Matchups for Thursday, Jan. 10
All times are expressed in Eastern time. Statistics from 2007-08 regular season.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, Jazz (back)
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
Two of Thursday's three games involve teams that both allow 100 points per game, including the Grizzlies-Kings and Suns-Jazz. For the Grizzlies, start top scorers Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol and Mike Miller, and consider emerging point guard Mike Conley and even Darko Milicic. For the Kings, with leading scorers Kevin Martin and Ron Artest still out, look to John Salmons, Brad Miller, Beno Udrih and Francisco Garcia to lead the way. Run with all your Suns, as Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, Shawn Marion and Grant Hill all average more than 15 points per game. Rest Raja Bell, who has been clanging bricks lately, shooting only 33 percent from the field and just 3-for-20 on 3-pointers his past five games. For the Jazz, play Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur, whose scoring is up lately. Boozer and Okur could also dominate on the boards, as the Jazz should have a sizable rebounding edge against the Suns. Ronnie Brewer has been losing minutes in crunch time and is a questionable call. C.J. Miles has made a couple starts with Andrei Kirilenko out, but has not done much with his opportunity. The Spurs-Pistons game is a possible NBA Finals preview, but may fizzle more than sizzle from a fantasy standpoint. Both teams allow fewer than 93 points per game, so look for field goal percentages, 3s, assists and points to be down across the board. However, tighter defense could mean more rebounds, steals, blocks and free throws. In general, stick to surefire starters like Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace for Detroit, and Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for San Antonio.
Of the top 20 shot-blockers in the NBA, every player is owned in at least 70 percent of ESPN leagues except Sean Williams (41 percent) and Darko Milicic (24 percent). Darko's worth a roster spot based on blocks alone, considering he has 1.9 on the season and 3.2 in his past five games. Mike Conley's ownership has jumped to more than 60 percent practically overnight, and while he's no Jason Kidd, he is averaging 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals his past five games. While we're on the subject of the Grizzlies, a more obscure choice is Hakim Warrick, who scored 15 points off the bench on Wednesday. In that game, Warrick was plus-11 (the only positive Memphis player). While plus/minus is not a fantasy stat, the fact that the Grizzlies played better with Warrick on the floor could earn him more minutes. Marcus Banks could register on fantasy radar screens after going off for 23 points in 20 minutes, including 7-of-8 on 3-pointers, in Monday's 137-115 win over Denver. The Suns' backup point guard could be a source of 3s in very deep leagues. With all the Kings' injuries, Mikki Moore is getting major minutes lately. While his scoring is inconsistent, he's still averaging almost 10 points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes in his past five games.
Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.