Welcome to another 2015-2016 Western Conference edition of the NBA Minutes Watch column, brought to you by RotoGrinders. In this series, 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 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 how things have shaken out in the West, and how we can use that to our advantage in our FanDuel lineup building.
Notes: Chandler Parsons is seeing more court time now, but the production has yet to follow. Perhaps he is still shaking off the rust as his minutes ramp higher. Deron Williams returned from a multi-game absence the other day but then left Saturday’s contest with hamstring tightness. Given his injury-prone nature, this might become more of a time share with the recently impressive J.J. Barea. The consistent production in Dallas comes from Matthews and Nowitzki, who haven’t seen their roles change much over the course of the season.
Notes: The Nuggets aren’t the best team to target for DFS, because the rotations seem to change on a nightly basis. There are some games where the bench outscores the starters. Joffrey Lauvergne and Jusuf Nurkic are both back in the mix in the frontcourt, and the starters up there change frequently. Outside of Danilo Gallinari, there isn’t a lot of stability to this Nuggets squad. However, Will Barton has been fantastic as the sixth man, and he is now worth a look in daily fantasy along with Jameer Nelson – especially if Emmanuel Mudiay remains sidelined for any length of time. I can’t believe that Kenneth Faried didn’t miss any games after his tumble on Saturday, but he started on Sunday and appeared to suffer no setbacks.
Golden State Warriors
Notes: Well, this is a different look for the Warriors. They are suddenly dealing with a rash of injury concerns, and Stephen Curry is clearly the engine that helps this team go. In the time that he has missed over the last two weeks, Draymond Green has picked up the slack. He had the best fantasy game of any player this season on Saturday, and both Green and Klay Thompson get a nice boost as long as Curry remains sidelined. Shaun Livingston will also see a boost as the fill-in starter. Harrison Barnes is expected to return today, though it remains to be seen how quickly he will return to his normal playing time.
Notes: The coaching change in Houston has brought a few changes to the rotation, namely with Patrick Beverley playing more and James Harden seeing his minutes monitored closely. Clint Capela, Donatas Motiejunas, and Terrence Jones are splitting time at power forward, and this situation is best left alone unless somebody goes down. Capela might be an interesting player to watch this week as both Jones and Motiejunas are a bit banged up. James Harden and Dwight Howard (when healthy) remain the top fantasy options here.
Los Angeles Clippers
Injuries: Blake Griffin (knee, out another 1-2 weeks)
Notes: Things are pretty clear-cut in Clipper land right now. With Blake Griffin out, avoid the land mines that play small forward and power forward for this team. Most of the production will come via Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, with J.J. Redick seeing an uptick in usage rate as well. Those are the three players to target from a DFS perspective until Griffin returns.
Los Angeles Lakers
Injuries: Kobe Bryant (shoulder, day-to-day)
Best Position Battle: Point guard – Jordan Clarkson vs. D’Angelo Russell
Notes: Bryon Scott has benched Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, which makes no sense. Now he has stated that they may return to the starting lineup soon. There is no logic here. It’s hard to trust the Lakers on any given day, as various players are capable of getting a hot hand (or the team can just stink as a whole, on occasion). Good luck figuring this squad out. Larry Nance and Lou Williams have both been playing well of late, which only serves to complicate this situation even more.
Notes: Barnes has snagged the power forward job away from Randolph, though the rotation might be in flux going forward as long as everyone remains healthy. Memphis is never the most exciting team to target in daily fantasy, but Mike Conley and Marc Gasol remain solid cash game options on most nights. Conley is currently dealing with a back issue, which may thrust some short-term value toward the direction of Mario Chalmers this week should Conley miss any time.
