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January 28, 2011
Start/Sit Projections
Week of Jan. 31

by Kevin Pelton


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

Kris Humphries, PF, New Jersey Nets (plus-11 percent)
Fortune has already smiled on Humphries in the form of Kim Kardashian. Now, Humphries gets the benefit of the league's easiest slate of opposing defenses. All four teams the Nets will face next week are worse than average when it comes to stopping big men. The week is highlighted by a chance to feast against the porous Detroit Pistons (31 percent worse than average at defending posts) on Friday.

Daniel Gibson, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers (plus-9 percent)
Hey, somebody has to score for the Cavaliers. Gibson has reached double-figures four times in five games since returning from a sprained ankle and is always a reliable source of three-pointers. Cleveland has three very friendly matchups for guards, and even the most difficult opponent of the week (the Portland Trail Blazers) is four percent worse than average.

Anthony Morrow, SG, New Jersey Nets (plus-9 percent)
No one matchup stands out as quite as favorable for New Jersey's wings as Detroit is for the team's posts, but the best perimeter defense the Nets will face (that of the Philadelphia 76ers) allows shooting guards and small forwards six percent more production than usual.

Boris Diaw, PF, Charlotte Bobcats (plus-8 percent)
Charlotte faces the Pistons on Wednesday, and that game alone is enough to turn what would otherwise be an average four-game week into a beneficial one in fantasy terms. Diaw should be able to do some damage in the post against Detroit counterpart Chris Wilcox.

Kyle Lowry, PG, Houston Rockets (plus-6 percent)
Just three games on the docket for Houston, but two of the three look good on paper for Lowry and backup Aaron Brooks. The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled with quick point guards all season, while the Memphis Grizzlies' woes defending the point surely won't be solved by the potential return of Jason Williams.

Tough Schedules

Luol Deng, SF, Chicago Bulls (minus-9 percent)
Several teams--Chicago, Golden State, Phoenix and Sacramento--have just two games scheduled for next week. Not only does that mean limited opportunities to pile up counting spots, it also increases the impact of each opposing defense. In Deng's case, Wednesday's matchup with the stifling Los Angeles Clippers (yes, really) is enough to suggest he's in for a tough week.

Andris Biedrins, C, Golden State Warriors (minus-9 percent)
Biedrins has already failed to reach double-figures in either scoring or rebounding all month long. Next week's slate won't help him break out of the slump, as both the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks boast tough interior defenses that yield few easy scores.

Richard Jefferson, SF, San Antonio Spurs (minus-7 percent)
Thursday's showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers and Ron Artest holds back Jefferson's entire three-game week. Jefferson did score 15 points the last time the teams squared off, but it took him 14 shot attempts to get there, as he hit just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc.

J.J. Hickson, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (minus-6 percent)
Only one above-average matchup out of four for Hickson, and even that opponent (the Indiana Pacers) excels when it comes to defending at the rim, the strength of Hickson's game. In Friday's matchup, look for the Grizzlies to keep Hickson at bay, especially on the glass.

Luke Ridnour, PG, Minnesota Timberwolves (minus-4 percent)
Wednesday's game against Memphis is actually quite favorable for Ridnour, but the weekend outlook is much cloudier. The Toronto Raptors have been surprisingly effective against point guards, while the Denver Nuggets have shut them down this season.

This Week's Pickup

Kwame Brown, C, Charlotte Bobcats (plus-8 percent)
Available in 97.2 percent of ESPN leagues
First Darko Milicic and now Brown: What's next, an Adam Morrison recommendation? Quietly, Brown has been putting up some nice numbers lately. In his past two games, Brown has put up 25 points and 28 rebounds. He's recorded four double-doubles in a span of seven games. The Bobcats' light schedule next week makes it all the more likely that Brown will continue to play at such a high level.

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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Premium Article Jimmer Madness (01/27)
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Premium Article Start/Sit Projections (01/21)
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Next Article >>
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