Aaron Bruski

Offseason Beat

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You Down With MPG?

Friday, October 25, 2013


* 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.


Jose Calderon (29-34) / Devin Harris (DEC/JAN, 15-19) / Gal Mekel (0, 7-14) / Shane Larkin (0, 7-14)
Monta Ellis (36-39) / Vince Carter (24-27) / Wayne Ellington (0, 17-20)
Shawn Marion (26-30) / Jae Crowder (17-23)
Dirk Nowitzki (29-32) / Brandan Wright (21-26)    
Samuel Dalembert (23-27) / DeJuan Blair (14-23) / Bernard James (0, 6-12)

The Mavs head into the season mixing some old Cooley High Harmony in Dirk Nowitzki with some Limp Bizkit in Monta Ellis and a dash of flamenco in Jose Calderon.  For a team that isn’t going to contend at a minimum they look like they can be some fun, and strangely enough the pairings have the potential to be complementary.

Calderon will hold on for dear life all season long while putting up solid numbers, orchestrating everything that doesn’t go through Monta, who will be a solid option 1A late in the shot clock.  Dirk has his feet underneath him and owners shouldn’t sleep on him, though the name value is pushing him up the ADP charts a bit too high for my liking.  Point being, Dirk could easily be Dirk this year and there’s a good mix of guys here for all of them to hold their values.  

Marion will probably continue to wow us with his continued athleticism, but I do project a minute decrease there over last year.  Dalembert is ahead of Wright because of Wright’s non-displaced shoulder fracture, but has done his job in positioning himself for the starting job, which apparently was going to be his regardless.  That said, it makes sense to get your seven-footer on the floor next to Dirk so he can handle the biggums.  I’ve been stashing Wright in deep leagues given his ability to put up quick dirty work numbers, though bad news on his shoulder would make him a quick drop.  Carter, like Marion, Calderon and Dirk is likely to see an incremental decrease in playing time, and for all of them it’s probably the best thing for their value as they work to limit injuries.  


Jeremy Lin (25-29) / Patrick Beverley (24-28) / Aaron Brooks (0, 5-10)
James Harden (36-40) / Francisco Garcia (14-18)
Chandler Parsons (35-38) / Omri Casspi (0, 19-24)
Donatas Motiejunas (0, 18-24) / Terrence Jones (0, 18-23) / Greg Smith (0, 12-16)
Dwight Howard (33-36) / Omer Asik (18-23) / Marcus Camby (0, 8-12)

With all the shots the Rockets get up in a game it feels like they should also get some extra minutes to sprinkle around, but they don’t and we get a tantalizing mix of guys that have serious fantasy potential.  

The position with the most confusion right now is power forward, where they have some interesting pieces but nobody has been able to truly establish themselves as the guy.  We can finally rule Asik out, as he has been pretty ineffective out there, at least statistically, but one gets the sense that the experiment has received enough attention when time for tuning up is at a premium for the new-look Rockets.  

A week or so ago it appeared Motiejunas would take over, and with decent size and perfect in terms of fitting the Rockets’ run and gun, spread attack.  Of course he has defensive deficiencies, but he certainly improved his quickness and looks like he put on a few ‘good’ pounds.  But that was last week.  

The past few days have seen the re-emergence of Casspi (if there was ever really an emergence to begin with).  He has been burying threes and rebounding the ball, as well as starting at power forward for three games, and it’s clear Kevin McHale is testing his ability to hold down the fort against players that will frankly go right through him.  

I’m not going to say it won’t happen, because I firmly believe if you’re going to play small ball that you have to go all the way and not dilly dally, but having Casspi back up both forward positions if he’s going to be the favored play, to me, seems like the best way to limit his exposure to bigger power forwards – and not mess up the rotation on nights when you don’t want to play him as much.  

As fellow RW writer Mike Gallagher (AKA Slow Clap Guy) noted to me while chatting, Garcia can slide over handle the backup SF role, which in turn frees up Beverley to be the balls (more on that later).  It’s not ideal since Garcia has the same issues at SF that Casspi has at PF, but nevertheless Casspi at PF is a bona fide option for Houston and they just have to decide what direction they want to go.  

Terrence Jones is also in the mix, and he’s the guy they’d love to have work out since he can do a little bit of everything and is a physical upgrade, but he’s still a bit raw and now has a shoulder injury to boot.  

And unlike other four person position battles, because this is Houston where fantasy points flow like wine and these guys have mostly fantasy friendly games, I’m willing to allocate six graphs to a concept I could have summed up in two words.  

Stay tuned.  

Now as for the lede I just buried, Beverley is one of the top 3-5 hidden gems of this draft, even while it’s not like he’s going unnoticed.  Currently ranked No. 93 in the Bruski 150 I’m ready to move him up to wear I’ve had him for most of the summer, which closer to the beginning of the middle rounds than the end.  I’ve been waiting because moving a guy up that high isn’t something I do on a whim, but he’s a statistical monster that continues to demand playing time with his performance on the court.  Again, you won’t draft him there but you’ll want to make sure you don’t get cute and let him pass.  


