Fantasy hoops Week 7 outlook

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After that are my three top pickups for deep leagues and my top five 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 last week.


1. Los Angeles Clippers (3 games: Orlando, @Portland, Houston)2. Washington Wizards (3 games:Detroit, Boston, @Philadelphia)3. Phoenix Suns (3 games: Milwaukee, @LA Lakers, Orlando)4. Utah Jazz (3 games: @Minnesota, Portland, Orlando)5. Boston Celtics (2 games: @Washington, New Orleans)

1. Houston Rockets (4 games: @Memphis, Atlanta, @Golden State, @LA Clippers)2. Oklahoma City (4 games: Golden State, Memphis, @Dallas, @San Antonio)3. Los Angeles Lakers (4 games: @Sacramento, Phoenix, Sacramento, Minnesota)4. Cleveland Cavaliers (4 games: Toronto, @Philadelphia, Philadelphia, @Atlanta)5. Milwaukee Bucks (3 games: @Phoenix, @Golden State, Indiana)

1. Rodney Stuckey, Pistons

I cited Stuckey as a top "fill-in" pickup last week, but he could be moving into the starting lineup after Sunday's debacle in New York. Not only did Detroit lose to a depleted Knicks team, but they were outscored 29-12 in the first quarter. As a result, Michael Curry is considering lineup changes, and Stuckey is the likely candidate to be promoted. If Kwame Brown is removed from the starting lineup and Allen Iverson slides over to shooting guard, Rodney can play PG with four very talented players. In his last six contests, he's averaging 12 points, 6.5 assists and 1.7 steals, but he's done that in just 24.8 minutes per game. If he starts and gets 28-30 minutes of action, his value would soar. Stuckey is still available in many leagues, so if you need a PG, I suggest picking him up before he has a big game.

2. Francisco Garcia, Kings

Garcia is still still working himself into shape, but if he's available in your league, now is the time to pick him up. His minutes have been limited thus far, but he's picked up a steal or block in every game, and more points will come once his three-point shot starts falling. It looks like John Salmons is the clear-cut starter right now, but Garcia could be inserted into the lineup if Kevin Martin misses more games (he left Saturday's game with soreness in his ankle). When healthy, 'Cisco is a solid all-around contributor, so grab him before he gets hot.

3. Jose Juan Barea, Mavericks

Barea has started the past two games for Dallas, and averaged 20 points and 4 assists in two victories. He's been a major sparkplug for the Mavs, and he's clearly earned more minutes going forward. His solid play has probably surprised many people around the league, but Barea has excelled at every level. As a college senior, he was third in the nation in assists and was named an Honorable Mention All-American. In the 2007 Vegas Summer League, Barea dominated to the tune of 14.4 points, 6.2 assists and just 1.4 turnovers in 25.6 minutes per game. And in only seven games in the D-League last season, he dropped back-to-back 40-point games and had his number retired! Barea is also a key member of the Puerto Rican national team, and the guy can clearly play. However, I'm a little concerned about his long-term value, because I don't think he'll get as many minutes and shot attempts once Josh Howard returns from injury.

Even in deep leagues, most of these players will usually fly under the radar, but they could fill-in quite nicely.

For boards and blocks:Chris Andersen, Nuggets and Andray Blatche, Wizards

Since returning from his rib injury, Andersen has averaged 5.3 boards and 2.7 blocks in just 16.8 minutes per game. While it's tough to rely on anyone playing less than 20 minutes per game, Andersen makes the most of his minutes. And since Kenyon Martin missed his last game with a lingering wrist injury, and Carmelo Anthony is also ailing, the Birdman could easily get more playing time in the future. In most roto leagues, there are usually several teams bunched together in the blocks category, making Andersen an excellent spot starter if you want to move up the rankings. The Nuggets have four games each in weeks 8-10, so you should pick him up before others realize this.

Blatche was a major disappointment to start the season, but the coaching change in Washington seems to have rejuvenated him. The talented big man flashed his abilities on Friday night, when he scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds (5 offensive), made 2 steals, and one three vs. the Lakers. He followed that up with 14 points, 4 boards and a three on Saturday, and seems to be earning more minutes. He'll likely be inconsistent all season long, but now is a good time to pick him up.

