The Outlook goes around the league, team by team, and examines which players are hot and cold, and which players you should keep an eye on. The outlook for Week 4 suggests 98 players who are safe starts and 50 players who are borderline, so if your league is much smaller or larger, adjust accordingly. As always, let's start with a look at the schedules for the coming week.Listed first are the of games played for each team, followed by five teams with poor and favorable schedules.
Four games: ATL, BOS, CHI, DEN, HOU, LAC, LAL, MIL, OKC, POR, SAC, TOR, UTA, WAS
Three games: CHA, CLE, DAL, DET, GSW, IND, MEM, MIA, MIN, NJN, NOR, NYK, ORL, PHI, PHO, SAS
1. Phoenix Suns (3 games: @Utah, LA Lakers, Portland)2. Minnesota Timberwolves (3 games: Philadelphia, Boston, @Detroit)3. Orlando Magic (3 games: Toronto, @Indiana, Houston)4. Indiana Pacers (3 games: Atlanta, Orlando, @Miami)5. Toronto Raptors (4 games: @Orlando, @Miami, New Jersey, Boston)
1. Los Angeles Clippers (4 games: San Antonio, @Oklahoma City, @Philadelphia, @New Jersey)2. Portland Trail Blazers (4 games: @Golden State, Chicago, @Sacramento, @Phoenix)3. Houston Rockets (4 games: @Oklahoma City, Dallas, @Washington, @Orlando)4. New Orleans Hornets (3 games: Sacramento, @Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City)5. Philadelphia 76ers (3 games: @Minnesota, LA Clippers, Golden State)
1. JaVale McGee, Wizards
In my Outlook for Week 3, I said that "JaVale McGee is worth picking up in case he gets more minutes," and sure enough, he averaged 25.5 minutes in two games last week. A lot of people are raving about this kid, from All-Stars like Chris Paul and Carlos Boozer, to RotoEvil forum members like catman2051. Despite all the hype, he's still owned in just 3.7 percent of ESPN leagues (say what?!) and 43 percent of CBS Sportsline leagues.
"Lemonhead" has played just 120 NBA minutes thus far, but he's totaled 56 points, 38 rebounds, 7 blocks, and (this is key) just 11 fouls. That translates to a rock solid 16.8 points, 11.4 rebounds (3.9 offensive), 2.1 blocks and 3.3 fouls per 36 minutes. While he's not going to average 36 minutes this season, he could very well play 24-30 minutes from now till the All-Star break, and perhaps 30-plus minutes afterwards. The Wizards are going to fall out of the playoff race early this season, so their youngsters could see extra run in the second half. If you want to reap the rewards later, you must pick him up now, because a couple more double-doubles and he'll likely be gone. FYI: In case you're wondering about the nickname, here's Caron Butler's take:
"Just look at him. You see the box of lemonheads and you see the little smiley face on there and you put that up to JaVale and he looks just like him. I mean identical. We've got Stewie, we've got Lemonhead. Man, we've got a lot of stuff going on around here."
2. Anthony Morrow, Warriors
LSU rookie Anthony Randolph has shown flashes of talent early on, but Georgia Tech rookie Morrow has stolen the spotlight. Morrow was given a chance to start on Saturday, and he responded with 37 points, 11 rebounds and four threes on 15-20 shooting from the field. Remember, it was against the Clippers, and the Warriors attempted a whopping 94 shots from the field, but Morrow is no slouch.
Over the summer, he was the MVP of the Rocky Mountain Revue, he made 44.8 percent of his three-pointers last year in college, and Don Nelson says he's the best pure shooter on the team. The 11 boards were a fluke (he averaged just 4.1 per game last season), and I'm not sure if he'll do much else besides score, but Morrow can shoot the lights out and is worth owning if he continues to get 32-plus minutes. Will that happen? Only Don Nelson knows.
3. Ryan Gomes, Timberwolves
Something strange happened on Sunday. Jason Collins started at center, but Gomes also started and played a season-high 35 minutes. He had a solid all-around line of 12 points, 4 boards, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 1 three. Randy Wittman likely will give him more playing time as a result. Corey Brewer's minutes have plummeted, so he's no longer in the picture. With the defensive-minded Collins now in at center, the Wolves need a versatile small forward who can knock down shots. That man is Gomes.
