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January 21, 2011
Start/Sit Projections
Week of Jan. 24

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

Nick Young, SG, Washington Wizards (plus-11 percent)
Young has unexpectedly developed into a premier scorer alongside John Wall, highlighted by his 43-point outburst against the Sacramento Kings earlier this month. Young should keep the high point totals coming along with solid shooting numbers during a four-game week where every team the Wizards face is at least seven percent below average when it comes to stopping opposing wings. Young's worst matchup is better than the typical one for almost anyone else in the league.

Grant Hill, SF, Phoenix Suns (plus-7 percent)
Because he has put together three consecutive games with 20-plus points, Hill is already a trendy pickup option (he's now owned in 84.6 percent of ESPN leagues). While he may not score like that next week, Hill should still be a strong play. Like Young, he will benefit from a consistent schedule more so than any one particular matchup. The toughest defenses Phoenix faces are the Charlotte Bobcats and the Philadelphia 76ers, both of whom allow five percent more production than usual to wings.

Darko Milicic, C, Minnesota Timberwolves (plus-6 percent)
Milicic rolled his left ankle and left Wednesday's game early, so keep an eye on the news reports. But if he's healthy, Milicic has the advantage of four above-average matchups. The last time Milicic faced countryman Nenad Krstic and the Oklahoma City Thunder (on the schedule for Wednesday), he dropped 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting.

Al Harrington, PF, Denver Nuggets (plus-6 percent)
Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets (plus-5 percent)

While matchups often dictate which schedules are favorable, sometimes the results apply across the lineup. Such is the case with the Nuggets next week. Aside from a game against Philadelphia, their other three matchups are against poor defensive teams, including two of the league's worst six. As a result, just about everybody on the Denver roster should be in your lineup. That includes big-minute reserves Harrington, who had reached double-figure scoring in his past six games before being "held" to nine points in Wednesday's win over Oklahoma City, and Lawson, who has offered solid production despite playing behind Chauncey Billups.

TOUGH SCHEDULES

Jason Terry, SG, Dallas Mavericks (minus-14 percent)
Don't bench Terry without a solid alternative at shooting guard, but be warned that his numbers might take a hit against far and away the most challenging slate of opposing defenses in the league. The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers have proven troubling for wings all season long, while even the best of Dallas' three matchups (Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks) is a below-average one. The same effect will hamper Shawn Marion's numbers, though he is a little less vulnerable because of the time he spends at power forward.

Jeff Green, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder (minus-9 percent)
Green plays big minutes and has a four-game schedule next week. Still, he's a candidate for the bench because his field-goal percentage, already borderline for a fantasy starter (41.8 percent) could slip even further with three games against teams who hold opponents at least nine percent below their usual production.

Mike Dunleavy, SG, Indiana Pacers (minus-7 percent)
The Pacers face a pair of tough defensive teams in the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic. The streaky Dunleavy is unlikely to get the kind of open looks from downtown he needs to thrive against two of the league's best when it comes to rotating to contest shots.

Kris Humphries, PF, New Jersey Nets (minus-6 percent)
Humphries' week is held back by a matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies, whose big frontline usually makes it difficult for opponents to pile up rebounds. Humphries might be the exception, however. He had 15 boards and 12 points as the Nets beat Memphis last month.

Luke Ridnour, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves (minus-5 percent)
The Timberwolves match up twice with the Houston Rockets next week, which means a troublesome matchup for Ridnour against physical defender Kyle Lowry. Minnesota's lone game against Houston to date saw Ridnour score a season-low two points and hand out just two assists, as Kurt Rambis went with backup Sebastian Telfair for extended minutes.

THIS WEEK'S PICKUP

Evan Turner, SF, Philadelphia 76ers (plus-7 percent)
Available in 71 percent of ESPN leagues
After a slow start, the No. 2 overall pick has shown signs of progress lately, contributing on the glass as well as with his scoring. None of next week's four games looks especially intimidating, and Turner should be able to get relatively efficient production in matchups with the Toronto Raptors and the Nuggets.

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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