For boards and threes:Matt Bonner, Spurs

Bonner was recently moved into the Spurs' starting lineup, and he's responded by averaging 12.5 points, 7 rebounds and 1.8 threes on 20-for-32 FG shooting in his last four games. While he can't maintain that excellent field-goal shooting, he is a very good three-point shooter, and San Antonio likes his ability to lure opposing defenses away from the basket a la Robert Horry. Give him a look if you need threes, because if he hangs onto the starting gig, he could even have some long-term value.

For assists and threes:Daniel Gibson, Cavaliers

In 15 November games, Gibson shot just 33 percent field and 23 percent from beyond the arc. However, Mike Brown continued to give him big minutes, and it looks like he's finally starting to heat up. Gibson has made 6-of-12 threes and shot 15-24 overall in his last three games, and he's also dished out 11 assists and grabbed four steals in those games. If you need a backup PG, consider picking him up.

For steals and assists:Kyle Lowry, Grizzlies

Lowry has replaced Mike Conley as the Grizzlies' starting point guard, so if you're desperate for a PG, consider picking him up. Both men are still in a time-share, but Lowry will get more assist opportunities as the starter, and the defensive-minded player is capable of grabbing lots of steals. And while Lowry won't make many threes, he's a decent rebounder and shot-blocker for his size.

Atlanta Hawks (4 games)

Josh Smith only had pne block on Saturday, but it was a big one. J-Smoov became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 800 blocks, just a day after his 23rd birthday. Mike Bibby has scored 20-plus points in four of his last five games and already has nine games with 3-plus threes. Al Horford missed Saturday's game with a sprained ankle, so check his status on Monday afternoon.

Start: Joe Johnson, J-Smoov, Bibby, Marvin WilliamsBorderline: Horford

Boston Celtics (2 games)

The Celtics narrowly escaped with a win in Indiana on Sunday, and have now won 12 in a row. They only have two games this week, so all of their guys are borderline starters. Ray Allen is back to his old self, with 18 treys in his last four games. Kevin Garnett has recorded three straight double-doubles, so let's hope that he can keep that streak going.

Borderline: Garnett, Paul Pierce, R. Allen, Rajon RondoBench: Kendrick Perkins

Charlotte Bobcats (4 games)

In four games last week, Raymond Felton averaged a rock-solid 14 points, 9.8 assists and 1.5 steals. Gerald Wallace has been awful lately, scoring just 7 points on 1-for-13 shooting in his last two games. It sounds like he may miss a game or two this week for personal reasons, so you may want to bench him. Where did Emeka Okafor's offense come from? The big man is averaging 19.3 points in his last four games, but you can't expect it to last.

Start: Jason Richardson, Felton, OkaforBorderline: G. Wallace, D.J. Augustin

Chicago Bulls (3 games)

Ben Gordon is still lighting it up, but his 3.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists are surprising career-highs. In last week's outlook, I said that "Luol Deng's stats should improve soon," and after scoring 47 points and grabbing 4 steals in his last two games, he finally looks like a safe start. Larry Hughes has made 12 treys in his last four games, but it will be hard to rely on him now that he's coming off the bench.

Start: Derrick Rose, B. Gordon, Drew Gooden, DengBorderline: Larry HughesBench: Ty Thomas, Andres Nocioni

Cleveland Cavaliers (4 games)

The Cavs have won 16 of their last 17 games and limited five of their last six opponents to 85 points or less. Let's hope that teams give them more of a challenge so LeBron James plays more minutes. In his last four games, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has pulled down 46 boards in just 104 total minutes. Cleveland has a favorable schedule this week, so if you pick up Gibson, consider starting him.

Start: LeBron, Big Z, Mo Williams, Delonte West, Ben WallaceBorderline: Anderson Varejao, Gibson

Dallas Mavericks (3 games)

After a slow start, the Mavs have suddenly won nine of their last 10 games. Did you know that Jason Kidd is averaging a career-high 2.7 steals at the age of 35? Josh Howard has now missed eight games in a row, and I'm guessing that 90 percent of the people who drafted him in '08 will pass on him in '09. As long as Jose Juan Barea continues to start, you've got to consider playing him.

Start: Dirk Nowitzki, Kidd, Jason TerryBorderline: J. Howard, BareaBench: Erick Dampier

Denver Nuggets (2 games)

True to his word, Carmelo Anthony didn't miss a game, but his elbow injury continues to bother him. Nenê had a whopping five steals on Saturday, and is now easily the leading thief among centers. Kenyon Martin missed Saturday's game with a sprained wrist, so make sure he's on your bench for Week 7.

