Adam Levitan

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Running with Walker

Tuesday, January 17, 2012




MAGIC
Position: Power forward
Some people may have backed off Ryan Anderson on draft day due to concerns about Glen Davis’ presence. That’s a season-changing mistake. Anderson fits perfectly in Stan Van Gundy’s four-around-one offense and has a unique skill-set that is perfect for fantasy. Meanwhile, Davis has already fallen into SVG’s doghouse.

Over the last 10 games, Anderson is playing 30.2 minutes while Davis is at 23.1. The Magic are 8-2 over that span. It’s a minute split that is a strong bet to continue the rest of the way, even if Anderson’s shooting cools off. Note that Anderson came into this year shooting 37.9 percent from 3-point range. This season, he’s at 44.8 percent. There will be a regression, but it won’t be severe. I’m not selling.

NETS
Position: Small forward
Prior to Monday, Anthony Morrow had started six straight games, played at least 31 minutes in five of them and gone 24-of-45 (53.3 percent) from 3-point range during that span. So what happened on Monday? Coach Avery Johnson made Morrow his eighth man and played him 16 minutes.

There’s no logical explanation for this other than the Nets are 3-11 and coaches love DeShawn Stevenson’s defensive-minded presence. There’s also no telling if Morrow will get back in the starting five. What we do know is that Stevenson has chronic knee issues and is a good bet to miss time going forward. Morrow’s sweet stroke is worth holding a bench spot for.

PACERS
Position: Shooting guard
Paul George is 22 years old and grew two inches since last season. He’s going to have growing pains, literally and figuratively. George is also shooting 55.0 percent from 3-point range, an unsustainable rate.

George Hill is going to keep getting minutes as a talented combo guard, but George’s role is secure. He’s started all 12 games and played at least 23 minutes in 11 of those 12. Hill will need an injury to get over 24-26 minutes per night.

PISTONS
Position: Point guard
Coach Lawrence Frank won’t tip his hand yet on his long-term plans at point guard. What he will say is that he’ll wait for Rodney Stuckey to get fully healthy before evaluating anything. Well, it’s about that time. Stuckey has been back from his groin injury for three games and has come off the bench for three games. He says he’s fine as the sixth man, but we’ll see how long that attitude sticks.

Meanwhile, Brandon Knight is 1-6 as the starter, posing an ugly 3.3-to-3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. Frank is going to be hard-pressed to keep the No. 8 overall pick in the starting five. Look for Stuckey to reclaim the job soon, but the three-guard rotation should stick. Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Knight will all hover around 29-34 minutes per game.  

RAPTORS
Position: Small forward
James Johnson appeared to be gaining quickly on Rasual Butler for the starting small forward gig. After all, Butler, whose lone NBA skill is shooting, is making 25.6 percent of his shots on the season. What Johnson (ankle, day to day) needs to do now is sustain health.

The reason Johnson is so intriguing is because of his defensive prowess. Despite playing just 22.6 minutes per game, he’s averaging 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals. Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and Dwyane Wade are the only other guys with at least those defensive numbers. Johnson’s progress with the ankle and his minutes should be monitored closely. Once he gets over 25 or the starting gig, it’s time to pounce.

SIXERS
Position: Power forward
Elton Brand will be 33 in March, has been in the NBA for 13 seasons and has a torn Achilles on his resume. No one should be surprised that he’s slowing down badly and struggling with the condensed schedule. And with the Sixers as deep as any team in the league, they can manage his minutes well. Look for 25-29 minutes nightly.

Still, Brand has a very fantasy-friendly game. He has averaged at least 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals and shot 48 percent or better in three straight seasons. This year is no different as he’s at 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals despite the drastic dip in minutes.

WIZARDS
Position: Power forward
Andray Blatche has a reputation as a cancer on and off the court. He plays no defense and takes bad shots. He also signed a $28 million deal in September of 2012. That means that now that his shoulder is healthy, he’s headed back to the starting role.

It’s not like Flip Saunders has much of a choice. Trevor Booker is a rugged role player that would barely crack the rotation of a good team. We can safely pencil Blatche in for 29-32 minutes and a bump in stats as the Wizards find their way. After all, it can’t get any worse. Remember that last year, Blatche played nearly 34 minutes per game, averaging 16.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.





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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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