PACIFIC 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. *For up-to-date player news and information, click here to go to our player news page.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Stephen Curry (36-38) / Toney Douglas (0, 9-15) / Nemanja Nedovic (0, 5-10,*)
Klay Thompson (32-35) / Kent Bazemore (0, 9-18)
Andre Iguodala (32-35) / Harrison Barnes (25-29)
David Lee (33-36) / Draymond Green (0, 13-18) / Marreese Speights (0, 12-15)
Andrew Bogut (25-30) / Jermaine O’Neal (12-18) / Festus Ezeli (0, 9-15)
The Warriors enter this season with a big free agent acquisition in Iguodala and plenty of expectations, which is rare for this fan. Iguodala serves to clutter up the rotation, as does the postseason and offseason surge by Barnes, but not to the degree that your main fantasy assets are getting discarded in fantasy leagues.
Curry’s minutes are untouchable for obvious reasons, which show exactly how far he has come with the ankle concerns. My guess is that they won’t ever go completely away, but owners should only be using those concerns as a tiebreaker at this point.
Barnes’ quick rise has been chased by his foot injury and he’s still questionable as of Thursday night for the opener. This all but sticks him in the sixth man role, and overall it puts him at a disadvantage in terms of stealing minutes from the starters. He’ll have a chance to totally redeem himself, but I’ve dropped his mpg outlook by about two minutes because of his slow start.
Iguodala, Lee and Bogut each have safety blankets galore, and I’ve lowered their minute projections incrementally to reflect that. Between Green, Barnes, Speights and O’Neal it’s actually a bit surprising that the starters aren’t impacted more, but it doesn’t appear that Jackson is going to go down that road.
It sounds funny, but the Warriors are legit title contenders with the Heat being one of the weaker dynasties we’ve seen and a wide open field behind them.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Chris Paul (35-37) / Darren Collison (14-17)
J.J. Redick (25-28) / Jamal Crawford (26-29)
Jared Dudley (23-27) / Matt Barnes (24-27) / Reggie Bullock (0, 6-12)
Blake Griffin (32-36) / Antawn Jamison (12-16)
DeAndre Jordan (27-32) / Byron Mullens (12-16) / Ryan Hollins (10-14)
The Clippers have officially taken over L.A., at least for the time-being as they acted the part of reloading championship contender. Bringing in Redick, Dudley and even a guy in Mullens was an exercise in matching puzzle pieces, as each guy brings a unique skill set that meshes well with the leftover crew.
It does mean, however, that fantasy owners in standard leagues will want to steer clear of the wing rotation, with Crawford being the only exception. Barnes also has late round value that is underrated. You won’t win your league with a guy like that, but he can make sure you don’t lose if you need to plug somebody in. Just make sure his calf thing is not a big deal.
Collison has had an interesting preseason, as if being in the same building as Paul gives him some sort of superpowers. He won’t play more than traditional backup minutes, but it admittedly has me a bit uneasy about projecting an increase in playing time for Paul. Just remember the long list of preseason hall of famers, but in very deep leagues it’s possible that Collison mimics Eric Bledsoe’s high per-minute production.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Steve Nash (25-28) / Steve Blake (23-27) / Jordan Farmar (15-19)
Kobe Bryant (34-38) / Jodie Meeks (0, 14-18) / Xavier Henry (0, 7-14)
Nick Young (26-32) / Wes Johnson (19-25) /
Shawne Williams (18-24, 0) / Jordan Hill (0, 14-19) / Ryan Kelly (0, 5-10)
Pau Gasol (32-37) / Chris Kaman (22-26) / Robert Sacre (10-20)
The Lakers have more than half of their team coming up for free agency and they sure do look like it. In what will be a humbling year for the proud franchise, Mike D’Antoni is going to be free to run a mix and match, uptempo offense that is likely to frustrate owners.
Any potential absence by Kobe Bryant might not even help generate fantasy assets, since the field is so wide open at almost every position. Blake, Farmar, Young, Johnson, Williams and Kaman are all in similar places in that they could be moved or replaced if they have a rough stretch, so owners should approach drafting them accordingly.
Nash is going to be hard to watch this year, as defensively the Lakers would do better off with a traffic cone since the traffic cone can at least get in the way. With nobody other than struggling Hill to fly around protecting the rim, that could be a big problem.
One of the most tantalizing things about Kobe is how he would normally clean up in this type of scenario, where there is nobody to even think about challenging his shot volume.
Young has the inside track at long-term value among the wings and Johnson has consistently drawn praise from the coaches, with neither of them having fantasy friendly games to speak of. Blake would have been an interesting dark horse for deeper leagues, but Farmar has recently surged and it looks like he’s carved himself out a decent backup role.
Williams has jumped on the scene with D’Antoni being unable to control his stretch forward addiction, so put him on the radar but I’m not jumping to grab a guy that was just hoping to have a job a few months ago. The decision hurts Kaman a bit, because it further closes the twin towers discussion (if there ever was one to begin with). He and Gasol will play together a little bit, but adding another player into the frontcourt rotation in Williams is a bad thing no matter how you slice things. Johnson is also mentioned as being a guy to play some stretch four.
Everything points back to Kobe, who could end up being a fantasy difference maker if he’s drafted in the third or fourth round and returns elite value once again. Risk! Reward!