In 74 starts last season, the former Providence star averaged 30.7 minutes, 13.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, .8 steals and .8 threes with solid shooting percentages. Not eye-popping numbers by any means, but solid fantasy stats for a reliable backup player. He was likely dropped in most leagues due to his slow start, but Gomes is worth picking up if you need another forward.
For points and assists:Flip Murray, Hawks
I thought that Maurice Evans was going to be solid as Atlanta's sixth man, but it looks like Murray is the man to own instead. Believe it or not, he's averaging more points per game than Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford! His 2.6 assists in just 25.7 minutes per game is pretty solid, and his 1.2 steals and 1.2 threes per game are career-best marks. With four games this week, Murray is a nice fill-in if you need guard help.
For steals and field-goal shooting:Trevor Ariza, Lakers
Last week I believed Ariza wasn't getting enough minutes to count on him yet, but since then, his playing time has gone up while Vladimir Radmanovic's has gone down. Radman is in a 5-for-22 slump, so Ariza looks like a solid pickup right now. Despite coming off the bench, he's currently tied for 10th in steals with Ron Artest and LeBron James (not bad company), and he's shooting over 50 percent from the field for the third season in a row. I kind of soured on him when he lost the starting small forward job in preseason, but his current stats have reminded me why I chose him to break out this season.
For threes and free-throw percentage:Daequan Cook, Heat and Adam Morrison, Bobcats
If you need treys, look no further than Cook, who has made 25 of them in just 10 games thus far. In fact, he's clearly more comfortable outside the arc than he is inside, because he's made 25-of-64 threes (39.1 percent), but just 10-of-30 on twos (33.3 percent). As a rookie, he didn't contribute much else besides outside shooting, but in his sophomore season, he's become a much tougher defender, thus ensuring himself a key spot in Miami's rotation.
It took a long time for him to bounce back, but Morrison is finally looking comfortable on the court again. The injury to Jason Richardson has opened up more minutes for him, and he's responded with 45 points and 7 threes in 75 total minutes in his last three games. The rest of his stats are virtually non-existent, but there's no denying his shooting touch. The Bobcats play just three times in Week 4, but they play a max of four games in weeks 5 thru 8, making him a nice short-term pickup.
For boards and blocks:Rasho Nesterovic, Pacers
Since returning from an ankle injury, Rasho has scored 32 points, grabbed 20 rebounds, and blocked 3 shots in three games for Indiana. Even more impressive to me is that he's averaging 2.4 assists this season, which currently ranks him third among all centers (behind Brad Miller and Al Horford). While that number may decline a bit, it's a sign that he's comfortable with his new system and teammates, which in turn suggests that he'll continue to get solid minutes as the Pacers starting center.
Atlanta Hawks (4 games)
After a superb 6-0 start, the Hawks have fallen back to earth with three-straight losses. Joe Johnson is stuffing stat sheets with the best of them, as he currently ranks third in threes, fourth in scoring, 13th in steals and 25th in assists. Flip Murray is averaging 16.3 points, 3.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 threes in his last three games, making him a possible starter in deep leagues.
Sure starts: J. Johnson, Horford, Bibby, M. WilliamsBorderline: MurrayBench: J-Smoov
Boston Celtics (4 games)
Paul Pierce is on fire, having made 13 threes and a whopping 50-of-55 free throws in his last four games alone. Rajon Rondo is just 5-for-25 in his last four games, but you almost have to keep him active for his steals and assists. You can safely drop Tony Allen because his minutes have plummeted, but he'll have value at some point this season.
Sure starts:Kevin Garnett, Pierce, Ray Allen, RondoBorderline:Kendrick PerkinsDrop: T. Allen
Charlotte Bobcats (3 games)
Jason Richardson had an exploratory arthroscopic procedure on his right knee on Wednesday, so bench him and hope he returns soon. Emeka Okafor's minutes and stats have been down recently, making him a borderline start with just three games this week. Adam Morrison's minutes and shot attempts have gone up, and he's averaging 15 points and 2.3 treys in his last 3 games. He's finally playing with some confidence, and is a decent starter while J-Rich is out.
Sure stars:Gerald WallaceBorderline: Okafor, Raymond Felton, MorrisonBench: J-Rich, D.J. Augustin
Chicago Bulls (4 games)
Derrick Rose continues to put up impressive numbers, and he's even cut down on his turnovers recently. After a slow start, Andres Nocioni is averaging 32 minutes, 15 points and 2.5 threes in his last four games. Unfortunately, his emergence has made Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas even more unreliable. Larry Hughes is worth watching since he returned from injury, but I don't suggest starting him until he does a little more.
