Welcome to the second 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 every Monday, and I will rotate weeks between the Western and Eastern Conferences whereby every team will get updated on a two-week basis. Since this is the second edition of the Western Conference version, I will focus on changes to the teams’ rotations since the initial column. If you would like you read the first version, you can find it in the archives here.
Finding an edge in daily fantasy basketball revolves around constantly keeping yourself updated on news. Playing time equals opportunity in basketball, and you don’t want to be the guy who misses out on a cheap FanDuel player that is going to be receiving 35 minutes of court time. This column will hopefully assist you in that endeavor. Let’s get back to work!
The point guard situation is still a mess, with Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris in a virtually equal time share right now. The waters are getting even muddier, as Raymond Felton will come off the injured list and start his four-game suspension on Monday. Once that suspension ends, this situation will become a nightmare and one to simply avoid at all costs.
The other starters are still locked into heavy minutes, though the game logs from last week don’t inspire much confidence. Don’t be fooled by this, as Dallas has taken part in several blowouts over their past few games. The core guys will be back to their regular minutes in the next close game.
Denver is a mess right now, as they have been getting blown out on an alarmingly regular basis. The rotation is ever changing, and the only constant seems to be Ty Lawson. Even Arron Afflalo got benched for a time last week, playing just 10 minutes in one of the most recent contests.
Both Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried have been seeing a few more minutes of late, but again this will be unpredictable moving forward. Some short-term value could be had on certain days, as reserves Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson and J.J. Hickson are not yet cleared to play in the second half of back-to-backs. This will mean some more minutes for the starters on those days.
Golden State Warriors
Not surprisingly, David Lee is hurt again. Draymond Green is on a roll in the starting lineup and appears poised to put up big numbers for the foreseeable future. Lee will have a hard time regaining his grip on the starting role if and when he gets healthy.
Though the team is playing well, the bench has been an area of concern early in the season. Keep an eye on Marreese Speights, who was great on Sunday and is earning a ton of praise from Steve Kerr. He might become a viable cheap option on FanDuel if his playing time is going to increase to 20+ minutes nightly.
The return of Patrick Beverley will destroy any fantasy value that Isaiah Canaan had accumulated over the last few weeks. Beverley will likely see a gradual uptick in minutes and should be viewed as a decent low-end play for cash games while his price is down near the minimum level.
Terrence Jones remains out, and we don’t have a firm timetable on his possible return. Donatas Motiejunas has assumed his starting spot, and he has picked up his play over the last handful of games. There isn’t much upside here, but it will be interesting to see if this impacts Jones’ minutes when he eventually returns.
Los Angeles Clippers
There haven’t been many changes to the Clippers rotation over the last two weeks, with the exception of the small forward position. Jamal Crawford assumed the starting spot for a few games, but he returned to the bench in favor of Matt Barnes for last Saturday’s contest. Barnes is still a player you can ignore in FanDuel games, while Crawford will still be a high-volume shooter and play around 30 minutes a night whether he starts or comes off the bench. You could even argue that his fantasy value is higher when he is anchoring the second unit.
Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant is really the only viable player the Lakers have right now. It’s almost cringe-worthy to watch them play, and Kobe will jack up as many shots as he needs to each and every night. The return of Nick Young will at least give the Lakers another scoring threat, as he is capable of putting up his fair share of shots. It will be interesting to see how many minutes he gets, but expect the Lakers to go small at times. Wesley Johnson will likely see the biggest decrease in minutes here, as he has been struggling all season.
In the frontcourt, the clamoring for Ed Davis to start over Carlos Boozer is growing stronger. Boozer has posted incredibly poor defensive statistics for his entire career, and those shortcomings are showing even more on a bad Lakers team. However this shakes out, expect Davis’ fantasy value to increase and Boozer’s fantasy value to decrease moving forward - keep a close eye on the situation.
Courtney Lee is evolving into a steady fantasy option at the shooting guard position with a surprising allotment of 30-32 minutes per game, and his solid if unspectacular play is earning rave reviews so far this season. You can lump him in with the rest of the Grizzlies starters – sans Tony Allen – as relatively safe nightly plays in most matchups.
The injury to Ricky Rubio has opened the door for Zach LaVine to take the starting point guard job for the near term, but he has struggled in his first few starts. Expect a pretty even timeshare with Mo Williams for a month or so, unless one of the two clearly distinguishes himself with stronger play.