Borderline: Anthony, Chauncey Billups, NenêBench: K-Mart, J.R. Smith, Linas Kleiza, Chris Andersen

Detroit Pistons (3 games)

The Pistons have lost six of their last 10 games, and Michael Curry has said that changes are coming. I said that Rasheed Wallace's monster rebounding numbers were a mirage a few weeks ago, and sure enough, he's averaging just five rebounds in his last six games. Antonio McDyess is going to re-join the Pistons this week, which is bad news for Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson, who did not seize the opportunity in his absence.

Start: Allen Iverson, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, R. WallaceBorderline: Stuckey

Golden St. Warriors (4 games)

The struggling Warriors have lost nine games in a row, allowing an average of 125.3 points to their last seven opponents. Corey Maggette is getting his numbers, but if you ask me, he's the biggest reason for their woes. Andris Biedrins has just one double-digit rebound game in his last eight games, but he'll turn it around. Kelenna Azubuike returned from a foot injury to score 12 points on Saturday, but his value is now dependent on the health of others. Stephen Jackson had an MRI on his non-shooting hand, so stay tuned for the results.

Start: Biedrins, Stephen Jackson, Jamal Crawford, MaggetteBorderline: AzubuikeBench: C.J. WatsonWatch: Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright, Anthony Morrow

Houston Rockets (4 games)

With Tracy McGrady out three weeks to rehab his knee, I'm sure some of you are tempted to drop him, but you should only consider this if you're in a very shallow league with limited bench spots. Shane Battier has been starting in his absence, and is a nice pickup if you need threes. Rafer Alston has made 13 treys and grabbed nine steals in his last four games, so make sure he's active. Luther Head has done very little since erupting for 21 points a week ago, so drop him if you picked him up.

Start: Yao Ming, Ron Artest, Alston, Battier, Luis ScolaBorderline: Carl Landry, Aaron BrooksBench: T-MacDrop: Head

Indiana Pacers (3 games)

Danny Granger is just 9-for-28 from the field in his last two games, and I wonder if the absence of Mike Dunleavy is hurting his field-goal shooting. T.J. Ford made his 14th three on Sunday, and is now just one away from tying last year's total. Marquis Daniels scored 26 points in a team-high 50 minutes on Sunday, ensuring that he still has plenty of value. Dunleavy is going to test his knee soon, but he's still a long way away from returning.

Start: Granger, Ford, Troy MurphyBorderline: M. DanielsBench: Dunleavy, Rasho Nesterovic, Jeff Foster, Jarrett Jack

L.A. Clippers (3 games)

The Clippers have a very tough schedule this week, so I suggest erring on the side of caution with Al Thornton and Eric Gordon. On behalf of Zach Randolph and Marcus Camby owners, I'd like to wish Chris Kaman an extended stay in street clothes. Randolph is averaging 23.8 points and 9.6 boards in his last five games, while Camby has posted 13.4 boards and 4.4 blocks. Gordon is struggling with his shot, but his ability to block shots (nine in his last seven games) is a pleasant surprise.

Start: Baron Davis, Camby, Z. RandolphBorderline: ThorntonBench: Kaman, E. Gordon

L.A. Lakers (4 games)

The Lakers have a favorable schedule again this week, so consider starting most of them. Lamar Odom has been terrible, but you have to assume that a big game is right around the corner. Most people avoid Vlad Radmanovic, but I spot-started him last week and he responded with 46 points and 11 threes on 17-29 shooting. Of course, this probably means Vladimir will go in a mini-slump this week, so be careful.

Start: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Trevor Ariza, Derek FisherBorderline: Odom, Radmanovic

Memphis Grizzlies (4 games)

I'm not sure how long it will last, but Kyle Lowry and Darko Milicic are now starting instead of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. Gasol still managed to drop 21 points, 7 boards and 2 blocks on Saturday, so consider starting him if you need a center. Rudy Gay followed up a 25-point, three-trey performance on Friday with a six-point dud on Saturday, but I told you his struggles were going to linger.

Start: Gay, O.J. MayoBorderline: M. Gasol, LowryBench: ConleyWatch: Darko, Hakim Warrick

Miami Heat (3 games)

The only guard to average two-plus steals and 1.5-plus blocks for a full season was Michael Jordan in '86-87 and '87-88 (Dwyane Wade is currently averaging 2.4 steals and 1.8 blocks per game). Shawn Marion is averaging 17 points, 11.7 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocks in his last three games, but he also got to face the Thunder and Warriors. Michael Beasley got poked in the eye on Saturday, but his minutes have been down and he's a borderline starter right now. Joel Anthony is now starting at center and has blocked nine shots in his last four games, so keep an eye on him.

