Tag Archives: Jordan Clarkson

The 2016-2017 All-Bizarro Leaders in Minutes

It’s about that time of the year again. It’s time to announce the most important All-NBA squad, a lineup composed of the most unusual players who led a team in time on the floor.

I started this because guys like LeBron James and James Harden are likely to lead their respective teams in total minutes, but there will be players who got a ton of burn on rebuilding teams that need someone, anyone to be a key cog during that phase. There could also be minute eaters on contending teams, an aging player with fresher legs than expected, or one who came back from a devastating injury only to pick up where he left off.

Since 2007, these are not the best All-NBA teams ever. Given the minutes they’ve totaled, maybe they’d log all of them together, 2,000-minute lineups bad enough to get coaching staffs fired, but net top-five picks. The good and bad even themselves out, really. As an example of how these rosters look, below is what 2016’s looked like.

2016 Tm MIN G MPG
Jordan Clarkson LAL 2552 79 32.3
Evan Fournier ORL 2566 79 32.5
Wesley Matthews DAL 2644 78 33.9
Matt Barnes MEM 2190 76 28.8
Anthony Davis NOP 2164 61 35.5

Clarkson received a ton of minutes despite competition in the backcourt in Kobe Bryant, D’Angelo Russell, Louis Williams, and whatever they could get from Marcelo Huertas and Nick Young. Meanwhile, Fournier had a rare, healthy season and appears to be one of the few players to spend a handful of years in Orlando. Davis was a choice for a similar, but more weird reason. He was reasonably healthy on a team with a roster that dropped like flies. Due to his decline in overall scoring efficiency, Matthews may not have completely recovered from a torn Achilles tendon, but is still capable of eating a ton of minutes at a position thin on depth league-wide. And finally, Barnes was a selection because of his age (35 years old) and having his two highest minute totals in his two most recent seasons.

This season was a challenge to find a five-man squad because most stars had great health, fueling an unexpectedly (to me, at least) great regular season. Below were my five picks.

Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic, 2,412 minutes

Payton led the Magic in minutes despite going back-and-forth between starting and coming off the bench, a common theme on this list. It felt unlikely that Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, or Serge Ibaka would rank first because of their minute-crunches up front, but Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier were key cogs, much less tradeable than the frontline or Payton. In particular, there wasn’t a ton of depth behind Fournier until Orlando traded Ibaka for Terrence Ross, but Fournier played 14 less games than Payton and, well, now we’re here.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about Payton. That’s not to say he hasn’t improved. He’s a triple-double candidate with enough minutes, his shot percentages from around the rim to 16 feet have increased each year, and he’s still only 23 years old, but there’s a ceiling for guards who struggle from beyond the arc (27 percent on 2.2 attempts per 36 minutes), don’t draw a ton of fouls (2.7 team fouls and 3.2 free throws per 36), and aren’t freakishly good on defense. It’s hard to find consistency with that player type, especially on a mess of a roster.

Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers, 2,397 minutes

Clarkson makes his second-straight appearance, playing the second-most minutes among players of the last five years who started less than one-fourth of their games. The obstacles to playing time weren’t as stiff this time around. Kobe Bryant retired, Louis Williams’ career year with the Lakers lasted only until the trade deadline, and Nick Young missed 20 games in the best season of his own career.

But a bad team typically mixes in young pieces no matter what, like Tyler Ennis and David Nwaba, and just about any Laker was going to make this list. If it wasn’t Clarkson, it would’ve been Brandon Ingram or someone like Nick Young, second and fifth in total minutes, respectively. This might be the last time Clarkson is in this post anyway. Every summer is obviously important for teams, but it #feels even more so for the Lakers to return to playoff contention, and trading Clarkson and/or another young building block #feels necessary in order to do that.

Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings, 2,063 minutes

If not for the shocking mid-season trade, DeMarcus Cousins would’ve led the Kings in minutes. If not Boogie, it would’ve been Rudy Gay, but a torn Achilles injury sidelined him for the rest of the season and possibly some of 2018.  That left the random assortment remaining, and Collison squeaked by with just over 2,000 minutes. Collison’s one of 30 “active” players who’s averaged 10 or more points per game in each of their first eight seasons. It doesn’t feel like it was already his third season in Sacramento, but who knows if he’ll keep the streak going there as he’s a free agent this summer.

Collison’s also the third guard on this list, but we were thin on candidates this season.

