Fantasy Basketball: Tuesday Preview

Is it just me of did it seem like the All-Star break was two weeks long? Either way, it's great to have the NBA back tonight and we're going to just preview some things to watch for tonight. I'd also want to remind you guys that don't have League Pass that there is a free preview. DirecTV has starting from channel 751. Let's go over the nine games tonight and some story lines to watch:

Also follow me on Twitter for updates as they happen during the games tonight.

The Celtics have a pretty boring team as far as pickups go and Doc Rivers runs a fairly shallow rotation. Brandon Bass (knee) is expected to return tonight and is a decent add in several formats. Chris Wilcox (groin) could also return and was putting up some low-level numbers, but that was more of a byproduct of Garnett and Bass missing time. Another interesting player to watch is how Rivers might use Mickael Pietrus. The Frenchman was the starter at the four in Boston's last game against the Thunder and he posted a line of 16 points, two treys and a block in a whopping 44 minutes. It would be foolish to think Pietrus can put in that kind of work, but his upside makes him a player to watch.

It has been a 18 days since Anderson Varejao broke his wrist and we still don't exactly have the Cleveland frontcourt situation figured out. The consensus is that Tristan Thompson is the guy to own while Ryan Hollins and Semih Erden should also pick up some minutes. Well, that isn't really happening.. yet. Thompson played just 18 MPG over his last two games and the first of those was a goose egg in the points category. His second game was headlined by a putrid 2-of-8 from the line on his way to just 10 points in 16 minutes. I wrote about Thompson on Thursday and I still would give him some leash in deeper leagues because of the likelihood of Jamison being dealt and how he is a natural four (click here to check out my article from Thursday). In a perfect world, Thompson is a guy to stash and not play in most leagues based on how he is a long way from being a consistent contributor. Speaking of players a long way from being consistent contributors, Ryan Hollins was the best big for Cleveland in their last game and put up five points, six boards and two blocks in 29 minutes. He has gone on some hot streaks before when the Cavs were without Jamison last year, so I wouldn't completely write off those minutes. He's obviously nothing more than a watch tonight and we'd need to see at least two more games before suggesting him as an add (unless he goes off). As for the backcourt, Ramon Sessions should continue to see a nice court time. Sessions is pushing 29 MPG in his last five games with averages of 11.6 PPG, 4.4 APG and a surprising 1.2 3PM in that span too. Daniel Gibson also logged 35.5 MPG in his last two games and could have a night where he heats up out of the blue. His inconsitent style of play makes him a deep-only asset.

Pick: Cavs +3

Steph Curry is doubtful for tonight and we can expect Nate Robinson to fill in quite well for him. Lil' Nate's last game vs. Phoenix was a positive one with 14 points, five assists, three steals and three from downtown in 32 minutes. Robinson is a nice spot-start tonight. Brandon Rush and Klay Thompson are worth watching as well since Mark Jackson has anything but a solidified rotation. As for the other big question mark, Ekpe Udoh figures to get the bulk of the minutes at the five. Sure, it's nice to get the starting gig, but if Udoh can flirt with 30 MPG, he should have value in competitive leagues. He is fifth in the league in blocks per 48 minutes and has more than even upside to stash until he proves he's not worth it.

George Hill had a quiet return on Wednesday with only four points in 20 minutes. While Frank Vogel has noncommital on his role, fantasy owners might want to at least watch him during this week since Darren Collison has been a underwhelming to say the least. While the notion of Hill actually usurping the gig is a bit farfetched, there have been much more ludicrous tales at the point guard this year. The hot pickups for point guards has been at ludicrous speed the past few weeks. Even if Hill doesn't take the job, he had some value as the sixth man with 10ish points, a steal, a three and good percentages in his 26 MPG before going down to injury.