Sure starts: D. Rose, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Drew GoodenBorderline: Nocioni, NoahBench: Ty ThomasWatch: Hughes
Cleveland Cavaliers (3 games)
LeBron is averaging 35.5 points in his last four games, and I'll be surprised if he doesn't set a career-high in scoring this season. Mo Williams is shooting just 32.7 percent from beyond the arc, but he's picked up his play recently and should be a must-start the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Daniel Gibson played just 15 minutes on Saturday and 19 on Thursday, so you can safely drop him.
Sure starts: LeBron, Big Z, Mo WilliamsBorderline:Delonte WestBench: Anderson Varejao, Ben WallaceDrop: Gibson
Dallas Mavericks (3 games)
After a quiet start, Dirk Nowitzki exploded for 39 points and 15 rebounds on Sunday. Josh Howard also had a season-high 31 points, 14 boards and 3 blocks, so he must have recovered from his wrist injury. After racking up 27 points, 34 boards, and 6 blocks on Tuesday and Thurday, ErickDampier combined for just 4 points, 10 boards and 1 block on Friday and Sunday. If you thought that you could rely on him, think again.
Sure starts: Dirk, Jason Kidd, J. Howard, Jason TerryBench: Dampier
Denver Nuggets (4 games)
Carmelo Anthony is shooting just 35 percent from the field in his last three games, but he's hitting the boards hard and is due to get hot. Chauncey Billups already has two 25-plus point games for Denver, after dropping just 10 of them for Detroit last season. J.R. Smith quietly has 7 treys and 4 steals in his last three games, so pick him up if someone panicked and dropped him. Despite coming off the bench on Sunday, Linas Kleiza had 7 boards and 3 treys.
Sure starts: Anthony, Billups, Nene, Kenyon Martin, J.R. SmithBorderline: Kleiza
Detroit Pistons (3 games)
Rasheed Wallace is currently averaging a career-high 9.3 rebounds per game. So much for the young guys stealing away his stats. Tayshaun Prince finally had a mediocre game on Sunday, but he was due for an off game. Kwame Brown is now starting at center for Detroit, thus killing the present value of Amir Johnson and Jason Maxiell.
Sure starts:Allen Iverson, Richard Hamilton, Prince, R. WallaceBench:Rodney StuckeyDrop: Amir, Maxiell
Golden St. Warriors (3 games)
Andris Biedrins set a Warriors record with his 16th straight double-double, and it doesn't look like the streak is going to end anytime soon. Despite his huge game on Saturday, I'm still calling Anthony Morrow a borderline starter for Week 4. Brandan Wright didn't play on Saturday, so I suggest benching him this week.
Sure starts: Stephen Jackson, Biedrins, Corey MaggetteBorderline:Kelenna Azubuike, Morrow, C.J. WatsonBench: B. Wright, Al Harrington
Houston Rockets (4 games)
Yao Ming's 21-point game on Saturday was his first 20-point performance since Oct. 30, which is very disappointing. Ron Artest continues to struggle with his shot, and is now shooting just 32.9 percent from the field. Houston has a favorable schedule this week, so consider starting Rafer Alston, Luis Scola, and Aaron Brooks.
Sure starts: Yao, Tracy McGrady, ArtestBorderline: Alston, Scola, BrooksBench: Shane Battier
Indiana Pacers (3 games)
T.J. Ford is filling up the stat sheet, even averaging 7.2 rebounds in his last 5 games. Troy Murphy was slowed by the flu last week, but he had a double-double on Saturday, so start him with confidence. Rasho Nesterovic has been solid since returning from his ankle injury, but Jeff Foster's minutes are declining due to Murphy's return.
Sure starts:Danny Granger, Ford, MurphyBorderline:Marquis Daniels, NesterovicBench: Foster, Mike DunleavyWatch: Jarrett Jack
L.A. Clippers (4 games)
Baron Davis is starting to heat up, with 20.5 points and 10 assists per in his last four games. Marcus Camby came off the bench vs. the Warriors, but you should keep him in your lineup. Ricky Davis finally had a good game last week, so keep an eye on him if you need a swingman.
Sure starts: B. Davis, Chris Kaman, CambyBorderline:Al Thornton, Cuttino MobleyWatch: R. Davis
L.A. Lakers (4 games)
Pau Gasol is pulling down more rebounds than ever before, but he's blocked just 7 shots in eight games. Lamar Odom played a season-low 20 minutes in his last game, so he's a very risky start this week. Derek Fisher and Radmanovic are in shooting slumps, so keep them on your bench this week.
