Adam Levitan

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The Real Bayless

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Position: Point guard
Iman Shumpert is taking a lot of the blame for the Knicks’ offensive woes. The wildly-athletic rookie has been removed as the starting point guard and coach Mike D’Antoni sounds serious about it.

“He’s learning the league. We’re learning where to play him,” D’Antoni said. “The 1 spot is not a natural one. It’s too much.”

That puts Toney Douglas back in the starting five, at least until Baron Davis (back) is ready a week or two from now. We can expect 25-30 minutes for Douglas, but the problem is his shot selection and lack of playmaking ability. He’s shooting 32.3 percent on the year and is averaging 2.6 assists as a point guard. Consider Douglas a mere 3-point specialist and Shumpert waiver-wire material in most formats.

Position: Shooting guard
When the Magic decided to bring back Jason Richardson in free agency, I was confused. They had a homegrown talent ready to go at shooting guard, J-Rich is 31 and he has a history of knee issues. Now they are likely regretting that four-year, $25 million deal.

Richardson is shooting 41.4 percent from the field and averaging just 9.9 points in 28.3 minutes per game. He had to sit out on Monday due to his sore knee on a back-to-back. Meanwhile, J.J. Redick is shooting 42.4 percent from the field and averaging 11.4 points in 26.3 minutes.

It’s not a stretch to suggest that Redick is the better player right now, period. There’s enough warning flags with J-Rich to project 27-30 minutes per game for Redick the rest of the way. He may not officially win the starting job, but Richardson’s missed games and lack of in-game production will be enough for Redick to sustain solid low-end fantasy value.

Position: Shooting guard
When healthy, MarShon Brooks has proven to be a starting-caliber NBA shooting guard as a rookie. The problem is he’s not healthy.

Achilles’ tendonitis is a serious injury because rupturing the tendon can ruin a career. Ask Elton Brand. And on Monday, it was revealed that Brooks has a broken toe. So the Nets are wisely going to exercise caution with their 23-year-old prospect.

"We want to try to keep this kid in a healthy place," coach Avery Johnson said. "We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to monitor his minutes, and maybe he’s not gonna play 48 or 38 minutes again this year. Maybe it’s 28."

The biggest beneficiary here is Anthony Morrow, who now has a serious chance to lead the league in 3-pointers made. As a starter this year, Morrow is averaging 31.6 minutes per game. That’s a fair projection going forward with Brooks, Damion James (out for season, foot) and DeShawn Stevenson (knee) all hurt.  

Position: Power forward
When Austin Daye can comfortably defend the opponents’ power forward, he gets major minutes. Over the last four games, Daye’s minutes have spiked to 30.5 per night off the bench because he faced the likes of Josh Smith, Thaddeus Young and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. He’s responded by averaging 14.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 3-pointers in his last five.

But against bigger teams, it’s Ben Wallace/Jonas Jerebko time. At 205 pounds, it’s impossible for coach Lawrence Frank to use Daye with the already small lineup of Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Tayshaun Prince. In the first 18 games of the year, Daye topped 20 minutes once. He is a matchup play with upside.

Position: Shooting guard
Only two players on the Sixers are guaranteed 30 minutes every single night: Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday. Every other position is based on game flow and feel from Coach of the Year Doug Collins.

For Jodie Meeks, game flow means making 3-pointers. And over the last few weeks, he’s been able to do just that. In the last 10 games, Meeks is playing 29.2 minutes per game and making 3.0 treys per night on 41.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc. He’s played 30 minutes or more five times in his last 11 games. Owners in need of a 3-point specialist should look no further.

Position: Power forward
Perhaps Jan Vesely really did deserve to be the No. 6 overall pick in the draft. But I just don’t see it. And it doesn’t look like new head coach Randy Wittman does either. Vesely has started the last three games, but is averaging just 3.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 0.0 blocks and 2.0 assists in 23.3 minutes. That’s just unbelievably poor per-minute production.

So now that Andray Blatche (calf) is out 3-5 weeks, Wittman is in a tight spot. As a dead team, the Wizards need to get Vesely valuable minutes as a part of the young core. But it’s obvious that Trevor Booker is the far superior option if the team wants to win.

The answer will likely be a timeshare. While Vesely has gotten those 23.3 minutes over the last three, Booker has gotten 22.6. But note that Monday night, Booker got 26 while Vesely got 15. Unless the Flying Czech suddenly gets going, that’s the kind of split to expect.

* The Pacers are not listed as they are the only team in the East without any significant rotation questions. Their first five of Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West and Roy Hibbert have started every single game this season when healthy.

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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