Talented rookie Andrew Wiggins has started to log close to 30 minutes per game, but the production has still been spotty. Keep an eye on him as he gets more accustomed to the NBA game. Starting power forward Thaddeus Young missed a few games last week after the tragic death of his mother, but he should be back this week. This will relegate Anthony Bennett and Gorgui Dieng back into full-time bench roles with around 20 minutes per game.
New Orleans Pelicans
Ryan Anderson is making a case to cut into the playing time of Eric Gordon, as the former is playing very well this season while the latter continues to struggle. If the Pelicans go big, they can use Tyreke Evans at the shooting guard spot with Anderson at the small forward position. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen down the line, as Anderson is already seeing a bump in minutes and has been playing more often late in games.
Omer Asik is questionable for Monday’s game with a bad back. These injuries tend to linger, so keep an eye on his status moving forward. If he misses any time, Alexis Ajinca will see a boost, while the team could also find more ways to get Anderson on the court.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Without Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, things are rough in Oklahoma City. There was some solid fantasy value to be had for a few games while the team only had eight healthy bodies, but that is no longer the case. Anthony Morrow has returned and is currently playing the sixth man role while logging around 30 minutes per game. He’s a worthwhile cheap option on FanDuel as long as his playing time is around this level.
With Perry Jones III and Andre Roberson still out, Jeremy Lamb continues to man the shooting guard spot. His production has been up and down, but his minutes have been consistent around the 30-32 per game range. Reggie Jackson is the team’s best fantasy asset right now, and he is putting up some huge lines from the point guard position while playing very heavy minutes. He’s among the league leaders in minutes per game since Westbrook went down.
Phoenix still has a glut of depth at almost every position, which continues to make them tough to target for daily fantasy purposes. Until an injury takes place, it is very hard to figure out consistent value. The trio of guards (Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas) has all seen fluctuating minutes, and the guys who are playing best on any given night are going to get the most time on the court.
Markieff Morris is emerging as the most consistent option in the frontcourt, but the Suns have other options there as well. Nothing is set in stone, and it’s hard to imagine anyone topping 30+ minutes per game for the foreseeable future.
A week after I dubbed the Blazers a fantasy analyst’s dream, they have succumbed to a few short-term injuries. Nicolas Batum got hurt going for a rebound with 1:00 left in a 16-point game, and he has been out for over a week now. Allen Crabbe has moved into the starting lineup, but he isn’t guaranteed more than 20 minutes per game. The Blazers have elected to go small at times in the second half of games, thereby giving C.J. McCollum a little more run. Batum should be back soon, so this situation will dissolve.
LaMarcus Aldridge missed Saturday’s game with an upper respiratory illness, but he should be back this week. This will limit any short-term upside offered by a guy like Chris Kaman, though Kaman has been surprisingly serviceable in around 20 minutes per game so far this season.
Darren Collison missed one game with a shoulder injury, but he has returned and doesn’t appear to be missing a beat. This Kings offense is perfect for his skill set, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have proven scorers around him in Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. That trio remains locked into a heavy dose of minutes nightly.
The rest of the team is somewhat unpredictable, but Ben McLemore appears to be earning a little bit more playing time. If he can sustain a 30-32 minute role, he may become more fantasy relevant. For now, I’ll be taking a wait-and-see approach with the young shooting guard.
San Antonio Spurs
The already messy Spurs rotation is going to get even more complicated, as both Tiago Splitter and Marco Belinelli could return this week. Nobody except the head coach knows how this will affect the team’s rotation. Outside of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and the emerging Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs are a hot stove that’s best left untouched. Remember, even Gregg Popovich’s best guys will be rested at times, so tread carefully. If a surprise DNP or three comes up, the role players like Boris Diaw and Danny Green gain added one-day relevance in FanDuel leagues.
Gordon Hayward is thriving in Quin Snyder’s system and has the look of a star now, so he is locked into heavy minutes for the rest of the season. Whenever he isn’t battling foul trouble, Derrick Favors will follow closely behind as a solid option.
Trey Burke still has a decent grip on the starting point guard job, though he will cede some minutes to rookie Dante Exum. Expect Burke to remain around 28-30 minutes per night, with Exum under 20 until he develops a little more.