Sure starts:Kobe Bryant, P. Gasol, Andrew BynumBorderline: Odom, Trevor ArizaBench: Fisher, Radmanovic
Memphis Grizzlies (3 games)
In his first 10 NBA games, O.J. Mayo has five 20-plus point games. Compare this to LeBron James, who had just four in the same time span. Mike Conley continues to struggle big time, but Kyle Lowry isn't playing much better, so try to hang onto Conley for a little while longer.
Sure starts:Rudy Gay, MayoBorderline:Marc GasolBench: Conley, Darrell Arthur, Hakim WarrickWatch: Lowry
Miami Heat (3 games)
Dwyane Wade tweaked his ankle on Sunday, but he doesn't expect to miss any time. Michael Beasley isn't doing much besides scoring, making him a borderline starter this week. Consider starting Daequan Cook if you need threes, but you should probably bench the slumping Mario Chalmers.
Sure starts: Wade, Shawn Marion, Udonis HaslemBorderline: Beasley, CookBench: Chalmers, Chris Quinn
Milwaukee Bucks (4 games)
Michael Redd has missed seven games in a row, but he's trying to return this week. Consider your alternatives before activating him. After a quiet start, Andrew Bogut is averaging 14 points and 13.7 boards in his last 3 games. Luke Ridnour is getting big minutes right now, so it makes sense to start him.
Sure starts: Bogut, Richard Jefferson, Luke Ridnour, Ramon SessionsBorderline: Redd, Luc Richard Mbah a MouteBench:Charlie Villanueva
Minnesota Timberwolves (3 games)
Can Mike Miller please get some more shot attempts? I know he's unselfish, but he's one of Minnesota's most efficient scorers. Randy Foye is playing well off the bench, while Sebastian Telfair's minutes are dwindling. Ryan Gomes is now starting for Randy Wittman, so consider starting him in deep leagues.
Sure starts:Al Jefferson, M. MillerBorderline: Foye, GomesBench:Kevin Love, TelfairDrop:Corey Brewer
New Jersey Nets (3 games)
Devin Harris returned from his ankle injury to drop 63 points, 18 assists, 4 steals and 4 threes in just two games. Of course, I had him on my bench (d'oh!). Brook Lopez has been starting at center in place of Josh Boone, but I have yet to hear how severe Boone's injury is. Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons are struggling, so keep an eye on Ryan Anderson and Jarvis Hayes.
Sure starts:Vince Carter, HarrisBorderline: B. Lopez, JianlianBench: Boone, B. SimmonsWatch: R. Anderson, Hayes
New Orleans Hornets (3 games)
David West and Tyson Chandler get to face the Thunder's weak frontline TWICE this week, so make sure they're in your lineup. Peja Stojakovic has scored a TOTAL of just 21 points in his last three games, so start him at your own risk this week. Keep an eye on Devin Brown, who had 13 points and 3 steals on Saturday and is earning more minutes.
Sure starts: Paul, D. West, T. ChandlerBorderline: StojakovicBench:James PoseyWatch: D. Brown
New York Knicks (3 games)
After a monster 27-point, 18-rebound, 2-trey performance on Sunday, Zach Randolph now has eight straight double-doubles. Chris Duhon is averaging 9.2 assists in his last six, tying him with Steve Nash for fifth overall. Q-Rich had a solid game on Sunday (17 points, 8 boards, 3 treys), but I don't recommend starting him just yet.
Sure starts:Jamal Crawford, Randolph, Duhon, Nate RobinsonBorderline:David Lee, Wilson ChandlerBench: Q-Rich
Oklahoma City Thunder (4 games)
If you throw out his 37-point, 8-rebound, 3-block game vs. Indiana, Kevin Durant has had a very poor start to his sophomore season. Meanwhile, his buddy Jeff Green is groovin': 62 points, 21 boards, 8 assists, 6 steals, and 4 threes in his last three games. Chris Wilcox's knee is still bothering him, which has opened up more minutes for Johan Petro and Robert Swift (I'm not a big fan of either guy).
Sure starts: Durant, Green, Earl WatsonBorderline: Westbrook, Nick CollisonBench: Wilcox
Orlando Magic (3 games)
The Magic have a tough schedule this week, making Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietrus questionable starters. What a man-beast! Dwight Howard has blocked 17 shots in his last three contests and is now averaging 4.2 rejections per game.