Eric Bledsoe (33-37) / Archie Goodwin (15-21)
Goran Dragic (33-37) / Shannon Brown (10-23)
Gerald Green (16-22) / P.J. Tucker (18-24) / Marcus Morris (16-21)
Markieff Morris (24-29) / Channing Frye (18-24)
Marcin Gortat (26-31) / Alex Len (18-26Y, 22-30L)
Give the Suns credit, after a dysfunctional year on the court and in the front office, the Suns got on track with the trade acquiring Bledsoe and Len still looks to be progressing so they have at least two things going for them.
From a fantasy perspective they have a whole lot more going for owners, as new coach Jeff Hornacek wants them to run and for good reason – that’s their only shot at winning. So no I’m not worried about the impact Dragic and Bledsoe will have on one another. Yes, they’ll have a few less assists operating as a tandem, but they’re going to pose problems for opponents with their quickness and that will yield a lot of good fantasy results. I’m targeting both of them and I won’t be afraid to reach for Bledsoe, either. Check my updated Bruski 150 to see how high I’m willing to go.
Markieff Morris is the next best fantasy play from the wing/power forward group, and the key for him will be staying on the court, whether that’s due to fouls or elbowing folks in the face. Green has made inroads on the starting small forward job, and he looks a lot like the open court Nets version of himself than the stand still and be skillful version he failed to be in Indy.
Tucker has actually seen more preseason minutes, so I’m not sure who is starting vs. who is coming off the bench matters a ton here. Along with Marcus Morris, they’re all going to get a whack at the piñata.
So will Frye, who has played better than could be expected for a guy that took a whole year off with heart concerns. I could see myself taking Markieff in this group in a competitive league with more than 12-14 teams and/or more than 13 roster spots, but that’s about it.
Goodwin is somebody to simply watch, but be ready to move if one of the starting guards gets hurt because he’s a real good athlete and could flourish in a best case scenario. Likewise, he could also fumble all over himself as a wide eyed rookie.
Rumors of Gortat’s demise have been somewhat exaggerated, as Len is still getting back on his feet after rehabbing his ankles all summer and Gortat has played relatively well. It’s not a foregone conclusion that Len chases Gortat off the starting job in the second half of the year.
Isaiah Thomas (26-30) / Greivis Vasquez (24-28) / Ray McCallum (0, 5-10)
Marcus Thornton (23-26) / Ben McLemore (24-29) / Jimmer Fredette (0, 9-15)
John Salmons (25-28) / Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (18-22) / Travis Outlaw (0, 8-16)
Jason Thompson (26-29) / Patrick Patterson (24-28) / Carl Landry (hip, out indefinitely, 15-21)
DeMarcus Cousins (32-35) / Chuck Hayes (13-16)
The Kings will improve by leaps and bounds this year, simply because they got rid of Keith Smart and the Maloofs got rid of themselves.
Jumping right off the page is the position battle between IT and Vasquez, and in Wednesday’s game Thomas might have finally tipped the scales in his favor, which is funny because if that’s actually what goes down the media in Sacramento might freak out.
They’ve been pining for a ‘pass first’ point guard ever since Vasquez’s name came up, since passing wasn’t exactly possible in Smart’s dribble the ball until the shot clock winds down offense. Players soon found that Smart didn’t know what he was doing, and neither did they, so naturally they all took to the rack, in particular when playing time was held over their heads without any rhyme or reason.
So there has been a love affair in Sacramento with the idea of Greivis, but sooner or later his balky ankle will heal and he’s going to have to show a lot more than he has shown thus far if he wants to hold off IT, who has been dynamic offensively, albeit with some bad habits getting exposed after two years playing in Old Sacramento. Specifically, he’s turning his head more than ever on defense and offensively he has to get himself under control a bit. Vasquez is fine passing the ball, but he’s unwilling to take open shots and he’s not beating anybody off the dribble. He’s also turning the ball over and getting beat on defense, and the team seems to be responding to Thomas better.
I think the tie in this case goes to the incumbent, who has certainly played better than Vasquez, though it wouldn’t surprise me if the Kings choose to brand IT as their sparkplug off the bench. I've had Isaiah with a slight lead all preseason and I'm keeping it that way with a small minute advantage to boot.
Carl Landry's injury really opened things up in the frontcourt and while some basketball media don't agree, I think this is an addition by subtraction thing and that's not a knock on Landry -- but now Mike Malone doesn't have to deal with unhappy players and both Thompson and Patterson will be able to play freely in their own unique ways. I have Thompson starting and getting a slight minute edge, but I like Patterson better for fantasy purposes and he's on the upswing when looking at both of their play.
McLemore has had a fine preseason and he's going to be a good one for the Kings. Being seen and not heard has been a good thing, too, after a summer of talking about being the alpha dog. He looks like he's got turbo out there and everybody else has run out. Thornton will play tonight but he has been quiet and not in a good way. It makes me wonder if a trade is cooking and I would try to figure that out if I felt the question had any value to you guys, but otherwise I'm out of the reporting business during fantasy draft season. I can't see Thornton holding off McLemore with the way they look now, but then again it is preseason and things tend to look a lot different when the games count. To that end, Jimmer had a big outing the other night but make no mistake there is no space for him on the floor in most nights. The SF position is the empty calorie slot for the Kings, where Salmons and Mbah a Moute will mix it up and Outlaw will probably poke his head in every once in a while. I don't think Salmons is needed to score enough to where he'll post any reliable value.