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November 22, 2008
Prospectus Hoops List
November 21, 2008

by Bradford Doolittle

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Inspired by Bob Dylan's XM show, this is theme week at PHL. Each team's comment probes this question: What is the greatest playing time injustice on the roster so far? The rankings follow and there's a new team on top.

RANK (Last Week) Team (Power rating) [ WIN PACE / PYTHAGOREAN PACE / PRESEASON PROJECTION ]

(Statistics through Nov. 20)

1. (8) Detroit Pistons (57.0) [ 54 / 44 / 55 ]
Rankings: NET: 25; OFF: 7; DEF: 25; PACE: 25

I don't know that Michael Curry could really do much better. The minutes of Detroit's starters are up but the reserves haven't played as well as they did last season, so what's a guy to do?

2. (1) Boston Celtics (56.9) [ 69 / 58 / 63 ]
Rankings: NET: 2; OFF: 18; DEF: 2; PACE: 13

It's hard to quibble with Doc Rivers' championship rotation. At the same time, there is one potential problem. Paul Pierce's minutes have climbed to over 38 per game, the most obvious tangible consequence of James Posey's departure. Don't you have to see if Bill Walker can fill some of those minutes?

3. (4) Cleveland Cavaliers (55.9) [ 61 / 61 / 44 ]
Rankings: NET: 9; OFF: 1; DEF: 9; PACE: 24

The top-ranked Cavaliers are a deep squad and Mike Brown has done a fine job administering his roster. At some point, however, Wally Szczerbiak's performance (4.4 WP3K) isn't going to justify his playing time (35 percent of available minutes).

4. (6) Los Angeles Lakers (53.8) [ 73 / 71 / 49 ]
Rankings: NET: 1; OFF: 3; DEF: 1; PACE: 5

What the Lakers have been doing has obviously worked awfully well so far. Phil Jackson probably doesn't want to mess with his rotation too much. However, Jordan Farmar continues to blossom as a top-flight player and even if you want to continue to bring him off the bench, Farmar's share of the minutes should still be higher than Derek Fisher's.

5. (3) Portland Trail Blazers (50.1) [ 47 / 46 / 38 ]
Rankings: NET: 26; OFF: 2; DEF: 26; PACE: 29

Yes, Greg Oden is really coming on, averaging more than 19 points, 14 boards and nearly 5 blocks per 40 minutes. He's also averaging about 7 fouls per 40 minutes and the current arrangement of bringing him off the bench is just fine--in the short term. Of more immediate concern for Nate McMillan, Travis Outlaw is getting 61% of available minutes, but he's playing more like a player who should be getting about 35%.

6. (15) Denver Nuggets (48.9) [ 54 / 48 / 43 ]
Rankings: NET: 5; OFF: 20; DEF: 5; PACE: 7

There is a three-win difference between J.R. Smith and Dahntay Jones, yet Smith is getting just 53% of available minutes. If George Karl wants to bring Smith off the bench, so be it, but he needs to be playing at least 65% of the time.

7. (10) Toronto Raptors (48.9) [ 44 / 38 / 42 ]
Rankings: NET: 14; OFF: 14; DEF: 14; PACE: 22

Jason Kapono ranks 221st out of 242 qualifying players with a 3.7 WP3K, yet he's getting 51 percent of available minutes. With Jamario Moon now coming off the bench, perhaps Sam Mitchell should drop Kapono's minutes a smidgeon.

8. (11) Phoenix Suns (46.7) [ 50 / 45 / 49 ]
Rankings: NET: 18; OFF: 8; DEF: 18; PACE: 14

Goran Dragic is getting more than 14 minutes per game despite a WP3K of 2.7. Why not give Sean Singletary a chance to run the second unit?

9. (2) Atlanta Hawks (45.8) [ 52 / 47 / 38 ]
Rankings: NET: 17; OFF: 4; DEF: 17; PACE: 16

There are some issues here. Some of them have been a consequence of Josh Smith's injury, some of them have not. First, Marvin Williams still is not showing signs of making any sort of leap. He's been outplayed by Maurice Evans, and they're both C- type players right now. More troubling to me, Flip Murray (51% of minutes) is getting much more time than Acie Law (21%), despite a roughly-equal per unit performance. Law is the younger guy and I don't really see the benefit of consigning him to fringe status at this point.

10. (5) New Orleans Hornets (43.9) [ 41 / 44 / 45 ]
Rankings: NET: 20; OFF: 9; DEF: 20; PACE: 30

I wouldn't change much of what Byron Scott is doing. Now that Julian Wright is apparently healthy, I ramp up his court time at the expense of Mo Peterson and/or Rasual Butler.

11. (13) Chicago Bulls (42.4) [ 34 / 32 / 43 ]
Rankings: NET: 13; OFF: 26; DEF: 13; PACE: 4

Tyrus Thomas has quite simply been one of the worst players in the league during the first month of the season. He's still getting 51 percent of available minutes. Vinny del Negro's quandry: Who do you use instead? The Bulls are stuck waiting for Thomas and fellow underachiever Joakim Noah to come around.

