Adam Levitan

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Oodles of Udoh

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Position: Shooting guard
It’s really strange that coach Rick Carlisle just popped up and randomly started Roddy Beabuois against the Hornets last Friday. The Hornets are known to have interest in trading for Beabuois and the Mavs have reportedly taken the “untradeable” tag off him. That theory garnered more steam as Roddy B played just 20 minutes on Saturday and 21 minutes on Monday.

Vince Carter actually leads the Mavs in plus-minus and the starting lineup with him in it is their best team plus-minus. While Beaubois’ explosive offensive ability always makes him intriguing there’s no loyalty here from Carlisle in terms of role or minutes. Perhaps that will change at the deadline, making Roddy B a hold for deep leaguers.

Position: Power forward
Coach George Karl didn’t intend to use Kenneth Faried as a workhorse. Here’s what Karl said about his energetic rookie just five days ago, on March 1.

“I go into every game thinking 15-20 [minutes]. But if he keeps playing like he’s playing, it might be 20-25.”

Since that quote, Faried has played no less than 29 minutes and is averaging 31.3 minutes. The Nuggets have gone 3-0, including solid wins at Houston and at San Antonio. In other words, Faried has forced Karl to play him more with his outstanding play on the court. The rookie is getting 15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 62.1 percent over the last three.  

By earning minutes rather than getting them out of desperation, Faried has thrust himself into the starting lineup conversation even as the Nuggets regain health. We know that Nene is going to start and get his 30 minutes, but it’s very possible that Faried sticks at power forward, thus sending Timofey Mozgov (ankle, day-to-day) to the bench. Chris Andersen is on the trading block and Al Harrington is a clear bench scorer. Danilo Gallinari will take his minutes at the expense of Corey Brewer. There’s enough room here for Faried to hover around 25 minutes the rest of the way.

Position: Shooting guard/center
Coach Kevin McHale really started to calm his rotation down on Feb. 15. Since then Kevin Martin has played at least 30 minutes in seven of the last nine games. Samuel Dalembert has gotten 25 minutes in six of the last nine and Luis Scola has reached 30 minutes in seven of nine. Although the Rockets are currently riding a three-game skid, they are 5-4 during that span.

As mentioned both two weeks ago and a month ago in this space, the best things owners can do is close their eyes and sustain the peaks and valleys. McHale will bench anyone on a whim for a lack of effort, but it’s rarely a permanent thing. Martin’s free-throw volume and Dalembert’s shot-blocking are difference-making assets worth riding.

Position: Power forward
Channing Frye seemed to be in the clear as he made 45.7 percent of his shots in 14 February games. Therefore, he played 28.3 minutes during that span.

But over the last two games, Frye is shooting a brutal 5-of-30. Yes, 16.6 percent. To be fair, one game means literally nothing to me. Two games still means just about nothing. But when we’re talking about Frye, a guy that is prone to shooting slumps -- and whose playing time depends solely on his ability to make shot -- there’s some concern here.

Remember that when Frye was making 38.6 percent of his shots in 16 January games, he managed just 21.9 minutes. The good news for Frye owners is that Markieff Morris is 8-for-46, or 17.3 percent, over his last six games. The Suns have also won five of their last six and Frye is rebounding the ball better than he has in ages. Frye should have a longer leash this time.

Position: Shooting guard
When Manu Ginobili returned from his wrist injury on Feb. 11, he played just 17 minutes in his first game back. He didn’t top 24 minutes in any of his first four games.  

But when he returned from his oblique injury on Sunday, Ginbobili logged 23 solid minutes. Afterward, he confirmed that he felt much better this time than in that early-February return. Look for a semi-regular rotation to settle in on the wings here.

Although Ginobili is a good bet to stick in a bench role, we can safely expect 24-30 minutes nightly as long as he sustains health. Danny Green is the placeholder as the starting shooting guard, Gary Neal is the shooter and Kawhi Leonard is the defender. Those three all cancel each other out, leaving Manu as the only real fantasy option.

Position: Point guard
Before we get to the Raymond Felton/Jamal Crawford mess, I feel obliged to simply list Nicolas Batum’s stats in his 11 starts this year: 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 3-pointers, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals. Wowzers. As mentioned two weeks ago, he has top-10 fantasy potential.

OK, let’s move on. Coach Nate McMillan says that he sat Felton prior to the All-Star break in order to let his starting point guard clear his head. Maybe that’s true. But if Jamal Crawford hadn’t gone 1-3 as a starter, or if McMillan had any other true point guard options on his roster, would Felton already have his job back? I don’t think so. It’s also not surprising that Felton’s name is popping up in trade rumors.

Remember that Felton played 31.6 minutes per game for the Nuggets a year ago and managed just 11.5 points to go with 6.5 assists. He’s playing 31.3 minutes for the Blazers this year and is averaging 9.7 points and 6.2 assists. That sample size is too large to ignore.

Position: Sixth man
Derrick Williams has been insisting all along that he can play the small forward spot. Coach Rick Adelman wasn’t buying it. But over the last five games, Williams is proving that he can be an asset on the wing. During that span, he’s averaging 14.6 points and has made 10-of-19 3-pointers while playing 24.2 minutes per night.

With Michael Beasley a prime candidate to move at the deadline, Williams could be given even more room to breathe. He’s a watch candidate as Wesley Johnson’s woes (5.8 points in 21.6 minutes per game this year) continue.

* The Thunder are not listed as they are the only Western Conference teams without any true question marks in their rotations. Perhaps that’s why they’re 30-8 on the season.

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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