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.
Injuries: Devin Harris (toe, day-to-day)
Notes: (No change from two weeks ago) - Chandler Parsons is seeing more court time now, and the production is finally starting to follow. Dallas is starting to become a little more predictable from a fantasy perspective, as the core starters tend to play 30-34 minutes when games are competitive. Dallas also is not afraid to rest players coming off heavy minutes or when the team is playing a back-to-back set. In these scenarios, backups like J.J. Barea, Dwight Powell, and Raymond Felton become much more interesting fantasy options.
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 Nikola Jokic are both in the mix for the starting center job, and the starters up there change frequently. However, Jokic has some DFS upside and has been playing very well of late. Outside of Danilo Gallinari, there isn’t a lot of stability to this Nuggets squad. Gary Harris doesn’t have much upside, but he is getting the most consistent minutes on the team right now, consistently tallying into the mid-to-upper 30’s. Emmanuel Mudiay should get the opportunity to play a significant role as the Nuggets develop their youth in the second half of the season, especially since Jameer Nelson has been bothered by his wrist for a couple months now.
Golden State Warriors
Notes: The Warriors have found the after burners again. After dropping back-to-back games for the first time all season, they have taken off with flying colors en route to their current 44-4 record. The mainstay fantasy assets remain the same, with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green at the top and Klay Thompson a notch below. Keep an eye on the small forward situation. Harrison Barnes has returned to the starting lineup, though it has taken a while for him to shake off the rust. This might be the best time to buy low on him in DFS formats. Andrew Bogut has a little more value with Festus Ezeli on the shelf, but his minutes are still very much unpredictable on a nightly basis. The Warriors aren’t afraid to go small at times.
Notes: The old Dwight Howard was back… and now he is injured again. This has been good news for James Harden, who has been absolutely fantastic of late. He has been very highly owned over the past two weeks and has put up two monster fantasy performances. Even Trevor Ariza has been playing well.. The main spots you want to avoid here are point guard, since Beverley doesn’t have much upside, and power forward, where the minutes are constantly in flux. The re-acquisition of Josh Smith has only cluttered that situation even more.
Los Angeles Clippers
Injuries: Blake Griffin (knee, out another 1-2 months)
Notes: Things are pretty clear-cut in Clipper land right now. As long as 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 as well. Those are the three players to target from a DFS perspective until Griffin returns. That is still a ways off given the unfortunate incident that played out since the last Western Conference update.
Los Angeles Lakers
Injuries: Larry Nance (knee, day-to-day)
Notes: (No change from two weeks ago) - Julius Randle has returned to the starting lineup with Larry Nance sidelined, though Byron Scott has stated that Nance will remain the starter when healthy no matter how well Randle plays in his absence. 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. Julius Randle and Lou Williams have both been playing well of late, which only serves to complicate this situation even more.
Injuries: Brandan Wright (knee, out another 1-2 months)
Notes: Well, things are much more complicated than we are used to here in Memphis. Mike Conley is back in action, but he has not seen his normal 35+ allotment of minutes since his return. Part of this is because Mario Chalmers was exceptional in his absence. Zach Randolph appears to have supplanted Matt Barnes at power forward, though Randolph’s role also fluctuates on a daily basis. Jeff Green appears to be in and out of the doghouse these days. The safest option is Marc Gasol, but he is battling some knee soreness. Gasol is the safest option here, as long as he remains healthy.
Notes: The Timberwolves are becoming an easier team to project for daily fantasy purposes. With Kevin Garnett sidelined, both Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns have been fantastic. They are both receiving heavy doses of minutes these days, and Dieng is becoming more comfortable playing the power forward spot. Even Shabazz Muhammad has been playing better off the bench. Andrew Wiggins has struggled with his shot in recent games, but he is still locked into a heavy workload. Ricky Rubio is a solid tournament option, but his minutes are generally all over the map.
New Orleans Pelicans
Notes: The backcourt in New Orleans is in a state of flux, with Eric Gordon out of commission and Tyreke Evans far from 100%. This has opened up plenty of playing time for Norris Cole, Bryce Dejean-Jones, and Jrue Holiday. They are all viable options especially as long as Evans remains out. 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 even when Evans returns. The only reliable big man is Anthony Davis, though he has been injured a lot this year. Omer Asik has been a bit better of late, but he remains a low-upside option.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Notes: The fantasy production is easy to peg in Oklahoma City, which is a welcome sign given all the uncertainty out there these days. When healthy, Westbrook and Durant are elite options on a nightly basis, while Ibaka is the deteriorating 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. Dion Waiters has seen an increase in playing time with Andre Roberson out, but he is extremely hit-or-miss for fantasy purposes.
Safest Minutes: Devin Booker
Notes: Eric Bledsoe will miss the rest of the season and Brandon Knight has no timetable to return, so the backcourt will rest on the shoulders of Archie Goodwin and Devin Booker. The absence of Ronnie Price also limits the depth in the backcourt. As for the frontcourt, that is another story. Expect the younger players to push for more run, which is good news for high-upside guys like T.J. Warren. Keep an eye on the news wires, as it looks like Markieff Morris is currently being showcased for a potential trade. We will also have to see what the new coaching staff does with the rotation, as Jeff Hornacek was fired Monday morning. This is definitely a situation to monitor.
Portland Trail Blazers
Notes: As has been the case for much of the year, Lillard and McCollum are the only safe fantasy assets in town. 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. Ed Davis has been playing well of late but doesn’t get consistent playing time and will always be tough to peg. Al-Farouq Aminu has cooled since a hot start to the year and is a fringe option at best these days. Stick with the guards for your DFS rosters.
Notes: Omri Casspi played well in the absence of Willie Cauley-Stein and will continue to push him for 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. The Kings have actually looked a lot better of late with DeMarcus Cousins is in the midst of his best stretch of the season. Unfortunately, he suffered an ankle injury over the weekend, and it sounds like he might miss a few games.
San Antonio Spurs
Injuries: Tim Duncan (knee, 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: Derrick Favors is back and appears to be close to 100% healthy. He played very well the other night and is back in the starting lineup. This hurts the fantasy value of Trey Lyles, who has been a very pleasant surprise over the past month. Gordon Hayward is by far the most consistent option here, as guys like Rodney Hood and Trey Burke will make you want to pull your hair out. With Rudy Gobert back in action at center, it will be interesting to see how the minutes are divvied up with Gobert, Favors, Lyles, and Jeff Withey all competing for minutes at two positions. Don’t forget that Withey played well when Gobert was out, too.