MAVERICKSPosition: Point guard
No, I can’t explain why coach Rick Carlisle dislikes Roddy Beaubois
so much. There’s obviously some kind of trust issue going on behind closed doors and we just have to accept it. When both Delonte West
and Jason Kidd
are healthy, Beaubois is a threat for a DNP-CD. Period.
And even though Kidd (groin) is out at least a week, Beaubois still isn’t a major part of the rotation. On Monday night, an inept Delonte West
played 36 minutes and Roddy saw just 16. Until we see tangible evidence that Buckets has passed West or Vince Carter
on the depth chart, we have to stay away.
That leaves the versatile West as the starter. Although he’s averaging just 7.9 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in his 21 starts this season, most of those came at shooting guard. Now that he’s starting at point guard, there’s significantly more upside. West’s per-36 minute numbers for his career include 12.7 points, 4.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.1 3-pointers. NUGGETSPosition: CenterJaVale McGee
owners are understandably panicked after he played just 11 minutes in Sunday’s loss to the Magic. Don’t be.
With Dwight Howard
(back) out of the lineup, the Nuggets could afford to go small for long stretches. McGee had one of his classic bonehead games, committing five turnovers, picking up two fouls and missing both of his free throws. It happens when you’re as raw as they come.
A broader picture of McGee’s role comes in his previous three starts. During that span, he averaged 9.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while playing 23.0 minutes. That’s a reasonable expectation, even though the Hornets match up with the smallish Hornets, Suns and Warriors this week. SPURSPosition: Small forwardKawhi Leonard
has started nine straight games at small forward. During that span, the Spurs have gone 8-1 and Leonard has averaged 31.0 minutes per night. It’s safe to say that coach Gregg Popovich already has a ton of trust in Leonard.
Over the next 23 days, the Spurs will play a ridiculous 16 games. They have five back-to-backs and one back-to-back-to-back. Manu Ginobili
, Tony Parker
, Tim Duncan
and Stephen Jackson
have almost no prayer of playing in all those games.
So what we have here is a versatile player locked into heavy minutes. In 25 starts this season, Leonard has averaged 9.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.8 3-pointers. Deep-leaguers should be well aware of the situation here. SUNSPosition: Small forwardGrant Hill
(knee surgery) is already off crutches and saying he wants to play again before the regular season ends. Still, he’s 39 and has a long history of knee problems. Expecting Hill to return at full strength within the next three weeks isn’t realistic.
That leaves Shannon Brown
as the unquestioned starter and horse. The only reason he played just 26 minutes on Sunday was because the Suns were up by 17 points after three quarters. In Brown’s five starts, he’s averaged 18.4 points and 2.2 3-pointers while playing 34.2 minutes. His freakish athleticism should lead to more defensive stats as we move forward. TRAIL BLAZERSPosition: Power forward/center
Usually, when a young player gets simply cut it’s a huge red flag. It means the kid can’t play or there’s something going on behind the scenes. But when the laughable Kings’ front office makes a move like cutting J.J. Hickson
, it means just about nothing. (Bang it here
for Henry Abbot’s excellent outline of all the Kings’ silly moves).
Hickson, just 23, has quickly shown that he’s still a player. In seven games with the Blazers, he’s averaged 14.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and shot 60.3 percent from the field while playing 27.6 minutes. Joel Przybilla
’s knees are acting up again and Kurt Thomas
are racking up DNP-CDs. Hickson’s role is here to stay and he’ll be a lock for 30-plus minutes whenever Przybilla sits. WARRIORSPosition: Point guardCharles Jenkins
’ knee bruise didn’t appear to be serious on Sunday night, so let’s evaluate this position assuming both Jenkins and Nate Robinson
It’s important to note that the Warriors are in full tank/rebuilding mode. They drafted Jenkins in the second round this season, so presumably they liked something about him. Robinson’s contract is up at the end of this season and he’s no lock to be back. The point is that even if Nate gives the team a better chance to win -- which probably isn’t true -- Jenkins may get the starting nod anyway.
That has played out over the last five games. Robinson came back from his hamstring injury and got the starting nod last Wednesday. He performed so poorly (0-for-6 from field) that he went right back to the bench on Friday and Sunday. As long as Jenkins is healthy, this projects as his job. WOLVESPosition: Point guard/Center
Injuries have really taken over here. Ricky Rubio
(knee) is done for the year, Nikola Pekovic
(ankle) is playing hobbled, Luke Ridnour
(ankle) had to be helped off the court Monday, J.J. Barea (thigh) has missed six straight games and Michael Beasley
(toe) has missed four straight. What a mess.
The good news is that roles are clear if/when guys get healthy. If Barea can play while Ridnour is out, we’re looking at 35-plus minutes. Note that his per-36 numbers this year include 16.3 points, 7.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 treys. Beastly. And if Pekovic can get back to 100 percent, we know the starting job is his. All owners can do here is monitor the Player News Page for health updates.
* The Thunder are not listed as they are the only Western Conference team without any true question marks in their rotation.