FBA: Playing Time

It might not seem like much, but a few minutes can go a long way.

A few minutes means enough time to squeeze off a couple more shots (hopefully a 3), grab another board or two, dish off one more dime and maybe snag one more steal or swat another shot. Within the scope of fantasy basketball, a few minutes can make the difference between a player being a starting candidate or a bench bandalero, or the difference between being roster-worthy or just more free-agent flotsam.

Do not underestimate a few minutes. Depending on the player and depending on the coach and depending on the situation, those few minutes can represent something larger. Like football and baseball and a hundred other sports, playing time often is divvied up based on past and recent performance, matchups, injuries and all the other usual suspects. But more so than many of those other sports, the distribution of playing time can be fickle--and is more crucial. Minutes are used as motivation, and substitution patterns can be a clear indicator of how a coach feels about his team or particular players. And though a three-run homer or a 75-yard scoring run are eminently possible in limited playing time, 20 and 10 generally are not.