Mike Conley (34-37) / Jerryd Bayless (18-25) / Nick Calathes (0, 3-6,*)
Tony Allen (25-29) / Quincy Pondexter (23-27) / Jamaal Franklin (0, 6-12)
Tayshaun Prince (25-29) / Mike Miller (21-27) / Janis Timma
Zach Randolph (32-35) / Ed Davis (17-22) / Jon Leuer (0, 6-12, *) / Willie Reed
Marc Gasol (33-36) / Kosta Koufos (14-18) / Melvin Ely (0,3-6,*)

When it comes to assessing rotations, it’s always nice to have a handful that are nice and easy so you’re not spinning your wheels on every team.  The Grizzlies are one of those teams, even if this year they have a bit more fluid situation on the wings than they’ve had in past years.

Conley is going to be his normal, consistent self and see his normal workload, but Randolph and Gasol are trending slightly downward in terms of minute projections, with Gasol’s downtick being ever so slight.  The bottom line is that their backups are more than capable, and they need to be fresh for the playoffs – especially if this team is entertaining any ideas of trying to run this year.  Along with some small downward trends in Gasol’s numbers, these incremental decreases are behind his lower than normal No. 23/17 (8/9 cat) ranking in the Bruski 150.

Miller is going to get all his body can handle and it’s pretty clear that’s going to be over 20 minutes per game, but the tradeoff there will probably be more games off and more random games in which he disappears for whatever reason.  Allen and Pondexter are already splitting time in the manner you see there, while Prince is the only variable at this time having not seen the court but for one minute of the preseason due to the flu.  


Jrue Holiday (33-37) / Brian Roberts (0, 15-19) / Austin Rivers (0, 12-18)
Eric Gordon (26-30) / Tyreke Evans (32-36) / Anthony Morrow (0, 12-18)
Al-Farouq Aminu (18-24) / Lance Thomas (0, 6-12) / Darius Miller (out 8-12 wks)
Anthony Davis (32-35) / Ryan Anderson (29-33)
Greg Stiemsma (14-20) / Jason Smith (17-23) / Jeff Withey (0, 6-12)
If you’re going to get a new team owner and a new team name, you might as well blow it all up and bring in a bunch of new guys, right?  That’s exactly what has happened and as long as Monty Williams cooperates there’s great potential for this team to be a solid fantasy unit.  

Starting with the draft day acquisition of Holiday, and subsequent acquisition of Evans, the Pelicans have added two of the league’s more dynamic ball-handlers to an already dynamic unit including Gordon (when healthy), a surging Davis and a top long range threat in Anderson.  Yes, this team is built to run, though it’s unclear if Monty will be down with that.  

The story is the same with Gordon, who should really demand to limit his minutes if he wants any chance of being on the floor at the end of his albatross contract.  If and when he goes down look for Holiday and Evans to go gonzo, and the same thing is starting to happen already in the frontcourt with Smith already getting knocked out due to hip impingement.  With Stiemsma fouling like a freshman drinking their first beer, it’s almost probable that Williams is forced to play Davis and Anderson together.  It’s arguable whether or not he should have been doing that already last year, but either way I’m projecting smaller doses of that pairing so the ranges you see above are somewhat conservative.  

In the case of Davis, who I have at No. 7 in the Bruski 150, that’s a truly scary thought.  


Tony Parker (30-33) / Cory Joseph (0, 10-15) / Nando De Colo (0, 8-15) / Patrick Mills (0, 10-15)
Danny Green (27-31) / Manu Ginobili (22-26)
Kawhi Leonard (36-39) / Marco Belinelli (18-24)
Tim Duncan (26-29) / Boris Diaw (0, 18-24) / Jeff Ayres (0, 15-20)
Tiago Splitter (26-31) / (Matt Bonner (0, 13-17) / Aron Baynes (0, 8-14)

I’d pay money to have one of the San Antonio beat writers ask Gregg Popovich to break down his rotation because fantasy basketball owners need to know.  

Then again, Popovich probably plays in your public league and that’s why he’s all over the board.

Not a lot has changed for the Spurs except that they’re transitioning Leonard into being the team’s No. 2 scoring option on most nights, supplemented of course by the arsenal of weapons that beyond Duncan and Ginobili includes legitimate threats in Green and Belinelli.  Everybody else fits into Pop’s puzzle perfectly, giving him a tool box to take into nightly matchups that keeps owners guessing.  

Look for all of the old guys to see incremental decreases in mpg, while Green and Leonard will increase their usage, in particular Leonard.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that Pop has been very public about riding Leonard, but more under the radar has been a steady dose of Belinelli, and though we haven’t seen it in the preseason we should see another sizeable increase for Splitter down low.  They could really use a confident and effective Splitter in the playoffs, and like the development of Leonard I’d guess that Pop has the Brazilian’s name right under Kawhi’s.  

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Aaron Bruski has covered hoops for Rotoworld since 2008 and has competed in national fantasy sports competitions for nearly two decades. In 2015 he was named FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year. You can also find his work over at ProBasketballTalk, where he received critical acclaim for his in-depth reporting of the Kings' relocation saga. Hit him on Twitter at Aaronbruski.
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