Which Spurs have value when stars sit?
Gregg Popovich made a bold move Thursday night, electing to send Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green home to rest instead of playing their fourth road game in five nights against the Heat. Thus, you shouldn't pay too much mind to Gary Neal's 20 points and seven assists, Nando De Colo's 15 points, six rebounds and five assists, Matt Bonner's 10 boards or essentially any stats the Spurs put up in the 105-100 loss. It does provide a bit of insight about who would benefit if any of the key players succumb to injury. That being said, Neal is the one to keep your eye on, as he'd be excellent if either Parker or Ginobili went down. He already plays a key role off the bench, scored in double figures in his third straight game Thursday, and is averaging 10.9 points and 1.0 3-pointers per game in just 22.9 minutes per game in his supporting role. Overall, Pop has a tendency to rest his aging vets, and the player most likely to be affected by this trend in the future is Duncan, who is averaging 30.7 minutes per game this season compared to last year's 28.2. Don't be surprised if Popovich eases back on Duncan's minutes and gets them more into last season's range, which will slightly affect his resurgent stats, which are his best since 2008-09. As much as I love Duncan and believe in his craftiness, skills and court intelligence, he makes a nice sell-high candidate for the right price, as his minutes will likely be monitored closely and he's outperforming his three-year trends significantly.
• Mario Chalmers' disappointing season continues, as he scored just eight points in 27 minutes and is posting his career-worst 6.8 points and 0.8 3s per game despite starting in all of the Heat's 14 contests. His 4.6 assists per game are the only silver lining to his unimpressive numbers, but with Ray Allen assuming the sharpshooting role Chalmers' once held, his value has diminished significantly and he isn't worth a roster spot in most leagues.
• Harrison Barnes has had a successful start to his NBA career, but I've been harping on the fact that he'll be wildly inconsistent as he adjusts, and Thursday's 2-point, 2-rebound effort exemplifies this. He's struggled lately, with four single-digit efforts in his past seven games after he'd scored in double digits in four straight. He's got nice potential down the road, but doesn't yet have a single category in which he's especially helpful. It's looking like it was a mistake if you dropped a more dependable but less-flashy player for Barnes during his hot streak, and the popular sentiment among analysts that Barnes would have a tumultuous rookie campaign looks to be spot on.
• After his terrible start, Klay Thompson is heating up, as he dropped 16 points with four 3s against the Nuggets, marking his seventh consecutive outing in double figures. His peripherals aren't much, but Thompson can score and drain 3s among the best of them and will likely end up among the league leaders in 3-pointers when all is said and done.
• JaVale McGee once again played fewer than 20 minutes, and although he's had an impact for the Nuggets while on the floor, those hoping for a minutes boost from last season shouldn't hold their breath. He's notched 25 minutes in a game just once this season, and is averaging just 18.9 per game for the season. He's still blocking 1.7 shots per game and would be among the leaders in swats if getting starter's minutes, but that's looking less and less likely unless an injury occurs in the Nuggets' frontcourt. He's still worth a roster spot with those blocks and his high ceiling, but will have to turn things around significantly to live up to his draft day value.
• Rajon Rondo is suspended for Friday's game against the Trail Blazers, so look for Leandro Barbosa to see increased playing time and potentially be a nice spot start. Jason Terry could also see more looks, so make sure he's in your lineup if he's on your squad.
• Daniel Gibson could miss the Cavs' game against the Hawks, and while it was expected he'd pick up some of the slack due to Kyrie Irving's injury, he hasn't been healthy enough to take advantage of the opportunity. Once he's healthy, he's an intriguing option for deeper leagues with Irving out, but for now, look for Jeremy Pargo to continue being the primary beneficiary. Dion Waiters should be set to go despite a finger contusion, so be sure he's in your lineup.
• Mo Williams is expected to return against the Thunder, so even though he'll be rusty shaking off his right foot injury, he's been too effective when on the court not to insert him back into your starting lineup.