Nik Stauskas, Philadelphia 76ers, 2,188 minutes

Any 76er was going to make this list, but the Stauskas reclamation project topped T.J. McConnell, Dario Saric, and Robert Covington by 50 to 70 minutes. Suddenly, Stauskas’ next contract looks interesting. After a frustrating first couple of seasons, he became a league-average three-point shooter with the help of super-hot shooting from the corners at 48.5 percent. Stauskas could still improve around the rim, 53.6 percent this season when the average is 63, but he’s at least taken about 80 percent of his shots in the most efficient areas of the floor. That should bode well with a healthy Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, or at least one of the two being healthy.

Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets, 2,197 minutes

Chandler rounds out the squad as the tiny-ball center, leading the Nuggets in total minutes despite missing the 2016 season due to hip surgery. In second and third place for Denver was Danilo Gallinari, who’s only played 60 percent of games since 2012, and Jameer Nelson, who is old.

There should be minute shifts next season as Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, Emmanuel Mudiay, Juan Hernangomez, and Jamal Murray enter another year of their rookie contracts. That’s a ton of prospects, but Chandler and Gallinari should still get a ton of play if they stick around and stay healthy. Both offer the versatility and bodies to be modern-day power forwards, but it seems like the Nuggets are also primed for a trade. They’re deep, but too deep.

Honorable mentions: Dennis Schroeder and Tobias Harris.

As usual, hopefully Boris Diaw has 4,000 minutes in him next season.

Minutes and other stats, unless noted otherwise, were from Basketball-Reference. 

The 2015-2016 All-Bizarro Leaders in Minutes

It’s about that time of the year to construct this season’s five-man team made up of unusual players who led their respective team in total minutes, though my last construction of one (or nine, going back to 2006-07) was in late-July instead of May. Whatever. In both situations, the season was already over and that’s all that really matters.

I started this mainly because guys like LeBron James, James Harden, and Jimmy Butler are likely to lead their respective teams in total minutes, but there are also a handful of players each season who are unusual sights at the top. Sometimes teams go into a rebuilding mode and need someone, anyone to be a key cog during that phase. For other teams, an aging player may have fresher legs than expected, and others may see their minutes rise due to injuries and/or depth issues.

For example, below was my 2015 squad:

2015 Tm MIN G MPG
Shane Larkin NYK 1,865 76 24.5
Ben McLemore SAC 2,670 82 32.6
Solomon Hill IND 2,381 82 29.0
Wes Johnson LAL 2,245 76 29.5
Pau Gasol CHI 2,681 78 34.4

Shane Larkin somehow led the Knicks in minutes with just 1,865, which has to be close to the record for least amount of time on the floor to lead a team. Solomon Hill went from 226 minutes during the 2013-14 season to 2,381 partly thanks to the freak leg injury to Paul George between those seasons. Meanwhile, Ben McLemore was one of the main constants for a Kings squad that was a playoff contender through the first five weeks before falling apart without DeMarcus Cousins. Wesley Johnson made the list, though just about any Laker who ended the season as the minutes leader would’ve looked unusual. Rounding out the squad was Pau Gasol, who at 34 years old played nearly 2,700 minutes, the most since logging over 3,000 in 2010-11 and the most minutes per game (34.4) since 2011-12.

So that’s a quick explanation and example of how these teams are formed. I also want to say that while I’ve started to ignore most counting and per game stats, minutes are still valuable to me. An easy example is a look at the Boston Celtics which have Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and Isaiah Thomas all under contract through the 2017-18 season for a combined $20-22 million, but all three provide above-average production for a combined ~95 minutes per game. That’s huge. Above-average production at, thanks to a booming salary cap, below-average salaries for that kind of talent. There will be some contracts next summer paying that much for just one above-average player. The salaries and minute load of that Celtics trio allow them to overpay for minutes at other positions, too, or for shooting off the bench.

Enough about all that, though, and a look into this season’s bizarro minutes squad. Here were my picks:

Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers, 2552 minutes

Not every year gives me a wide variety of players to choose from, but I try to make these teams as realistic as possible with a point guard, a collection of wings, and a center. According to Seth Partnow’s playing time estimates by position, Clarkson played 42 percent of his minutes at point guard, so he’s my choice here.

He beat out C.J. McCollum, Portland’s leader because I thought there would be more in the way of Clarkson with the mix of veterans and rookies in the backcourt. Kobe Bryant, Louis Williams, and even Nick Young would get their minutes, but so would D’Angelo Russell. Clarkson ended up starting every one of the 79 games he appeared in, though, and Bryant played 98 percent of minutes at small forward. Williams played most of his 1,907 minutes at shooting guard, but Young played in only 54 games and saw his minutes per game finally drop below 20.

