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March 19, 2012
Start/Sit Projections
Week of March 19-25

by Bradford Doolittle

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Using opponent data for each team on the following week's 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, Bradford Doolittle will take a look at five players to use, five to limit and an ideal pickup.

MUST-PLAYS

These are players currently owned by less than half of owners in ESPN Fantasy Basketball 2012 that may be worth a roster spot in the week ahead.

Leandro Barbosa (Owned 11%, Opponent boost 12.8%): There are whispers that George Hill could move into Indiana's starting lineup, which would leave newly-acquired Leandro Barbosa as the Pacers' primary source of bench points. It's a role to which he's well suited. Barbosa has consistently averaged about a half-point per minute so if he can get 26 minutes or so, he can get you 13 points a night. Over his last 10 games, Barbosa has shot 48 percent from the field overall and 47 percent from the 3-point range, so he goes to Indiana on a roll. On top of all that, the Pacers are slated to play a soft group against two-guards over the next week, with the Clippers, Wizards, Suns and Bucks coming up. The Bucks (Monta Ellis) and Clippers (Nick Young) will be breaking in new starting twos, but that should only work in Barbosa's favor.

Chandler Parsons (Owned 15.3%, Opponent boost 12.3%): The Rockets did a lot of shuffling at the trade deadline, but the small forward contingent remained unchanged with Parsons and Chase Budinger. (Little-used Terrence Williams was waived on Friday.) In terms of efficiency, Parsons has been on fire. He's shot 61 percent over his last 10 games and 53 percent going back 20 contests. Over the last week, his playing time has edged up to 33 minutes per night and he's still hitting just about everything he throws up, including more than half his 3s. He's also averaging five boards, five assists and nearly two steals in recent games. Why don't more of you own him? Try him out this week. The Rockets play the Lakers, Warriors and Mavericks. It's a cross section of competition--the Lakers are very good against threes, the Mavericks are average and the Warriors are look-away terrible.

Zaza Pachulia (Owned 20.6%, Opponent boost 11.7%): Paculia has been getting plenty of minutes since Al Horford went down, but he's been maddeningly inconsistent. Lately, it seems like his numbers are on an upswing and Atlanta's schedule should help him maintain the trend. Pachulia is shooting 49 percent on the season, but he had a 10-game stretch in which he shot just 39 percent and averaged 7.6 points despite playing 31 minutes per game. Over his last three games, he's back up to 55 percent and the average is up to 9.3 points. More impressively, he's grabbing more than 12 boards per night. The Hawks have five games over the next seven days, including a back-to-back-to-back stretch to close off the week. Among the opponents are the No. 27 teams against centers (New Jersey) and No. 29 (Washington). None of the Hawks' opponents rate better than middle of the pack against pivots.

Michael Beasley (Owned 48.9%, Opponent boost 9.2%): Beasley still finds himself in a Minnesota uniform and since he says he wants to stay there, you'd imagine he'll play hard to finish the season. The Timberwolves need his shot creation more than ever without Ricky Rubio around to set up the offense. Beasley's minutes keep going down, but his shooting percentages continue to improve. Now that Rick Adelman knows Beasley will be around for the rest of the season, perhaps he'll feel more comfortable easing him back into a larger role. The near-term opposition is favorable for that -- the Timberwolves take on Golden State on Monday, a golden opportunity for Beasley.

Gordon Hayward (Owned 15.9%, Opponent boost 8.9%): No one is quite sure why Jazz coach Ty Corbin continues to start Josh Howard and Raja Bell at the wings, but Hayward has been getting plenty of run and his recent play could mean more minutes going forward. Hayward scored 26 points against Minnesota on Thursday and is shooting 53 percent over his last 10 games. He's also hitting half of his 3s in recent games, during which he is shooting over 90 percent from the line. Utah has a favorable slate for the wings coming up, especially Thursday's matchup against the Kings.

TOUGH SCHEDULES

These are players owned in most leagues, perhaps even by you, that you may want to leave on the bench for a few days because of a rugged schedule.

