The NBA schedule has any given team playing between one to five games on any given week. This uneven distribution can alter the value of players quite a bit, particularly in weekly scoring formats. This planner highlights those teams playing an extra game or two and those playing a reduced amount.
Boston Celtics (@BKN, @LAC, @GS, @SAC)
After giving Courtney Lee a three-game stint as the starting shooting guard head coach Doc Rivers switched back to the struggling Jason Terry. Lee shot 53.6 from the field and averaged 11 points per game while his scoring total and shot attempts increased with each game. In that same span Terry was only good for 44 percent shooting and averaged 10.6 points, right in line with his disappointing lines for the season. Outside of points scored neither player offers much in the fantasy realm, although the Jet can pour in some three pointers from time to time.
Despite the extra contest Terry is a risky play given his erratic performances. He's thrived as a sixth man in previous years, so another demotion wouldn't be a death knell to his value. However, the sagging overall performance makes it hard to justify locking him in for the entire week. If given more minutes Lee might see a boost in scoring but isn't worth starting right now.
The Celtics hit the road for all four games, including three on the West Coast. The first two games against a pair of top-five squads in opponent points per game but the competition gets much easier in the final two contests.
(Must starts: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo)
Brooklyn Nets (vs. BOS, @MIL, vs. CHA, vs. CLE)
The Nets have an opportunity to make some movement away from the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference with three home games in the next four. Two of those contests come against the league's worst bottom feeders. That's great timing for Kris Humphries, who has started the last two games over Reggie Evans. Humphries isn't much of scorer but is capable of pulling down double-digit rebounds and a block or two when he gets starter's minutes.
Gerald Wallace has seen a drop in his points per game but is hitting a career-high 1.3 threes for the year and capable of a modest scoring effort on most nights. He's also recording 1.5 steals and nearly a block per game. Also encouraging is seeing Crash's recent uptick in rebounds, 7.2 boards this month.
Since returning recently from a foot injury, Brook Lopez has notched two double-doubles over the last three games and is averaging 2.3 blocks over the last four. He appears to be fully healthy and a safe fixture in your lineup.
(Must starts: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson)
Denver Nuggets (@LAC, @LAL, @DAL, @MEM)
In the month of the December backup point guard Andre Miller is averaging 9.4 points, 5.6 assists and a steal per game while hitting nearly every free throw. The savvy veteran typically plays a solid amount of minutes and will offer up enough dimes to tempt owners in need of assists for a rental this week thanks to the extra game.
Starting center Kosta Koufos has pulled down seven or more rebounds in four straight and is averaging two blocks per game this month. His backup JaVale McGee isn't getting enough minutes to offer consistent numbers cleaning the glass but has blocked three or more shots in six games of the nine games the Nugs have played this month.
Swingman Corey Brewer is also playing well in December with 14.8 points per game on 52.3 percent shooting with 1.4 threes and 1.1 steals. While not rebounding at the same rate as Al Harrington did with Denver a year ago, Brewer is starting to produce similar results in the sixth man role.
The Nuggets, tied for sixth in scoring, draw the league's top scoring defense in the Grizzles in addition to the No. 4 Clippers but also face struggling squads in the Lakers and Mavs. The up-tempo offense will have their stamina tested as they'll be playing four games in five days.
(Must starts: Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari)
Houston Rockets (@CHI, @MIN, @SA, vs. OKC)
In place of the injured Patrick Patterson (foot) second-year man Marcus Morris has averaged 15.3 points per game in three starts. He's also been extremely efficient from distance converting six of his 10 three-point attempts. Toney Douglas has also been able to hit threes but is coming off the bench and is averaging less than 20 minutes per game making him much less reliable. The party may be put on hold, however. The upcoming schedule features teams that all sit inside the upper half of defending the three, including a trio inside the top 10.
(Must starts: James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik)
Los Angeles Clippers (vs. DEN, vs. BOS, @UTA, vs. UTA)
Following a lackluster November, Matt Barnes has averaged 12.7 points per game on 55.7 percent shooting in addition to 4.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.3 threes and 0.8 blocks this month. Barnes is a solid contributor off the bench, and his across-the-board production plays even better with the extra game this week.
(Must starts: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan)
Miami Heat (vs. OKC, @CHA, @DET, @MIL)
Even with the additional game Ray Allen and Shane Battier may not be worth a plug and play this week. Both players can add some threes but are hard pressed to break double-digit points. Battier offers a little more value with the ability to throw in a block or a steal. He's a borderline option in deeper formats.
(Must starts: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh)
Memphis Grizzlies (vs. PHI, vs. DEN)
Despite only playing two games this week the stars of the Grizz (Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley) should continue to remain in your lineup. Even during a normal week the remaining players wouldn't much value. Starter Tony Allen owns an awful field goal percentage and doesn't contribute much of anything outside of steals.
Minnesota Timberwolves (vs. HOU, vs. PHO)
Owners will want to keep Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko going but shouldn't overlook Nikola Pekovic's recent surge. After concerns of a sore back he suited up the following night to score 18 points and record 12 rebounds against the Heat.
Point guards Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea are fringe options at best. They are scoring in double digits but have seen wild swings in their assist totals. Once Ricky Rubio is able to play more minutes following knee surgery he'll likely put a big dent in both of their values.
Alexey Shved had some moments coming off the bench earlier in the season but has really struggled shooting the ball in four games since being promoted to starter. He's averaging 6.5 assists during that time but owns a crooked 37.1 field goal percentage.
Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.