For McCollum, Portland traded Will Barton in the middle of last season for Arron Afflalo, who was also off the roster before this season got started. Of course, they also let Wesley Matthews go in free agency. A lot more available minutes opened up for McCollum. On a bad team like the Lakers, there were plenty available for Clarkson, too, but also veterans and developing players who needed to get their minutes.

Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic, 2,566 minutes

This spot was a toss-up between Fournier and Gary Harris. The former averaged 28.6 minutes per game in 2014-15, but the Magic had more likely choices to lead their team in minutes this season such as Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton, and Tobias Harris. For Gary Harris, he went from 719 minutes in his rookie campaign to 2,439, but just about any Denver Nugget would’ve made for an unusual leader in minutes including Danilo Gallinari, who averaged just 24 minutes per last season.

Someone on a lottery team has to lead their team in minutes, and I went with Fournier as the most unlikely between the two. Along with the teammates already mentioned, Fournier logged only his second of four seasons of over 70 games played, and it looks like there was something of a ripple effect to his minutes after Harris was traded to Detroit. The total games and minutes from this season should help Fournier this summer when, at just 23 years old, he’ll be looking for a new contract. That new contract feels more terrifying than other major raises in salary, but he shot 40 percent from three, is not a great playmaker but is at least decent, and has trimmed his turnover and foul rates since his time with Denver.

Wesley Matthews, Dallas Mavericks, 2,644 minutes

Matthews returned to NBA action less than eight months after tearing an Achilles tendon, then proceeded to log a minute total and per game rate right in line with the rest of his career. There’s value in that despite his usage rate being the lowest since his rookie season and his true shooting percentage the lowest since the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign. Hopefully 2016-17 brings upticks in three-point percentage (36 percent, down from 39 percent from 2010 to 2015) and around the rim (50 percent, down from 60 percent from 2010 to 2015).

Matt Barnes, Memphis Grizzlies, 2,190 minutes

Barnes is 35 years old, but his two highest minute totals in a season have been in 2015-16 and 2014-15, the latter when he logged 2,271 for the Clippers. This season’s total probably wasn’t what the Grizzlies planned. They cycled through 28 players and stayed afloat despite missing a total of 70 games to Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Zach Randolph. That trio combined for over 7,000 minutes in 2014-15 but about 5,600 this season. Courtney Lee and Jeff Green were also minute eaters, for better or for worse, who are now on the Hornets and Clippers, respectively.

Like Fournier, Barnes will be a free agent this summer, but at 35 his earning potential just isn’t the same. He should be able to make more than he did in 2015-16, though, which was $3.5 million and somehow the most he’s made in a single season. The minutes he’s been able to log should help with that.

Also, Barnes played 362 minutes at power forward. That’s enough to slot him here.

Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans, 2,164 minutes

We need a possible center, so Davis makes the cut. There’s still reason to put him here despite being a top-10 player when healthy. The main one is that Davis logged only 2,164 minutes, which typically shouldn’t be enough to lead a team. Divide that by 75 games, a reasonable amount to get out of at least one player on a team, and that’s 28.9 minutes per game. Unfortunately for New Orleans, the only player to go over that 75-game total was Dante Cunningham, a gluey player and a constant for a team marred by injuries and the Matt Barnes for the Pelicans, or something. I have no idea. I have no idea about anything related to the Pelicans this season…

Honorable Mentions

Marcus Morris, Detroit Pistons, 2,856 minutes

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson seemed more likely to be the Pistons’ leader, but Detroit was top-heavy with their minute totals all season.

Paul George, Indiana Pacers, 2,819 minutes

Because, yeah, freak injuries and stuff. What a comeback.

C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers, 2,780 minutes

As mentioned above, quite a few minutes opened up for him this season, but 2,780 is still, well, a lot. Perfectly fine to swap Clarkson for him.

P.J. Tucker, Phoenix Suns, 2,540 minutes

It was just that kind of season for Phoenix, but Tucker’s 28th in total minutes since the 2013-14 season. Some bizarro names ahead of him are Jeff Green (23rd), Thad Young (21st), and Trevor Ariza (4th).

Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets, 2,439 minutes

Mentioned above and a very reasonable pick, especially after his rookie season when he had FG%/3P%/FT% lines of 30.4/20.4/74.5. Maybe he gets some votes for Most Improved Player?

Maybe I should change my pick from Fournier to Harris. Welp, too late.

Hollis Thompson, Philadelphia 76ers, 2,154 minutes

The Sixers’ leader was probably going to be weird no matter what. For that, Thompson’s penalized and dropped to the honorable mention. Still, he only started 17 games. 

Until next season. Hopefully Boris Diaw has 4,000 minutes in him.

Stats via Basketball-Reference unless noted otherwise.

%d bloggers like this: