Aaron Bruski

Offseason Beat

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Minute Projections: Atlantic

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Things are moving quickly around here and we’re going to be blowing through these minute projections on an every-other-day basis.  For early access to these articles and others, including an early release of the Bruski 150 this weekend, click here to check out our award winning draft guide. 

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You can find our Southeast Division minute projections right here.

ATLANTIC DIVISION MINUTE PROJECTIONS

* Rosters clipped at times to remove irrelevant players

* A zero denotes a rotation slot not guaranteed

* A split designation means that something big will change the rotation like a player’s return.  An mpg range denoted with an ‘E’ means that it’s the player’s early ranks, an ‘L’ means late, and a ‘Y’ means the year-long mpg projection.  

BOSTON CELTICS

Jordan Crawford (26-32E, 19-25Y) / Phil Pressey (0, 12-18E, 5-12Y) / Rajon Rondo (32-36)
Avery Bradley (28-32E, 24-29Y) / Courtney Lee (20-26) / MarShon Brooks (0, 12-18E, 10-15Y)
Jeff Green (33-37) / Gerald Wallace (24-28)
Jared Sullinger (24-29) / Brandon Bass (24-28) / Kris Humphries (18-24)
Kelly Olynyk (24-29) / Vitor Faverani (0, 10-16)

The Celtics are a mess in more ways than we have time for here, but if there is any good news it’s that the first few guys to play well should have a relatively easy path to starter’s minutes.  Take for instance Jordan Crawford.  Written off in many circles after he became too much mouth and not enough game, he has become the logical solution for the Celtics at point guard because Avery Bradley and Phil Pressey simply can’t bend the defense.  And neither can Jeff Green on a consistent basis, and if you’re citing Jared Sullinger as your team’s main attractor of double teams, well, you know there is a problem.  

Enter Crawford, who has improved as all young players do but is still the chuck and duck guy we’ve come to know and (sort of) love.  He has surged up the depth chart and is the likely starter at ‘guard,’ which is Brad Stevens' way of saying that neither Crawford nor Bradley is necessarily ‘the guy’ at the point.  Who starts where is a pretty pointless question anyway, as Bradley is going to be content focusing on defense while taking the occasional three, while Crawford wants to get into the defense and put the ball into hole, regardless of position designation.    

Crawford showed off a typical night’s work on Tuesday, scoring 10 points with five rebounds, six assists and two steals, but also had five turnovers and a normal number of questionable shot attempts.  The Celtics are forced to live with that right now because without him running the show the offense would bog down entirely too easy.  As one of the team's only shot creators, Crawford is the go-to option at the end of shot clocks and quarters and he is the only Celtics perimeter guy that attracts defensive attention.  Like a football team without a fast wide receiver to stretch the defense, the Celtics are selling a small portion of their soul to use a guy that can loosen things for their already limited offensive attack. 

And once Rondo returns, you can bet your bottom dollar that if Crawford hasn't improved in his deficient areas that the Celtics will eventually kick the habit. 


As for Jeff Green, I’ve never been as high on him as everybody else.  There’s a ton of data on him in high-minute roles and he has never really blown up.  I like him as a mid-round value this year and a relatively safe one at that, but owners certainly shouldn’t be overpaying to draft him this year.  Nor should they be panicking over his preseason.  If anything, this little stretch of getting to know one another in Boston will make me more likely to draft him if he becomes affordable.  

Elsewhere the two guys from Boston that you want to be looking at are Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, and I like them in that order for the time being.  Sullinger is the better player and is more of an injury risk, while Olynyk will get eaten alive by better competition but may post some useful stretch-center lines.  Olynyk is also a bit of an injury risk being a big man with foot issues already this preseason.  Neither is an exciting play.

Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries and Victor Faverani figure to clog things up down low, as Stevens needs to keep Sullinger healthy and keep Olynyk from getting exposed in his soft areas.  Gerald Wallace has done nothing to show that he can hold any real value, as his preseason has looked a whole lot like his prior season.  If he can’t turn the corner and start providing some of the two-way pop that defined his career, then it looks like his current projection as swing backup forward will stick.  

