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April 9, 2012
Start/Sit Projections
Week of April 9-15

by Bradford Doolittle

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Using opponent data for each team on the following week's 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, Bradford Doolittle will take a look at five players to use, five to limit and an ideal pickup.

MUST-PLAYS

These are players currently owned by less than half of owners in ESPN Fantasy Basketball 2012 that may be worth a roster spot in the week ahead.

Spencer Hawes (Owned 45.9%, Opponent boost 15.5%): Philadelphia has eased Hawes back into the flow since he came back from an Achilles injury, but they have lifted his minutes restriction for the stretch run. He hasn't quite recaptured the breakout-season spirit of his early games, but this may be the week he gets back in the groove. The Sixers have three games against teams weak against centers. The Nets, whom Philly plays twice, rank 27th and recent results have been heading in the wrong direction. Toronto is merely below average.

George Hill (Owned 17.8%, Opponent boost 9.7%): Hill is a risky play because Darren Collison has stepped his performance. Still, the Pacers start the week with three potential laughers which could mean more minutes for the reserves. Hill plays 23-25 minutes per night as it is. Indiana takes on Toronto (19th against point guards) and Cleveland twice (25th), so if you're team is mired in injury doldrums, take a flier on Hill. Indiana finishes the week against Milwaukee, which is a tough play for point guards. However, Hill might be better suited to chase around Monta Ellis than Paul George, so he may get a playing time boost on that night.

Glen Davis (Owned 10.7%, Opponent boost 8.9%): Davis has had a god-awful season, but he's been putting up good numbers lately amid the chaos of Orlando's disintegrating campaign. His minutes have been up due to Ryan Anderson's ankle injury and he's responded. Davis has averaged 21.3 points and 11 rebounds on 50 percent shooting over his last three outings. He scored a season-high 31 points at Detroit on Tuesday. This week, the Magic face those same Pistons again and also take on lowly Washington and struggling Cleveland. In addition, Orlando plays Atlanta, which is averageish against big forwards but its numbers have been in serious decline in that regard of late.

Byron Mullens (Owned 17.1%, Opponent boost 7.4%): We'll finish off with a couple of lightly-regarded centers, a position of everlasting scarcity. Mullens has had some big games lately, including a pair of back-to-back 20-point outings this week. His shooting percentages have been iffy, but the opportunities have been there. The Bobcats play five games in the coming week. Washington is next-to-last against centers (Mullens and his Charlotte comrades are last), while Cleveland, Detroit and Boston are all below-average. Miami ranks sixth. So if you're desperate, Mullens may be your guy.

Kevin Seraphin (Owned 43.6%, Opponent boost 7.0%): Plenty of you have been jumping on the Kevin Seraphin bandwagon, though there are plenty of more converts to be made. Seraphin has averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds on a sparkling 57 percent shooting over his last five games. He continues to take advantage of the opportunities opened by the trade of JaVale McGee out of Washington. As you may have guessed, the Wizards' upcoming schedule works in his favor. Four games, coming in a pair of back-to-backs. He gets the Bobcats first (see above), then Orlando. Now, Dwight Howard is the league's best defender over the last half-decade. But anyone who saw his mail-it-in effort on Thursday has to be licking their chops at the chance to get some payback for many past shots sent back the wrong direction. Friday's game against New York is tough -- Tyson Chandler has usurped Howard's role as the league's top defensive center. But the week finishes with a nice matchup against Cleveland. If you've been pondering a Seraphin pickup, now is the time to strike.

TOUGH SCHEDULES

These are players owned in most leagues, perhaps even by you, that you may want to leave on the bench for a few days because of a rugged schedule.

Gerald Wallace (Owned 100%, Opponent hit -18.3%): Stay away from the Nets this week. New Jersey has three games -- two against Philadelphia and the other against Boston. That's three games against the top two teams in defensive efficiency, if you're scoring at home. Wallace takes the biggest hit with his pair of matchups against Andre Iguodala. The Sixers still have the best marks against small forwards in the league, though their numbers are regressing towards the league mean. Meanwhile, Boston and Paul Pierce are still below average overall against threes, but their metrics have been skyrocketing as Pierce has gotten into better shape.

