The Outlook goes around the league and examines which players are hot and cold, and which players you should keep an eye on. No team-by-team analysis this week, but I'll be back with a full outlook for Week 11.
With the holidays here, we have a Cliff's Notes version of the Outlook this week, with a quick look at upcoming schedule and a rundown of some top pickups.
Four games: ATL, CHI, DEN, DET, HOU, LAC, MEM, MIL, MIN, NJ, ORL, PHI, TOR, WASThree games: BOS, CHA, CLE, DAL, GS, IND, MIA, NOR, NY, OKC, PHO, POR, SAC, SATwo games: LAL, UTA
1. Los Angeles Lakers (2 games: Utah, Portland)2. Miami Heat (3 games: Cleveland, @Orlando, New Jersey)3. Portland Trail Blazers (3 games: Boston, New Orleans, @LA Lakers)4. Washington Wizards (4 games: @Houston, @New Orleans, @Boston, Cleveland)5. Chicago Bulls (4 games: @New Jersey, Orlando, @Cleveland, Minnesota)
1. Minnesota Timberwolves (4 games: Memphis, @Dallas, Golden State, @Chicago)2. Oklahoma City Thunder (3 games: Phoenix, Golden State, Denver)3. Boston Celtics (3 games: @Portland, Washington, @New York)4. Cleveland Cavaliers (3 games: @Miami, Chicago, @Washington)5. Phoenix Suns (3 games: @Oklahoma City, @Memphis, LA Clippers)
1. Hakim Warrick, Grizzlies
At 26 years old, Warrick is supposed to be entering the prime of his career, but he's yet to start a single game this season, has lost minutes to rookie Darrell Arthur, and has yet to be a reliable fantasy force. However, that may change very soon. Darko Milicic is out 4-6 weeks with a broken knuckle, which means more minutes for Warrick. In his last three games, the former Orangeman is averaging 18 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1 block on 57 percent shooting from the field. Those numbers aren't a fluke, as the athletic forward put up 16.6 points and 6.9 boards on 49.7 percent shooting in 30 starts last season. Warrick should be a solid starter while Darko is out, so consider picking him up if he's still available.
2. Tyrus Thomas, Bulls
In two games before suffering a concussion, Thomas scored 38 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, nabbed 4 steals and blocked 4 shots. In three games since returning from the head injury, he's scored 37 points, grabbed 27 boards, nabbed 7 steals and blocked 6 shots. In those five games, he also made 20-of-22 free throws and is now shooting a rock solid 78.8 percent from the line. Drew Gooden's absence has a lot to do with Thomas' recent numbers, but Thomas may have earned more minutes going forward. If you need an active big man, the 22 year old is worth gambling on.
3. Dominic McGuire, Wizards
Am I really hyping up a guy with a career average of 1.6 points per game? You bet. McGuire was one of my favorite players to watch in the '07 Vegas Summer League, thanks to his athleticism and versatility. He was recently promoted to Washington's starting lineup, and he's grabbed 29 boards, dished out 11 assists and blocked 3 shots in three games since. McGuire is shooting just 38 percent from the field and 53 percent from the line this season, but those numbers should improve once he gets used to being an NBA starter. The Wizards have a full four-game schedule in six of the next seven weeks (and 10 of the next 13), so McGuire is worth picking up in deeper leagues.
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:Amir Johnson, Pistons
Anyone who picked Johnson on draft day was reminded why on Saturday. He got the start in place of the injured Rip Hamilton, and he responded with 8 points, 11 rebounds (5 offensive), 1 steal and 4 blocks in a season-high 35 minutes (before fouling out). He had racked up DNP-CDs in six of the eight games prior, but this recent performance may get him going. With four games this week, you might want to gamble on Johnson if you need another big man.
For boards and field-goal shooting:Chris Wilcox, Thunder
Nick Collison has missed the Thunder's last three games with a broken thumb, and Wilcox has responded by amassing 38 points, 27 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 50 percent shooting from the field. He's yet to play more than 30 minutes in a game this season, but perhaps that will change soon due to his recent performances. If you're looking for a fill-in, Wilcox should be a decent start this week. The Thunder will need him to play big against Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal on Monday, and he'll go against the Warriors on Wednesday (a team that big men have dominated all season long).
For points and blocks:Roy Hibbert, Pacers
Hibbert has started the last six games for the Pacers, but his minutes have been limited. His rebounding rate is terrible for a guy who's 7-foot-2, but he's a decent shot-blocker with a nice low-post game and a soft touch around the rim. Hibbert managed to score 19 points in just 18 minutes on Sunday, and scored 15 points on a perfect 7-7 FG shooting in just 12 minutes on Friday. Those are impressive numbers for a rookie, so you might want to give him a look in deep leagues.
For steals and blocks:Thabo Sefolosha, Bulls
With Luol Deng injured, Sefolosha started on Saturday and scored 14 points, made 2 treys, and dished out 3 assists in 35 minutes. While he didn't grab any steals or blocks in that game, he's averaging 1.15 steals and .55 blocks in just 16.5 minutes this season. In 22 starts last year, the defensive-minded swingman grabbed 1.4 steals and rejected .7 shots per game while putting up mediocre stats in the other categories. Deng might miss a few more games, so Thabo could be a decent short-term pickup.
For points and threes:Rashad McCants, Timberwolves
I suggested picking up McCants last week, and I'm mentioning him again since I haven't heard anything about Mike Miller's return. In his last two games, the former Tar Heel has scored 44 points and made, get this, 11 three pointers! Minnesota has my MOST favorable schedule for Week 10 thanks to games vs. the Warriors, Grizzlies, and Bulls, and McCantd will continue to put up big scoring numbers while Miller is out.