- Neil Tardy, Fantasy Basketball
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Tyson Chandler wasn't exactly an unknown commodity coming into this season, but I still viewed him as a sleeper. Toward the end of last season, Chandler tried to play with a bulging disk in his neck. As you might imagine, it didn't go well. He averaged just 5.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in the 2012-13 playoffs, compared with 10.4 points and 10.7 boards in the regular season. Perhaps that showing made him slip on draft boards this fall. Nonetheless, a healthy Chandler seemed like a nice value pick. (If you care to, scroll down and see where I got him in our second ESPN.com in-house mock draft.)
Chandler's anticipated four- to six-week absence because of a small, non-displaced fracture of his right fibula is, of course, a huge problem for the New York Knicks. As Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com notes, in the 106 minutes that Chandler was on the court, the Knicks allowed 92.2 points per 100 possessions. When Chandler was off the floor during the first four games, that number was 105.6 points.
However, the Knicks' dilemma raises a rather interesting question for fantasy owners: Is there anyone worth claiming from this mess?
Kenyon Martin and Amar'e Stoudemire can't be expected to log significant minutes on a nightly basis. Andrea Bargnani, being 7 feet tall, qualifies to play center, but that's another huge problem for the Knicks. More numbers from Begley: In Bargnani's 84 minutes on the floor through four games, the Knicks allowed 116.3 points per 100 possessions. With Bargs off the floor, that number was just 84.5 points.
While the Knicks will likely sign an out-of-work big (perhaps Ike Diogu, who was in camp with them in the preseason), it's worth wondering if they'll simply rely on smaller lineups. And that brings me to Metta World Peace. When Chandler went down against the Charlotte Bobcats on Nov. 5, MWP played 33 minutes, putting up 18 points, 6 boards, 3 steals and a couple of 3-pointers. In his first three games, he managed just 18, 23 and 21 minutes, respectively. Of course, World Peace is about to turn 34, and likely can't be counted on for 30-plus minutes long term, either. But as of Friday, he is available in 91.8 percent of ESPN.com leagues, and I am intrigued. The Knicks' schedule in Week 3 offers further intrigue. More on that in a moment.
Week 3 at a Glance
This is more like it. Nearly half of the NBA -- 13 teams -- is looking at a four-game slate for Week 3. The Phoenix Suns play twice, and everyone else has three games.
A quick reminder: For a longer-term view of the schedule, download this grid that covers the entire 2013-14 NBA season. This can also be accessed from the ESPN.com Fantasy Basketball home page by selecting "Weekly Schedule Grid" in the top navigation bar.
"R" matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup), and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's year-to-date and past 10 games' statistics, their opponents' numbers in those categories, and their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played. The column to the right lists the team's total number of games scheduled ("G") as well as home games ("H"), and lists the overall rating from 1-10 for that team's weekly schedule ("R").
Players to Watch
Andrea Bargnani, PF, and Metta World Peace, SF, New York Knicks (@ATL, HOU, ATL): While the Knicks play just three times in Week 3, there's something you should know about the Hawks. In their first five games, they've allowed 51 3-pointers, or 10.2 per game. For that matter, the Rockets, who played their sixth game Thursday, have yielded 58 treys, or 9.7 per game. Of course it's early, but note that no NBA team gave up as many as 9.0 triples per game in 2012-13. While I'd much prefer MWP if he can maintain his minutes, in leagues of at least 12 teams, Bargs is also worth considering for Week 3. He's available in 81 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Brandon Bass, PF, Boston Celtics (ORL, CHA, POR, @MIN): Bass has been a popular add this week, and it's encouraging that, in an unsettled C's lineup, he's seen at least 30 minutes in four of his first five games. Through his career, Bass has certainly proved that he can score (and make free throws) when given the opportunity, but his current hustle numbers seem unsustainable in the long term. Short term is another matter; Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves opponents rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in blocks. If you added him, roll with Bass in Week 3.
Patrick Beverley, PG, Houston Rockets (TOR, @PHI, @NY, DEN): It's been a tough start for Beverley. He played 10 minutes in the season opener, took a shot to the ribs that left him with a partially torn muscle in his midsection and then missed the next three games. After playing 29 minutes off the bench against the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 5, Beverley started Thursday and promptly went 1-for-10 from the field. No matter. Being available in 84.8 percent of ESPN.com leagues makes Beverley the best, most attainable fantasy free agent out there at the moment. Surely you Jarrett Jack owners (Jack is still rostered in about 40 percent of leagues) can find room for a starting point guard who averaged 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 3s and 1.2 steals in the playoffs last spring. The matchup with the 76ers gives Beverley a great chance to find his game. Sixers opponents are tops in 3s and steals so far.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats (ATL, @BOS, @CLE, MIA): A disappointment as a rookie, the second-overall pick in the 2012 draft has started well this season by making the most of his limited shooting opportunities (56.8 from the field on just 7.4 attempts) and improving in the hustle categories (1.4 blocks and 0.8 steals per game). While this schedule doesn't really play to his strengths, Hawks opponents rank sixth in field-goal percentage and Celtics opponents rank sixth in steals.
Kyle Korver, SG, Atlanta Hawks (@CHA, NY, PHI, @NY): I glossed over it in the Beverley write-up, but the 76ers are going to be one exciting team from a matchup standpoint. In their first five games, the Sixers have surrendered an astounding 61 3s, or 12.2 per game. On top of that, Sixers opponents have amassed 57 steals, or 11.4 per game. You know the damage he can do from downtown, but Korver -- the second-most added player in ESPN.com leagues -- is also averaging 1.8 steals so far this season. For reasons explained previously, two games versus the Chandler-less Knicks could also prove fruitful.
C.J. Miles, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers (@CHI, @MIN, CHA, @WAS): Not sure I trust Miles' hot start -- he's averaging just 21 minutes per game, and his 50.9 shooting percentage surely won't hold up. Interestingly, the Chicago Bulls, who allowed the second-fewest 3-pointers last season, stand as the most promising opponent for Miles in Week 3. Bulls opponents are knocking down a whopping 9.5 treys per game so far. It is early, though.
Opponent Performance, Past 10 games
All statistics are for teams' past 10 games played, and are defensive numbers. PPGA: Points per game allowed. FG%A: Field goal percentage allowed. 3PT%A: Three-point percentage allowed. RPG diff.: Rebounds per game differential. SPGA: Steals per game allowed. BPGA: Blocks per game allowed.
Neil Tardy identifies some of the better matchups to exploit in Week 3 of the fantasy basketball season. Features team-by-team schedule strength.