As the regular season comes to an end, we’re going to take a look at injuries heading into next season. Even if you’re not playing in a keeper or dynasty league, it’s never too early to begin to think about next season.
Kevin Durant was one of the biggest disappointments in this year’s draft. What makes Durant such a fantasy stud is not only his ability to fill up the stat sheet, but his durability. Prior to this season, KD missed only 16 games over his first seven years in the league. That’s quite a track record for good health.
Heading into this season, Durant was recovering from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The injury wasn’t supposed to be long term (an initial 6-8 week timetable) so Durant was still drafted in the first and second rounds with an ADP of 12. Unfortunately, Durant continued to have recurring pain in his foot, before eventually being shut down in March.
Despite his inability to recover from foot pain this season, KD should be a top five pick heading into next season. What makes me think that he’ll finally get over this injury?
Jones fractures are a common injury to NBA players, as it comes from repeated running, jumping, and twisting of the foot. Tobias Harris suffered the injury in high school and Brandon Jennings had a Jones fracture in 2010. Both players have recovered fully and have not had recurrences.
To address Durant’s Jones fracture, Durant had a screw inserted into his foot prior to the start of the season. The timetable for recovery is 6-8 weeks for this type of surgery.
After the Thunder shut Durant down in the spring, he had a bone graft procedure on March 31 that places cells in the foot to aid with blood flow, which should ultimately help heal the bone. The bone graft procedure is more invasive and requires a longer recovery time, which is why it wasn’t chosen the first time in the fall. Brook Lopez underwent a similar surgery to repair a re-fracture in his foot and has played without problems this season.
The Thunder say that Durant should be out four to six months before returning to full basketball activities. This timeline would put him in prime position to start the 2015-16 season fully healthy. Durant still has a long recovery to go, but based on other player’s rehab, there’s no reason to believe that KD won’t be back and ready to be the fantasy stud he is next season.
Drafted higher than Durant with an ADP of 7.5, Carmelo Anthony also saw his season come to an end early due to recurring knee issues. Had the Knicks been a better team and not in rebuild mode, Anthony would have played through the injury more. Alas, the Knicks were turrrrrible (Charles Barkley voice) and they decided it was best to shut Anthony down for the season shortly after the All-Star break.
Anthony had surgery in February to address the recurring pain and seems to be coming along well in his recovery. Although he isn’t sitting on the bench, he has been rehabbing at Madison Square Garden and even doing light stretching with the team. The Knicks expect Anthony to be able to return to the basketball court in June, which gives him plenty of time to be fully healthy entering next season.
Anthony should be a first or second round pick in next year’s draft. I’m not concerned about his knee issues, but more concerned with his inability to repeat his monstrous 2013-14 season, which saw him average a career high 8.1 rebounds and shoot 40.2% from the 3-point line. That great season helped push Anthony’s ADP in 2014 drafts to 7.5. In 40 games this season, Anthony averaged 6.6 rpg and shot 34% from downtown. Unless the Knicks make improvements in the offseason, I expect next season’s numbers to be closer to this than the 2013-14 season. With a drop in his rebounding and shooting numbers, I’m looking at him as more of an early second rounder than a top 7 pick.
Chris Bosh was ruled out for the season with blood clots, shortly after the All-Star break in February. Bosh is currently in treatment and is expected to begin basketball activity in September, with hopes of being ready for training camp. Blood clots are a very serious and potentially life-threatening illness, if left untreated. The fortunate thing is that doctors were able to catch the blood clots early enough that Bosh should have a full recovery.
With that being said, Bosh’s draft stock for next season should fall from this year’s ADP of 20.5. I traded for him in the 20-team REL Dynasty League and feel that he could have great sleeper potential. More will be known of his recovery in the fall, but right now Bosh should be a mid-round pick with the potential to return top 25 value.
Kobe Bryant was a guy that I was avoiding in all leagues this season. With an ADP of 27.2, I just thought he was too old and too much of an injury risk to be drafted that high. Bryant was limited to 35 games this season, after only playing 6 games the previous season.
When playing this season, Bryant averaged 22.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, and 5.6 apg. Numbers that are definitely valuable, but they also came with 29.3% shooting from downtown and a career-worst 37.3% FG percentage. Just like Carmelo Anthony, Bryant’s percentages suffered due to the lack of other offensive options.
Bryant underwent surgery to repair his torn rotator cuff at the end of January. The Lakers reported that he’ll need 9 months, which should have him ready for the start of the 2015-16 season. Bryant is adamant that he’ll return for next season and is not ready to retire.
At the start of next season, Bryant will be 37 years old. Julius Randle will return from his broken leg, but they’ll need even more guys to step up to take off some of the pressure on Bryant. After 19 seasons and countless playoff games, the wear and tear has taken a toll on him. The Lakers can’t continue playing Bryant almost 35 minutes a night, if they want to keep him healthy. Because of all that, I will not be picking Bryant in the top 50. He definitely has the upside to return top 50 value, but the risk is just too high and I won’t feel comfortable picking him until after the 7-8th rounds.
At the end of January, Brandon Jennings tore his Achilles. It was a huge blow because Jennings was really starting to pick things up after the release of Josh Smith. Drafted on average in the eighth round, Jennings was averaging 20.9 points, 7.2 assists, and 2.5 3PT FGM per game in the month of January.
Jennings has been cleared to start weight training and should be ready for training camp, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever be the same explosive player. In addition to the injury concerns, the Pistons traded for Reggie Jackson at the deadline and he’s been getting very comfortable running the offense, averaging 17.9 ppg, 9.0 apg, and 4.8 rpg as a Piston.
Jackson is a free agent at the end of the season so it’s unclear if the Pistons will resign him. If the Pistons sign Jackson and Jennings isn’t traded, we’re probably looking at Jackson as the starter, with Jennings off the bench. Jennings needs the ball in his hands and is just not a good enough shooter to be an off guard to Jackson.
As of now, Jackson should be a top-50 player, while Jennings would be a late round flyer in standard leagues off the bench. This is a situation to monitor over the offseason because things could change drastically from what we know now.
With an ADP of 48.5, Ricky Rubio was limited to 22 games this season with ankle injuries. Rubio is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery this week to help cleanup his ankle. Hopefully he won’t play for Spain in the European Championships this summer and can be healthy going into next season. Even if that’s the case, Rubio has dealt with a lot of ankle injuries in his short NBA career and worries me for next year. He should be drafted as a mid-round pick, but will be a guy that I try to avoid in drafts.
Derrick Rose has returned from his knee injury and will not be on a minutes restriction heading into the playoffs. Serge Ibaka, on the other hand, is “not close” to returning, even if the Thunder were to grab the 8th seed in the West. Both Ibaka and Rose’s situations are worth monitoring, if they suffer any setbacks in the playoffs.
I hope that your fantasy season ended on a great note. Enjoy the NBA playoffs!