Adam Levitan

Rotating Rotations

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George Hill's late surge

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sadly, this is the final Rotating Rotations column of the season. If you’re going to genuinely miss analyzing Scott Skiles’ substitution patterns, then you’re just as sick as the Rotoworld hoops team -- and you’re also probably a winning fantasy player.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading this column each week as much as I enjoyed writing it. I also hope that the bottom of your rosters were more productive as a result. Feel free to email me with any ideas whatsoever for next season.

As for this week, it seems silly to utilize the normal format. On Monday alone, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Glen Davis, Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, D.J. Augustin, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Marcus Camby and Raymond Felton were among the players scratched. If these were playoff games, it’s a good bet that all would have played. We just can’t be sure who is going to be active right now, let alone who is going to get the minutes.

So instead of going team-by-team, let’s look some situations owners should be watching as we make a final push for championships. Remember, the idea isn’t to tell you what Kevin Durant and LeBron James are going to do -- it’s do decipher how much burn fringe players are going to get.

Position: Point guard
The speculation that George Hill would take over for Darren Collison as the Pacers’ starting point guard dates back to the preseason. It never happened because the Pacers got out to a 16-6 start with Collison starting every game. And when Collison pulled a groin on April 7, they were a strong 34-22. Guys just don’t lose their jobs when things are going well.

However, thanks to that groin injury, coach Frank Vogel has gotten to see that things can be better in the form of Hill. In five starts, Hill has averaged 14.8 points, 4.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 3-pointers and 0.8 turnovers. Most importantly, the team has gone 5-0.

It’s not really a surprise to anyone that has seen Hill play. He’s clearly more talented than Collison. Hill is more explosive getting to the rim, a better shooter and a better defender. So even if/when Collison gets healthy, the Pacers and fantasy owners are better off rolling with Hill.

Position: Point guard
I honestly have no idea why D.J. Augustin has tried so hard to fight through knee tendonitis. He goes out and plays poorly, coach Paul Silas blames the knee and they act like it’s normal. Meanwhile, they had the No. 9 overall pick languishing on the bench for bit minutes.

On Monday night, the Bobcats finally did the right thing and scratched Augustin. They didn’t say he’s done for the year, but this should be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The Bobcats have two back-to-back sets left anyway, which wouldn’t be good for Augustin even if the Bobcats were in the playoff chase.

So, if Walker was dropped in your league -- as he was in one of mine -- it’s time to get back on board. We know how explosive he is when given minutes. In 22 starts this year, he’s averaged 14.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.5 3-pointers and 1.1 steals. We can stomach the 35.3 percent shooting for that kind of overall production.

Position: Small forward
Kobe Bryant takes 23.2 shots per game, by far the most in the NBA. Anytime he sits, there are a ton of shots available to spread around.

Now if you told me that Metta World Peace was going to be the one to take the most advantage, I would have told you to lay off the magic mushrooms. But in the five games that Kobe has missed so far, MWP is averaging 17.0 points, 4.8 rebounds 2.6 assists, 2.0 3-pointers and 1.8 steals in a hefty 36.8 minutes.

With Kobe out Tuesday and no firm target date yet, we have to believe in World Peace.

Position: Small forward
DeShawn Stevenson has been stunting the growth of young talent for the better part of the last seven seasons. He did it to Nick Young in Washington, did it to Roddy Beaubois in Dallas and was doing it to the intriguing swingman in New Jersey.

Mercifully, coach Avery Johnson put a stop to that on Monday. Johnson has decided to roll with the young guys, meaning MarShon Brooks, Gerald Green and Anthony Morrow are going to see the burn. Gerald Wallace (hamstring) seems likely to be shut down.

The most intriguing option here is Green. The former slam dunk champ and D-League stud earned his way to the starting small forward job with superb play. In the seven games leading up to Monday, Green averaged 17.1 points and 2.0 3-pointers per night while shooting 50.5 percent from the field. During that span, he averaged a mere 24.1 minutes. On Monday, he logged 34.9 minutes despite struggling badly from the field in the first half. The leash is on Green is suddenly long.  

Position: Power forward
On Monday night, coach Rick Adelman decided that a piping-hot Anthony Randolph had earned the right to start over an ice-cold Derrick Williams. Of course, Ant-Rand went out and shot 1-for-7 on his way to a mere 18 minutes.

Before we overreact, however, let’s note that the Wolves were down by 34 points at halftime. Yes, you read that right. 34 point deficit at halftime. Minute counts can be thrown out the window when something like that happens.

So, we still have a hot-hand situation here between Randolph, Williams and Michael Beasley. There’s no guarantee Randolph will keep the starting job after Monday’s debacle, but we can’t give up on him yet. His blocks and versatility can’t be ignored.

Position: Swingman
The Warriors’ offense opened up when they traded Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh for a guy was out for the year. Now Andrew Bogut is joined on the sideline by Stephen Curry, Richard Jefferson and David Lee. With no one at all to build an offense around, the inmates are running the asylum.

Each of the following six guys is a good bet for anywhere from 25-35 minutes nightly the rest of the way. And with the lack of talent on the floor, they’ll all be subject to jack it up at will: Klay Thompson, Charles Jenkins, Dorell Wright, Jeremy Tyler, Nate Robinson, Brandon Rush.

The only reliable one will be Thompson, but all are worth a look as the Warriors still have six games in the next nine days.

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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