Start: Wade, Marion, Udonis Haslem, Mario ChalmersBorderline: BeasleyBench: Daequan CookWatch: J. Anthony

Milwaukee Bucks (3 games)

The Bucks got destroyed by the Lakers on Sunday, and Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson were shut down completely, combining for six fouls, four turnovers, and just 5 points. It can't get any worse than that, especially since they get to face the Warriors this week. Luke Ridnour has seemingly taken hold of the starting PG position, dishing out 20 assists to 6 turnovers and adding 7 steals in his last three games, while receiving more playing time than Ramon Sessions. Malik Allen left Sunday's game with a rib injury, so keep an eye on Charlie Villanueva and Luc Mbah a Moute if they're available.

Start: Redd, R. Jefferson, Andrew BogutBorderline: Ridnour, VillanuevaBench: Sessions, Mbah a Moute

Minnesota Timberwolves (4 games)

Mike Miller missed Friday's game with an ankle injury, making him a questionable start for Week 7. Randy Foye has gone to the line 22 times in his last two games, making the career 85 percent free throw shooter even more valuable. Kevin Love has posted three double-doubles in his last five games, so congrats if you hung onto him after his rocky start.

Start: Al Jefferson, Foye, LoveBorderline: M. Miller, Ryan GomesBench: Sebastian Telfair

New Jersey Nets (3 games)

The Nets have won 7 of their last 10 games and are now ranked sixth in the East. Vince Carter has averaged just 16 points in his last three games, meaning a big scoring outburst is right around the corner. Did you know that Brook Lopez is averaging 12.6 points, 9 boards and 2.1 blocks in 12 games as a starter? Start him this week and hope that Josh Boone's impending return doesn't hurt him too much.

Start: Devin Harris, V. Carter, B. LopezBorderline: Yi JianlianBench: Bobby Simmons

New Orleans Hornets (3 games)

Peja Stojakovic scored a season-high 24 points on Wednesday and has now made 17 treys in his last four games. Tyson Chandler could muster just 2 points, 5 boards, 0 blocks and 3 fouls vs. the lowly Grizzlies on Saturday, and I'm pretty fed up with him as this point. He has just one double-double in his last 10 games after posting 38 of them last season.

Start: Chris Paul, David West, StojakovicBorderline: T. ChandlerBench: James Posey

New York Knicks (3 games)

Way back in July, I claimed that Chris Duhon was going to be a Top 100 fantasy player this year, and he's been all that and more. Nate Robinson tweaked his groin injury and missed Saturday's game, so you should probably bench him this week. Al Harrington's rebounds have fallen back to "normal" levels, but he's made 16 treys in his last five games and is a must-start right now. It sounds like Cuttino Mobley is going to retire due to his heart ailment, so get ready to replace him.

Start: Chris Duhon, David Lee, Harrington, Wilson ChandlerBorderline: Quentin RichardsonBench: Robinson, Tim ThomasDrop: Mobley (wait a couple days if you can)

Oklahoma City Thunder (4 games)

Hopefully you picked up Russell Westbrook after I named him my No. 1 pickup last week, because he exploded for a career-high 30 points on Saturday and is only going to get better. Despite coming off the bench, Earl Watson has dished out 33 assists in his last four games. The Thunder have a very favorable schedule this week, so give him a start but don't expect much consistency. Just when it looked like Chris Wilcox was starting to turn things around, he put up a 2-point, 1-rebound, 4-foul stinker.

Start: Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Westbrook, WatsonBorderline: WilcoxWatch: Nick Collison

Orlando Magic (4 games)

Dwight Howard is averaging a monster 17.4 boards and 4.6 blocks in his last five games, but he scored just 14 points against Boston's tenacious D. Courtney Lee scored 19 points and made three treys on Wednesday, but Keith Bogans returned from injury on Friday, thus squashing any potential value that Lee and J.J. Redick had. Jameer Nelson also returned on Friday to dish out 7 assists and grab 4 steals, so it looks like he's a safe start this week. Rashard Lewis currently leads the league with 51 threes made, but he's shooting just 35.9 percent from beyond the arc (his worst three-poitn percentage in six years).

