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February 25, 2011
Start/Sit Projections
Week of Feb. 28

by Kevin Pelton

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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.

Must plays

Ersan Ilyasova, PF, Milwaukee Bucks (plus-13 percent)
In consecutive weeks, Ilyasova has gone from one extreme to the other. Milwaukee's three-game schedule is highlighted by a date with the Detroit Pistons and their poor frontcourt on Tuesday. Ilyasova should also be able to put up strong numbers against the Phoenix Suns on Friday.

Ty Lawson, PG, Denver Nuggets (plus-8 percent)
Denver's newly promoted starting point guard handed out 10 assists in yesterday's win over the Boston Celtics, despite splitting time with backup Raymond Felton. Lawson figures to remain efficient as a passer and a scorer next week, though the quality of his schedule is tempered slightly by the fact that the Atlanta Hawks have upgraded their abysmal defense against point guards with the addition of Kirk Hinrich.

Toney Douglas, PG/SG, New York Knicks (plus-7 percent)
Count Douglas as another winner from this week's deal between the Knicks and the Nuggets. He had 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting in Carmelo Anthony's New York debut. Obviously the Knicks can't count on that production on a nightly basis, but a friendly schedule will boost Douglas' performance.

Kris Humphries, PF, New Jersey Nets (plus-7 percent)
Humphries and the Nets face the porous Toronto Raptors on Friday and Saturday in London. That gives Humphries two cracks at a defense he beat for 12 points and 12 rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting the last time they squared off.

Andrei Kirilenko, SF, Utah Jazz (plus-7 percent)
Two solid matchups in three games for Kirilenko and the Utah wings, though again the deadline maneuvering could affect things. The Jazz plays Denver on Thursday, which now means facing Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler instead of Carmelo Anthony.

Tough schedules

Mike Miller, SG/SF, Miami Heat (minus-9 percent)
At the team level, there might not be a tougher week of opponents than the Heat has lined up: the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs. That trio is toughest of all on wing players, and while you'll probably want to keep LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in your lineup, Miller isn't worth the risk--especially coming back from an ear infection that kept him out on Thursday against the Chicago Bulls.

Nicolas Batum, SF, Portland Trail Blazers (minus-7 percent)
A back-to-back at home against the Houston Rockets and at the Sacramento Kings spells surprising trouble for the Blazers' perimeter players. That includes both Batum and Brandon Roy, should his minutes increase quickly enough to justify returning him to your lineup.

Charlie Villanueva, SF/PF, Detroit Pistons (minus-6 percent)
It's a consistently bad week for Detroit in the frontcourt. All three teams the Pistons face--the Milwaukee Bucks, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Washington Wizards--are better than average when it comes to slowing down post players. Even in a daily league, Villanueva is not a particularly good play for any of those games.

J.J. Hickson, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (minus-6 percent)
The obvious tough matchup comes when the Cavaliers take on the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday, but Friday's game against the Knicks isn't as good for Hickson as it might seem. Thanks to Ronny Turiaf's efforts, New York typically holds opposing big men below their usual production.

Kirk Hinrich, PG, Atlanta Hawks (minus-6 percent)
During his first full week as a member of the Hawks, Hinrich gets four games, so his total production numbers are likely to be strong. The tradeoff is his efficiency, given that all four opposing defenses have been tough on point guards, especially Denver.

This week's pickup

Rodrigue Beaubois, SG, Dallas Mavericks (plus-10 percent)
Owned in 8.2 percent of ESPN leagues

Back after an absence of nearly four months, the speedy Frenchman has scored at least nine points in all three of his games thus far. Now is the right time to pick up Beaubois to take advantage of next week's easy schedule and have him around for the stretch run. All three opponents Dallas faces allow wings at least eight percent more production than average, and they're likely to have a tough time dealing with Beaubois' quickness.

A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider Insider.

Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Kevin by clicking here or click here to see Kevin's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
The Shootaround (02/25)
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Premium Article Start/Sit Projections (02/18)
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The Shootaround (02/28)

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