Sure starts: D. Howard, Rashard Lewis, Hedo TurkogluBorderline: Pietrus, Jameer Nelson
Philadelphia 76ers (3 games)
Andre Iguodala made half of his shots in his last game, so maybe he's ready to heat up. Andre Miller's lack of assists has bothered me, so it was nice to see him drop 9 dimes vs. the Thunder. Louis Williams is struggling big time and he's not getting many minutes, so dump him for now.
Sure starts:Elton Brand, Iguodala, A. Miller, Samuel Dalembert, Thaddeus YoungDrop: L. Williams
Phoenix Suns (3 games)
Phoenix has a tough schedule this week with games vs. the Jazz, Lakers and Blazers. Shaq has had a few dominant games recently, so it makes sense to start him since he's going against his former team and last year's No. 1 pick. Steve Nash is dishing out just 7.4 dimes per game early on, his lowest average in six years. GrantHill played well in his absence, but Matt Barnes returns from his suspension this week.
Sure starts:Amare Stoudemire, Nash, ShaqBorderline:Raja Bell, BarnesBench: G. Hill, Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw
Portland Trail Blazers (4 games)
LaMarcus Aldridge has seen his numbers dip since Greg Oden returned, so beware of this if you own him. Speaking of Oden, he's pulled down 19 boards and blocked 7 shots in just 48 total minutes in his last two games. Get him back in your lineups, and shame on you if you dropped him. Steve Blake is a solid starter this week due to Portland's nice schedule, but Travis Outlaw is more of a question mark.
Sure starts:Brandon Roy, Aldridge, Oden, Rudy Fernandez, BlakeBorderline: OutlawBench: Przybilla
Sacramento Kings (4 games)
The Kings play four times this week, but Kevin Martin's status is still very questionable. Beno Udrih is heating up, with 22.5 points, 4.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game over his last four. Spencer Hawes is still producing, but I'd like to reiterate my suggestion to sell high while you still can. Jason Thompson has been starting with Martin out, but his lack of blocks is disappointing.
Sure starts:John Salmons, Brad Miller, Udrih, HawesBorderline: Kev-Mart, ThompsonBench:Francisco Garcia
San Antonio Spurs (3 games)
Last week I suggested Ime Udoka over Michael Finley because Finley was in a major slump, but he broke out of it and is averaging 14.8 points and 2.3 threes in his last 4 games. George Hill has had one solid games and several so-so ones, so it's hard to rely on him right now. Matt Bonner finally got a chance to play and has drained 6 treys in his last two games, so keep an eye on him in case he earns more minutes.
Start:Tim Duncan, Roger MasonBorderline: FinleyBench:Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, HillWatch: Bonner
Toronto Raptors (4 games)
Jose Calderon missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, so he's a borderline starter this week. Will Solomon played well in his absence, so he's someone to watch in case Calderon misses more games. Jermaine O'Neal is putting up big numbers, so get him in your lineup. Andrea Bargnani replaced Jamario Moon in the starting lineup on Sunday, but he's still a questionable play this week due to Toronto's tough schedule. I don't suggest dropping Moon yet.
Sure starts:Chris Bosh, J. O'Neal, Anthony ParkerBorderline: Calderon, BargnaniBench: MoonWatch: Solomon
Utah Jazz (4 games)
Utah is hurting right now, as Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur and Harpring all missed their last game. AK 47 should be good to go this week, but Deron is a very risky play. Paul Millsap and Kosta Koufos are decent options since Okur is gone. Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight are splitting PG minutes and limiting each other's value right now.
Sure starts:Carlos Boozer, Kirilenko, Ronnie BrewerBorderline: Millsap, Koufos, D. WilliamsBench: OkurWatch: Price, Knight
Washington Wizards (4 games)
The Wizards are just 1-6, and I don't see them going on a winning streak anytime soon. Because of this, youngsters JaVale McGee and NickYoung should continue to get big minutes and lots of shots. Not that DeShawn Stevenson cares, but this is the last chance he gets before I suggest giving him the axe. Antonio Daniels' knee must be hurting pretty bad, but Juan Dixon has yet to take advantage.
Sure starts:Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, McGeeBorderline: N. Young, StevensonBench:Gilbert ArenasWatch:Andray Blatche, Dixon