Defenses to Avoid
Chicago Bulls at LA Clippers: The Clippers are third in the league in offensive rating (107.2) but are facing the tough Bulls defense (second in the league in lowest opponent field goal percentage). With the recent news of Derrick Rose's meniscus tear, along with Jimmy Butler (toe) sitting out, it would seem that the Bulls' tenacious defense would take a hit from the losses. However, last season the Bulls played the entire season without Rose, and as a collective team effort, held together by rim protector Joakim Noah, the Bulls were capable of shutting down any team defensively. With the guidance of coach Tom Thibodeau, widely known for his defensive tactics, the Bulls could slow the Clippers (who are on the second game of a back-to-back).
Offenses to Use
Sacramento Kings at LA Lakers: Both the Lakers and Kings have some of the weakest perimeter defenses in the league (Kings fourth and Lakers thirteenth in opponent three-point percentage allowed). The inner-state rivals are bound to put on an offensive show, whether from their assassins beyond the arc, or from their cornerstone big men in the post. While the teams have yet to face each other this season, in four contests in 2012-2013, they averaged 104.0 points (Lakers) and 100.8 points (Kings) when matched up against each other. Look for the high-scoring matchup to continue in their first meeting for the 2013-2014 season.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons
Second game of a back-to-back: L.A. Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Kirk Hinrich (at LAC): With Derrick Rose (knee) out for an extended period of time, Hinrich is the obvious candidate to benefit from Rose's absence from a fantasy perspective. Hinrich should be considered a budget option at the point guard position, as his per-36 minute averages are solid: 10.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 three-pointers made. His price tag will likely increase in the coming weeks, so Sunday may be a good time to play him while he's on a discount.
Other options: Steve Blake (vs. SAC), Shaun Livingston (vs. DET)
Gordon Hayward (at OKC): Hayward is in the midst of a slump, averaging 13.2 points on 28 percent shooting from the field over his last five games. He started the season on fire, and the laws of equilibrium would imply that he will soon swing back to a positive state of production. Hayward will have the opportunity to do so against the Thunder, who are second in the league in opposing shooting guard three-pointers attempted (14.6 per game). If Hayward can find his stroke early on, a three-point barrage could be the result.
Other options: Jodie Meeks (vs. SAC), Arron Afflalo (vs. PHO), Nick Young (vs. SAC),
Kevin Durant (vs. UTA): The Jazz allow an average of 34.5 points per game for opposing small forwards, and Durant should have no problem scoring against the Jazz's perimeter defense. With Trey Burke recently returning from his finger injury, along with possibly Gordon Hayward and Richard Jefferson, players who are not usually noted for exceptional defense, stopping dribble penetration will be a challenge, especially with both Durant and Russell Westbrook capable of facilitating the offense. While Durant isn't a lock to go off for a 40-point night, his ability to create shots for himself and teammates should secure a more-than-solid fantasy line.
Other options: Mike Dunleavy (at LAC)
Jordan Hill (vs. SAC): Hill has been subtly dominating from a fantasy perspective over the past week. He has averaged 17.0 points (60 percent FG, 90 percent FT), 11.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks over his last five games. His price tag understandably has increased ever since his modest days off the bench, but he can still be had as a relative bargain in most daily leagues. With the focus of the Kings' defense on Pau Gasol in the low post, Hill should be able to rack up solid numbers through sneaky garbage plays, making him a valid pick on Sunday.
Other options: Greg Monroe (at BKN), Channing Frye (at ORL), Pau Gasol (vs. SAC)
Nikola Vucevic (vs. PHO): The Suns are the second-worst in the league in rebounds allowed for centers (12.3) and fifth-worst in the league in points allowed for centers (17.8). While Vucevic has been relatively ineffective lately (11.0 points and 7.7 rebounds) over his last three games, he will have the opportunity to break out of his slump in Sunday's matchup. Opposing match-up Miles Plumlee has been getting into foul trouble recently (3.4 fouls over his last five games compared to 2.7 for the season). If Vucevic can take advantage of Plumlee early on, he should have no problem going for a double-double.
Other options: DeMarcus Cousins (at LAL)
Derrick Rose (knee) is out indefinitely with a meniscus tear in his right knee.
Jimmy Butler (toe) is out for two to three weeks with a turf toe injury.
Kobe Bryant (Achilles) did not practice Saturday and is still without a timetable to return.
Steve Nash (soreness) is out indefinitely with general soreness.
Matt Barnes (eye) is out recovering from retinal surgery.
Deron Williams (ankle) is dealing with two sore ankles and a Sunday return is possible but unlikely.
Brook Lopez (ankle) is a game-time decision Sunday against the Pistons.
Jason Terry (knee) has missed games due to personal reasons and a sore knee.
Tobias Harris (ankle) experienced no setbacks in recent practices and could return Sunday.
Eric Bledsoe (leg) is having trouble walking and is not likely to suit up Sunday.
Chauncey Billups (knee) has been struggling to stay on the court with knee pain.
Will Bynum (hamstring) has a lingering hamstring issue that isn't too serious but has kept him sidelined.