DeMar DeRozan (Owned 100%, Opponent hit -11.8%): DeRozan continues to log big minutes but his recent shooting surge seems to be ebbing. After a 10-game stretch in which he averaged 20.4 points and shot 48 percent from the floor, DeRozan has dropped to a 12.3 average and 35 percent in his last three outings. He's going to be hard-pressed to turn things around against Toronto's upcoming slate, which includes two games each against New York and Chicago. With Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert, the Knicks defend the two-position well. The Bulls pinch off opposing wings with Ronnie Brewer starting, as he has the majority of the season due to Rip Hamilton's injury woes.

Darren Collison (Owned 79.2%, Opponent hit -10.4%): Collison's minutes have slipped a bit lately, as has his production. Now there are calls for him to be replaced in Indiana's starting lineup. While Barbosa isn't a point guard, his acquisition could lead to Collison's benching. George Hill has outplayed Collison for most of this season, but his offensive sock has been needed for Indiana's second unit for most of the campaign. With Barbosa around, that's no longer the case. This week could prove to be the final nail in Collison's coffin as a starter. Indiana takes on the Clippers, Wizards, Suns and Bucks -- four teams with pretty good point guards.

Carmelo Anthony (Owned 100%, Opponent hit -10.5%): Melo owners who have been frustrated by his disappointing production had to have their spirits buoyed by recent news that interim coach Mike Woodson intends to operate the offense through Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Early in the season, when the Knicks were using Anthony as the initiator on offense, he was averaging nearly 27 points per game. If you think he's immediately going to bounce back to that level of production, you might be disappointed. At least at first. New York has a solid group of opponents this week overall, but be very aware of Wednesday's matchup with the Sixers. It's the back end of a back-to-back and, as we write every week, Andre Iguodala erases opposing threes.

Paul Pierce (Owned 100%, Opponent hit -9.8%): Pierce has been off his game lately, shooting just 38 percent over his last five contests. His minutes have been down, though not to a startling degree. He's shooting 27 percent from deep during that stretch, but averaging more free throw attempts. Seems like he's struggling with his jump shot and putting the ball on the floor to compensate. This week, the Celtics have both Philadelphia and Milwaukee. You know about the Sixers, but it also wouldn't be surprising if the Bucks' acquisition of Monta Ellis leads to more court time for Luc Mbah a Moute at small forward. Milwaukee will simply not require as much offense from that position. If so, that's bad news for threes going against the Bucks.

Kevin Martin (Owned 98.2%, Opponent hit -9.6%): Martin's minutes have been up and down under first-year coach Kevin McHale and it's hard telling if that's going to change. Here's Martin's minutes-per-game average in the four 10-game quadrants he's played this season: 34.0, 37.6, 25.8, 29.0. Thanks, McHale. His production is flagging amid the uncertainty. Martin, typically one of the league's most efficient perimeter players, is shooting just 28 percent over his last five games. The schedule won't help matters over the next week, as the Rockets get the Lakers (Kobe Bryant), Warriors (Klay Thompson) and Mavericks (Vince Carter). Might not read like an All-Defensive team, but their collective metrics against other two-guards will work against Martin.

THIS WEEK'S IDEAL GET

This is the player not mentioned above who stands to get the biggest boost from this week's slate. If you've had you're eye on via the trade market, now is the time to pull the trigger. If you own him, you may want to hold off on that deal for another week.

Bismack Biyombo (Owned 55.4%, Opponent boost 12.0%): It's time to jump on the Biyombo express. The long-limbed rookie is coming on of late, in part because of his increase in minutes to nearly 30 per night. At that level of court time, you should be able to count on Biyombo for 7-8 points, 8-9 rebounds and three blocks per night. His free throw percentage would kill you but he doesn't get to the line that much. This week, the Bobcats get New Jersey (27th against centers), Bucks (24th) and Sixers (ninth). Okay, you might want to sit him in that last contest. Too bad Biyombo can't play against his own team -- the Bobcats remain dead last against centers. Biyombo might have something to do with that, but at least he blocks shots.

A version of this article originally appeared at ESPN Insider Insider.

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

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