Like with the big men, the group of wings in Pressey, Courtney Lee and MarShon Brooks is equally as mind-numbing for fantasy owners.  Lee should be one of the team’s better players but he does nothing to move the needle statistically, while Pressey has a ways to go before he matters and Brooks is essentially a poor man's Crawford.  Look for the Celtics to turn to Brooks when things really get bad offensively, but as is the case with Crawford the party will be over once Rondo returns in December or January or whenever he feels like swiggin’ for Wiggins.  

BROOKLYN NETS

Deron Williams (34-37) / Shaun Livingston (11-14) / Tyshawn Taylor (0, 6-12)
Joe Johnson (29-34) / Jason Terry (23-26) / Alan Anderson (0, 10-16)  
Paul Pierce (28-32) / Andrei Kirilenko (26-30) / Tornike Shengelia (0, 5-10,*)
Kevin Garnett (25-29) / Reggie Evans (12-18) / Mirza Teletovic (0, 5-10) / Mason Plumlee (0, 5-10)
Brook Lopez (30-36) / Andray Blatche (15-18)    

While Boston is a mess because of their lack of depth, if anything Brooklyn is a mostly known commodity because of the depth they have.  Yes, guys might take some games off here and there which will impact the minutes on a micro-level, but as a whole a loose timeshare is on between almost the entire team.  

As you can see there are reduced minute expectations across the board except for the hot corners of PG and the center positions.  And I’m not even so sure it’s the kiss of death from a fantasy perspective, either.  With no one player having to shoulder a heavy load, and plenty of flexibility for players to take time off due to injury, your assets have a better shot at staying healthy this season than they did in prior years (yes, famous last words).  

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to draft the bulk of these guys where they’ve been drafted in the past.  Just consider them a bit less risky, understand their value and draft accordingly.  

NEW YORK KNICKS

Raymond Felton (27-31) / Beno Udrih (15-23) / Pablo Prigioni (0, 12-15)
Iman Shumpert (23-29) / J.R. Smith (28-34) / Tim Hardaway Jr.(8-15)
Carmelo Anthony (35-38) / Metta World Peace (27-33)
Andrea Bargnani (22-28) / Kenyon Martin (20-24) / Amare Stoudemire (knee, 19-24)
Tyson Chandler (31-34) / Jeremy Tyler (foot, 0, 5-12) / Cole Aldrich (0, 5-12)

The Knicks have the potential to be a train wreck with their margin of error being so small due to lackluster talent, but also because it’s now or never time for Melo in NY.  The power forward position is the eyesore here, with Bargnani and Stoudemire combining forces as two of the more disappointing players of the last five years or so.  

The problem is that Bargnani is awful now, and injury prone, and as far as Amare goes it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if we’re talking about a career-ending report about his knees sooner rather than later.  There's a better chance than not that Melo will be manning the position by the end of the year, which means that the rest of the perimeter rotation will get some much needed relief.  

Metta World Peace is custom-built at this stage of his career to play a backup swing forward role, and with the type of minutes I’ve allocated for him he will have some solid late round value in standard leagues.  

Along the same lines, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shumpert, Smith and Hardaway all playing above their high-end season-long projections at the end of the year.  The presence of Udrih as a backup means that Felton is in for a minute-shave, though watching Beno the other day he might have been the slowest guy on the court.  Still, between Udrih and Prigioni there’s no reason for Mike Woodson to max Felton out.   

PHILADELPHIA SIXERS

Michael Carter-Williams (28-34) / Tony Wroten (13-19)
James Anderson (25-31) / Darius Morris (13-19)
Evan Turner (37-41) / Hollis Thompson (0, 6-12)
Thaddeus Young (37-41) / Lavoy Allen (20-26) / Royce White (0, 10-27)
Spencer Hawes (28-33) / Nerlens Noel (knee, 22-28Y, 25-35L)

The Sixers are so bad that on Monday (10/14) they lost by 30 points to a Nets squad benching most of their main players.  Brett Brown played at least three starters for most of the game, perhaps sensing that a 50-60 point shellacking would crush the spirit of his team.  

