Jared Johnson

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Tweaking the Lineups

Monday, November 28, 2016


Games Played Week 6

 

4 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, DET, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIN, NYK, ORL, PHI, SAC, TOR, UTA

3 Games: BKN, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, GSW, HOU, MIL, NOP, OKC, SAN, WAS

2 Games: IND, PHX, POR

 


Rotating Rotations

 

Frank Vogel made some major changes to his starting five on Sunday, sending Nikola Vucevic and Elfrid Payton to the bench in exchange for Bismack Biyombo and D.J. Augustin. He also brought Aaron Gordon back into the starting unit (because Jeff Green was out due to a sore lower back), and while the end result was still a loss for the Magic, the DJA, Evan Fournier, Gordon, Serge Ibaka, Biyombo starting lineup actually managed to produce a net rating of 14.7 (an improvement from Orlando’s typical starting group that owns a net rating of 3.8). Vogel described the lineup change after the game as follows:

 

"We're 30th in offense, and I want to explore some new combinations within the same nine guys being in the rotation and try to get a different feel — a different feel out there, a different flow. [I want to] try to take the first quarter and put the ball in Evan Fournier's hands a lot more with a spot-up 3-point shooting point guard out there with him."

 

Fournier did see his usage rate spike to 27.8, but the Magic yet again failed to crack the 100-point plateau. Let’s break this down piece-by-piece.

 

Jeff Green/Aaron Gordon

Gordon failed to capitalize on the increased opportunity with the starting unit, missing all 12 of his shots on his way to eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and that’s it. Simply put, Gordon has been awful over the past few weeks, ranking well outside the top-250 with meager contributions of 7.0 points, 4.6 boards and not much else on 30.8 percent shooting. The upside is still there, but there’s no denying that adjusting to the small forward position has been a major stumbling block for Gordon, and it’s getting harder and harder to justify keeping a guy this long for something he might (but probably will) do for the final two months of the season. That being said, I still recommend holding onto Gordon where you can, and if you want to buy-low, you can probably get him for nothing right about now.

 

Nikola Vucevic/Bismack Biyombo

"Obviously, I wasn't happy with the decision they made," Vucevic said when asked about the demotion. "I didn't think there was a reason for me to go to the bench. But it's Coach's decision. All I can do is control what I can control, which is when I'm on the court [to] play to the best of my ability and help the team and stay professional. Whatever is going on, I will keep giving my best and my full effort." Vooch did just that, racking up 17 points, 16 boards, three assists and a block in 30 minutes off the bench, while Biyombo only mustered up four points, four boards, two assists, one steal and two blocks through 33 minutes as a starter. Vucevic is clearly unhappy in Orlando, and the team build of Serge Ibaka, Aaron Gordon, Bismack Biyombo and Vooch makes roughly zero sense, so I see a trade on the horizon. It’s tough to imagine Vucevic in a worse situation than the one he’s in now, and if/when a trade goes down, you can bet it will be to install Biyombo as Orlando’s full-time starting center. What does this all mean? Biyombo, while not worth owning in standard leagues at the moment can be viewed as a deep league stash, and while Vuc has been hot lately, his success feels unsustainable operating in Orlando’s frontcourt. The next dud that Vucevic posts would be the ideal time to float out some buy-low offers.

 

D.J. Augustin/Elfrid Payton

“It’s a little different, but I think I was all right,” Payton said. Payton actually played more minutes (29) than Augustin (25), despite coming off the bench, and he ended his night with 16 points, three boards, three assists, one steal and three turnovers. Augustin was okay, scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting to go with five assists and one triple, but this smells like a value killing timeshare situation to me.

 

P.J. Tucker/Brandon Knight

The Suns also opted to make some changes to their starting lineup, sending Brandon Knight and Alex Len to the bench and bringing P.J. Tucker and Tyson Chandler into the starting five. Knight’s value took the largest hit, as he only managed to get on the court for 17 minutes and he finished the game with 11 points on 2-of-10 shooting (7-of-10 from the stripe) with two boards, three turnovers and nothing else. Knight has struggled playing second (third?) fiddle to the Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker show this year, but he could be really nice if a trade lands him in the right situation. He’s a hold. Tucker did well as a starter, scoring a season-high 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting (6-of-7 from the line) to go with eight boards, one assist, three 3-pointers and one steal in 42 minutes. The scoring won’t often be there for Tucker, but he’s someone to look at in deep leagues for owners seeking some short-term production in steals and triples.

 

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Tyson Chandler/Alex Len/Marquese Chriss

Earl Watson also decided to bring Chandler back into the starting five, which sent Len back to the bench, although the pair did finish the game playing alongside one another when Marquese Chriss was benched for most of the second half after picking up a technical foul from the bench.

 

“You can’t stick up for yourself on the bench,” Watson said. “Bench Ts put you on the bench in the second half. So it’s an accountable moment. But he’ll learn. He knows I love him. He’ll learn. He’ll move forward.”

 

Chandler looked good in the start, posting a 10-point, 15-board double-double with two blocks in 38 minutes, and while Len was still effective off the bench with five points, 10 boards, one steal and two blocks in 29 minutes, there’s no denying that his playing time was buoyed by the Chriss benching. Because I expect Chriss to resume his starting role the next time Phoenix takes the court, I also expect Len to be more or less a non-factor in standard leagues as long as Chandler is starting. We’ve already seen what a Len-Chandler pairing looks like, and that frontcourt averages a negative net rating.

 

John Henson/Miles Plumlee

John Henson, who was a DNP-CD in his previous outing, returned to the starting five on Sunday night and went off for 20 points, seven boards, one assist, one steal and three blocks in 29 minutes. Miles Plumlee, who started the previous game, only managed to get off the bench for three minutes and basically didn’t do anything. This is what rotations look like when Jason Kidd is at the helm, and he acknowledged before the game that the guy that starts at the five-spot will be a matchup based decision. It’s impossible to predict what Henson’s minutes allotment will be from night to night, but he remains a worthwhile deep league stash as long as he’s able to get on the court for roughly 18 minutes per contest. Plumlee isn’t worth owning anywhere.

 


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A hoops fanatic, Jared Johnson has been a member of the Rotoworld team since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJ831, and feel free to send him your questions regarding trades, draft strategies and all things fantasy basketball.
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