Matchups for Thursday, Feb. 28
All times are ET.
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.
Start 'em, sit 'em
The Heat-Lakers matchup has more fantasy appeal now that Shawn Marion has arrived in Miami and Pau Gasol in Los Angeles. Marion has averaged 17.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 41.7 minutes in six games since joining the Heat, numbers which are all above his averages with the Suns. Marion's presence allows Dwyane Wade to be more selective, but has not detracted from his scoring; Wade is shooting 49.2 percent from the field and tallying 26.5 points per game since Marion's arrival. Gasol has fit right in with the Lakers, averaging 21.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 blocks while shooting 62.8 percent from the field since joining L.A. in early February. However, both the Heat and Lakers are "pointless" from a fantasy perspective, as time-shares between Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar, and Jason Williams and Marcus Banks, have neutralized all these players' values. The Nets-Bucks game is also favorable fantasy-wise. Since Jason Kidd was traded to Dallas, Vince Carter (22.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists his last five games) and Richard Jefferson (25.8 points in that span) have upped their offensive outputs. Marcus Williams' short-lived run is likely over now that Devin Harris is due back any day for the Nets. The Bucks' top scorers have been cashing in lately. Mo Williams is averaging 24.0 points in nine February games and Michael Redd averaged 28.4 points in his last five. The Spurs-Mavericks game features two of the top defensive teams, so temper your expectations for the few fantasy regulars on both sides. However, Jason Kidd should help elevate his teammates' games while being more selective with his own shot. He is shooting 53.8 percent from the field (14-for-26) in four games since joining the Mavericks.
Udonis Haslem is back in the starting lineup after missing nine games due to injury. Haslem scored 17 points with seven rebounds and three steals in the Heat's rare win against the Kings on Tuesday, and should be grabbed in most leagues. Haslem's return likely signifies the end of the Dorell Wright era. However, Mark Blount could still have value at center despite being dropped in many leagues. Blount has averaged 12.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 0.8 blocks his last five games. Josh Boone has two consecutive double-doubles, with 19 points and 13 rebounds against the Pacers and 12 points and 11 rebounds in Tuesday's loss to Orlando. Boone made 13 of 15 field goals in those two games and is shooting 62.5 from the line in February, a marked improvement over his 40.9 percent mark for the season. Jerry Stackhouse scored a season-high 23 points in 23 minutes Monday against the Bulls. Teammate Erick Dampier exploded for 16 rebounds and seven blocks in the same game. It will be hard to replicate those numbers against the Spurs on Thursday, but both are worth a look. Charlie Villenueva has not exactly seized the day since being installed in the starting lineup, averaging 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 27.3 minutes his last four games. Desmond Mason is putting up similar numbers lately (10.8 points and 5.0 rebounds in 29.4 minutes his last five games). Both could be worth a spot-start against the Nets on Thursday in deep leagues.
Tony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.