Pick: Pacers -6

It seems like we've been talking about Nikola Vucevic for weeks now and he left a nice taste in our mouths on Wednesday with a line of 18 points, eight boards, three blocks and a steal in 28 minutes against the Rockets. His two previous games were duds with only 15 MPG and five PPG in the two losses and Doug Collins has used Lavoy Allev against teams with larger guys like Marc Gasol and Nikola Pekovic. Tonight should be a positive outing for Vucevic as he faces Jason Maxiell or whomever Lawrence Frank throws out there next to Greg Monroe. I'm expecting a noteworthy night out of the Trojan tonight. As for the rest of the Sixers, they are one of the deepest teams in the league, so Evan Turner, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young are going to have their ups and downs. Elton Brand has been fairly quiet and isn't exactly a must-own asset in shallower formats.
UPDATE: Lavoy Allen is starting. Vucevic is still the better play and a better guy to own as well.

Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight are pretty much all the Pistons have going for them from a fantasy angle. Monroe has been a top-15 player all season while Brandon Knight has put together a nice February of 14 PPG, 3.8 APG and 1.8 3PM while shooting a sterling 92.6 percent from the line at a 2.3 shot-per-game clip. Tayshaun Prince has been one of the most boring players in fantasy with his lack of defense and one-dimensional scoring lines. He's a low-level player to own in deeper leagues, but I wouldn't hesistate to cut bait and grab a player with higher upside (if you can help it). Ben Gordon hasn't really been the same player since his shoulder injury. Before the injury he was logging 33 MPG, but since he has return he has only seen 22 minutes of action per game. The break should have done Gordon some good and he could start fast tonight.

Pick: 76ers -3.5

The Hornets are a total mess. It's almost amazing how they were able to put together a three-game win streak two weeks ago and they also won their last contest at Cleveland. All fantasy owners will have their eyes on Jarrett Jack and Greivis Vasquez. GV has been holding down the starting gig while Jack has done a solid job off the bench. Jack has played 30.7 MPG in his last three whle scoring 17.7 PPG. I'd expect Jack to earn his job back in the coming days. As for Vasquez, it's tough say he should be cut at this point after loggin 38 minutes on Wednesday. He's a hold at this point unless there is a really promising player on your wire. Trevor Ariza and Gustavo Ayon are also guys that I'm fairly confident in starting tonight.

Chicago might be my least favorite team because of their solid rotation. It's worth noting that Rip Hamilton could be tonight which would send Kyle Korver, who had 11 points in 26 minutes in his last game, essentially out of the rotation. Rip is a game-time decision and is a decent add since he was putting up 15 points, four assists, 0.6 steals and 0.7 3PM in the stretch before going down with the groin.

Pick: Hornets +13.5

Oh, Casey. The Raptors are the anti-Bulls with one of the trickiest rotations in the league. Linas Kleiza is scheduled to make his return tonight. While Kleiza does have some nice games on his resume, including a 30-point gem, I wouldn't run to add him with Bargnani's return on the horizon. If we compound Bargnani's return with how Kleiza has rested this season to injuries involving both knees, one of which is a microfracture-repaired one, and an ankle injury, it's all the more reason to consider him as nothing more than a spot-start. Jose Calderon is not being shopped, apparently. The rumors only make Jerryd Bayless as a stash even though he wasn't doing anything since return from an ankle injury. He's well worth watching tonight and I'd expect him to surpass Leandro Barbosa for the bulk of the guard minutes off the bench. Amir Johnson also was coming into the break heating up by playing 29.5 MPG in his last four and could be back to his old ways of flirting with top-100 value. A big game would make him an add in most competitive leagues tonight. Aaron Gray had 12 points and 12 board in his last game. Unless he drops a quad-dub tonight, I wouldn't pay much attention to it.

