You'll want to watch the playoff seeding scenarios closely over the season's final weeks. A game gained or lost here or there could have major implications for fantasy owners.
The Suns have already made it clear that they'll look to reduce the minutes Steve Nash and Grant Hill have been logging if and when they're mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. That could mean a boost for Aaron Brooks (62% owned) and Jared Dudley (33%) in the season's final week-plus.
A similar situation has emerged in San Antonio. The Spurs haven't clinched the West's top seed yet, but they're close enough that Gregg Popovic has already started resting his veterans rather liberally. Don't count on production from the likes of Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili the rest of the way, and don't expect Tim Duncan to return unless they decide to give him a game or two of "shake off the rust" time. That could mean extra value for guys like DeJuan Blair (44% owned), Tiago Splitter (27%), George Hill (57%), Matt Bonner (7%) and Gary Neal (11%).
Don't be surprised if other teams look to rest overworked veterans once their playoff position is set.
Picks for the Week
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who may be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers.
All "percent owned" stats are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
JJ Hickson (80% owned) - Hickson is starting to put up the numbers that many of us anticipated from him this season - he's riding a streak of four straight double-doubles. (Of course, at least one of those performances could have been fueled by LeBron-return adrenaline…)
Kyle Lowry (80% owned) - In case someone in your league was scared off by Lowry's foot injury - he's hurting, but not enough to prevent him from scoring 16 points with seven boards and ten dimes against the Nets on Tuesday.
Carl Landry (69% owned) - The obvious beneficiary of David West's absence, Landry posted a double-double in his first start at power forward for the Hornets.
Greg Monroe (65% owned) - The rookie has been a decent play for much of the second half, and could be even more valuable with Ben Wallace sidelined by a knee injury.
Chase Budinger (26% owned) - Stepped into Shane Battier's role after the veteran was traded to Memphis, and was putting up really impressive numbers before getting sidelined by an ankle injury. He should be back later this week, but may need a game or two to get back to full speed.
Brandon Rush (7% owned) - Seems to be moving ahead of rookie Paul George on the depth chart. He hasn't put up eye-popping numbers, but he'll get you a couple of threes if given the playing time.
Shelden Williams (2% owned) - Has been one of the Knicks' most effective frontcourt players recently, and could get a bump in minutes while Shawne Williams is suffering from back spasms.
Delonte West (2% owned) - Started in place of Rajon Rondo on Sunday, and could get a boost in playing time as the Celtics look to get healthy for the playoffs.
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