Fantasy Basketball: The All-More-Minutes Team

RotoWire highlights players that could make a big fantasy impact if they get more playing time.

When given the opportunity, Chris Boucher has proven he can make an impact on both ends of the floor.

The NBA is loaded with talented players, but some haven’t been given enough consistent playing time to become reliable fantasy options. A few could stand out if given added playing time. Let’s discuss some of the best players at each position that we’d like to see more of by naming the “All More Minutes Team.”

Point Guard: Tyus Jones, Memphis Grizzlies

Jones is the idea behind this entire article. He is arguably the best backup point guard in the league and would be starting if he was on several other teams. He had an opportunity to move into a larger role with another team when he was a free agent during the offseason, but he decided to return to the Grizzlies on a two-year contract. With the deal, he remained in a backup role behind Ja Morant.

Morant is the future of the franchise, so there’s no making a case for Jones to play more minutes than him. However, Morant’s attacking, aggressive style of play can open him up to injuries. That’s partly why the Grizzlies likely felt it essential to bring back Jones. He has started four games that Morant has missed this season, averaging 20.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.3 three-pointers. If Morant were to be sidelined for a prolonged stretch, Jones would be a priority add in fantasy.

Honorable Mention: Shake Milton, Immanuel Quickley

Shooting Guard: Jaylen Nowell, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves selected Nowell in the second round of the 2019 Draft. He has had difficulty finding his way onto the floor, never averaging more than 18 minutes per game during any of his first three seasons in the league. Still, there were signs of promise for him last season when he provided 8.5 points, 2.1 assists and 1 three-pointer while shooting 47.5 percent from the field over just 16 minutes per game.

The Timberwolves lost some of their depth during the offseason when they brought over Rudy Gobert from the Jazz. Now they are without Karl-Anthony Towns (calf), who is expected to miss at least four weeks. Nowell has been asked to help pick up some of the scoring slack while also taking on additional playing time. He hasn’t disappointed, providing 19.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.6 three-pointers over the last five games, all while shooting 49.3% from the field. The key was, he averaged 26 minutes per game during that stretch. If he can remain in that role, he has the potential to be a valuable fantasy contributor.

Honorable Mention: Jevon Carter, Malik Monk

Small Forward: Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards

Avdija came to the Wizards with high expectations after being selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2020 Draft. He was eased into the league, logging 23 minutes per game during his rookie campaign. The problem is, he hasn’t taken a step forward in playing time since then. He logged 24 minutes per game last season and has an identical average through 25 games this season.

When Avdija has been given added playing time, he has shown an ability to contribute in multiple areas. For his career, he has averaged 11.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.4 three-pointers over 37 games in which he has logged at least 30 minutes. Playing alongside Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma will likely continue to limit Avdija’s usage rate. Still, Washington doesn’t have much depth at small forward, with the struggling Will Barton and Anthony Gill behind Avdija. If his playing time can tick up to around 30 minutes per game, Avdija could do enough in multiple areas to be worth rostering.

Honorable Mention: AJ Griffin, Jalen Williams

Power Forward: Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors

Boucher has never averaged more than 24 minutes per game in a season during his career. His best season came during the 2020-21 campaign when he provided 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.5 three-pointers over 24 minutes per game while shooting 51.4% from the field. His playing time declined by three minutes per game last season, with the Raptors building one of the league’s deepest groups of frontcourt players.

The Raptors entered this season with the same quality depth at the position, putting a cap on Boucher’s upside. When they were dealing with multiple injuries, he enjoyed a six-game stretch in which he logged 30 minutes per game. During that span, he was spectacular, with averages of 18.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. For the season, he has provided a more modest production of 11.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.8 steals over 23 minutes per game. Boucher signed a three-year contract to remain with the Raptors last offseason, so unless an injury or a trade were to occur, he would likely stay in a limited role. It’s a shame for fantasy managers, given the promise he has shown when given added opportunities.

Honorable Mention: Tari Eason, Brandon Clarke

Center: Nick Richards, Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets have had difficulty finding a center they can build around. They continue to deploy the veteran Mason Plumlee as their starter at the position, but he is likely more valuable as a top backup on a contending team. He hasn’t been a slouch in fantasy, though, providing 9.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists over 28 minutes per game. The Hornets hope that Mark Williams, who was selected with the 15th overall pick of the 2022 Draft, will be their big man of the future.

They also have another intriguing young option in Nick Richards, who was a second-round pick in the 2020 Draft. He has only logged 19 minutes per game, but he has averaged 9.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.7 blocks while shooting 62.2% from the field and 73.0% from the free throw line. Over the 10 games that he has played at least 20 minutes, he has put up 12.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 0.8 blocks.

Of the players on this list, Richards might be the closest to being given more playing time consistently this season. The Hornets have been hit hard by injuries, which has contributed to them posting one of the worst records in the Eastern Conference. Plumlee is not their center of the future, and he will be a free agent after this season. They could trade Plumlee to a contending team or give him fewer minutes down the stretch if they continue to fall down the standings. If either of those scenarios unfolds, Richards would be waiting in the wings for a more significant role.

Honorable Mention: Andre Drummond, Mo Bamba