Injuries: Nikola Pekovic (ankle, out another 2-3 weeks)
Notes: Karl-Anthony Towns has picked up his play again of late, while he is playing quite a few minutes alongside Gorgui Dieng as games progress. This is making them both viable fantasy options in the right matchups. The revolving door at shooting guard isn’t exciting and can be left alone. The most reliable minutes go to Rubio and Wiggins, though they are both a bit unpredictable in terms of production. This is a team where the sum of the parts is greater than each individual component, and they are a tricky bunch to figure out in fantasy hoops.
New Orleans Pelicans
Notes: Norris Cole has quietly been working his way into the mix in New Orleans, and he even started the other night with Tyreke Evans on the shelf. His last three games have all been solid, and he is going to be a cheap source of production until his price finally rises. The trade of Ish Smith to Philadelphia has opened to the door for Cole to be a solid sixth man here, and he has proven that he is capable of doing the job when called upon. With the rest of the bench struggling, this is a welcome sign. The minutes for the whole backcourt are in a bit of flux with four bodies to fill two spots. Given the black hole at small forward and center for this team, going small might be an option to get all these guys a little bit more time, as the only reliable big man is Anthony Davis.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Injuries: Kevin Durant (toe, day-to-day)
Notes: Kevin Durant is going to miss Monday’s game with a toe injury that he suffered over the weekend. It doesn’t sound serious, and this has the looks of a “maintenance day” to me as the Thunder take on the Kings at home. When healthy, Westbrook and Durant are elite options on a nightly basis, while Ibaka is the third wheel and a decent option in the right matchup. As for everyone else? No thanks. Enes Kanter has been playing well of late, but he still doesn’t get enough playing time to pique my interest.
Safest Minutes: Brandon Knight
Injuries: Eric Bledsoe (knee, out for season)
Notes: Eric Bledsoe will miss the rest of the season, so the backcourt will rest on the shoulders of Brandon Knight. The problem is that Phoenix is a very bad team. They lost to the Lakers by 20 points yesterday. The Lakers! Expect the younger players to push for more run, which is good news for high-upside guys like T.J. Warren. The problem is that inconsistency reigns supreme in Phoenix. Outside of Knight, it’s tough to peg on a nightly basis.
Portland Trail Blazers
Injuries: Damian Lillard (heel, day-to-day)
Notes: C.J. McCollum has thrived in the past few weeks with Lillard out of commission, but it sounds like Lillard is very close to a return date. Expect McCollum to be a little over-priced for DFS when he returns to his customary role. It’s still walking on eggshells to figure out the frontcourt rotation here, though Mason Plumlee is my favorite option of the bunch if I had to pick as his minutes seem to be the most secure.
Notes: Omri Casspi played well in the absence of Willie Cauley-Stein and will push to keep his starting gig. Other role players like Darren Collison have also been playing well, and George Karl is not afraid to play Collison next to Rajon Rondo at times. Rajon Rondo has been a great story from a fantasy perspective, but it is debatable how much he helps the team in real life given his shooting inefficiencies and turnover woes. In addition, and top players like DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay that have let the team down at times this year. For some reason, Cousins has decided that it is fun to shoot from three point range. This system is clearly not doing these two players any favors.
San Antonio Spurs
Injuries: Tony Parker (hip, day-to-day)
Best Position Battle: None
Notes: (No change from two weeks ago) - Those exciting Spurs continue to chug along, and they would be the story of the NBA this year if not for the presence of the Warriors. Their starting five is set in stone with Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tim Duncan. Parker and Duncan will see their minutes monitored all year, Danny Green has struggled, and any of the starters are at risk for rest days on extended runs of games. The Spurs are healthy right now, too, and Gregg Popovich is dangerous with a full complement of players. Proceed with caution on anyone outside of Leonard and Aldridge.
Notes: Alec Burks will be out for an extended period, which boosts the fantasy value of all the other perimeter options for Utah. Both Trey Burke and Rodney Hood have been solid of late, and Gordon Hayward has been more aggressive with both Burks and Derrick Favors out. Favors could return any day, though nothing is set in stone. If he remains out this week, Jeff Withey should continue his recent run of solid play.