Welcome to the fourth Western Conference edition of the NBA Minutes Watch column, a series in which I will break down changes and updates to the rotations of all the NBA teams over the course of the season. This column will come to you early on each week, and I will rotate weeks between the Western and Eastern Conferences whereby every team will get updated on a two-week basis. Here's a look at what has changed since the last installment of the Western Conference Edition and how that could affect your daily NBA lineups.
Chandler Parsons is currently dealing with a sore lower back, and he missed the Mavericks' last game on Saturday because of the ailment. Unfortunately, Dallas is not a team that has a reliable sixth man or replacement to fill a void when someone goes down. They have a deep bench and use a committee approach when this happens. In addition, it does not appear that Parsons is going to be out very long. Keep an eye on this, but it shouldn't have too much impact moving forward. Don't put any stock into one random good game from the aging Richard Jefferson.
As for the rest of the regulars, Dallas isn't a team that plays its starters super-heavy minutes. This gives them all a slight downgrade for daily fantasy purposes, but Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, and Monta Ellis are decent targets in the right matchups. Expect around 30-33 minutes nightly for this trio, with Ellis and Chandler on the higher end and Nowitzki on the lower end of that spectrum.
Kenneth Faried missed Sunday's game with a sore ankle, and the trio of Danilo Galinari, JaVale McGee, and Randy Foye all remain out as well. Despite these absences, Brian Shaw still managed to play a 10-man rotation in the last game, with all five bench players receiving at least 14 minutes of playing time despite the game being close. This makes the club extremely hard to peg for fantasy purposes. If Faried misses extended time, expect Timofey Mozgov and J.J. Hickson to see a small uptick in minutes. The only other reliable daily fantasy options on the team are Wilson Chandler and Ty Lawson, as both of them tend to see somewhere between 33 and 37 minutes on average. Arron Afflalo is playing well right now, but he has been inconsistent all year, and his minutes tend to fluctuate based on how he is playing.
Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green is legitimately making a case for an All-Star selection, and he has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season with his all-around game and physical defense. Steve Kerr isn't afraid to play him around 38-40 minutes per game, and he should be played with confidence most nights. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson remain fantasy stalwarts as well. Kerr has done wonders for the fantasy value of these guys.
The frontcourt is a little dicier, as Andrew Bogut is injured right now, and Harrison Barnes played through a facial injury on Sunday. I prefer to target the other guys, but Barnes and Bogut are decent mid-range options when on the court. Expect those two to receive around 28-30 minutes per night, which is a step down from the other starters on the squad. The bench is tough to predict, as there isn't a single player that gets a lot of run. Marreese Speights appears to be the most talented, but his minutes remain around 16-20 on average, and that makes him tough to target.
A whole article could be devoted solely to Rockets news, and there is little chance it would be redundant. The Rockets have been the most banged up team in the league this season in terms of the pure number of injuries they have endured. The list of players who have missed games already this season includes Terrence Jones, Dwight Howard, Kostas Papanikolaou, Isaiah Canaan, and Patrick Beverley. In addition, Trevor Ariza and James Harden have played through some minor ailments. This has made Kevin McHale's task very difficult, but the good news is that the team is getting healthy now. Both Howard and Beverley have returned, and the opening night starting lineup is intact outside of Jones.
This team has been fantasy-friendly so far this season primarily because of the injuries. Expect Ariza, Harden, and Donatas Motiejunas to see a down-tick in minutes as the injury situation improves, but all three could still be fantasy relevant, especially until Jones returns. The main usage guys will obviously be Harden and Howard, but the secondary players have solid roles as well. Beverley and Ariza should settle along with Harden and Howard with minutes somewhere in the mid-30s.
Los Angeles Clippers
Despite the fact that they are not playing their best basketball right now, the Clippers remain a fantasy-friendly target with their fast pace of play. DeAndre Jordan has picked up his play of late, and he is seeing a small boost to 34-36+ minutes per game with Spencer Hawes on the shelf right now. In addition, Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick are seeing small boosts in minutes with Jamal Crawford somewhat banged up. As always, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin remain elite fantasy mainstays.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have actually been playing a bit better of late, and Byron Scott has changed up the starting lineup. Ronnie Price is starting at the point in place of Jeremy Lin, but both players are seeing reduced minutes as Kobe Bryant has been handling point guard duties late in games. This should open up a few more minutes for Nick Young, who is always a boom or bust fantasy option. However, his prospects are slightly better with 26-28 minutes per game as opposed to 22-24 minutes. Obviously, Bryant is a virtual lock to lead the team in court time.
The other change has come at power forward, with Ed Davis supplanting Carlos Boozer. The two are still stuck in a virtual timeshare, and Boozer has responded to the move with back-to-back double-doubles off the bench. For the most part, this remains a situation to avoid. The only proven commodity in the frontcourt is Jordan Hill, who has even seen his minutes cut back a little bit of late. He’s still playing around 29-31 minutes per game, and he remains a solid mid-range pick on most nights.
