FBA: Players to Watch

Updated: October 31, 2006, 11:24 AM ET
By Keith Lipscomb | ESPN.com
Those four months since Shaq and D-Wade hoisted Miami's first NBA championship trophy sure went fast. And here we are, all drafted up and ready for another fantasy hoops season.

Even though this week comprises approximately five percent of the regular season in most leagues, it's always nice to get off to a strong start. And we're here to help you do just that. For those in leagues that must set their lineups for the week, it's important to note that the Lakers and Suns play four games, while the Nets and Nuggets play just twice each. All other NBA teams play three games in the opening week.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Smush Parker, Lakers: While it's obvious you should play Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom every night, even with Kobe at less than 100 percent following knee surgery, Smush could be a deep sleeper this week because of the extra game. The Lakers play three of the most forgiving defenses in the league (Phoenix, Golden State and Seattle twice), against which Parker combined to average 14.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists last season, while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field (with two three-pointers per game). And he's owned in only half of ESPN.com leagues, so take a flier if you're desperate for games.

Amare Stoudemire, Suns: We should get a nice, early read on the state of Amare's knee since Phoenix has a pair of back-to-backs to tip-off the season. Don't be surprised if he is forced to miss one of these early contests or sees less playing time on the second night of the back-to-backs. Boris Diaw is the better option at center right now for the Suns (Diaw is now only eligible at SF and PF in ESPN leagues), and in the foreseeable future.

Chris Wilcox, Sonics: Who knows which Wilcox we'll see this season? For a player owned in 98 percent of ESPN.com leagues, the only thing I know for sure is he'll bank $24 million over the next three years. That could be a contributing factor in his poor preseason (7.0 points, 6.3 rebounds in 22.6 minutes), but he'll have an opportunity to get off on a good foot against lowly Portland and in two matchups against the injury-depleted front line of the Lakers.

Keith Lipscomb is a senior editor for ESPN Fantasy Games.

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