Dish: Late-season team targets

Finding fantasy value among NBA teams going through end-of-season upheaval

Updated: March 31, 2014, 3:46 PM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com

April is almost always the most difficult month to project in fantasy basketball. It's a month dominated by youth movements and shutdowns.

Teams that are out of playoff contention will often decide to give their younger players more playing time in the season's final frame as they look to evaluate talent for next season. Conversely, teams that are locked into the postseason may give their star players some extra rest to help keep them fresh for the playoff run. These scenarios can be awfully frustrating (particularly in head-to-head leagues), but they also leave the door open with an incredible opportunity to find unheralded breakout players.

The Top 130

Note: Brian McKitish's top 130 players are ranked for their fantasy value for the 2013-14 NBA season. Previous rank is indicated in parentheses.

1. Kevin Durant, OKC (1)
2. LeBron James, MIA (2)
3. Kevin Love, MIN (6)
4. Stephen Curry, GS (5)
5. Chris Paul, LAC (4)
6. James Harden, HOU (7)
7. John Wall, WSH (8)
8. Carmelo Anthony, NY (9)
9. DeMarcus Cousins, SAC (10)
10. Joakim Noah, CHI (15)
11. Al Jefferson, CHA (13)
12. Dirk Nowitzki, DAL (14)
13. Paul George, IND (11)
14. Serge Ibaka, OKC (12)
15. Kawhi Leonard, SA (30)
16. Tyreke Evans, NO (34)
17. Paul Millsap, ATL (23)
18. LaMarcus Aldridge, POR (52)
19. Blake Griffin, LAC (16)
20. Ty Lawson, DEN (17)
21. Rajon Rondo, BOS (24)
22. Monta Ellis, DAL (26)
23. Thaddeus Young, PHI (29)
24. Goran Dragic, PHO (25)
25. Damian Lillard, POR (21)
26. Marc Gasol, MEM (28)
27. Nicolas Batum, POR (19)
28. Rudy Gay, SAC (27)
29. Mike Conley, MEM (35)
30. Michael Carter-Williams, PHI (33)
31. Kemba Walker, CHA (37)
32. Kyle Lowry, TOR (20)
33. Russell Westbrook, OKC (40)
34. Brandon Knight, MIL (36)
35. Deron Williams, BKN (38)
36. Eric Bledsoe, PHO (41)
37. Nikola Vucevic, ORL (43)
38. Trevor Ariza, WSH (31)
39. Kenneth Faried, DEN (59)
40. David Lee, GS (32)
41. Klay Thompson, GS (45)
42. Anthony Davis, NO (3)
43. Isaiah Thomas, SAC (18)
44. Ricky Rubio, MIN (49)
45. Kevin Martin, MIN (50)
46. Jeff Teague, ATL (51)
47. Wesley Matthews, POR (47)
48. Chandler Parsons, HOU (65)
49. Josh Smith, DET (48)
50. DeAndre Jordan, LAC (53)
51. Marcin Gortat, WSH (55)
52. Jimmy Butler, CHI (62)
53. DeMar DeRozan, TOR (58)
54. Jodie Meeks, LAL (64)
55. Andre Drummond, DET (54)
56. Chris Bosh, MIA (44)
57. Arron Afflalo, ORL (56)
58. Greg Monroe, DET (57)
59. Victor Oladipo, ORL (61)
60. Derrick Favors, UTAH (72)
61. Zach Randolph, MEM (71)
62. Jeff Green, BOS (60)
63. Bradley Beal, WSH (63)
64. Brandon Jennings, DET (66)
65. Nikola Pekovic, MIN (89)
66. Tim Duncan, SA (68)
67. Gordon Hayward, UTAH (69)
68. Avery Bradley, BOS (94)
69. Jamal Crawford, LAC (84)
70. Amir Johnson, TOR (70)
71. Tony Parker, SA (46)
72. Randy Foye, DEN (93)
73. DeMarre Carroll, ATL (77)
74. J.R. Smith, NY (80)
75. Paul Pierce, BKN (74)
76. Tobias Harris, ORL (73)
77. Anderson Varejao, CLE (82)
78. Joe Johnson, BKN (78)
79. Trey Burke, UTAH (83)
80. David West, IND (75)
81. Luol Deng, CLE (86)
82. Lance Stephenson, IND (76)
83. Dion Waiters, CLE (92)
84. Dwyane Wade, MIA (39)
85. Spencer Hawes, CLE (67)
86. Jose Calderon, DAL (81)
87. D.J. Augustin, CHI (87)
88. Taj Gibson, CHI (91)
89. Markieff Morris, PHO (96)
90. Ramon Sessions, MIL (112)
91. Amare Stoudemire, NY (102)
92. Robin Lopez, POR (88)
93. Nick Young, LAL (130)
94. Pau Gasol, LAL (22)
95. Jameer Nelson, ORL (95)
96. Dwight Howard, HOU (42)
97. Terrence Jones, HOU (104)
98. Terrence Ross, TOR (108)
99. Tyson Chandler, NY (90)
100. Jeremy Lin, HOU (121)
101. Mario Chalmers, MIA (106)
102. Jordan Hill, LAL (129)
103. Jarrett Jack, CLE (115)
104. Vince Carter, DAL (122)
105. Roy Hibbert, IND (103)
106. Marco Belinelli, SA (NR)
107. Gerald Green, PHO (98)
108. Tony Wroten, PHI (114)
109. Matt Barnes, LAC (113)
110. Jared Sullinger, BOS (110)
111. Kyrie Irving, CLE (111)
112. Enes Kanter, UTAH (119)
113. Henry Sims, PHI (NR)
114. Khris Middleton, MIL (118)
115. Josh McRoberts, CHA (NR)
116. Shawn Marion, DAL (124)
117. Daniel Green, SA (99)
118. Shaun Livingston, BKN (116)
119. Gerald Henderson, CHA (123)
120. Gorgui Dieng, MIN (127)
121. John Henson, MIL (NR)
122. James Anderson, PHI (NR)
123. Samuel Dalembert, DAL (NR)
124. Manu Ginobili, SA (105)
125. Chris Andersen, MIA (NR)
126. Jonas Valanciunas, TOR (NR)
127. Tiago Splitter, SA (NR)
128. Patty Mills, SA (NR)
129. Ben McLemore, SAC (NR)
130. Corey Brewer, MIN (NR)