Deron Williams (Owned 100%, Opponent hit -14.9%): I wouldn't ordinarily feel it necessary to repeat my "beware of Nets" message but opponent hits at the wing positions don't necessarily translate to point guards. In this case, they do. The Sixers are in the top three of the league against all three perimeter positions. They lead at both shooting guard and small forward, and rank third against point guards. Meanwhile, the Celtics lead the league against point guards thanks to the wicked defensive combination of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. Williams has shot just 38 percent from the field over his last 10 games, so the timing couldn't be worse for the minefield laid out before him. Health-wise, he missed a start because of a virus, but is expected to return to action over the weekend.

Dwyane Wade (Owned 100%, Opponent hit -6.3%): The schedule isn't the only reason to be down on Wade right now. He missed a game because of a balky knee and it's a condition that may hamper him going forward. So far, that hasn't translated to declining numbers. It appears that when Wade plays, he produces. It's really more a matter of availability. That said, he's got Boston and Chicago in his first two games next week. The Celtics rank fifth against shooting guards with Bradley playing a big role in that standing, while the Bulls rank second. However, the Bulls' numbers have been moving in the wrong direction. Rip Hamilton has returned to the lineup, but he's not yet in peak condition. Wade finishes the week with Charlotte and New York. The Bobcats are horrific in every phase of basketball that exists, but their collective awfulness could result in Erik Spoelstra using the occasion to give Wade's knee a rest. The Knicks of course have been playing better defense under Mike Woodson and rank right in the middle of the pack against shooting guards. So Wade's week projects as somewhere between difficult and uncertain.

Paul Millsap (Owned 100%, Opponent hit -4.4%): The big news with Millsap lately is that he is receiving more minutes at small forward and the results have been promising enough that Ty Corbin is likely to continue the experiment. If it works, it definitely helps loosen up some minutes in Utah's crowded frontcourt rotation. Millsap's opponent hit is still based on him playing power forward. If he's listed as a three, he actually gets an opponent boost of around three percent. The week starts with a game against the red-hot Spurs, which are a dire matchup for Millsap at either position. The rest of the week is a mixed bag. Houston is average against fours but bad against threes. New Orleans fits pretty much the same description. Memphis is very good against both. If you have options on your roster, it might be best to use some strategic deployment with Millsap this week. He's also working through an illness, so you'll want to monitor that.

Jeff Teague (Owned 100%, Opponent hit -4.0%): Recent results have been much more promising for Teague's brother, Marquis, who just helped Kentucky complete a 38-2 run to the NCAA championship. Perhaps Jeff was distracted by the excitement, because he's misplaced his three-point shot. After shooting 44 percent from 3-point range before the All-Star break, Teague has shot just 17.6 percent from behind the arc over his last 20 games. This week, the Hawks play Boston, Orlando and Toronto. We've already mentioned the Celtics' prowess against point guards. The Magic are about league average and the Raptors are well below, so most of Teague's opponent hit stems from that showdown with Boston. He can't keep shooting this poorly, right?

THIS WEEK'S IDEAL GET

This is the player not mentioned above who stands to get the biggest boost from this week's slate. If you've had you're eye on via the trade market, now is the time to pull the trigger. If you own him, you may want to hold off on that deal for another week.

Jrue Holiday (Owned 100%, Opponent boost 17.7%): It's a crucial week for the slumping Sixers, who face New Jersey twice and Toronto. Philadelphia still has hopes of edging Boston for the Atlantic Division crown and the Celtics have both a back-to-back and back-to-back-to-back on the docket. No one will benefit from Philly's weak slate of opponents more than Holiday, who gets Deron Williams and either Jose Calderon or one of the 10-day contract guys that have been playing in his stead. Williams has a reputation as a tough defensive guard, but he's been at the wrong end of big performances lately from guys like Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions. Overall, the Nets rank 28th in the league against point guards. Holiday has been struggling with his long-range shooting over the second half of the season, but the Sixers are desperate to get rolling before the playoffs and this week, Holiday will likely be the guy to whom they turn.

A version of this article originally appeared at ESPN Insider Insider.

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

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Premium Article Projection vs. Product... (04/09)

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