One incontrovertible rule of fantasy basketball in 2014: any player facing the New York Knicks defense is a must-start. That's been true for most of the season, but it bears repeating after Tuesday night's game against the Lakers, when New York's laughably porous D gave up 51 points in the third quarter alone.
In the next week, the Knicks play in Phoenix, Golden State and Utah, then return home for games against Brooklyn and Washington. That means potentially big games from players like Gerald Green (66% owned), Jordan Crawford (20%), Steve Blake (8%), Trey Burke (72%), Shaun Livingston (17%), Marcus Thornton (42%) or Martell Webster (28%). (It also means Stephen Curry and John Wall are likely to go off, but you probably aren't getting those guys this week.)
Remarkably, the Knicks aren't even the league's worst defense - though you wouldn't guess that watching them defend a basic screen. When ranked by defensive rating - points allowed per 100 defensive possessions - there are four teams even more accommodating to opposing offenses. Through games of March 27th, the Bucks and Jazz are tied for worst at 108.4, then come the Lakers (107.3) and Sixers (107.2). The Knicks are at 107.0, tied with the Pelicans.
While we're on the subject of truly awful teams, here's my favorite stat of the day. Philly has now dropped 26 straight games, but their record on the season is still better than Milwaukee's. (And the Bucks won last night!) Still, adding a Buck or two to your roster makes some sense this week, as Milwaukee has five games on their schedule between March 29 and April 5. With Giannis Antetokounmpo hurting and Ersan Ilyasova now out for the season, Ramon Sessions (35% owned), Khris Middleton (29%) and even Jeff Adrien (7%) are logical targets.
Steve Nash's surprise return lasted all of one game; he racked up eleven assists in just 19 minutes against Washington on March 21, but hasn't played since. What does this tell us? Nash is still good enough to be worth starting in most formats, on those rare occasions that he's healthy enough to play. His next appearance could come on Sunday, against his old pals the Phoenix Suns.
More picks for the week ahead:
Tyreke Evans (85%): With both Brian Roberts and Austin Rivers hurting and Jrue Holiday shut down for the season, Evans has taken on more ball-handling responsibilities for the Pelicans. Evans isn't particularly well-suited to handling the point guard role on a full-time basis - he proved that repeatedly with the Kings - but in the short term this could mean a boost in his assist totals.
Jeremy Lin (76%): Patrick Beverly suffered a knee injury during Thursday's game - some reports indicate that he has a torn meniscus, which could mean he'll miss the remainder of the season. That almost certainly means more minutes for Lin down the stretch.
Enes Kanter (75%): Averaging a double-double in his last five games and seems to have locked up a starting spot going forward. Only thing keeping him from a higher tier among fantasy bigs is his lack of blocks.
Sam Dalembert (47%): Playing a very significant role in Dallas' frontcourt these days, and has been a good source of boards and blocks.
Gorgui Dieng (42%): Dieng has been a monster filling in for Nikola Pekovic - and it doesn't sound like Pek's return is imminent. (With just two weeks left in the season and the T-Wolves seven games behind Phoenix for the last playoff spot in the West, it makes little sense to push Pek into the lineup too quickly.)
Jordan Hill (36%): Playing very well since his return from injury, with two 28-point games and three games with 13-plus boards in a four-game span.
Chris Douglas-Roberts (10%): CDR has won a pretty consistent bench role for Charlotte and is averaging double-digits in scoring for the month of March.
Quincy Miller (0%): Miller will get a look at the small forward spot for the Nuggets. On a related note, Miller might be the only Nugget that is completely healthy right now.
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