Using opponent data for each team on the upcoming schedule, Basketball Prospectus can estimate how much a player's performance will vary because of the defenses he will face in the next week. (See here for more details on the process.) Each week, Kevin Pelton will take a look at five players to use, five to limit, and an ideal pickup.
Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana Pacers (plus-15 percent)
The short week leading up to the All-Star break makes matchups more important than ever. One opponent can make or break the entire week. In the case of Hibbert, Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons makes him far more valuable than usual. Hibbert's length will give him an advantage against a frontcourt that typically struggles on defense.
Shane Battier, SF, Houston Rockets (plus-13 percent)
It has been a quiet month of February on offense for Battier, who has averaged just 4.4 points in the Rockets' past five games. That is likely to change during the week ahead as Houston faces a pair of teams that allow opposing wings to produce at least 10 percent more than their usual rate.
Rodney Stuckey, PG, Detroit Pistons (plus-8 percent)
Stuckey's size figures to present a problem for the Atlanta Hawks when they face the Pistons on Monday. While Tracy McGrady has taken on ballhandling duties in Detroit, the Hawks will likely use liability Mike Bibby to defend Stuckey. That gives Stuckey an advantage in terms of both strength and quickness.
Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland Trail Blazers (plus-8 percent)
Facing the Minnesota Timberwolves' porous man-to-man defense and the New Orleans Hornets' zone should create open looks from beyond the arc for Batum, who has averaged more than two three-pointers a game in February. That includes outings with four and five makes from downtown.
Derek Fisher, PG, Los Angeles Lakers (plus-7 percent)
Fisher is only a play in the deepest leagues, but even the counterpart matchups might not do justice to his favorable schedule. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Wednesday's opponent, have allowed the highest three-point percentage in NBA history. Fisher should be in position to take full advantage.
Arron Afflalo, SG, Denver Nuggets (minus-10 percent)
It's hard to recommend against Afflalo coming off his huge fourth quarter in Thursday's win over the Dallas Mavericks (Afflalo scored 19 points in the final period, capped by the game-winning shot at the buzzer), but the matchups will be much more difficult next week; the Nuggets take on the Rockets and the Milwaukee Bucks.
DeAndre Jordan, C, Los Angeles Clippers (minus-7 percent)
For the most part, the advice next week is to bench players who have just one game on the schedule. Despite the short week, few of the players with multiple games have especially difficult sets of opponents. Jordan is the other exception. Like Denver, the Clippers face Milwaukee. They also take on the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have been able to limit the production of opposing big men.
Andris Biedrins, C, Golden State Warriors (minus-5 percent)
For Biedrins, the troubling matchup is on Tuesday, when the Hornets come to Oracle Arena. The two teams recently played on Jan. 26, when Biedrins had just two points and two rebounds in 16 minutes. Don't count on production from Biedrins in the rematch.
Richard Jefferson, SF, San Antonio Spurs (minus-5 percent)
The Spurs wrap up the Rodeo Road Trip on Thursday against the league's best defense, the Chicago Bulls. Chicago has been especially tough on wing players. Jefferson's opposing number, Luol Deng, has emerged as one of the league's most underrated defenders and should keep Jefferson in check.
Boris Diaw, PF, Charlotte Bobcats (minus-5 percent)
The Bulls' other game next week is against the Bobcats and Diaw. In two previous matchups with Chicago, Diaw has scored effectively but averaged just 3.5 rebounds per game. With another opponent less favorable than average (the Lakers), adjust Diaw's expected production accordingly.
This week's pickup
Marvin Williams, SF, Atlanta Hawks (plus-7 percent)
Available in 98.3 percent of ESPN leagues
Williams might end up mentioned in this space more often than anyone else this season. For the week ahead, a variety of factors make him an ideal pickup. Williams is available in virtually every league after missing time due to a back injury and has been playing solid basketball since his return, recording back-to-back double-doubles. The Hawks also face a pair of poor defensive teams in the Pistons and the New York Knicks. If you need help on the wing, Williams is the guy.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .
Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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