Keep in mind that schedules and injuries will have a huge impact on the rankings with each team scheduled to play between seven to 10 games for the rest of the season, which is why you'll see injured players like Kyle Korver and Wilson Chandler dropped from the rankings. Players like Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Anthony Davis and Isaiah Thomas drop in the rankings for the same reason.

With that said, let's take a look at some teams that may have some big changes as we wrap up the season:

Los Angeles Lakers: Look out for the Lakers down the stretch, particularly now that Pau Gasol is questionable with vertigo-like symptoms. Jodie Meeks will continue to shoulder the offensive load after posting a brilliant 17.3 points, 2.2 steals and 2.1 3-pointers per game in the month of March. He's been one of the best in-season pickups of the campaign. Nick Young also feels like a terrific option for the duration of the season, as he's averaged 19.0 points, 1.2 steals and 3.4 3-pointers in five games since returning from a knee injury.

Regular readers of this column know my love for Jordan Hill's per-minute production, and he looks like a great pickup with Gasol in question. He's averaged 16.8 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in just 25.8 minutes over his past five contests. Chris Kaman may also have some moderate value if Gasol continues to miss time, but I'd much rather take my chances with Hill. It's looking more and more like Kendall Marshall was playing over his head earlier this season, but he's still averaging 7.1 assists and 1.0 steals over his past 10 games. I can understand those who want to drop him, but it's all about your categorical needs at this point in the season.

Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers finally broke their losing streak after 26 straight defeats, and despite their futility, they've actually been a fantasy-friendly lineup all season. Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young should continue to be locked in, while Tony Wroten, Henry Sims and James Anderson should provide nice sleeper value for the remainder of the season.

Wroten, who returned from a three-game absence (ankle) on Saturday, averaged a healthy 14.6 points, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.7 3-pointers in March while Sims has averaged 15.6 points and 9.6 rebounds over his past five games. The wild card is Anderson, who exploded for 30 points (including six 3-pointers) on Thursday before slumping with just five points in Saturday's victory over the Pistons. He'll be inconsistent, but might have a few big games down the stretch as the Sixers look to improve their chances for the draft.

Milwaukee Bucks: There's no sugarcoating it: The Bucks have been a disaster in both real life and fantasy this season. Not only are they 14-59 on the season, but they've also given us fantasy busts in Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and O.J. Mayo. But as we head into April and the battle for the most lottery balls continues, I think we can expect to see some sleeper candidates emerge.

Ramon Sessions is a given after averaging 15.9 points, 4.0 assists and 0.7 steals in the month of March, but I also like Khris Middleton and John Henson as sleeper candidates the rest of the way. Both have had stretches of value this season; Middleton posted 14.8 points, 0.9 steals and 2.5 3-pointers in February while Henson went for 15.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks way back in December. Neither is playing particularly well at the moment, but I'd be surprised if the Bucks don't give them plenty of run as the season winds down.

Miami Heat: The Heat still have a shot at stealing home-court advantage from the Pacers, so they won't be operating in full shutdown mode, but they've already started to spread minutes around to keep their big three fresh for the playoffs.

Fantasy owners shouldn't worry too much about LeBron James, even if he did play only 30.8 minutes per game in April last season (after all, just 30 minutes of LeBron is better than most players in the league). Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, played just three games last April, and the fear is that history will repeat itself with Wade basically in shutdown mode missing five of his past eight games. Chris Bosh has played only 28.8 minutes over his past five games, and his value may suffer if the Heat continue to limit his playing time. Deploy him as you normally would, but temper your expectations if the minutes don't pick back up.

Unfortunately, there aren't too many sleeper options in Miami outside of Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen. Chalmers could have a big month in April if he can return from his thigh injury, and Andersen should have some nice value as a rebounder and shot-blocker the rest of the way.

San Antonio Spurs: Gregg Popovich's willingness to rest his stars in April is well-documented, and fantasy owners should prepare to see decreased minutes and DNPs when it comes to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili the rest of the way. Duncan continues to defy logic, however, averaging 20.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.0 blocks over his past five games despite seeing just 26.5 minutes per game. Parker, on the other hand, has managed just 9.0 points and 4.0 assists in 26.8 minutes over the same span.

As you can see by his overall rank (No. 15), I love Kawhi Leonard's chances the rest of the way. Pops will be less likely to rest the 22-year-old who has dominated with 14.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.6 blocks and 1.5 3-pointers since the All-Star break. I'm also fairly high on Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills and Tiago Splitter (even though he's had some DNPs), as all three should have big finishes while Parker, Ginobili and Duncan rest. Belinelli has posted 15.2 points and 2.8 3-pointers over his past five games while Mills has gone for 11.0 points, 1.8 steals and 1.8 3-pointers in the same span.

Fantasy owners will have to pay close attention to the news coming out of San Antonio over the next few weeks, since there's no telling when Pops will decide to rest any of his players.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com and is a two-time Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year, as named by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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