Fantasy Hoops: Start Mike Conley In All Leagues

by: Daniel Dobish

The All-Star break has come and gone, and now it’s time for the stretch run. If you’re still reading this and not just prepping for your Fantasy Baseball league, then that’s great news. You’re still in it, and have designs on your league championship.

This will be a topsy-turvy week for Fantasy owners, as not only is one day lost because of the break, but there is the NBA Trade Deadline to deal with Thursday, Feb. 20. Fantasy games could be decided by deals made, games lost which players are in transit to their new teams, etc.

The word on the street is that there are no major deals in the works, but we all know how that goes. Generally, it’s the big hype deals that never get done, and the ones which do go down are the ones no one seemed to breathe a word about before it happened.

One big-name player most likely to find a new home, whether it is with the Phoenix Suns, or another team, is Los Angeles Lakers PF/C Pau Gasol (groin). While he has been sidelined due to a groin injury, he is the kind of player who can help make a team on the fringe of the playoff picture into a legitimate contender and dangerous team in the postseason.

Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo’s name has been bandied about in the media, but it’s uncertain if general manager Danny Ainge will be able to get the kind of haul necessary to offset losing a still young, potentially valuable building block of a team in need of leadership. The Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors are among the teams mentioned as being interested. However, the feeling is that Ainge keeps Rondo and builds around him with a slew of draft picks and young players like PF/C Jared Sullinger, etc.

A few other lesser names such as Cleveland Cavaliers G Jarrett Jack, Denver Nuggets G Andre Miller, Los Angeles Lakers PF/C Jordan Hill, Memphis Grizzlies F Tayshaun Prince, Milwaukee Bucks G Luke Ridnour, Minnesota Timberwolves F Chase Budinger and G J.J. Barea all could be on the move.

mike conley jrTeams with four games (10): Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, Toronto, Washington

Teams with three games (18): Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas, Golden State, Houston, Indiana, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New Orleans, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, Utah

Teams with two games (2): Oklahoma City, Philadelphia

TUE New York at Memphis (8:00pm NBATV), San Antonio at L.A. Clippers (10:30pm NBATV)

WED Indiana at Minnesota (8:00pm ESPN), Houston at L.A. Lakers (10:30pm ESPN)

THU Miami at Oklahoma City (8:00pm TNT), Houston at Golden State (10:30pm TNT)

FRI Denver at Chicago (8:00pm ESPN), Boston at L.A. Lakers (10:30pm ESPN)

SAT State Farm All-Star Saturday Night (8:30pm TNT)

SUN 63rd NBA All-Star Game (8:00pm TNT)

* All Times Eastern (ET)

SCHEDULE ANALYSIS

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers have just two games scheduled in the new week, so it’s bad news for Fantasy owners in cumulative leagues. It’s also bad news for Fantasy owners of players on other teams, as it is always nice to load up on guys playing the 76ers.

The next best thing is facing the Los Angeles Lakers, and their leaky defense. The Brooklyn Nets will get a crack at the Lakers, as well as the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz. They only have three games on the schedule, but against those poor defenses the scoring lines will almost look like the Nets played four games. They have a very favorable schedule despite being on the road for all three games.

The Houston Rockets are also a team with just three games on the schedule, but they will get a chance to face those lowly Lakers, as well as the Warriors and Phoenix Suns. All three teams have poor scoring defenses, and SG James Harden, C Dwight Howard, PG Jeremy Lin and SF Chandler Parsons should be huge this week.

INJURIES

Cleveland Cavaliers C Anderson Varejao (assorted injuries) did not travel to Philadelphia for Tuesday’s game, so he would play a maximum of three games if he is able to return Wednesday against Orlando. And that is certainly no guarantee. The best play is to reserve Varejao until he can officially return and prove he is healthy. PFs Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson should help pick up the slack in place of A.V.

Memphis Grizzlies PG Mike Conley Jr. (ankle) is expected to return for Tuesday’s game against New York, and that’s great news for his Fantasy owners after a lengthy absence. It’s terrible news for PG Nick Calathes, who had emerged as a tremendous short-term Fantasy option. Don’t drop Calathes, but he is no longer worth starting in anything but the deepest of leagues.

All indications are that Oklahoma City Thunder PG Russell Westbrook (knee) will return for Thursday’s game against the Miami Heat. That’s the good news for Fantasy owners in Rotisserie formats, and those formats which average points per game in a scoring period. However, with just two games on tap for the new week, Westbrook isn’t a great option in cumulative leagues and points-based head-to-head formats. His return will force PG Reggie Jackson to the pine, and he is not nearly as valuable as he has been going forward. However, do not drop Jackson, as he can still be a decent sixth man, and you never know if Westbrook will have another setback.

Sacramento Kings head coach Michael Malone told KXTV in Sacramento that C DeMarcus Cousins (hip) is “very questionable” for Wednesday’s game. That’s bad news for Fantasy owners, as the status of Cousins will likely not be determined until after lineups lock. Fantasy owners will likely want to play it safe and keep him reserved.

CATEGORY HELP

If you need help in specific categories in Rotisserie Fantasy play, you’ve come to the right place. Check out these guys, who should be available in your league, to help out in certain areas.

POINTS

Patty Mills, PG, San Antonio (14.7 ppg over the past nine games)
Rodney Stuckey, SG, Detroit (13.1 ppg over the past eight games)
Patrick Patterson, PF, Toronto (12.6 ppg over the past seven games)
Kyle Singler, SF, Detroit (11.6 ppg over the past eight games)

REBOUNDS

Ronny Turiaf, C, Minnesota (7.9 rpg over the past nine games)
Elton Brand, PF, Atlanta (6.9 rpg over the past seven games)
Dante Cunningham, PF, Minnesota (6.6 rpg over the past nine games)
Kelly Olynyk, C, Boston (6.4 rpg over the past eight games)

ASSISTS

Jerryd Bayless, PG, Boston (5.0 apg over the past eight games)
Nate Wolters, PG, Milwaukee (4.3 apg over the past eight games)
Devin Harris, PG, Dallas (4.1 apg over the past seven games)
Pablo Prigioni, PG, New York (4.1 apg over the past eight games)

STEALS

Norris Cole, PG, Miami (1.9 spg over the past seven games)
Pablo Prigioni, PG, New York (1.6 spg over the past eight games)
Kyle O’Quinn, PF, Orlando (1.4 spg over past nine games)
Garrett Temple, SG, Washington (1.4 spg over the past nine games)

BLOCKED SHOTS

Ronny Turiaf, C, Minnesota (2.6 bpg over the past nine games)
Draymond Green, SF, Golden State (1.5 bpg over the past eight games)
Kyle O’Quinn, PF, Orlando (1.4 bpg over the past nine games)
Elton Brand, PF, Atlanta (1.4 bpg over the past seven games)
James Johnson, PF, Memphis (1.4 bpg over the past 10 games)

3-POINTERS

Derek Fisher, PG, Oklahoma City (19 3-pointers over the past nine games)
Patty Mills, PG, San Antonio (19 3-pointers over the past nine games)
Anthony Tolliver, PF, Charlotte (16 3-pointers over the past seven games)
Evan Fournier, SG, Denver (13 3-pointers over the past eight games)

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