We’ve seen it time and again in this year of NBA action, which has looked more like an episode of “E.R.” wrapped inside a scene from “Grey’s Anatomy” inside Nurse Jackie’s scrubs than it has the FAN-tastic exhibition of athletic excellence constructed by now-ex-commish David Stern.
The injury domino effect has wreaked havoc everywhere in real life, wrecking players’ seasons, sending some teams into tank mode while helping other teams tank.
In the fantasy world, the impact of these boo-boos has been equally killer for some owners and the big ones don’t even need to be listed. You all know ‘em.
Maybe the real story of injuries in the fake world in 2013-2014 is how GOOD they’ve been for some players and certain teams. Where would some fantasy owners be without Laker replacement guards Kendall Marshall and Jodie Meeks? Darren Collison has been pumping some unexpected assists and points into stat sheets for lucky owners ever since Chris Paul went down. And Nikola Vucevic’s many woes have sporadically made Glen Davis relevant while also indirectly opening the door for Tobias Harris to approach his fantasy potential.
Then there’s Rajon Rondo, whose absence all year has made the Boston Celtics even more of a mess of green gunk than they would have been anyway.
But now that Rondo’s back and gradually getting up to regular minutes, things are gelling a little bit, and one of the biggest beneficiaries of that has been Jared Sullinger.
Once Brad Stevens gave up on his dream of a two-headed monster of Vitor Faverani and Kelly Olynyk (seriously, have a look at those mugs and you’re realize that’s more like a nightmare), Sully has been given every chance to succeed, and now he’s succeeding. Dude has had two big games back-to-back, including a 24-17 in a loss on Wednesday against the 76ers and a 21-12-1 in a winning effort against the Magic yesterday before the Toilet Bowl.
[Pause to note Rondo's B-n-B relevance here, as we should remember that he can clean the glass a lil' bit as well. He had six yesterday, and eight in a game last weekend.]
JB has been crushing on Sullinger and his upside all year, and I’m now digging on what he’s been seeing. He might not be a 20-10 stud (yet?), but he looks like a legit double-doubler for the C’s as they try to cobble together something resembling a winning team and not just a collection of some of the weirdest looking dudes available.
Here’s what else I saw in the paint over the past week:
Andrew Bogut – For some reason it’s easy to forget that he was a No. 1 overall pick, and I’m not really sure why. Part of it is that he doesn’t look like one (aging, balding, lumbering Australian guy), but also that he doesn’t necessarily play like one, and that’s not totally a bad thing. He ain’t flashy at all, he’s just a genuine Board-n-Blocker, a guy who doesn’t even care if he scores as long as he piles up a load of the meat and potatoes of stats. Had a 14-17-3 and a 16-17-3 in his last two, and it looks like he’ll be holding up just fine health-wise (knock on hardwood).
Pau Gasol – What’s funnier, that Pau has a strained groin, that he’s most likely faking the strained groin so that the Lakers can work out his trade to the Suns, or the idea of someone doing an MRI on a strained groin? Regardless, if this deal goes down the fantasy ramifications would be extensive: D’Antoni’s Big Man-Go-Round would be less crowded; Gasol might be The Guy in Phoenix; Miles Plumlee and Markieff Morris could take a hit. Keep an eye on La-La Land.
Tyson Chandler – Back to being Tyson Chandler, although yet another minor injury (shoulder) hints that another major one could be just around the corner for the old man.
Marvin Williams – Two straight double-digit rebound games, but no reason to think he’ll do it again next time. Just thinking about a starting lineup featuring both Williams and Richard Jefferson makes me want to never watch basketball again. Free Rudy Gobert! Speaking of which …
Rudy Gobert – Still getting run, but because of the likes of Williams and Jefferson, not enough. Had 7-5-2 against the Warriors on Friday and 5 points and 4 rebounds in his next game against the Clips. He’s still raw but on a crappy team like the Jazz guys like Gobert should be playing, yo.
Larry Sanders – 8.6 rpg, 2.6 bpg over his last three. If you bought low, good on ya. If you still can, I’d do it.
Anthony Davis – He’s been scoring like a guy with the most dominant unibrow on the planet. Not surprising. He’s been cleaning the glass at about 10 per game. Not surprising. He’s blocking, which is also not surprising, but he’s wiping away 7 shots per game in his last three and is averaging 5.5 bpg in his last six, and that’s just wow.
Ronny Turiaf – 7 boards and 5 blocks on Saturday in Atlanta. Use him for the next couple of days and then dump when Nikola Pekovic comes back, which could be sometime this week.
Nikola Vucevic – The other Niiiikola notched a double-double yesterday, and although it looks like he’s got his game straightened out along with his head, I might be looking to sell the Montenegran Madman if I could spare the boards. Something doesn’t feel right about this year.
DeAndre Jordan – Rebounds in his last four games: 14, 20, 17, 18. Like Bogut, an ultimate B-n-B guy. But the fact that he puts up eye-popping rebound and block numbers, and plays for a nouveau-glamour franchise in the Clips, will make some owners overvalue him. Remember that he kills you in FT% and only plays C. And when you trade him, trade him to me please.
Donatas Motiejunas – The Russian’s 13-point, 12-rebound showcase in Dallas last Wednesday gave Rockets GM Daryl Morey the platform to say “we’re not trading him even though everyone is asking about him.” And by everyone, Morey meant Mikhail Prokhorov.
Greg Stiemsma – Deep league special! Averaging 8.6 rpg and 1.6 bpg over his last three even though he only pulled down three rebounds in Saturday’s game against the Bulls. As long as he’s getting time he’ll get you blocks.
Tobias Harris – Plopped out a 13-5 stinker in yesterday’s loss to the Celtics. I mentioned Harris earlier and I think it should be noted that I’m still not a huge fan.
Lance Stephenson – Double-digit rebounds in six of his last eight. Scoring big and getting assists and steals too. That kind of production from a guard slot is the kind of stuff that can win you a title.
Marc Gasol – Only two games with 10 or more boards all year. I know he was hurt for a chunk of the season but that’s a little disturbing. Sell baby sell.
Little Big Man of the Week: Jeremy Lin – We don’t have to tell you what broke out on Saturday in Houston when Jeremy spoke in class and schooled the Cavs backcourt for a triple-double of 15-11-10, throwing in a block for good measure. That followed a 7-board effort in Dallas, and although he’s not a rebounder by any stretch, Lin is active enough to earn this award again.