By Juan Blanco, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
After a Week 12 in which we had the most four-game slates of the season, we’ll see a big drop-off in that department in Week 13. There are still nine teams with a full ledger, however, and only a trio with two-game weeks, giving us plenty of choices with respect to players that should have robust opportunities to produce.
Without further ado, let’s delve into some candidates you should consider either rolling with or giving a breather to in Week 13:
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz
TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards
Start: Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers (four games)
Garland has been on the upswing after an uneven start to his NBA career, and he enters the week with seven straight double-digit scoring efforts. The rookie has shot a solid 47.1 percent overall during that span, including 39.0 percent from three-point range. Garland is also complementing his 16.0 points per game with 4.9 assists, a marked improvement over his season-long figure. While the Cavs are struggling, Garland is virtually locked into a major role on a nightly basis, and as long as he continues to shoot a respectable percentage, he’s an easy start on a four-game week.
Start: Tomas Satoransky, Chicago Bulls (four games)
Satoransky’s production has been up and down at times this season, but he’s still posting career bests in points (10.1), assists (5.3), steals (1.4) and field goal attempts (8.3). He’ll also head into the new week in the midst of a strong stretch of play, having scored in double-digits in 10 of the last 13 contests. The 28 year old continues to see plenty of ball-handling opportunities while manning the point for the Bulls. Moreover, with Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) out for the next several weeks, Satoransky also has a chance at seeing a bump in usage during a four-game week that includes particularly favorable matchups versus the Wizards and Cavaliers.
ALSO CONSIDER: Collin Sexton, CLE (four games)
Sit: Terry Rozier, CHA (two games)
Rozier’s two-game week comes at a particularly inopportune time, considering he’s rattled off five consecutive 20-point efforts and is shooting 51.1%, including 45.8% from three-point range, during that stretch. Nevertheless, Rozier will only have a chance to take the floor against the Trail Blazers and Nuggets this coming week, a pair of squads that rank in the top half of the league in offensive efficiency allowed to shooting guards (including surrendering sub-40%-shooting to the position).
Sit: Bradley Beal, WAS (two games)
Ironically, Beal appears set to return from the lower-leg injury that’s cost him the last five games, as he was able to log a full practice Saturday. However, in terms of Week 13, he’ll only have two chances to take the floor, which means you should likely keep him on the bench for at least another seven days. That should also provide a buffer in the event Beal is still limited in any way or has a bit of a rusty shot, with the latter a possibility considering he’s sat for seven of his last eight contests overall heading into Sunday.
Start: Robert Covington, MIN (four games)
Covington will come into Week 13 running hot, having posted double-digit scoring tallies in eight of his last nine games, a span during which he’s also recorded double-digit rebounds on a pair of occasions and multiple steals in six contests. Granted, the veteran forward’s boost in production has undeniably been tied to Karl-Anthony Towns’ ongoing absence due to a knee sprain. The latter could well return at some point this week, but Covington’s versatility is such that he should still remain a valuable across-the-board contributor with four games.
Start: Al Horford, PHI (four games)
Speaking of increased usage due to injury, Horford should continue to benefit from Joel Embiid’s ongoing absence due to a dislocated ring finger. The veteran big totaled 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two blocks, and one steal in his first game without Embiid on Thursday, and as the likely starting center for the foreseeable future, double-doubles will certainly be a possibility any time he takes the floor. Horford has seen most of his numbers take a bit of a dip relative to last season when Embiid is in the lineup, but he’ll be poised for improved production on a four-game week that includes favorable frontcourt matchups versus the Pacers, Nets, and Bulls.
Sit: Taurean Prince, BKN (three games)
Prince has been difficult to trust for much of the season even as he heads into Sunday’s action after putting together two of his best scoring tallies of the season (21 and 17 points) in his last two games. However, the veteran has struggled to shoot efficiently, as he’s converting a career-low 37.4% of his field-goal attempts. Prince could well be outpaced by one of your four-game forwards in Week 13, and there’s a good chance you have a three-game player with more upside. The schedule doesn’t do him any favors, either. The Nets will face the Jazz, 76ers, and Bucks — three of the top eight defensive teams in the league.
Sit: Jaren Jackson, Jr., MEM (two games)
Jackson has continued to flirt with foul trouble nearly every time he takes the floor, although he’s navigated it well enough to produce six 20-point efforts in the last nine games. The type of strong, well-balanced production he’s been offering is difficult to leave on the bench, but the Grizzlies are one of only three teams that enter a two-game week. Given Jackson’s track record (4.6 fouls per game over the last five games), he’s an extremely difficult player to trust with a limited schedule. Over those two games, his expected output should be roughly 40 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks. Chances are, there’s another three- or four-game forward on your roster who can exceed that with relative ease.
Start: Daniel Gafford, CHI (four games)
Gafford is set for plenty of extra minutes in Wendell Carter Jr.’s absence due to an ankle sprain, an injury that is expected to cost the latter the next 4-to-6 weeks. After posting a dud in his first starting opportunity versus the Pacers on Friday, Gafford bounced back Saturday versus Andre Drummond and the Pistons by compiling 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block. The rookie, unfortunately, fouled out in 23 minutes, underscoring some of the risks that are inevitable with a rookie big man. But he appears poised to remain in the top job during a week that will open with a pair of favorable positional matchups against the Celtics and Wizards.
Start: Alex Len, ATL (three games)
Len has often been a shining example of maddening inconsistency throughout his career, but he’s actually been a reliable option over the last few weeks. Len has six double-digit scoring efforts in his last seven contests, a span in which he’s also churned out three double-doubles. Despite a bench role, Len has logged at least 21 minutes in seven straight games, and Jabari Parker’s ongoing absence should help keep Len’s role consistent in Week 13.
ALSO CONSIDER: Dwight Powell, DAL (three games)
Sit: Jonas Valanciunas, MEM (two games)
Valanciunas is typically a tough player to bench considering he’s averaging career highs in rebounds (9.7) and assists (2.0) while shooting a career-best 59.4%, including 44.4% from three-point range. However, the two-game week puts a damper on his prospects, and one of those games comes against Clint Capela and the Rockets. Plus, consider that Valanciunas isn’t immune to the occasional clunker, especially recently — he’s scored in single digits in two of his last four games.
Sit: Derrick Favors, NOP (three games)
Favors does have three games on the schedule, but he’ll enter Week 13 already dealing with a hamstring injury that cost him Saturday’s contest against the Celtics. Soft-tissue injuries are notoriously difficult to predict in terms of a recovery timeline, and despite Favors’ strong play of late, consider pivoting off him in a week when it’ll be difficult to gauge his availability. Since returning from an extended absence, Favors has been a nightly double-double threat, but he’s really only provided elite production in one category (rebounds).