Each Thursday this season, we ask a series of questions to our ESPN NBA reporters to give you their takes on key fantasy subjects.
This week's topics:
Will Larry Nance Jr. start the rest of the way?
Has Clint Capela's role peaked?
Is Emmanuel Mudiay destined for the bench?
Will the Lakers rest Brook Lopez?
Has Russell Westbrook fixed his free throw woes?
This week's contributors are: Dave McMenamin, Tim MacMahon, Ian Begley, Ohm Youngmisuk and Royce Young.
Dave McMenamin: Nance followed up career highs in points (22) and rebounds (15) in his first start with another solid night (13 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists) in his second. More importantly: The Cavs won both games.
As much of a loyalist coach Ty Lue is when it comes to his lineups, if Isaiah Thomas should have taught him anything, it is to just stick with what's winning above all else.
During the past month, Clint Capela's minutes per game average seems to have leveled off at right around 30 MPG. How likely is it that his role will increase down the stretch?
Tim MacMahon: It's been a process for Capela to build up to the point where he can play 30 minutes per game at a maximum effort level. I wouldn't anticipate that he pushes much past that this season.
In three games this month, Emmanuel Mudiay has hit just three of 25 field goal attempts and none of his six free throw attempts. Will the New York Knicks keep riding him as a starter despite the shooting woes?
Ian Begley: Coach Jeff Hornacek suggested earlier this week that he'd consider benching Mudiay and putting Jarrett Jack back in the starting lineup, but I don't see that happening.
The Knicks are prioritizing player development/evaluation over wins and losses at this point. They hope to use the final four weeks of the season to evaluate younger players like Mudiay, which is why he'll probably continue to start and play heavy minutes.
So far, Mudiay has struggled as a Knick. In addition to the numbers above, the third-year guard is shooting just 33 percent in eight games, including 12.5 percent from beyond the arc. In addition, the Knicks have been outscored by 21 points per 100 possessions in Mudiay's 218 minutes on the court.
Considering that Brook Lopez is about to turn 30, is there any risk that the Los Angeles Lakers will limit or shut down their elder statesman to give more minutes to their younger bigs?
Ohm Youngmisuk: I don't think they will shut Lopez down. However, his minutes moving forward could be like or less than what he's been seeing, which is typically starting the game and third quarter but seeing little to no minutes in the fourth.
The Lakers have had a rash of injuries, so Lopez has seen minutes, but the Lakers certainly will also want to keep developing Ivica Zubac.
After struggling most of the season with his free throws, Russell Westbrook has averaged 87.2 FT% since the beginning of February. Is it safe to say he has returned to form?
Royce Young: It seemed like something that would always come around for Westbrook, because it was just too darn odd to begin with. So it would appear safe that Westbrook is back to his solid free throwing self.
Now, his rate of free throw attempts has dropped, with him averaging just 6.6 a game since Dec. 1, which is unusual, but at least when he gets there, he's knocking them down.