Matchups for Monday, Feb. 2
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.
D.J. Augustin, PG, Bobcats (abdominal)
Andray Blatche, PF/C, Wizards (knee)
Carlos Boozer, PF, Jazz (knee)
Mardy Collins, PG/SG, Clippers (calf)
Eddy Curry, C, Knicks (personal)
Chris Kaman, C, Clippers (ankle)
Andrei Kirilenko, SF/PF, Jazz (ankle)
Darko Milicic, PF/C, Grizzlies (finger)
Brandan Wright, PF, Warriors (shoulder)
Start 'em, sit 'em
First the bad news: Andrew Bynum's latest knee injury appears to be severe enough to keep him out for quite some time (in a telling move, coach Phil Jackson just gave Bynum a copy of James Joyce's "Ulysses," an ultra-thick book, to read). The good news: Lamar Odom is a good bet to return to the starting lineup, thereby giving his owners a glimmer of hope they might see more of a return on their draft investment. Michael Beasley is discovering the key to logging more minutes: upping his rebounds. Averaging 5.4 rebounds on the year, Beasley is coming off back-to-back double-doubles. Derek Fisher appears to be back in the swing of things following a mild groin strain. He has reached double figures in three straight contests. I'm not historically the biggest Nate Robinson enthusiast -- he's a little too streaky and assist-deficient for my taste -- but it's hard to argue with playing anyone who is this hot within Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni's system. David West is back, but his shot has yet to arrive. He has posted an ugly 35.1 field goal percentage since his return. Speaking of returns, it now sounds as if Zach Randolph will not be back in time for Monday's game. That's at least good short-term news for Al Thornton lovers. If you get any nibbles on Marc Gasol, I'd consider fielding them. He's not custom-built for Memphis' new offense (10 total rebounds over his past three games), and I'm starting to think his value might have hit a plateau. I also add that Darko Milicic is about to come back. Phoenix is playing a pretty desperate ("let's save coach's job!") brand of basketball of late, and Grant Hill is leading the charge. He has 39 points and 15 rebounds over his past two games. Charlotte's Gerald Wallace is officially listed as day-to-day, but according to coach Larry Brown, don't expect him back "anytime soon."
If you're looking for a matchup that could produce some nice one-game returns, look no further than Kings-Suns and their combined 211.2 points allowed. Both Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes should suffice; Thompson is still available in 88 percent of ESPN leagues. Steve Novak continues to have a hot hand, racking up 18 3-pointers in his past five games. If you're looking for a nice one- or two-game boost from behind the arc, pick up Novak before opposing defenses start to realize he's on the court. Granted, I happen to be about the only Wizards fan left that lives west of the Rockies, but mark my words: Javaris Crittenton and JaVale McGee are going to be fantasy factors before the season is over. McGee should be a factor now, but coach Ed Tapscott is yanking his minutes around with no regard to his fantasy potential. Still, McGee has plenty of upside (18 points, 9 rebounds Saturday) and is the only healthy true center in D.C. as of this writing. Saturday night was "Joel Przybilla Flashback" night, where our favorite forgotten center posted 17 points and 14 rebounds while Greg Oden sat in "timeout." Don't rush out to scoop him up, though; if you're looking for a one-game Trail Blazer, Travis Outlaw (11.2 points per game over his past five games) is eminently available, and he has more upside than practically any other bench player in the league. Another fringe player I like for Monday is Roger Mason versus the Warriors. He should be good for two 3s and two steals. Hakim Warrick's value has taken a hit since the coaching change in Memphis. Now with Darko's return imminent, you might want to start looking for other options at power forward. If you're in need of backcourt help, Mike Conley seems to have locked down the starting gig in Memphis (28 points and 16 assists over his past two games). Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins seems to prefer not having a timeshare at point guard, and Conley could be in line for a big second half. Mickael Pietrus (27 points, 10 rebounds against the Pacers this past week) is making a push to regain his starting job in Orlando. He doesn't get enough touches to make him a night-in, night-out option on most fantasy teams, but he's a nice speculative add in deeper leagues. Chalmers Watch! The second-best rookie point guard nabbed four thefts and hit three 3-pointers Saturday night. He's hitting his 3s with more consistency (eight 3s in his past five games) and is already an elite-level steals provider. My fingers are almost refusing to type this, but Juwan Howard could have some short-term value in Gerald Wallace's absence. He posted better results (11 points, 5 rebounds) than Adam Morrison when given the chance to start. Another Bobcat who has raised his game a notch is Raja Bell (17.4 points, 2.1 3-pointers, 1.0 steals over his past five games).
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.