Adam Levitan

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Galloping Greivis

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Who will get the minutes? It’s a simple question that rarely has a simple answer.

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

Every Tuesday for the rest of the season, I’ll explore a certain aspect of half the league’s rotations while attempting to get inside coaches’ heads. The idea isn’t to tell you what Kevin Love and LeBron James are going to do -- it’s to decipher how much burn fringe players are going to get.

Here’s last week’s look at the East. Let’s kick this week off in New Orleans, where a combo guard has come off the radar and into the spotlight.

HORNETS
Position: Shooting guard
There’s something to be said about actually earning minutes. Greivis Vasquez was the No. 28 overall pick in the 2010 draft and barely played for the Grizzlies. They quickly gave up on him, trading him to New Orleans for Quincy Pondexter. Fast forward a few months, and Vasquez is pushing for 35 minutes per night as the Hornets’ best player.

Over the last five games, Vasquez is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 3-pointers and 1.0 steals while playing 32.8 minutes. He’ll certainly take a hit when Jarrett Jack (knee) returns, but the Hornets will find a way to keep Vasquez around 30 minutes. Marco Belinelli and DaJuan Summers have both had shots as the starting shooting guard and faceplanted. Eric Gordon (knee) won’t rush back for a 4-21 team. At 6’6/211, Vasquez has the size needed to play off the ball. Add it all up and we have a long-term fantasy asset, not just a plug-n-play.

CLIPPERS
Position: Shooting guard
Chauncey Billups sustained an apparently serious Achilles’ tendon injury on Monday night. It’s possible he’s done for the season.

Billups missed two games earlier this year. Mo Williams started at shooting guard in the first game and Randy Foye started at shooting guard in the second game. Here are their average numbers in those two games:

Mo Williams: 13.0 points, 5.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.5 3-pointers, 32.7 minutes
Randy Foye: 7.0 points, 2.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 1.5 3-pointers, 22.7 minutes

Assuming Billups is out long-term, Foye is the one more likely to step into the starting five. He gives the backcourt some size at 6’4” and Williams has been on fire as the second unit’s primary playmaker/scorer. However, Williams is the one to really be excited about in fantasy. His minutes will go from around 27 to around 32 as he closes out games next to Chris Paul. Williams is no longer a candidate to get traded at the deadline.

Foye, meanwhile, will be a secondary player on the first unit. Paul will have the ball in his hands, meaning Foye will be fighting with Blake Griffin and Caron Butler for touches. He’s an add, but expectations should be held in check.

Editor’s Note: For exclusive columns, chats, pickup advice, weekly rankings and much more, check out the Season Pass!

GRIZZLIES
Position: Power forward
Watching Marreese Speights play is painful. Here’s a 6’10/245 guy with a nice jumper that just doesn’t get it. The Sixers banished him to the bench and the trading block and now the Grizzlies are finding out why.

Over the last five games, Speights is averaging just 16.2 minutes per game even though he’s started every one. The first five minutes of the game are enough for him to make a boneheaded play, take a bad shot or forget a defensive assignment. Dante Cunningham projects to play more minutes than Speights each night until Zach Randolph (knee) returns. Move along.

JAZZ
Position: Small forward
The entire Utah lineup is now healthy, giving us a good look at the pecking order. Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward are the clear starters, while Josh Howard, C.J. Miles and Alec Burks are all on the outside looking in.

Bell is in there for his defensive abilities, frustrating Miles’ supporters. Over the last five games, Miles is averaging just 18.2 minutes. He hasn’t topped 25 minutes since Jan. 17. Coach Tyrone Corbin simply isn’t on board.

Hayward, meanwhile, is a Corbin favorite. He’s started every single game this year and has topped 30 minutes in four straight games. In the last five games, Hayward is averaging 13.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks and 0.6 3-pointers while playing 33.0 minutes per night. The Jazz are willing to ride with him, giving his fantasy-friendly game room to grow. Hayward won’t even be 22 years old until next month. Upside.

KINGS
Position: Small forward
Over the course of an 66-game season, there are going to be fluky nights. John Salmons had two of them in the last week, sending owners running to the waiver wire. Don’t fall into the trap.

Salmons is locked in as the starting small forward, but that’s not a good place to be. Tyreke Evans can play the small forward spot as well, allowing the Kings to get either Isaiah Thomas or Jimmer Fredette into the lineup at point guard when they see fit. At age 32, Salmons is not part of the future and certainly not part of the solution in Sacramento. He’s shooting 38.0 percent from the field and 29.0 percent from 3-point range while deferring to Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton. Even though Salmons projects to hover around 28 minutes the rest of the way, there’s no upside here.

LAKERS
Position: Small forward
Matt Barnes had his chance to be the starting small forward for the rest of the season. He blew it by averaging just 7.8 points and shooting 43.0 percent in his 16 starts.

Now Metta World Peace is back in the starting five and predictably scuffling. In his five starts, MWP is averaging 3.4 points and 3.4 rebounds even though he’s playing 27.1 minutes. Outside of the Lakers’ Big Three, the entire team can safely be ignored.

MAVERICKS
Position: Point guard
Let’s be very clear on one thing: When healthy, Jason Kidd is the Mavericks’ starting point guard. He’s a future Hall of Famer that is one year removed from a Championship. Dallas’ starting unit prefers to play with Kidd. Check out these quotes that followed Friday’s loss to the Pacers:

“Without Jason Kidd, who is usually good at figuring out who’s hot and who’s not, we’re going to figure out what we need to do to make sure people stay in rhythm,” said Jason Terry.

“We need Kidd healthy,” said Dirk Nowitzki.

I like Roddy Beaubois just as much -- if not more -- than most. But the bottom line is that Beaubois has had plenty of chances to run with the backup point guard job and failed to do so. He’s a scorer, not a point guard -- and coach Rick Carlisle/the team isn’t down with that.

So Delonte West started at the point on Saturday and will continue to share time with Roddy until Kidd (calf) gets healthy.

NUGGETS
Position: Small forward
Danilo Gallinari has a chip fracture in his ankle. He’ll undergo further testing Tuesday before a timetable is released.

There’s no direct add here thanks to the Nuggets’ impressive depth and balanced style. Coach George Karl has made it a priority to keep his bench mob intact, especially running Andre Miller and Al Harrington together. He even went as far to start Julyan Stone and Kenneth Faried on Monday when Arron Afflalo (ankle) and Nene (heel) were sidelined.

The bottom line is that everyone in the rotation will get a boost in shots and minutes. Harrington may be forced into the starting five, making him the biggest beneficiary. Rudy Fernandez is going to push for 30 minutes as he replaced Gallo’s 3-point ability. Miller will get more burn as Afflalo kicks to the “three” some. Defensive stopper Corey Brewer has the potential to carve out 18-24 minutes. Gallinari was playing 33.0 minutes per game and taking 11.7 shots to go with 5.8 free throws. Spread that around.


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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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