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Bringing The Hammer – A little less often?

If your favorite player is Matt “The Hammer” Carroll and you want to see him play a lot this year, I'll tell you how: Turn on your VCR/DVD Player/DVR and watch games from last season. Specifically, from January of 2007 to the end of March, when Carroll averaged over 30 minutes of action a night during each month. Why? Because, barring injury, he will not be seeing those kind of minutes again this year. This is not meant as a knock on “The Hammer”, it is just a matter of personnel.

To break it down a bit, let's look at this based on available minutes. Matt played mainly at shooting guard last season, but he did see a very limited number of minutes at both the point and small forward. So, there are 3 positions where he is competing for minutes. And who is the competition? Raymond Felton and Jeff McInnis at the point. Felton, McInnis (they were paired together in the backcourt last season, so I can only imagine it will happen again, though hopefully less often), Jason Richardson, and Gerald Wallace at the 2. And then J-Rich, Crash, Adam Morrison, Jared Dudley, and maybe even some of Walter Herrmann at the 3.

With the competitors identified, let us consider their potential minutes per game (and keep a running tally of available minutes – starting at 144).

Player Last Year This Year Minutes Left
Raymond Felton averaged 36.3 mpg (minutes per game, not miles per gallon) last season with Brevin gone, let's assume this goes up to 37 (very few pg's in the NBA average more than this)
Jeff McInnis averaged 18.5 mpg last season, but Brevin averaged 28.3 I'll say 18 this year for McInnis
Jason Richardson averaged 32.8 mpg last season, but 38.4 the season prior stay closer to the low number with 34 as the Bobcats protect their expensive new toy
Gerald Wallace 36.7 last year – why would it go down? Well, with all the money invested in both Carroll and Richardson, they have to play to justify the contracts, so 35 this year, but 8 are spent at power forward (Wallace spent a considerable amount of time there last year, so this may be understated)
Adam Morrison 29.9 for the year, but only 24.1 per game over the last 2 months of the season With Richardson coming in, I say that number goes down further, to 18 per game

At this point, it is already down to 10 minutes per game left and there are still Jared Dudley and Walter vying for minutes along with Matt. Now, there will be injuries and that will allow players to have games where they do get more minutes, but on a night when everyone is available? The Hammer is going to be stuck hitting the pine, and looking at somewhere between 10 and 18 minutes a night, a steep drop from the 26 minutes of burn he got last year.
Is Matt going to surprise us and earn more minutes? Or is he lucky to have gotten paid when he did?