Start: D. Howard, Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, J. NelsonBench: Mickael PietrusDrop: Anthony Johnson, C. LeeWatch: Bogans

Philadelphia 76ers (3 games)

Elton Brand has missed two games in a row with a hamstring injury, and isn't sure if he'll be able to play on Wednesday, making him a risky start. Even with Brand out, Samuel Dalembert did very little, and if you haven't replaced him yet it's something you should consider. Thaddeus Young averaged just 9.5 points in four games last week, but he had a 5-steal game and two 8-rebound games. Louis Williams is finally playing well, so keep an eye on him.

Start: Andre Iguodala, Andre MillerBorderline: Brand, T. YoungBench: DalembertWatch: L. Williams

Phoenix Suns (3 games)

Before edging past the Jazz on Saturday, the Suns had lost four games in a row. They have tough matchups this week vs. the Lakers and Magic, and it will be especially interesting to see how Shaq fares against his former team and the Man-Beast. Grant Hill is starting now, but Matt Barnes is still putting up better numbers. Leandro Barbosa scored 25 points on Saturday, but he's still too inconsistent to start.

Start: Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, ShaqBorderline: BarnesBench: Raja Bell, Barbosa

Portland Trail Blazers (3 games)

How solid has Steve Blake been? In his last 10 games, the veteran PG is averaging 13.7 points, 4.7 assists, 2.6 threes and 1.1 steals, and the Blazers have won nine of their last 11 games. Are people still questioning my decision to make him the All-White American team starter over Kirk Hinrich? Greg Oden is starting to play better and Martell Webster made his season debut on Sunday, so it looks like it's time to drop Joel Przybilla and Travis Outlaw. Rudy Fernandez isn't as reliable as he was at the beginning of the season, but he's still having big games.

Start: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, OdenBorderline: Blake, FernandezDrop: Outlaw, Przybilla

Sacramento Kings (3 games)

The Kings have lost eight games in a row and have upcoming back-to-back games with the Lakers. Kevin Martin left Saturday's game with a sore ankle and is listed as day-to-day, which is a major bummer for Kev-Mart owners. Brad Miller is averaging just 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in his last 4 games, so consider benching him this week. While Garcia is one of my top pickups this week, I don't suggest starting him just yet.

Start: John Salmons, Beno UdrihBorderline: Kev-Mart, B. Miller, Spencer HawesBench: Garcia, Jason Thompson

San Antonio Spurs (4 games)

You want to see an efficient line? Tim Duncan dropped 20 points (7-10 FG), 13 rebounds and 5 assists in just 20 minutes vs. the Warriors on Saturday. It looks like Tony Parker is back up to speed, and Manu Ginobili can't be far behind. If you need threes, consider starting Roger Mason and/or Matt Bonner this week.

Start: Duncan, T. Parker, GinobiliBorderline: R. Mason, Bonner

Toronto Raptors (4 games)

After making just 19 threes in his first 14 games, Jose Calderon has dropped 8 treys in his last three contests, enhancing his value quite a bit. Jermaine O'Neal returned from his ankle injury and exploded for 24 points, 8 boards and 6 blocks on Sunday, so start him with confidence this week. I thought that the coaching change might result in more minutes for Jamario Moon, but instead his minutes have plummeted (just 13.7 mpg in his last 3 games), so feel free to drop him. Jason Kapono has been getting more burn however, so keep an eye on him.

Start: Chris Bosh, Calderon, J. O'Neal, Anthony ParkerBorderline: Andrea BargnaniDrop: MoonWatch: Kapono

Utah Jazz (3 games)

Deron Williams had 15 points and 15 assists on Saturday and is improving slowly but surely. Unfortunately, Carlos Boozer is still sidelined, but he should be back soon. Paul Millsap has been an absolute beast in his place, so start him one more time before Carlos returns. AK-47 is back, so get him in your lineup if you need a forward. C.J. Miles erupted for 20 points and four treys on Saturday, but he's a borderline option at best.

Start: D. Williams, Mehmet Okur, Millsap, KirilenkoBorderline: Ronnie Brewer, MilesBench: Boozer

Washington Wizards (3 games)

Things don't get any easier for the Wizards this week, as they have to face both the Celtics and Pistons. Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison are carrying this team as best they can right now, but it's not enough on most nights. Andray Blatche is getting consistent minutes and producing right now, so pick him up if you need a big man. In his last four games, JaVale McGee has blocked 10 shots in just 62 minutes, but he needs more playing time to rely on him.

Start: C. Butler, JamisonBench: Gilbert Arenas, Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stevenson, Blatche, McGee