We’re only but a few games into the 2014-2015 NBA season and we’ve already had a lot injuries to promising young players. Here’s the Week 1 injury update:
After getting an inadvertent elbow to the face in practice, Victor Oladipo is out for the first month of the season with a facial fracture. No injury is a blessing, but the time off will give Oladipo ample time to rest his MCL. He had previously missed games in the preseason due to the sprained MCL in his right knee.
Elfrid Payton will continue to start at point guard, with or without Oladipo in the lineup. There will be some growing pains, but he’s a star in the making. To replace Oladipo at shooting guard, the Magic will rely on Ben Gordon and Evan Fournier. Ben Gordon is coming off of a horrible season, where he averaged 5.2 ppg in 14.7 mpg. His minutes, scoring, and field goal percentages have all declined in the last three years. Now he could have a game or two where he explodes for some threes, like he did against the Wizards on Thursday (22 points on 7-12 shooting), but I wouldn’t count on it and waste a roster spot waiting for those games. He scored only 5 points on 1-8 shooting in the first game. Gone are the days where he is worthy of a fantasy spot.
Traded to the Magic in the Aaron Afflalo trade, Evan Fournier should be the better replacement for Oladipo. He started in the Magic’s first two games of the season, averaging 16 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 3PT FGM in 33 minutes. A first round draft pick in 2012, Fournier is a career 38.3 3PT FG shooter, but hasn’t shown that he can do much else beyond hit threes in his short career. He is much younger than Gordon and should see more playing time, even when Oladipo comes back.
After contending for minutes at shooting guard in the preseason, Maurice Harkless didn’t even play in either game.
One game into the season, and Julius Randle’s rookie campaign is already over. The 7th overall pick in last summer’s draft broke his leg in the 4th quarter in Tuesday’s game versus the Rockets. He went through successful surgery on Wednesday and will be out for the year. Depending on your keeper rules, I would hold onto Randle in dynasty leagues. As James Worthy tweeted, he suffered the same injury his rookie year and turned out fine. Disclaimer: I’m not saying Randle is a future Hall-of-Famer, just that he should be fine next season.
In redraft leagues, you can safely drop Randle and pick up someone. Ed Davis will take over Randle’s role as the first big man off the bench, at least until Ryan Kelly comes back from his hamstring injury. Davis finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks in Tuesday’s game. He could be a fine replacement, but depending on your league, there may be someone with more upside on the waiver wire.
Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill’s roles become even more secure. Carlos Boozer will continue to start at power forward and will provide solid scoring and rebounding numbers, with lots of double doubles. Jordan Hill has the bigger upside because he blocks shots. After the All-Star break last year, Hill averaged 12.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg, and 1.3 bpg in only 24.3 minutes per game. With more minutes – those numbers – especially his rebound and block numbers, could rise.
Continuing the theme of injured young promising players, Bulls shooting guard, Jimmy Butler, was reportedly out 2-4 weeks with a sprained thumb. He was a game-time call for the opener, but you never know with the Bulls’ medical staff.
This is the same staff that cleared Omer Asik to play Game 4 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, despite fracturing his left fibula during Game 3. Another former Bull, Luol Deng, has also voiced his frustration with the Bulls medical staff.
With Butler out, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Kirk Hinrich should see increased time on the court. Dunleavy was starting alongside Butler in the preseason and should continue to do so. He averaged 11/4/2 points/rebounds/assists last year in 31 minutes a game and should continue to post similar lines this year. Thibodeau loves Hinrich for his defense and will be starting him at the two. Hinrich is a better real life player because of his D, but could give some value in deeper leagues.
One of the Miami Heat’s newest members, Josh McRoberts, sat out the home opener against the Wizards due to a toe injury. Last year, he had bone spurs removed from a toe on his left foot. He was expected to be ready for the regular season, but the recovery time has latest past expectations. McRoberts’ return is up in the air, but he should be back in a few games. In the meantime, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen will earn some additional clock.
Coming back from a torn ACL, Danilo Gallinari will begin the season on a minutes restriction. The oft-injured shooter will play no more than 20 minutes a night, no matter how well he’s playing. He played 18 minutes in his first game back. This is obviously frustrating to owners because it will limit his fantasy effectiveness. There’s no word on how long the restriction will continue, but it will probably take a couple weeks for Gallinari to get back up to his career average of 31 minutes a night.
Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb will both miss the first two games of the season, after injuring themselves in practice. Jackson sprained his ankle and Lamb tweaked his back. More will be known in a few days when both players are evaluated after the Thunder return home from their road trip. I wouldn’t worry about these guys, but lesser owned Perry Jones and Andre Roberson will start the first two games.
David Lee (hamstring) and Kawhi Leonard (eye), both sat out their season-opener, but don’t expect them to be out much longer.
[editor’s note] – Russell Westbrook fractured his hand late last night, after this article was completed. We’ll have more information today, but will likely miss 4-6 weeks.
That’s it for this week. Keep the comments coming. I’ll try to read and answer as many as I can. Wishing your players health and good fortune!