Make no mistake, the NBA record for futility is on the line here and I’m taking the under.  

This means a few things.  First, it means that games are going to take on a garbage-time like feel early and often.  Second, for guys like Turner and Young, they’re not leaving the court.  The NBA hasn’t seen a 40 mpg player since Monta Ellis in 2010-11, and there have only been three players to do it in the last five years (compared to nine in 2005-06 alone).  The last pair of teammates to do it was Andre Iguodala and Allen Iverson in 2006-07, and as long as this pair of Sixers stays relatively healthy they’ll make Philly the city that houses two 40+ workhorses once again.  

Anderson was phased out of San Antonio unceremoniously, but he can score and it’s not surprising to see a Spurs castaway move to the head of the class.  Especially when that class is taught by a former Spurs assistant in Brown.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s the only real shooting guard on the roster, and while they could use Turner there the Sixers have more pressing needs in the frontcourt.  

Like namely, they want to run and Lavoy Allen isn’t really built for that.  The only other NBA level talent in the frontcourt besides Turner, Young and Hawes is Allen (update: Daniel Orton was signed and I'd guess he makes the team).  Royce White has NBA level talent but can't be counted on long-term and is also currently out of shape (update: Brown is talking about him playing some center). 

 

That’s why Brown is talking about Allen's weight, because if he can get Allen to slim down he can get him more minutes at four to supplement his backup job at the five.  

 

Having Anderson hold down the fort at shooting guard allows Turner and Young to slide over and keep the frontcourt from imploding.  I’ll be bumping him up from 25-31 minutes up to 28 or even 30 minutes on the downside and 33-35 on the upside once it’s confirmed that he is the guy.  

As for Carter-Williams, it appeared early like Wroten would have a chance to challenge him but MCW’s pedigree has already stood out next to Wroten's inconsistent play.  Barring a faceplant MCW should maintain starter’s minutes.  I’ll be bumping him a tiny bit up once that is etched in stone.

 

White is going to be a high-risk, unknown reward of a last round draft pick.  I'm going to wait and see him show us something, anything before I entertain the thought of drafting him. 

 

TORONTO RAPTORS

Kyle Lowry (31-34) / D.J. Augustin (0, 10-15) / Dwight Buycks (0, 10-15)
DeMar DeRozan (35-38) / Terrence Ross (18-22) / Austin Daye (0, 7-14)
Rudy Gay (35-39) / Landry Fields (16-20) / Steve Novak (0, 12-16) / Quincy Acy (0, 12-18)
Amir Johnson (27-31) / Tyler Hansbrough (21-26)
Jonas Valanciunas (29-34) / Aaron Gray (0, 12-16)

The Raptors made a splash by acquiring the now suddenly polarizing Rudy Gay via trade last season, and that sent them caroming into a wing attack that left practically no touches left for rookie big man Valanciunas.  

And that may be the only question about this rotation this year.  There has been a lot of hype about the youngster that he would be quarterbacking the offense and mowing through the opposition, but so far in preseason action the distribution of touches has once again been dominated by the wings.  That’s the irony of the Raptors’ position – these wings will have to each give up a little bit for the greater whole – and Dwane Casey hasn’t exactly been a master of getting them to see that.  

Whether or not Casey is willing to force the action inside remains to be seen, but that doesn’t necessarily make Valanciunas a bad fantasy play.  Owners will simply want to think twice about overpaying for him, and keep an eye out for a systemic change from playing outside-in to inside-out.  

Everything and everybody else is in their nice and tidy space, with clear-cut roles and expectations from a fantasy level.  Johnson will continue to provide highly efficient inside play and behind him another bruiser stands in Hansbrough, who will do exactly what he did for the Pacers.  Ross, Fields, Novak and Gray will each perform supporting roles, with nothing to see from a fantasy perspective.



Aaron Bruski has been covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld for five years. Hit him on Twitter at Aaronbruski.
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