Matchups for Sunday, Dec. 30
All times Eastern.
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.
Ron Artest, SF, Kings (elbow)
Kwame Brown, PF/C, Lakers (knee/ankle)
Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies (shoulder)
Monta Ellis, PG/SG, Warriors (back)
Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs (finger)
Willie Green, SG, 76ers (hip)
Kenyon Martin, PF, Nuggets (hamstring)
Luke Walton, SF, Lakers (ankle)
Kevin Martin, SG, Kings (groin)
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
He is never going to wow you with his shooting percentages, but Jamal Crawford is quietly becoming an excellent fantasy player, mostly because of opportunity. With Stephon Marbury out following the death of his father, Crawford is the closest thing the Knicks have to a serviceable point guard, and he is big enough that Nate Robinson can play the 2 alongside him. I like his matchup against the Bulls' backcourt, and I think he's an automatic start for the foreseeable future. Staying with the Knicks, if David Lee is going to start and get more than 30 minutes per game, he's going to be an extremely useful fantasy guy going forward. If you have stuck with him through the lean times, congrats; no one will be buying low on him for a while. Fresh off his 10-blocks-included triple-double against Milwaukee, Denver's Marcus Camby has a great matchup against Golden State. He is quick enough to run with the Warriors, and if he can avoid foul trouble, he should be able to score some points in this one. In my forecast for the week, I said Sacramento's Brad Miller is a bad play against Phoenix because he is too slow to keep up. I still fear that might be the case. Amare Stoudemire held Chris Kaman to nine points Thursday night, but Kaman went for 22 points and 20 rebounds against Stoudemire on Friday. If Stoudemire starts playing defense, it will be bad for fantasy owners, because opposing centers have been completely carving up the Suns all season. I would sit Miller for this one, but we all should keep an eye on Stoudemire's defense and see which Amare shows up going forward.
The Warriors will let the Nuggets get a lot of good looks at 3-pointers, as teams are shooting better than 36 percent from deep against them. Expect Denver's Linas Kleiza to be one of the beneficiaries; he shot 44 percent from long range over his previous 10 games. With Brent Barry out and Manu Ginobili a little beat up, you can expect Michael Finley to continue to put up some useful numbers. Over his past five games, he averaged 14.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists, and he hit more than two 3s per game, as well. Of course, he didn't have a single block or steal in his past 14 games, which is almost too astonishing for me to even process. You'd think he'd pick up a steal here or there just by accident. Francisco Garcia still is not owned in most leagues, and I still think that's a mistake while Kevin Martin is out. He had three or more 3s in three of his past five games, and he throws in some steals for good measure. If you need 3s, he is worth owning, especially against the Suns, who give up a ton of points. Not many people have looked great against the Celtics, but when the Lakers faced them in November in Boston, the Lakers' starting frontcourt scored a grand total of 12 points. That's Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Luke Walton combined. The Lakers scored 94 points, and just about all of them came from the perimeter. The only L.A. player who really stood out in that game was Vladimir Radmanovic; he had 18 points and hit three 3s on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor. You could see similar numbers this time.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com