Breaking Down the Lakers 2/4
Figuring out the Lakers situation tonight is a tough, but very important task for daily fantasy players. Here’s why:
1. Steve Nash is back and starting.
2. Steve Blake is back and starting.
3. Jordan Farmar is back.
4. Pau Gasol is out (this will be the fourth game he’s missed this season).
5. Chris Kaman is back.
6. There are only four games on tonight.
So how does this affect the backcourt minutes? Who replaces Gasol? What are the different salaries? How does it match up with the opponent?
Let’s answer those questions.
(Salaries via DraftKings)
First and foremost, let’s briefly examine the opponent, which is the Minnesota Timberwolves. This is a good thing in the sense that the T-Wolves run the second-most possessions per game, the over/under is 216 and that they are average-to-poor at all positions in FPTS allowed. The bad news is that Minnesota is an 11-point favorite and a lot of different things could happen in terms of minutes.
Now, reports are that the Lakers starting five will be: PG Nash, SG Blake, SF, Meeks, PF Kelly, C Sacre. I know, I’m laughing too. Quite frankly, if the Lakers were facing the Pacers or Bulls tonight, I wonder if they could even score 80 tonight.
Steve Nash will start at PG with limited minutes. By limited, he will reportedly be kept to the first 6-8 minutes of each half. Given how much time Nash has missed since joining the Lakers, you bet Mike D’Antoni will stick to that. Even with Nash’s $4,500 salary, stay away from him.
Moving on to Steve Blake, who will get the start at SG. He hasn’t played since Dec. 10, but there are no reports of him having limited minutes (averaging 31.9 on the season). SG is Minnesota’s weakest position defensively and Kevin Martin particularly struggles with guards who can penetrate, which Blake can do. With a $4,800 salary, Blake is the one backcourt player to consider. Although, since this is Blake’s first game back in almost two months and that his 31.9 minutes accumulated with a lot of the other Lakers backcourt players hurt, I don’t think he will get that many tonight. He’s a 50/50 start, but not for GPP.
Jodie Meeks has been getting around 40 minutes per game, but you can certainly expect that to come down tonight. Wesley Johnson, Nick Young and Shawne Williams could all still be part of the rotation. At $5,700 and mostly reliant on scoring for production, I wouldn’t go for it.
I don’t think you can go with any Lakers backcourt players other than Blake for tonight. We simply have no idea how the bench minutes will go between Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar. Too many of the players are capable of playing PG/SG or SG/SF. D’Antoni has had no problem giving bench players more minutes in the past. He’s likely starting Nash because that’s who the Lakers will be using moving forward and he wants to at least start getting more continuity with his guys. Blake is the best player to start at the 2 without Kobe Bryant and Marshall isn’t a guy to play at the 2. Plus, if the Lakers are in the game in the second half, D’Antoni will play whichever players are playing the best. He’s had a history of that this season.
Oddly enough, the Lakers’ frontcourt situation is likely a more predictable situation, but it’s still not easy. Kelly starts at PF with Jordan Hill backing him up, and Robert Sacre is at center with Chris Kaman off the bench. Here’s the problem – in the three games Gasol missed, the Lakers have used three different combinations in the frontcourt. Those are Hill-Kaman, Williams-Kaman (Sacre, Kelly and Hill all played off the bench) and Williams-Hill. Basically, Williams can play the 3 or the 4.
With Gasol out, who has been on a monstrous terror, the Lakers need to play their best frontcourt player in terms of scoring. But they also need someone to stop Kevin Love, which seems impossible with the way they’ve been playing (I can’t stress enough how much Kevin Love is a must-start tonight btw).
The problem is, those don’t mix. I think Kelly is the Lakers’ best offensive post player. I get that sounds inaccurate on the surface, but when he isn’t acting as a role player setting screens for Marshall and Gasol, he provides the best diversity in terms of scoring. But he is an awful defender. Hill is the best defender and rebounder, although his defense still isn’t very good. Even though Sacre is starting, I don’t think he gets very many minutes (maybe even under 10). With Nikola Pekovic out and Ronny Turiaf not much of a scorer, size won’t be as necessary tonight.
Kelly at $3,600 and Hill at $4,300 are the two picks from the Lakers frontcourt, but only one of them should be used and only in GPP formats. Kelly is the better pick between the two given that he’s been playing a lot of minutes the past month and he’s a little bit cheaper. However, Hill won’t get nearly as many starts and is more of a sleeper pick to get a double-double tonight. If playing Kelly means you can start Love as well with your other picks, then do it.
Again, this is a tough situation to diagnose. It’s more about playing the predicting and probability game in terms of minutes since this specific group of available players hasn’t happened yet. It makes it even harder with D’Antoni’s tactics.
But at least we have starters to go off of, tendencies and we’ve seen everyone play at some point.
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