12. (22) Dallas Mavericks (42.3) [ 34 / 42 / 51 ]
Rankings: NET: 12; OFF: 17; DEF: 12; PACE: 9

Gerald Green may be finally translating his physical gifts into on-court production. This is already sort of happening in Dallas, but Green needs to soak up all of the minutes he can as the primary backup to wing players Josh Howard and Jason Terry.

13. (9) Indiana Pacers (42.3) [ 41 / 51 / 41 ]
Rankings: NET: 6; OFF: 16; DEF: 6; PACE: 6

Rookie Brandon Rush is getting 41 percent of available minutes despite a #233 ranking in WP3K, but this is a young roster so I have no problem with letting Rush work out his troubles on the court. From a playing time standpoint, the Pacers' core trio is T.J. Ford, Danny Granger (which is fine) and Marquis Daniels (which is troublesome), so they need Rush--or someone else--to develop into a go-to player.

14. (14) Milwaukee Bucks (42.1) [ 31 / 33 / 31 ]
Rankings: NET: 19; OFF: 24; DEF: 19; PACE: 18

This situation will work itself out eventually, but Ramon Sessions has clearly outplayed Luke Ridnour at point guard. Sessions, a second-year player out of Nevada, is one of the NBA's most-improved players and Scott Skiles needs to give him an extended opportunity with the first unit to see what he's got there.

15. (19) Utah Jazz (41.6) [ 54 / 54 / 50 ]
Rankings: NET: 10; OFF: 6; DEF: 10; PACE: 21

Jerry Sloan's rotation has been wrecked by the fact that only six players have been available for all 12 of the Jazz's games and because Deron Williams has been able to play just 11 percent of his available minutes. My biggest qualm with Sloan's player usage is that Jarron Collins' has played 3% of available minutes. It should be zero.

16. (7) Houston Rockets (41.3) [ 47 / 48 / 61 ]
Rankings: NET: 4; OFF: 23; DEF: 4; PACE: 26

If Yao Ming doesn't get right, Houston's in trouble. Alongside him on the front line, however, Rick Adelman needs to sort through the Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry shuffle. Right now, I'd say that Hayes is getting a lot of minutes that should be going to Landry.

17. (23) New Jersey Nets (39.5) [ 32 / 25 / 38 ]
Rankings: NET: 29; OFF: 13; DEF: 29; PACE: 20

I don't know whether Ryan Anderson can play the three, four or five and I don't know if he can guard anyone at any of those positions. Nevertheless, Lawrence Frank has got to find more minutes--and shots--for Anderson. He leads the Nets in WP3K (9.6) but is getting only 28 percent of available minutes. Getting Anderson on the floor in place of Bobby Simmons or Josh Boone could give the Nets' first unit better offensive balance. Devin Harris and Vince Carter both have usage rates over 30 but neither has been overly efficient. As for defense, that's secondary right now for this developing roster.

18. (12) Philadelphia 76ers (38.9) [ 37 / 49 / 38 ]
Rankings: NET: 7; OFF: 21; DEF: 7; PACE: 8

Maurice Cheeks has done a solid job of distributing the minutes so far. Rookie Marreese Speights has actually outplayed Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand on a per-minute basis, but the difference isn't huge and you have to assume that wouldn't be the case if Speights were running with the first unit. It does underscore the need for Dalembert and Brand to pick up their games.

19. (20) Orlando Magic (38.6) [ 59 / 58 / 43 ]
Rankings: NET: 3; OFF: 10; DEF: 3; PACE: 10

Keith Bogans' play has actually warrants some of the minutes he's getting this season, but Mickael Pietrus has been terrific (8.9 WP3K) so his split with Bogans (51% of minutes to 48%, with Pietrus having missed one game) should probably be a little more one-sided.

20. (16) New York Knicks (36.9) [ 44 / 39 / 33 ]
Rankings: NET: 24; OFF: 11; DEF: 24; PACE: 1

For the most part, the Knicks' pro rata playing time is in line with their per unit WP scores. Mike D'Antoni's biggest problem is that he doesn't have enough good players. Anthony Roberson may deserve a little bit more time, probably at the expense of Mardy Collins. By the way, I had asked Stephon Marbury to guest-author this comment, but his assessment of D'Antoni was too far removed from my own.

21. (17) Memphis Grizzlies (35.6) [ 29 / 29 / 19 ]
Rankings: NET: 8; OFF: 27; DEF: 8; PACE: 11

You can't really blame Marc Iavaroni for riding O.J. Mayo so hard. Mayo has been Memphis' best player and is clearly the key to the franchise's future. However, he's never played anywhere close to the number of games in a season that he's going to play in his first NBA campaign, so if he continues to chew up 80% of the minutes at his position, his tongue is going to be dragging on the court by February. It's not like anyone else's play has demanded more court time, but maybe you could forgive Marko Jaric for his contract and give him a little more run.

