Little was known about the severity of LaMarcus Aldridge’s thumb injury when he missed Wednesday’s game. I was texting with Razzball’s own JB about the Blazers and JB voiced his concern that Aldridge would “be out a while.” After undergoing another MRI on Thursday, the Trail Blazers announced that Aldridge would be out 6-8 weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Is JB some sort of psychic? As his college roommate, I can neither confirm nor deny that, but what I do know is that owners will be hard pressed to replace Aldridge in their lineups. He was averaging 23.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 1.2 bpg. Those are some pretty huge shoes to fill.
The Blazers are already shallow in the frontcourt, since Robin Lopez and Joel Freeland are also ailing. As a result, they will use Dorell Wright and Thomas Robinson more at the four. Wright started Wednesday against the Suns (15 points, 5 assists, 3 threes), but then Robinson started Thursday’s game against the Celtics (9 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks). It’s unclear who will start or if coach Terry Stotts will play matchups. Unless someone gets the majority of minutes, Wright and Robinson will eat into each other’s playing time, limiting their fantasy appeal.
To make matters worse, Nicolas Batum left early in the third quarter with a wrist injury. An upcoming MRI this weekend will reveal more information, but this could be even more devastating to the Blazers.
Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Lakers, the Pelicans announced that Jrue Holiday would be out for 2-4 weeks with a stress reaction in his right leg. After missing four straight games due to ankle inflammation, Holiday underwent further testing, which revealed the stress reaction.
While initial reports have Holiday out only 2-4 weeks, owners should note that Holiday had a similar injury last season. Holiday was limited to 34 games, after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in the same leg. There’s no definite information that the injuries are related, but it is something for owners to monitor, if Holiday suffers any setback.
In a season where there has been some dominant point guard play, Jrue Holiday has held his own, averaging 15.2 points and 7.1 assists per game. As a result, the Pelicans and owners will need to find a replacement for Holiday.
Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon will take on more of a role on offense, but both players are owned in the majority of Yahoo leagues, at 88% and 62% respectively. With Evans running the point, Dante Cunningham should start at small forward, but is not worth picking up.
The Pelicans are in need of a point guard, after Holiday’s injury and trading away Austin Rivers. They signed Nate Wolters to a 10-day contract last week. Although he’ll see increased minutes and is the only true point guard on the roster, he’s not worth signing to a 10-day contract to your fantasy roster. Since the Pelicans are only a few games out of a playoff spot, it’s not crazy to think that they’ll make another trade or signing for depth. Either way, Holiday owners should look at whether Jarrett Jack (56% owned), Elfrid Payton (61%), Mo Williams (46%), or Evan Turner (36%) are available in your leagues.
Wednesday wasn’t a good day for Kobe Bryant either. In the Pelicans’ and Lakers’ game, Bryant injured his right shoulder in the second half after a two handed dunk. Bryant sat for a few minutes, before returning and shooting jumpers with his left hand! Coach Byron Scott took Bryant out after that play and remained out for the game.
On Thursday, an MRI exam revealed a tear in the rotator cuff in his right shoulder. The Lakers have sent Bryant back to Los Angeles for further testing. He’ll miss Friday’s game against the Spurs and the team will give an update then.
The Lakers had already begun resting Bryant, in order to preserve him for next season prior to Wednesday’s injury. As a result, Bryant has played in only six of the Lakers’ eleven games in 2015.
We’ll know more about the severity of the injury on Friday, but it’s clear that the Lakers want to be as cautious with Bryant as possible. Wesley Johnson and Wayne Ellington will see increased opportunities. I personally prefer Wesley Johnson for his ability to average close to a three, block, and steal per game, but both should provide some scoring, threes, and rebounds.
Nick Young should also see increased opportunities as well. Swaggy P will have fewer players to share the ball with and could see his numbers rise to last year’s averages. While these guys could be good pickups in your leagues, don’t forget that the Lakers are in full rebuild mode and could trade away any of those guys to contenders.
Held out for 11 straight games, George Hill is questionable to play on Friday. Hill has returned to practice and appears close to returning to the lineup, even if he doesn’t play on Friday. Hopefully he doesn’t suffer any setback this time around.
Deron Williams has begun to make progress with his ribs injury, having taken part in non-contact work this week. Williams is out until at least next Monday, which means that Jarrett Jack will have a couple more starts. Yes, this is the second time I’m mentioning Jack’s name. He’s starting for the Nets and somehow is available in 44% of leagues. He’s averaging 16.2 ppg, 6.4 apg, and 3.4 rpg in the last 5 games. Pick him up already!
Joakim Noah will rejoin the Bulls on their road trip this weekend, but remains questionable with an ankle injury for Friday’s game. Owners of Noah and Taj Gibson should monitor the injury report before inserting either into their starting lineups.
Deep leaguers should be aware that Danilo Gallinari will suit up for Friday’s game against the Celtics. He’s missed the last month with a torn meniscus so the Nuggets will ease him back into the lineup. Don’t run out and get him yet, but he may be worth a pickup, if he can prove he’s healthy and productive.
Fellow Nugget teammate JaVale McGee is also nearing a return. He practiced in full with the team on Thursday, after missing most of January with a sore tibia. While he could return as early as Friday, a better bet is a return on Sunday or Monday. Just like Gallinari, he’s someone to watch once he’s proved he’s healthy. At the very least he’ll be adding to his Shaqtin’ a Fool highlight reel.