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Recently, I've been tempted to trade for Rodney Stuckey, thinking he's just too good to play this poorly. Instead, he and Detroit's slide has become a freefall. But let's see what happens now that the Pistons have announced that Richard Hamilton will return to the starting lineup, while Allen Iverson -- once he recovers from a back problem -- will come off the bench.
Check the grid for Week 19 schedules of each NBA team. Teams with the most games in the upcoming week are listed first.
Detroit Pistons (DEN, GS, @ATL): In announcing Rip's return to the lineup, Michael Curry wasn't critical of Iverson. The Pistons coach just said he wants Stuckey to handle the ball more than is possible with AI getting starter's minutes. Along with the lineup change, this schedule offers some support to the idea of a resurgence for Stuckey, who's averaging a dismal 8.5 points and 35.6 percent shooting in February. Warriors' opponents are second in assists, while Nuggets' and Warriors' opponents are both in the top third in steals.
Miami Heat (CLE, PHO, @TOR, @CLE): It's been only four games, but so far, Jermaine O'Neal hasn't made the Heat any more formidable on the glass. Miami was outrebounded by 25, 4 and 25 boards against the Timberwolves, Sixers and Magic. The Heat, though, were plus-10 in a victory over the Pistons. Between those numbers and Ben Wallace's injury, I think Cleveland's Anderson Varejao is a good deep-league fill-in for Week 19. Looking at this schedule from the Miami side, a pair against the Cavs is a tough chore, but with the Suns and Raptors, 3-point champion Daequan Cook could regain his All-Star form. Raptors' opponents are second in triples, while Suns' opponents are sixth.
Portland Trail Blazers (IND, @DEN, MIN): Greg Oden may return next week, but in a deep league, I don't care. My eyes are glued to Joel Przybilla. The Vanilla Gorilla is averaging 10.4 rebounds in the past five games that Oden has missed. Even if Oden can go, Przybilla wouldn't need starter's minutes to rack up boards and blocks with this schedule. Opponents of each the Pacers, Nuggets and Timberwolves are the top five in rejections, while Pacers opponents are fourth in total rebounds. I also expect Steve Blake to pile up a good number of assists against these teams.
Some quick tips for owners in daily leagues. Recommendations -- start, sit or add -- are made for specific days of the coming week, based on the schedule.
Jarrett Jack, PG, Pacers (@SAC, @POR, @LAC): The Forecaster has cited Jack on multiple occasions recently, so I'll sum it up in a tweet-sized bite: No Granger. No Dunleavy. Little to no resistance from the Kings and Clippers. Available in 70-plus percent of leagues. Add Jack now. Enjoy. Incidentally, by my count, what I just said there, that's 140 characters on the button. Impressed?
Yi Jianlian, PF, Nets (@MIL, BOS, @ORL, NY): Injuries are part of the game, but Yi's broken pinky that sidelined him for five weeks wasn't just bad, but badly timed. He looked to be headed for his third straight 20-point game when he went down against the Bucks on Jan. 9. In the first five games since his return, Yi is averaging just 6.6 points while playing only about 20 minutes a night. At least Yi is starting again, and a guy who is capable of scoring in double figures and getting six or seven boards, along with an occasional 3-pointer, is worth watching. Like his play, this schedule is a roller-coaster. Celtics' and Magic' opponents are in the bottom three in shooting percentage, but Knicks' opponents are second in this regard. Meanwhile, the injury-depleted Bucks have allowed 110 points or more in seven of the past eight games.
Nenad Krstic, C, Thunder (DAL, WAS, @NO, PHI): Adam Madison has a good column on players whose fantasy value could spike over the season's final month and a half. One player he likes is Krstic, who, despite struggling offensively since joining the Thunder, can rebound and block some shots. I agree that Krstic should grow more consistent from here. And at 99 percent availability, he has value in leagues of at least 12 teams. But with this schedule, you should probably wait for Krstic to show you a bit more. Hornets' opponents are last in blocks, while Mavs' opponents are seventh from the bottom in rejections. Sixers' opponents, meanwhile, are sixth-worst in rebound differential.
Courtney Lee, SG, Magic (PHO, NJ, @BOS): I've touted Lee for deep leagues at times this season, but I admit, when Mickael Pietrus returned to the Magic, I thought the rookie would head back to the bench. Instead, in a very unsurprising development, Pietrus is hurt again (though he was expected to play Friday). But after playing 30-plus minutes and scoring in double digits in three straight, Lee just might stick as the Magic's shooting guard. Even with Boston ahead, this schedule gives Lee a chance to do what he does best in fantasy; hit 3s and pick pockets. Nets and Suns opponents are in the top six in treys, while Phoenix opponents are tops in steals.
Dominic McGuire, SF, Wizards (ATL, @OKC, @SA, @DAL): A 3.9-points per game average explains why McGuire is available in 99 percent of leagues. But the Wizards keep him in the starting lineup, and the 23-year-old is starting to justify the team's faith in him. In four games since the All-Star break, he is averaging 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. This isn't a favorable schedule (only Hawks' opponents are on the plus side in boards), but in leagues of 14 or more teams, McGuire is worth a roster spot.
Anthony Parker, SG, Raptors (@HOU, MIA, Utah): Inconsistency is expected of young players, but what's Parker's excuse? After a slow start to 2008-09, the 33-year-old got hot after the start of the new year, scoring in double digits in 10 straight games in January. Then Parker was held in single digits in seven of nine contests to start February. But now this week, he's turned in back-to-back 24-point outings versus the Knicks and Timberwolves. Even the schedule sends a mixed message about Parker: Heat opponents make the eighth-most 3s, but Rockets' opponents make the fourth-fewest. Jazz opponents are sixth in steals, but Heat opponents are 24th.
Sebastian Telfair, PG, Timberwolves (GS, @LAL, @POR): Just when we thought one Rafer Alston was enough in fantasy, in comes Bassy. In the past two months as a starting point guard, Telfair has compiled some solid numbers -- around 11 points, close to six assists and one-plus 3s and steals. But in that 26-game span, Telfair is shooting around 38 percent. Since the break, he has had two massive performances against the Heat and Lakers while shooting 33.3 percent (15-for-45) in his other four games. Judging by Telfair's 96 percent availability, I figure you loathe sub-40 percent shooters as much as I do. The schedule, though, is quite favorable. Opponents of the Warriors and Blazers are seventh and ninth, respectively, in shooting percentage. Opponents of the Lakers and Warriors are fourth and ninth in steals. I'll just leave it at that. The thought of two Alstons has me drained.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.