The Spurs moved Tiago Splitter into the starting lineup last weekend, highlighting a shift in their lineup usage that, at least on its surface, seems to signal a move back to the more traditional roots of the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich dynasty. Splitter now starts alongside Duncan in an ultra-big lineup that essentially sacrifices floor spacing without negatively affecting their overall offensive dominance as a team.
Splitter has long been a tremendous per-minute player on the offensive side of the ball, averaging 16.4 points per 36 minutes for his career. Any increase in minutes will hopefully bring with it an increase in his Fantasy value, so the question from a Fantasy perspective is whether we can expect a big boost in his minutes moving forward on a deep Spurs roster.
As of Wednesday, the Spurs have already played Splitter and Duncan 127 minutes together on the floor, as compared to just 129 in a full season a year ago. According to NBA.com, the Spurs still light up the scoreboard with this big lineup on the floor, averaging 111.9 points per 100 possessions. The success of that lineup pair in the front court bodes well for Splitter moving forward, as he has seen an increase in playing time as the season has gone along as a result.
Splitter is averaging 22.0 minutes per game in the month of December after averaging just 18.7 through the first month-plus of the season. That total continues to creep up as well, as he is playing 24.5 minutes per game over the last five, while averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds. Splitter's increased production has led to him being added in 19 percent of CBSSports.com leagues over the last week, bringing his overall ownership up to 51 percent.
The fact that the Spurs are enjoying success while Splitter is on the floor with Duncan bodes very well for his ability to remain productive moving forward. Of course, Popovich has been known to make lineup and rotational changes on a whim -- over a six-game stretch last January, Splitter averaged 25.7 minutes per game, before averaging just 19.0 minutes over the next 10.
Splitter has the offensive ability to make an impact off the waiver wire, so his Fantasy value is going to depend on being able to stay in Popovich's good graces. Continue scooping him up.
Most Added Guards
Nick Young, 76ers: Young has been limited to a bit role ever since leaving Washington last season, but he still shows flashes of the ability that can make him an intriguing Fantasy option. His performance last Sunday against the Lakers was a good indication of this ability, as he dropped 30 points on 23 shots while playing 41 minutes. He has been taking on a larger role for the Sixers recently due to the injury to Jrue Holiday, and if every game was like Sunday's he would be a no-brainer pickup on the waiver wire. Unfortunately, he sandwiched a pair of eight-point games around that 30-point effort, which explains why Fantasy owners won't want to rely on him for too much. He is worth a look while Holiday remains out, but be prepared to cut bait once his minutes shrink again.(26 percent owned; +14 percent)
Jarrett Jack, Warriors: Jack is back on one of his hot tears (he has been streaky all season). The Warriors have relied on a small backcourt featuring both Jack and Stephen Curry a lot this season, and they seem to be leaning on Jack more in recent weeks. He is averaging 29.9 minutes per game in the month of December, while putting up 13.6 points and 5.8 assists per game. The Warriors have gone 8-2 in this time, so it is difficult to see them changing course in the near future. Jack ranked eighth among all guards in Fantasy scoring during Fantasy Week 7 and at this point is probably worth owning in all leagues.(76 percent owned; +13 percent)
Jose Calderon, Raptors: There is not much to figure out about Calderon's performance this season. When he starts for the Raptors, he is a must-start Fantasy option. His splits are startling, as he averages 14.1 points and 11.0 assists per game in 11 starts, with just 8.1 points and 4.2 assists off the bench. Most of that can be explained by minute distribution, as he averages 37.0 per game as a starter and 22.0 per game otherwise. Even when Kyle Lowry returns from his current triceps injury, Fantasy owners would be wise to hang on to Calderon. Lowry has missed significant amounts of time in each of the last two games, making Calderon an excellent handcuff option, given his success.(93 percent owned; +12 percent)
Most Added Forwards
Ed Davis, Raptors: Similar to Calderon, Davis has seen his role increase as a result of an injury to one of the Raptors' supposed franchise cornerstones. His success has been decidedly less pronounced, as he has alternated double-figure scoring games over the last five contests. Still, he is averaging 11.6 points and 7.8 rebounds in 29.2 minutes per game, and figures to keep receiving opportunities with Andrea Bargnani out indefinitely with elbow and wrist injuries. Davis is too limited offensively to be worth owning in all Fantasy leagues, but he can be useful against the right matchups in deeper formats. (74 percent owned; +38 percent)
Jared Dudley, Suns: It took them a while, but the Suns finally seem to have realized that Dudley is a better option than Michael Beasley. It is not difficult to see why the Suns would go with Beasley over Dudley, at least to start the season. They invested $18 million into the former No. 2 overall pick last season and he is still an incredibly intriguing physical talent. When compared to Dudley, who can barely jump high enough to dunk in-game, it is not hard to see why the Suns assumed Beasley had more upside. Suns coach Alvin Gentry has leaned more and more on Dudley recently, giving him 37-plus minutes in each of the last four games heading into play Wednesday. Dudley does not have a reputation as a dynamic scorer, but he is still averaging 14.9 points per game in the month of December. Assuming his role is secure, Dudley is worth picking up in most Fantasy formats. (66 percent owned; +37 percent)
Shawn Marion, Mavericks: Marion has battled through some injuries this season, but he has been on fire since returning from his most recent issue. Marion has three double-doubles in the last four games while averaging 14.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game since returning from a groin strain. Marion seems to be at full strength and his minutes are ticking up as a result. He is making up for a slow start that saw him average under double-figures in the month of November. Marion can still fill up the box score, but this is probably the upper limit of his Fantasy value. He is still best left on waivers in many Fantasy formats. (74 percent owned; +18 percent)
Most Added Centers
Spencer Hawes, 76ers: Hawes was an abject disaster in November, scoring in double figures just three times in 15 games while averaging just 6.7 points and 4.7 rebounds. He has turned things around nicely recently, topping double digits in each of the last six games, while seeing an increase in playing time. The Sixers have desperately needed some offense, ranking just 25th in the league in offensive rating, which has helped Hawes see more of the floor. Hawes' Fantasy value cratered during that horrible November, but his production from the center position has been passable recently -- he ranked 16th in Fantasy scoring among centers during Week 7. Hawes can be maddeningly inconsistent, but he still deserves to be owned in more than half of Fantasy leagues, given his current production. (46 percent owned; +8 percent)
Andre Drummond, Pistons: This was not a big week for centers, as none reached double figures in the percentage of leagues in which they were added. If I was going to bet on one center outperforming his current Fantasy ranking for the rest of the season, it might be Drummond, the uber-talented and raw 19-year-old. He is getting more minutes recently and is averaging 7.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game over the last five. He will singlehandedly torpedo your free-throw shooting as teams begin to exploit that weakness in his game, but Drummond's skill demands more playing time on a Pistons team that is largely bereft of ability. Drummond is a fine high-upside candidate on the waiver wire if you have room at the end of your bench. (56 percent owned; +3 percent)