Adam Levitan

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Will Ramon Sessions start?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Position: Small forward
The swingman spot here was starting to get really crowded. Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington, Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez were all set to vie for minutes.

But on Monday night, Gallinari fractured his left thumb and is going to be out for an extended period. We can now say a big hello to Chandler, who was signed to a five-year, $37 million deal on Sunday. The Nuggets didn’t give Chandler that kind of money for their health -- they see him as an elite defender and playmaker than can see time at three different positions.

Last year, Chandler played 30.6 minutes per game in 21 appearances with the Nuggets. He averaged 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 3-pointers and 1.1 blocks, but shot just 41.9 percent. The career 45.1 percent shooter has room to grow on those numbers now that Gallinari is down.

Position: Center
Stat-geek/GM Daryl Morey has given coach Kevin McHale four bigs to work with: Samuel Dalembert, Luis Scola, Marcus Camby and Patrick Patterson. How McHale uses those bigs is up to him.

It’s pretty clear that the center spot is now a two-man timeshare. In Camby’s first game with the Rockets, he came off the bench for 19 minutes. Dalembert started and logged 20 minutes. The ironic part is that those minutes aren’t that far off of what each is used to.

On the season Dalembert is averaging 24.7 minutes while Camby was at 22.3. The difference now is that neither is capable of going off for one of those monster games that change weeks in the blocks or boards category for head-to-head owners. We’ll need an injury to regain upside.

Position: Small forward
The Stephen Jackson acquisition is an interesting one due to Captain Jack’s history with coach Gregg Popovich. Unlike the predictable disaster that saw Jackson clash with Bucks coach Scott Skiles, Pop actually likes and respects Jackson. There won’t be any issues here.

Additionally, Jackson is a better player than Richard Jefferson at this point in their respective careers. S-Jax is a better penetrator, is more athletic and can create his own shot. Jefferson, who is now in Golden State, was playing 28.5 minutes as the starting small forward this season. We can safely expect Jackson to reach that level of burn sooner rather than later.

Position: Sixth man
The notion that Thabo Sefolosha’s return from a foot injury would affect James Harden’s minutes is simply wrong. Harden is more comfortable as a reserve and is playing 31.5 minutes per game in that role this season. In the three games since Sefolosha has been back, Harden has logged 34, 33 and 32 minutes. Nothing except injury can stop him from getting his usual minutes nightly.

Position: Shooting guard/Small forward
With Steph Curry (ankle) possibly shut down for the year and Monta Ellis/Ekpe Udoh in Milwaukee, we’ve got a lot of new faces to work through.  

Before we get to the wings, let’s establish what Nate Robinson is capable of. He’s started five straight games, logging 34.4 minutes per during that span. His only backup is D-League talent Charles Jenkins. In those five games, Robinson is averaging 16.4 points, 6.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1.4 3-pointers. As mentioned in last week’s Dose, he’s locked and loaded.

It gets much trickier when we dive into the Klay Thompson, Dorell Wright, Dominic McGuire, Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson mess. Some thoughts:

* Don’t read too much into Klay Thompson’s meager 22 minutes from Monday night. He started off in nightmare fashion, hoisting an air-ball on a wide open jumper and opening 0-for-6 from the field. The rookie was banished to the bench, but came on strong in the second half and finished with 17 points in just 22 minutes. The Monta Ellis trade was meant to pave the way for Thompson to establish himself as the starting shooting guard of the present and future. He’ll be more than fine.

* With Udoh gone, McGuire is going to get plenty of minutes up front instead of on the wings. Andris Biedrins can’t play and McGuire is an excellent rebounded/defender for his size. Over the last 11 games, McGuire is playing 25.7 minutes per night. Once J.J. Hickson gets up to speed, he’ll be battling Biedrins for burn as well.

* Dorell Wright is locked back in. Over the last six games, Wright is averaging 34.9 minutes per night. He’s averaging 2.8 3-pointers, 1.5 steals, 1.1 blocks and 7.1 rebounds during that span. Jump back on board.  

* It’s going to be hard to trust the Richard Jefferson/Brandon Rush duo. Jefferson is not part of the future and has lost the majority of his athleticism. Rush has had plenty of chances with three different coaches to break out and it hasn’t happened. Expect inconsistency.

Position: Shooting guard/Small forward
The Wolves lost Ricky Rubio and surprisingly didn’t make a move at the trade deadline. That’s left them with Martell Webster and Wes Johnson as starters on the wings. Yikes.

Webster has started seven games this year and is averaging 7.1 points in 28.1 minutes. Johnson has started 45 games and averaged 6.1 points in 22.5 minutes. We can safely ignore both.

What we can’t ignore is the impressive play of rookie Derrick Williams. The Wolves don’t like to play him at small forward, but if/when Nikola Pekovic (ankles), Michael Beasley (toe) and Rubio (knee) are all out, the No. 2 overall pick deserves a look. Williams’ per-36 minute numbers this season are 15.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.0 3-pointers, 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks. His game is roto-friendly.

* The Suns are not listed as they are the only Western Conference team without any true question marks in their rotation.

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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