friday's game to stay fresh, then dropped 29 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday vs. the Bucks. Terry Porter is going to give him (and perhaps Nash) games off every now and then, so pay attention to this. Matt Barnes has missed the last three games due to personal reasons, so you may want to bench him and consider starting Grant Hill as a result.
START: Stoudemire, Nash, Shaq
BORDERLINE: Bell, Barnes, G. Hill
BENCH: Barbosa, Diaw
The duo of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge is playing superbly, but Portland has a tough schedule, so their other players aren't sure bets. It sounds like Greg Oden will be out at least another week, so Joel Przybilla is an option if you're desperate for center help.
START: Roy, Aldridge
BORDERLINE: Fernandez, Outlaw, Blake, Przybilla
Kevin Martin scored 27 points in 31 minutes on Sunday, but left the game early with another ankle injury. It doesn't sound bad, so I suggest starting him unless you hear that he's going to miss more than one game. Brad Miller has played well since returning from suspension, so make sure he's in your lineup. Spencer Hawes is still putting up solid numbers off the bench. Start him while you can. Bobby Brown has made 6 threes and dropped 10 assists in his last three games. Keep an eye on him.
START: Kev-Mart, Salmons, B. Miller, Hawes
BENCH: Garcia, Thompson
WATCH: B. Brown
San Antonio has a favorable schedule, but not many reliable options. Tony Parker erupted for 55 points last Wednesday, but he'll miss up to a month with an ankle injury, meaning that Roger Mason could be a fantasy stud for the time being. Rookie point guard George Hill will get a chance to prove himself, so consider picking him up if he performs well. The Spurs are desperate for scoring help now, so consider starting Ime Udoka or Michael Finley in deep leagues, and keep an eye on Desmon Farmer.
START: Duncan, R. Mason
BORDERLINE: Udoka, Finley
BENCH: T. Parker, Ginobili
WATCH: G. Hill, Farmer
Chris Bosh is playing like an MVP candidate, and it's a pleasure to watch if you own him. Jamario Moon pulled down nine rebounds in 36 minutes on Sunday, which is a good way for him to keep his starting job. Andrea Bargnani continues to play well off the bench, but I only suggest starting him if you're desperate for threes.
START: Bosh, Calderon
BORDERLINE: J. O'Neal, A. Parker, Moon
It sounds like Deron Williams owners will have to wait ANOTHER week (or more) before seeing him in action. Brevin Knight has been getting more minutes in his absence, and is worth picking up if you need steals and assists. It's still early, but one of the more interesting storylines for me is how well Andrei Kirilenko is playing off the bench. In the previous five years, AK 47 had started 320 of his 330 games, but it looks like he has his sights on the '08-09 Sixth Man Award.
START: Boozer, Okur, Kirilenko, R. Brewer
BENCH: D. Williams
WATCH: Millsap, Korver
The Wizards only have two games this week, and their opponents (Utah and Miami) are solid defensive teams, making Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison questionable starts. Butler will be hounded by Kirilenko and Marion, so I'm leaning towards benching him. Juan Dixon started their last game in place of Antonio Daniels, so keep an eye on him in deep leagues. Nick Young is averaging 18.3 points in his last 4 games, but I don't recommend starting him just yet. Etan Thomas hasn't done much this season. That means JaVale McGee is worth picking up in case he gets more minutes.
BORDERLINE: Butler, Jamison
BENCH: Arenas, Stevenson, N. Young, McGee
WATCH: Blatche, Dixon
DROP: A. Daniels, E. Thomas