- Brian McKitish, Fantasy Basketball
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Thirty teams, 30 burning fantasy questions. Throughout the preseason, we put one of these questions to an ESPN.com analyst for an in-depth look at the most interesting, perplexing or dumbfounding fantasy facet of each NBA team. Be sure to check out the 30 Questions Index to see them all.
You don't have to be a math major to figure out that there are plenty of available minutes for the taking in Orlando this season. The Magic lost three players (Grant Hill and Darko Milicic to free agency and Tony Battie to injury) who averaged a combined 78.7 minutes per game last season, while adding one (Rashard Lewis) who likely will see upwards of 40 minutes per game when healthy and another (Adonal Foyle) who will max out at 20 minutes per game. With Milicic and Battie out of the picture, new coach Stan Van Gundy doesn't have many options to play with in his depleted frontcourt. Unless he wants to hand a ton of minutes to Foyle, Van Gundy will be forced to roll with a small lineup. And that's not the worst thing in the world. The Magic have plenty of shooting guard/small forward types to help make up for their lack of frontcourt depth. Let's meet them, shall we?
Hedo Turkoglu: Turk is expected to see more minutes as a result of Battie's season-ending injury. Sure, Foyle will see some run and block some shots, but he's really only a 15-20 minute-per-game guy. With literally no other options down low, Van Gundy likely will slide Lewis down to the power forward slot, thus opening the door for Turkoglu to see ample minutes at the 3 or even at the 2 if the matchup permits. Hedo has been an underrated fantasy asset for years; he's always forgotten on draft day but still consistently scores 13-15 points per game while drilling 1.5 3-pointers and adding in a steal per game. The nice thing about Turkoglu this season is that he'll still be underrated but might be able to outperform those numbers since he's expected to see an increase in minutes.
Trevor Ariza: I'm not going to lie; of all the young, high-upside players in the league, Ariza is one of my favorites. Ariza looked to be on the verge of a breakout last season with a nice December, in which he averaged 10.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game on 57.8 percent shooting from the field. But he was derailed when a knee injury slowed his progress. Still, it was hard not to notice the youngster's upside when he was on the court. With his long arms and athleticism, Ariza may be the best defender among the group of swingmen at Van Gundy's disposal, and knowing Van Gundy's preference for tough defenders, we could be seeing a lot of Ariza on the court this season. He's not much of a shooter, but he can use his quickness and athleticism to get into the lane and score around the rim. Think of a younger, more athletic version of Ruben Patterson ... and look for Ariza to be on the court more often than not, despite the fact that he may have to play out of position at the 2 spot.
Keith Bogans: Bogans has made a late run at the starting shooting guard gig by soundly outplaying the favorite (J.J. Redick) during preseason action. Bogans is a solid defender, but he's never been much of a fantasy option, even when he's seen quality minutes. The fact that he may be starting means little in the fantasy game, because he's likely to be replaced in-game by the more talented Ariza, or even Redick when the Magic need a boost on offense. Of course, Bogans could have a little value in very deep leagues, but he won't be worth consideration in most formats.
J.J. Redick: After lighting up the Pepsi Pro Summer League to the tune of 19.8 points and 2.0 3-pointers per game, it looked like Redick might have a little sleeper potential heading into this season, especially with the vacancy left by the departure of Grant Hill. Redick, however, has disappointed during preseason action, especially on the defensive end. Unfortunately, the Magic already have enough guys who can score and shoot the 3-ball. What they really need is someone who's going to get after it on the defensive side of the ball. Redick may have some value in deeper leagues at some point this season, but he'll only be a three-category guy with strengths in points, 3s and free-throw percentage.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy baseball and basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Littlemac@TalentedMrRoto.com.
Brian McKitish discusses which player will emerge from a crowded group of shooting guards and small forwards to be valuable this season.