22. (25) San Antonio Spurs (35.5) [ 37 / 13 / 55 ]
Rankings: NET: 15; OFF: 19; DEF: 15; PACE: 23

With all the Spurs' injury woes, Gregg Popovich's hands are pretty much tied. As long as rookie George Hill is getting a long look as a starter, it might be a good opportunity to give Anthony Tolliver any minutes that would otherwise be going to Kurt Thomas. See what you have in your young players.

23. (18) Miami Heat (35.5) [ 41 / 51 / 35 ]
Rankings: NET: 11; OFF: 5; DEF: 11; PACE: 19

Udonis Haslem, playing the five-spot out of position, hasn't performed well enough to deserve 74% of available minutes. Unfortunately, Eric Spoelstra doesn't really have any options at that position. Mario Chalmers has been outplayed by Chris Quinn, but he fits better alongside Dwyane Wade.

24. (29) Golden State Warriors (34.2) [ 37 / 40 / 35 ]
Rankings: NET: 21; OFF: 15; DEF: 21; PACE: 2

You never know who Don Nelson is going to play from one day to the next. Kelanna Azubuike is playing 73% of the time, but his performance doesn't justify that much run. Marco Bellini has performed well in limited time and deserves more of a look.

25. (21) Charlotte Bobcats (33.5) [ 24 / 24 / 38 ]
Rankings: NET: 22; OFF: 25; DEF: 22; PACE: 28

Larry Brown's problem is that basketball rules dictate that you have to play a five-man lineup at all times, unless you want to go all Norman Dale to make a point, something which I suspect was a lot more effective in Hickory than it would be in Charlotte. Shannon Brown has been terrific (11.7 WP3K in 18% of available minutes) but the last thing the Bobcats need is to work in another wing player. Charlotte is known to be desperately seeking another big man and Brown would be a nice player for an astute GM with a thin bench to target.

26. (27) Sacramento Kings (32.8) [ 31 / 47 / 39 ]
Rankings: NET: 30; OFF: 12; DEF: 30; PACE: 27

You would have hoped that Reggie Theus had some sort of revelation as he watched his young Kings knock off New Orleans on the road Wednesday with rookies Donte Greene and Jason Thompson in the starting lineup and with young players Bobby Brown and Spencer Hawes as the first two players off the bench. The Kings' have a ton of young talent and the less Sacramento fans are subjected to veteran dead weight like Mikki Moore, Bobby Jackson and Kenny Thomas, the better. This is a team that could get better fast and Theus hasn't had Francisco Garcia available yet this season.

27. (24) Los Angeles Clippers (29.6) [ 14 / 15 / 33 ]
Rankings: NET: 23; OFF: 29; DEF: 23; PACE: 12

The Clippers are awful, so why not just play the kids? That includes Eric Gordon at Cuttino Mobley's spot and DeAndre Jordan at Chris Kaman's spot, if Kaman can be traded.

28. (26) Washington Wizards (27.2) [ 9 / 17 / 32 ]
Rankings: NET: 28; OFF: 28; DEF: 28; PACE: 15

All of the Wizards' big players with significant minutes have stunk, so maybe you give Oleksiy Pecherov, whose WP3K is 9.6 in 8% of minutes, an extended look. What Eddie Jordan really needs is Brendan Haywood and Gilbert Arenas to get healthy.

29. (28) Oklahoma City Thunder (24.2) [ 6 / 13 / 23 ]
Rankings: NET: 16; OFF: 30; DEF: 16; PACE: 3

It's inevitable that Russell Westbrook will be installed as the starting point guard and will chew up about 70% of the minutes at that spot. That time is drawing nigh.

30. (30) Minnesota Timberwolves (24.0) [ 16 / 30 / 26 ]
Rankings: NET: 27; OFF: 22; DEF: 27; PACE: 17

Even though Ryan Gomes has actually outplayed Kevin Love so far, I think you still want to see more of the latter than the former. Also, Randy Foye's continuing struggles are a real concern for this franchise. Sebastian Telfair has been playing better and getting more time of late. Telfair is still young enough to emerge as a useful player, but Randy Wittman doesn't want to lose sight of the fact that Foye is his best long-term bet at the point. Also, as per usual, Craig Smith has been underutilized.

Definitions:

Adjusted winning percentage (AWP) = ((home wins x 0.6)+(road wins x 1.4)) / (((home wins x 0.6)+(road wins x 1.4)) + ((home losses x .1.4)+(road losses x 0.6)))

Opponents winning percentage (OWP) = aggregate percentage of games won for each team's opponents, based on the number of times the team has faced that opponent.

Pythagorean winning percentage (PYTH) = uses the basketball-reference formula of Games x (Points scored^14) / ((Points scored^14) + (Points allowed^14))

Power rating = (((PYTH + AWP)/2)*(OWP/.500)) x 82

WP82 = wins produced per 82 games, adjusted for playing time

WP3K = wins produced per 3,000 minutes

RANKINGS: NET = net efficiency ratio; OFF - offensive efficiency; DEF - defensive efficiency; PACE: average possessions per game

Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Bradford by clicking here or click here to see Bradford's other articles.

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