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December 10, 2010
Start/Sit Projections
Week of Dec. 13

by Kevin Pelton

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Using opponent data for each team on the upcoming schedule, Basketball Prospectus can estimate how much a player's performance will vary because of the defenses he will face in the next week. (See here for more details on the process.) Each week, Kevin Pelton will take a look at five players to use, five to limit, and an ideal pickup.

Must Plays

Stephen Jackson, SG, Charlotte Bobcats (plus-13 percent)
This week's schedule is relatively balanced in fantasy terms. As a result, the most favorable slate of games--that faced by Charlotte's wing players--is just 13 percent better than average. However, Jackson's week might be even better than the numbers would indicate because instead of facing Joe Johnson when the Bobcats play Atlanta on Friday, he'll draw weaker defender Jamal Crawford.

Richard Jefferson, SF, San Antonio Spurs (plus-11 percent)
Jefferson's upcoming schedule shares an important common feature with Jackson's: A matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, who have been porous on the wing. Unless Tony Allen suddenly finds his way into Lionel Hollins' good graces, that's unlikely to change. As a result, Jefferson should be able to maintain his hot start to the season.

Daniel Gibson, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers (plus-9 percent)
While Gibson might not have any individual matchup as tasty as the Grizzlies, all three of next week's foes have allowed opposing wings to produce above their usual averages. Add in Gibson's newfound starting role and he becomes a useful play at guard. Expect him to average at least a couple of threes per game.

Shane Battier, SF, Houston Rockets (plus-8 percent)
Hey, what are the odds? Another player facing Memphis next week. That may not translate into big scoring numbers for Battier, but expect him to be productive across the board. He's been effective lately, scoring double-figures in three of his last four games. In addition, the Rockets have a four-game schedule.

Darren Collison, PG, Indiana Pacers (plus-7 percent)
Three of the four teams the Pacers face have been below average when it comes to defending the point, which should help Collison see extended minutes in favor of backup T.J. Ford. Collison has put up good scoring numbers this season and figures to be able to live in the paint against slower defenders like Derek Fisher and Mo Williams.

Tough Schedules

Evan Turner, SG, Philadelphia 76ers (minus-15 percent)
Both L.A. teams have been tough on opposing wings this season, and the Sixers will play them in consecutive games next week. If you're one of the owners who is still holding out hope for Turner to perform like a No. 2 overall pick, this is not the week that is going to happen. That also applies to Jodie Meeks, who has played well recently but doesn't merit a pickup until next week unless you plan to stash him on your bench.

Mike Dunleavy, SG, Indiana Pacers (minus-12 percent)
This is one of the cases where looking simply at opposing defenses doesn't tell the whole story. The teams the Pacers face next week may struggle to defend point guards, but they have been very tough on wings. As a result, Collison and Dunleavy can play together in the same backcourt yet have very different outlooks for the week ahead.

Marcus Camby, C, Portland Trail Blazers (minus-8 percent)
It would take a solid replacement to actually bench Camby for the week, but know going in that he's got a difficult slate of opponents ahead. All four teams the Blazers face have limited big men below their usual production, so expect Camby to see his blocks and rebounds drop off. Already, his shooting (41.5 percent from the field) should be a mild concern.

Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando Magic (minus-6 percent)
Just two games for the Magic during the week ahead, and one of them comes against a Denver team that has done a fine job of defending point guards this season. That's enough to take Nelson from an automatic play to a borderline choice depending on your alternatives at the point.

Drew Gooden, PF, Milwaukee Bucks (minus-5 percent)
No one game next week stands out as particularly problematic for the Milwaukee frontcourt, but all three teams the Bucks will face are slightly better than average at stopping interior players. Given that Gooden is day-to-day with plantar fasciitis in his left heel, it makes sense to look elsewhere.

This Week's Pickup

Marvin Williams, SF, Atlanta Hawks (plus-7 percent)
Available in 94.2 percent of ESPN leagues
Williams has yet to take advantage of Johnson's absence to ramp up his numbers. A favorable schedule might help do the trick, as none of the four teams the Hawks face is average or better when it comes to defending the wing. It goes without saying that Crawford should also be in your lineup at this point.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Kevin by clicking here or click here to see Kevin's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Kentucky's Difference (12/09)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Start/Sit Projections (12/03)
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Premium Article Start/Sit Projections (12/17)
Next Article >>
The Pac-10 (12/10)

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