It's the battle of frustating coaches tonight! McHale's rotation has been a carbon copy of Casey's with Chandler Parsons, Courtney Lee and Chase Budinger having sudden increases and decreases in minutes. The Chandler Parsons Project was by far coming in the hottest with 33.2 MPG played over his last five games and 12 PPG including 1.4 3PM over that span. Courtney Lee hasn't been much of a slouch either with 25.3 MPG in his last five games and 1.8 3PM. While Lee isn't exactly a guy I would consider starting, he's a decent guy to stash on the off chance that Kevin Martin's plantar fasciitis acts up again or he's dealt. McHale has also really messed with Samuel Dalembert. His minutes have fallen to 21.5 in his last four and he hasn't even logged a single-double (no double-digit points or boards) in any of those games. The fact of the matter is that Dalembert is one of the best shot blockers in the league and is only one of two of the elite shot blockers shooting well from the line (82 percent this year). His upside is just too high to dump unless it's for a stud guy on the wire like Isaiah Thomas.

Pick: Toronto +9.5

Andray Blatche is getting closer and is likely to put Trevor Booker on a lot of waiver wires. Blatche was riding some pine before his calf injury and it's not exactly a foregone conclusion. Deeper league owners should still hold Booker until he falls off though since he has been helpful with defense, boards and positive output in the field-goal percentage cat. As for the backcourt, Jordan Crawford has caught fire and should be owned in almost any league that counts threes. Specifically, he dropped 32 in his last game and averaged 21.2 points in his last five games. En fuego.

Drew Gooden is back and he needs to be owned in every single league. It should be interesting to see how Ersan Ilyasova copes with not being the main cog in the frontcourt rotation and his owners should anticipate a drop in production. I wouldn't cut the Turkish Roller Coaster just yet though. Carlos Delfino also profited from the Gooden absence and should see his numbers dip, too. As far as Stephen Jackson goes, your guess is as good as mine and he'll likely need a change of scenery to revert back to his old top-100 ways.

Pick: Washington +7.5

New Jersey fans can't be happy about all the Deron-to-Dallas talk and chances are Deron will go off tonight against Jason Kidd. As for the other Nets, Brook Lopez is expected to play 30 mintues tonight and should be in all lineups. His owners certainly hope he can do better than the average of 6.1 boards from last year. MarShon Brooks also finished on a high note and I'm expecting him to have a big second half, especially with the possibility that the Nets could trade Anthony Morrow (rumor). Jordan Farmar is not expected to play, so this could be a nice way for Anthony Morrow to build fantasy value as well. From the "who gives a crap" department, Gerald Green is also going to play some against his former team.

Lamar Odom is out for the next two games and if you were waiting for a reason to cut him in your 20-man league, there you go.

Pick: New Jersey +10.5


Hey, Devin Harris could be traded! This should come to the surprise of nobody and chances are Earl Watson is already being stashed in deep leagues. The Jazz could actually showcase him a little bit in an effort to boost his value, so maybe Harris owners could get a little fuel to their fantasy engine from him. Josh Howard is going to start at the two for the Jazz in place of the injured Raja Bell (adductor).

Isaiah Thomas is hot and nothing else really matters besides him. OK, maybe not. Francisco Garcia had a big night in his last outing. Of course we've seen this 100 times and we'll need to see at least three more games before we suggest adding him. Believe it or not, the Kings have run a fairly solid rotation since Isaiah took over. One other thing I'm curious to see is how much the break could have helped Chuck Hayes. He's on my short list of players I might add in a deeper league with a nice outing.

Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea are likely going to be in a big time-share split for quite some time. Cool Hand Luke has the upper hand for now, but Barea's upside is alluring for owners looking for a nice volume of scoring and some threes. Where in the World is Nikola Pekovic? Not on your waiver wire. Pek has been the best big FA acquisition in all leagues and he'll have his hands full tonight. If he can avoid foul trouble, it would be a nice notch on the old belt.

DeAndre Jordan has seen his production drop consistently all season and it might look a little bleak for him in the short term. However, Kenyon Martin is an injury waiting to happen and I have a feeling DJ will return to his former must-start self in due time. Randy Foye also has been quiet and I'd expect him to turn it around sooner rather than later.

Pick: Minnesota +6.5

Thanks for reading and I'll see you guys on Twitter.

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