Adam Levitan

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Miles To Go?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Desperate times often call for desperate measures. The Jazz have been scuffling badly for more than a month now, posting a 3-11 record since Feb. 7 before Monday. So partially because of Raja Bell's mild toe issue and partially because they needed a spark, C.J. Miles got the start Monday night. He hit the game-tying shot in regulation of an overtime win and in the process stated his case for a long-term starting job.

Coaches are constantly tinkering, toying and yanking around with rotations. Sometimes it has to do with injuries. In other instances, it's a result of ineffective play from a certain player. The effect this has on minutes played and thus statistical production is where we come in.

Each week in this space, I'll explore the rotations of half the league's teams while attempting to get inside coaches' heads. The idea is not to tell you what Kevin Durant and LeBron James are going to do -- it's to decipher how much production we can get out of fringe players. Last week, I hit the East. Let's start this week off with the Jazz, where new coach Tyrone Corbin is looking for the right mix.

* Note that lineups listed reflect the starters in the team's previous game. Stats are through Monday's games unless otherwise noted.

UTAH
PG Devin Harris
SG C.J. Miles
SF Andrei Kirilenko
PF Derrick Favors
C Al Jefferson

It has been a rough few weeks for the Jazz. They lost their legendary coach, traded away their best player and are dealing with a laundry list of daily injuries. Fantasy owners should view it as an opportunity.

The most interesting name is C.J. Miles. Although he is unlikely to ever start over Andrei Kirilenko at small forward, he could very well stick in the starting five over Raja Bell at shooting guard. Yes, Bell was dealing with a toe injury when Miles started Monday night. But new coach Ty Corbin had been hinting at a lineup change for some time and admitted late Monday night that Miles just may become a permanent starter.

In six starts this season, Miles is averaging 18.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 treys and 1.5 steals. With the Jazz in desperate need for his offense, 30 minutes a night should be no problem and his talent can sustain that rate of production. Add him.

Paul Millsap (knee) must really be in bad shape if he is sitting out. Still, it would be a mistake to drop him or make an impulse add on Derrick Favors. As one of the game's true tough guys, The Sapper won't shut it down. And he will be an offensive focal point once out there.

DALLAS
PG Jason Kidd
SG Roddy Beaubois
SF Shawn Marion
PF Dirk Nowitzki
C Tyson Chandler

Talent does not always win out in terms of minutes. Roddy Beaubois has been a flop, simply because the Mavs' rotation is too crowded for him to get consistent burn. Roddy B has started 11 straight games but averaged just 16.0 minutes over that span and it will not change. The Mavs are too set in their rotation.

Meanwhile, no one should be surprised that Peja Stojakovic is hurt again. This time it is his neck, but it could just as easily be his knees. In the three games since Peja went down, Marion is averaging 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals. However, he is shooting 58.5 percent from the field during that span. If there were still trading available in your league, I would sell high. Marion will come back to earth and go back to the bench soon.

Editor's Note: Draft a hoops team just for tonight and win real cash in SnapDraft!

DENVER
PG Ty Lawson
SG Gary Forbes
SF Wilson Chandler
PF Kenyon Martin
C Nene

Everyone was banging their head against the wall, trying to figure out what the Nuggets would do with both Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton. It turns out that coach George Karl had the right idea all along -- simply put his most talented players on the floor at the same time and see what happens.

It has worked. With Felton and Lawson sharing the backcourt for huge minutes at a time, the Nuggets have won six of their last seven games and both players are racking up huge numbers. Not only are both point guards safe to use in fantasy -- both are major assets.

Arron Afflalo will immediately get his starting job back from Gary Forbes and play his 35 minutes. But Danilo Gallinari has been out for so long that he may need some time. The eventual timeshare between Wilson Chandler, Gallo and J.R. Smith is not appetizing from a fantasy perspective. Think 26-28 minutes for Gallinari and Chandler, while Smith may become unusable in fantasy again.

GOLDEN STATE
PG Stephen Curry
SG Monta Ellis
SF Dorell Wright
PF David Lee
C Andris Biedrins

Following Steph Curry game by game can be frustrating, but owners should take a step back. Before Monday, he was averaging 20.5 points, 6.4 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 treys and 1.3 steals in eight March games. Oh, and he also shot 95.8 percent from the line and 46.5 percent from the field during that span. So even when Curry throws up a clunker, there is no reason to worry. He is just too roto-friendly to complain about.

We can safely ignore the center position. Andris Biedrins has not topped 24 minutes in a game since Feb. 16 and Ekpe Udoh is clearly nowhere near ready.

David Lee can be used as a lesson for next year. Somewhat unproven guys who change scenery off a big year are just too risky to gamble on high in drafts. Darren Collison can be lumped in that category too.

HOUSTON
PG Kyle Lowry
SG Kevin Martin
SF Chase Budinger
PF Patrick Patterson
C Chuck Hayes

Count me as a believer in Chase Budinger. He has played no fewer than 34 minutes in any of his last five games and is just scratching the surface of his potential. In his eight starts entering Monday, Budinger was averaging 15.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 treys. His athleticism will eventually lead to more steals and there is more upside on the treys. We know the minutes will be there.

Without Luis Scola (knee) in there, the power forward position is a black hole. Patrick Patterson and Jordan Hill simply lack the talent to be impact players. We can do better.

Editor's Note: For weekly projections, daily pickup advice, exclusive columns and much more, check out Rotoworld's Season Pass!


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Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
Email :Adam Levitan



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