Nothing much of note is going on in Memphis right now, as the team is as healthy as it has been all season. The starting five of Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol have bene logging heavier minutes of late, as the Grizzlies have played back-to-back overtime contests. Expect the bench to play a bigger role in the coming week, but it's hard to find reliable value out of inconsistent players like Beno Udrih, Quincy Pondexter, and Kosta Koufos. The starters are the plays here, especially Conley, Randolph, and Gasol. Expect Conley and Gasol to maintain averages around 34-36 minutes per game with Randolph slightly under that mark.
The Timberwolves have been short-handed over the past few weeks, as they lost both starting point guard Mo Williams and starting two-guard Kevin Martin to injury. This has meant big minutes for Zach LaVine and Corey Brewer, and Brewer has taken advantage with some solid fantasy lines. Williams is scheduled to return any day, which should evaporate the value of the struggling LaVine. Brewer should continue to get significant run as the starting off guard, and he's a solid mid-range play on most nights.
The frontcourt has a bit more depth, and Flip Saunders appears comfortable rolling with whoever is playing well. Some nights this is Andrew Wiggins, some nights this is Shabazz Muhammed, and some nights this is Anthony Bennett. Wiggins appears to be the safest pick of the bunch, but his minutes tend to vary anywhere between 25 and 45 depending on how he is playing. Gorgui Dieng remains the starting center in the absence of Nikola Pekovic, and he should stay in that role for the foreseeable future as Pekovic remains sidelined. Dieng's minutes are down a bit of late, as the Wolves have been going small at times. He should still be a serviceable option as long as he is starter.
New Orleans Pelicans
This Pelicans team has been fun to follow over the past handful of games, as they are scoring in bunches and playing a more up-tempo style. Anthony Davis is currently sidelined by a minor chest injury, and both Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson have picked up the slack in his absence. Evans is locked into major minutes, and he is logging around 40 per game over the last few contests. Jrue Holiday is also playing his best basketball of the season right now. These players will see a decrease in usage when Davis returns, but all remain relevant for daily fantasy purposes. Anderson plays around 28-30 minutes even when coming off the bench, while the averages for Anderson and Evans will hover around the 32-35 mark. Davis remains locked in as an elite fantasy play.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are both back in action, and the Thunder suddenly look like a title contender again. Westbrook has been on fire of late and appears to no longer have a minutes restriction, while Durant is slowly getting worked back with a 33-35 minute limit for the time being. Both should return to elite fantasy levels before long, and the rest of the team becomes very hard to peg. Serge Ibaka is the only other player who can be counted on for a regular 28+ minutes, but his production will be spotty with the two superstars back in the fold.
The fast-paced nature of the Suns game approach requires them to play with a deeper bench, and that sometimes makes them hard to peg from a fantasy perspective. The trio of solid guards (Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas) often times tend to rotate who has big games, but all of them generally play 30-32 minutes per night, with Bledsoe sometimes a tough higher. Dragic is currently dealing with a sore back, and Gerald Green will gain a few minutes if Dragic is out for a while.
The Suns’ frontcourt is tough to trust outside of Markieff Morris, who is locked into a 30+ minute role but is struggling right now. Alex Len and Miles Plumlee are splitting time at center, and this remains a situation to avoid unless there is an injury down the line.
After a few injuries in the early going, the Blazers have returned to their normal, predictable rotation. As always, fantasy gamers are happy about this. All the starters, sans Robin Lopez on occasion, tend to play 33-36 minutes with the potential for more in close games. Chris Kaman is the only bench player worth keeping an eye on, as he tends to play upwards of 20-22 minutes on nights he is playing well or Lopez is struggling. There is not a whole lot to monitor here until an injury crops up.
In a somewhat shocking development, the Kings fired Mike Malone and replaced him with Ty Corbin as an interim coach. If you remember Corbin from his days as head coach of the Jazz, you will remember that his rotations require Rolaids on a regular basis if you want to roster his players in a daily fantasy format. It’s too soon to have any indication as to what Corbin will do, but marginally downgrade all Kings players for now.
DeMarcus Cousins remains out as he battles a severe illness, and it’s safe to assume that Darren Collison and Rudy Gay will continue to lead the team in minutes played and production for as long as Cousins remains out. Tread carefully with any other options, especially in the frontcourt, until we can get a sense of Corbin’s rotations.
San Antonio Spurs
Greg Popovich has been up to his old tricks since the last installment of this article, as the Spurs have played in several back-to-back sets over the past two weeks. This has meant a few rest days for Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, while Tony Parker is having some problems recovering from a strained hamstring. Guys like Danny Green, Boris Diaw, and Cory Joseph have been stepping up and filling bigger roles in this time-frame. This remains a night-to-night situation to keep an eye on, as guys like Duncan and Parker have plenty of value when they are at 100% and guys like Green and Joseph have plenty of value when players are resting.
Since the last edition of this column, Alec Burks has returned for the Jazz. Their rotation has actually become relatively consistent, especially since Enes Kanter has picked up his play of late. All five starters occasionally hit around 35 minutes per game, though fluctuations happen in blowouts or when players are struggling. In addition, Derrick Favors is currently sidelined with an ankle injury. He is expected to be back soon, but Rudy Gobert becomes the direct beneficiary as the starter in Favors' absence. He logged 31 minutes on Sunday and should be a fine fill-in as long as Favors is out.