Adam Levitan

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Playing the per-36 minute game

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Playing the per-36 minute game is dangerous. Sometimes, like in the cases of Kevin Love, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday or Serge Ibaka, it works to perfection. The formula there is simple: Take a young player seeing limited minutes, project his stats over 36 minutes, hope he gets something near those minutes and laugh all the way to the bank.

The execution of this plan isn't nearly that simple. First and foremost, it's rare that a player sees such a significant bump in minutes from year to year. Second, many players are not able to produce in 32-36 minutes like they can in short bursts off the bench -- the idea of diminishing returns. And finally, fantasy value can be compromised by other owners being aware of per-36 minute upside (see Randolph, Anthony).

That said, when looking for future statistical heroes, playing the per-36 minute game is a valuable tool. Previously, I looked at guys that may land permanent starting gigs next season. As we continue to look back on the 2010-11 season, here are six candidates that have exciting per-36 minute potential:

1. Ryan Anderson, F, Magic
Per-36 minute stats: 17.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 3.4 treys, 1.0 blocks, 0.8 steals

If you don't see the upside here, you need to think about the kind of year that Channing Frye had. As I mentioned in this space when Frye first landed a starting gig, the ability to both shoot the trey and board/block is unique. Anderson's skill set definitely fits that category.

Anderson played just 22.3 minutes per game this season. If he can earn a bump to 28 or 30 with improved defense, he'll likely be one of my favorite sleepers next year.


2. Tyrus Thomas, F, Bobcats
Per-36 minute stats: 17.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.8 blocks, 1.3 steals

There always seems to be an excuse for why Thomas can't get a chance. Too inconsistent, too injured, too many off-court issues. The bottom line is that he is still just 24 and remains a major talent on a team desperate for exactly that -- talent.

The Bobcats were close to trading Boris Diaw last summer and could explore that again. With a full offseason of health, Thomas would be a high-risk, high-upside kind of sleeper. I always give extra slack and chances to elite shot-blockers.


3. Ed Davis, F, Raptors
Per-36 minute stats: 11.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.5 blocks, 0.9 steals

I regretfully omitted Davis from my list of players possibly headed for starting gigs next season, so I'll squeeze him in here. While Davis' offensive game remains raw, it's not jump-shooting raw. He's a dunking, put-back kind of player so his field-goal percentage (57.6 percent as a rookie) is spectacular.

The power forward spot in Toronto is crowded (Amir Johnson, Reggie Evans), but Davis clearly has the most upside for a young, rebuilding team.


4. Roddy Beaubois, G, Mavericks
Per-36 minute stats: 17.1 points, 4.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 treys, 1.5 steals

It's obviously very concerning that Beaubois fell out of the rotation late in the year and lost his starting gig to DeShawn Stevenson. But you don't have to be an expert to see that Roddy B has special offensive talent. He absolutely leaps off the screen as faster, quicker and more explosive than most other NBA players. That can't be taught.

If he can just put some consistency together, or get traded to a bad team, the fantasy upside would be monstrous. Another idea would be working on his pure point guard skills so he can take over for a declining Jason Kidd.


5. Thaddeus Young, F, Sixers
Per-36 minute stats: 17.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.4 blocks

Coach Doug Collins was repeatedly asked about giving Young a bump in minutes -- especially during playoff time. But Collins says that Young gets "worn down" with anything more than 28-29 minutes because the 22-year-old plays so hard. Add that to the fact that Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand are unlikely to go anywhere, and an increase in minutes for Young does not seem likely.

That said, Young is an impending restricted free agent that will be demanding a large contract. He will almost certainly be back with the Sixers, but can they really pay a guy heaps of money to play 28 minutes? This is a situation to monitor.


6. Austin Daye, SF, Pistons
Per-36 minute stats: 13.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.7 treys, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks

Even though the Pistons were going nowhere this season, coach John Kuester refused to play his young players. With Kuester likely gone, that should change. And with impending free agent Tayshaun Prince hinting that he has played his last game in Detroit, Daye should be the main beneficiary in terms of minutes.

However, Daye's performance as a starter this season (11.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.5 treys, 25.9 minutes) is a little concerning. He could be a "diminishing return guy." He could also just be a kid that is 23 years old and needs a coach to show confidence in him. I see Daye is a flier for now, pending offseason moves.

Follow Adam Levitan on Twitter.


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.
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