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It's just one game. Two at the most.
(DID YOU WATCH THE MIAMI GAME? DERRICK ROSE IS DONE. DONE!)
(MCW! MCW! FROM HERE ON OUT, OCT. 30 WILL BE KNOWN AS MICHAEL CARTER-WEEN!)
Opening week should not be about overreacting in either direction. You don't ditch a promising player with upside because he lays an egg. You don't drop Tim Duncan for Miles Plumlee. You don't drop Dwyane Wade for Alec Burks.
The first week is all about clarity.
After the basketballus interruptus that is the NBA preseason, we get a chance to see what's really on coaches' minds. All of the tinkering, non-committal phrasings and resting of established fantasy producers is at an end.
We can finally start looking at which rotations are fantasy-friendly and which ones could be rife with value-killing timeshares.
What we want are teams with low expectations, short benches and a lack of depth at multiple positions. Preferably in a high-pace system, but we won't be too picky. What we want is a steady diet of playing time with an eye toward long-term stability.
Rotations I Like
PG: Michael Carter-Williams (36 minutes)
SG: James Anderson (35 minutes)
SF: Evan Turner (37 minutes)
PF: Thaddeus Young (34 minutes)
C: Spencer Hawes (29 minutes)
Big minutes off bench: Tony Wroten (23 minutes), Lavoy Allen (17 minutes)
The Sixers may not glitter this season, but this rotation is fantasy gold. No matter how bad a team is projected to be (16.5 wins according to Vegas), they still have to play 82 games. They still have to score 90 to 100 points a night. And in Philadelphia's case, they will only have 8-9 players running out there a night. Not to mention that this is a team engineered to lose.
This isn't a case of players being given long leashes. There are no leashes. MCW can go 0-for-19 in the first half with nine turnovers and instigate a bench-clearing brawl, and he'll still start the second half. Evan Turner can have an off week, or an off month, and he'll still have the green light to fire at will.
Carter-Williams is obviously the flavor of the week, but the Sixers have a couple of other intriguing, under-the-radar prospects in Wroten and Anderson.
Portland Trail Blazers
PG: Damian Lillard (42 minutes)
SG: Wesley Matthews (33 minutes)
SF: Nicolas Batum (37 minutes)
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge (39 minutes)
C: Robin Lopez (33 minutes)
Big minutes off bench: Mo Williams (22 minutes)
C.J. McCollum eventually will make his NBA debut and make things a little crowded at the two, but for now, it's clear skies and big minutes in Rip City (OK, maybe permanently cloudy, rain-saturated skies, but you get my point). For all the talk of the Blazers fortifying and adding depth to the bench, they still ran out five players for more than 33 minutes Wednesday night.
I think Mo Williams eventually will land on the fantasy radar, maybe as soon as Portland's next game. He has the potential to contribute to fantasy teams, even playing 25 to 29 minutes. And Thomas Robinson is still hanging onto some upside if an injury occurs in the frontcourt.
PG: Kyle Lowry (35 minutes)
SG: DeMar DeRozan (40 minutes)
SF: Rudy Gay (34 minutes)
PF: Amir Johnson (24 minutes)
C: Jonas Valanciunas (31 minutes)
Big minutes off bench: Tyler Hansbrough (25 minutes), Landry Fields (18 minutes)
The Raptors are the definition of off the radar. Their international status always seems to diminish them in everyday NBA conversation. Rudy Gay is primed for a full bounceback campaign, and Kyle Lowry is perpetually underrated. But the Raptors also feature three players who could breakout in 2013-14: Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan.
Other promising rotations: Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns
Here are some teams that have some of what we don't want: multiple timeshares, multiple starters older than 35, postseason pressures and deep benches.
PG: Ty Lawson (36 minutes)
SG: Randy Foye (33 minutes)
SF: Wilson Chandler (DNP)
PF: J.J. Hickson (33 minutes)
C: JaVale McGee (10 minutes)
Big minutes off bench: Kenneth Faried (15 minutes), Timofey Mozgov (20 minutes), Andre Miller (21 minutes), Evan Fournier (21 minutes), Nate Robinson (18 minutes), Darrell Arthur (18 minutes)
And don't forget that Danilo Gallinari is coming back by Christmas. When you swap a high-pace coach for a triangle guy, sign multiple new players, employ two wing players who are historically brittle and have McGee as your starting center, you have mixed yourself fantasy guacamole.
I know Faried is entertaining and productive, but we've already seen how Hickson's presence alters his fantasy trajectory. I just don't see him making the jump many anticipate.
PG: Greivis Vasquez (36 minutes)
SG: Marcus Thornton (31 minutes)
SF: John Salmons (27 minutes)
PF: Patrick Patterson (27 minutes)
C: DeMarcus Cousins (39 minutes)
Big minutes off bench: Isaiah Thomas (29 minutes), Ben McLemore (17 minutes), Jason Thompson (17 minutes)
I'm listing the Kings based on past transgressions and a lack of roster overturn. Sacramento was, by far, the most frustrating NBA team last season from a fantasy perspective. Even with new, seemingly more even-keeled coaching, this is a squad with potential for four timeshares, plus a center who is a perpetual suspension risk.
There's talent here that can help fantasy teams, but I don't see any resolution occurring at small forward or power forward this season.
PG: Deron Williams (22 minutes)
SG: Joe Johnson (34 minutes)
SF: Paul Pierce (30 minutes)
PF: Kevin Garnett (26 minutes)
C: Brook Lopez (34 minutes)
Big minutes off bench: Andray Blatche (20 minutes), Alan Anderson (23 minutes), Jason Terry (19 minutes), Andrei Kirilenko (DNP), Shaun Livingston (16 minutes), Reggie Evans (16 minutes)
And Kirilenko won't be back until this weekend. Like the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, this is an older team with a lot of big names already thinking playoffs. Pierce and Garnett are a risk for random DNPs, Williams has ankle issues, Johnson isn't the player he used to be and Kirilenko is always hurt. When someone dangles a Net at you in a trade, tread lightly.
Other less-than-promising rotations: San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat