First things first, I hope all of you guys have been having a great summer. I’m planning for a wedding and all you married dudes know how that goes, so you’ve seen a little less of me and more of my compadres Doctor A, Ryan Knaus and Mike Gallagher, who have been killing it in our busiest summer ever. Behind the scenes we’re grinding on our biggest and best draft guide ever, and here is a preview of just one of the real-time content types we’ll have – the MPG projections.
Minutes per game is as important as any stat-set for projecting fantasy value and it’s also one of the hardest to project in a meaningful way at the beginning of the year. All of the nuance of past performance, pecking orders, injury risks, trade potential, in-season improvement and the like get balled up into one prediction – which in turn gets used in the final projections.
I use ranges so you can get a sense for how sensitive the projections are and because this is early, I may be less precise than I’ll be in late October. There are going to be preseason signings, coaching decisions, injuries and all sorts of things that shift these projections around. The notes will also get more specific as we fine-tune the recommendations before you start to draft.
In the meantime, you can click here to follow me on Twitter and here are all of your important Twitter follows for this year:
(33-37) – In the rotation, estimate of minutes at the end of the year
(0, 10-18) – 0 indicates player may not be in rotation at times, 10-18 indicates probable mpg at end of year)
(0, 5-10,*) - * indicates player may not make the roster
Notes: This team is very similar to last year’s version but they’ve strengthened themselves up the middle so to speak. Thabo Sefolosha fell out of favor with Scott Brooks in OKC, which doesn’t mean much, but nevertheless it’s still unclear what he’ll be able to give this year. Kent Bazemore, on the other hand, as long as he’s recovered from foot surgery as reported – can rise to key backup pretty quickly playing next to Sefolosha and the 150,000-mile Honda Accord known as Kyle Korver.
Al Horford’s health questions won’t go away anytime soon but if there is a silver lining it’s that when he doesn’t get critically injured he usually plays most of his games. Paul Millsap takes the same approach but one has to wonder when the mileage starts getting to him. Still, they’re locked into big minutes and they’ll have a solid bench with Mike Scott and Pero Antic doing what they do and rookie Adreian Payne getting groomed in the process. Shelvin Mack was also re-upped and he gives the team a decent backup point guard to round out the second unit.
Notes: Lance Stephenson is the big acquisition here and he’ll single-handedly keep the Cats from having to mull the merits of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or recuperating Jeff Taylor as a starting three-man, unless Steve Clifford decides to stagger one of his wings on the second unit. Marvin Williams was brought in to essentially put the timer for Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh on pause, and he’ll reprise his mediocre stretch four role from Utah. The team is noticeably deeper with Brian Roberts, Gary Neal and Bismack Biyombo (with another year under his belt).
Notes: The now LeBron-less Heat did a good job to not completely nosedive after his decision, bringing in Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts, but they are paper-thin and one injury to a key guy could send this team sprawling. Deng has been a minutes machine during his career and we don’t want to summarily dismiss his time in Cleveland, but the locker room and team was dysfunctional during his time there and he was a terrible fit for that roster. If Tom Thibodeau didn’t literally run him into the ground, he could be poised for a big year.
Dwyane Wade needs to be on a minute-limit and probably needs prescribed time off, which means owners should watch the young legs of James Ennis very closely. And because the Heat are flush with point guards, look for a lot of two-PG sets if Danny Granger or the assortment of spare parts can’t give anything at the two. Josh McRoberts will probably end up getting a bump in projected minutes before our final adjustments. He’s healthy and may end up being one of the Heat’s most reliable players this season.
Notes: The Magic have a decent mix of starting talent and worthwhile backups, with Elfrid Payton likely to benefit from Luke Ridnour’s experience, and Evan Fournier and Moe Harkless properly placed for their skill-level and accomplishment. Aaron Gordon gets to develop at a reasonable rate behind veteran Channing Frye, and Kyle O’Quinn’s playmaking and steady production is exactly what the reserve unit needs to keep from getting bogged down.
Look for Tobias Harris’ projection to get a bit more aggressive as it becomes clear that he played most of last year injured and the media didn’t report it. This team has some interesting pieces for an athletic, scrambling defense and it will be interesting to see how they approach that end philosophically, which will be a driver for steals and possessions-per-game.
Notes: Paul Pierce is the big addition and it’s anybody’s guess what he has left in the tank, but Otto Porter showed in Summer League that he’s ready for backup minutes and the chance to earn a significant role at small forward. Glen Rice Jr. actually won the Summer League MVP in Vegas, too, though we don’t want to read into that too much since there were a number of things we saw him doing that made us cringe. He scored well and flourished in the garbage-time atmosphere, and along with Porter the Wizards aren’t panicking about Paul’s health heading into this season.
DeJuan Blair can help keep Nene’s minutes in a reasonable range and Kris Humphries can easily shift to the four when he’s not backing up the center position. A lot of folks are predicting big things for the Wizards this season and they’ve simultaneously kept the small forward slot open for a certain future free agent in OKC. Not bad for a franchise that was dealing with fingerguns a few years ago.