As we gear up for the All-Star break next week, owners should pay extra attention to their daily lineups. Guys that are typically playing through minor injuries could miss a game or two, as teams try to give them some extra rest before heading into the second half of the season.
There are already quite a few guys who have played their last game prior to the All-Star break. Sidelined for the last five games, Rockets’ center Dwight Howard is expected to miss about a month after undergoing a bone marrow injection in is right knee. The Rockets plan to reevaluate him in four weeks, in hopes that his knee responds well to this treatment. Howard just can’t catch a break. He’s only played in 32 of the Rockets’ 49 games this season.
The Rockets frontcourt is very crowded, but Howard’s injury should help alleviate some of the playing time issues. Joey Dorsey and Donatas Motiejunas should continue to start, while Terrence Jones and Josh Smith will see plenty of time off the bench.
Dorsey may be “starting,” but his role on the team doesn’t translate to fantasy. He is the Rockets’ enforcer, like Kendrick Perkins for the Thunder. He sets screens, protects the basket, and picks up a few fouls, but does very little to help fantasy owners.
Motiejunas and Jones, on the other hand, should be picked up off waivers. DoMo has been absolutely on fire in the last five games without Howard, averaging 17.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg, and 1.2 3PTM in 31.2 mpg. He won’t provide much in the defensive department (0.4 bpg and 0.7 spg on the season), but can knock down threes from the center position. Up to 45% ownership in Yahoo, DoMo should be one of the top waiver wire pickups of the week.
After missing nearly three months with a nerve issue in his leg, Jones has finally returned to the Rockets’ roster. Since he missed so much time, it will some games for Jones to get back into the swing of things. Averaging 18.5 minutes in the last four games, his numbers haven’t impressed (6 ppg, 3 rpg, and 1.75 bpg), but he should be a waiver wire add in all leagues due to his upside. He’ll continue to come off the bench for now, but the minutes should rise in the next few weeks.
Another week and another point guard goes down. Rajon Rondo suffered an orbital fracture, after getting kneed in the face by his own teammate. Unfortunately for owners, we don’t have a timetable for his return. He’s supposed to undergo surgery, but his face is apparently too swollen for the procedure. He’s missed the last four games and owners should expect to be without Rondo for at least a few weeks. Victor Oladipo, who also had an orbital fracture, missed a total of 9 games over a few weeks at the beginning of the season and Rondo should have a similar timeline, once he undergoes surgery.
Since Rondo’s game is much different than Monta Ellis’, I don’t expect Ellis’ numbers to change much. J.J. Barea has started the last three games, in Rondo’s place and has put up decently useful numbers. In those starts, he’s averaged 11.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 6 apg. Not a must add by any means, but a cheap source of points and assists for owners in need in those areas.
Devin Harris has also posted similar numbers too, with 10 ppg, 4.3 apg, and 2.0 3PTM in the last three games. He’s dealing with an ankle injury, but should be able to play through the ankle sprain. He’ll be the first guard off the bench for the Mavericks, replacing either Ellis or Barea.
Still dealing with a sprained toe, Kevin Durant is questionable for Friday’s game against the Pelicans. Durant returned to the lineup on January 31, only to sit the next two games, marking his fourth missed game out of the last five. The injury doesn’t sound too serious, but he’s still without a timetable to return.
While Durant is day-to-day, Dion Waiters will continue to start at small forward. He’s put up 24/4 and 12/6 with a few steals and threes in the last two games and remains a decent streamer, should Durant remain out. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Thunder decide to give Durant the rest of the week off, leading up to the All-Star weekend.
Bradley Beal played in only 11 minutes in Thursday’s loss to the Hornets, after exiting with a toe injury. He hurt it on Wednesday (or was just too embarrassed by Mike Scott) and couldn’t play through it on Thursday. Beal said he hopes to play Saturday, but more should be known on Friday after undergoing more tests.
Should Beal miss any time, a combination of Otto Porter, Rasual Butler, and Garrett Temple will see an increase in time at shooting guard. If it’s any indication, Butler saw the most minutes in Thursday’s game, but I would expect the more defensive minded Porter or Temple to get the actual start.
Darren Collison was also limited to 14 minutes in Thursday’s blowout loss to the Mavericks. Collision suffered an abdominal strain in the first half and did not return. The game was a blowout so it may have just been a precaution, but more should be known on Friday when he undergoes an MRI.
Clipper sharp shooter J.J. Redick sat out Thursday’s game with back spasms. The back spasms aren’t considered serious, but could sideline Redick for a few games. Jamal Crawford started in Redick’s place, while Austin Rivers received 22 minutes. The game was a blowout so don’t read too much into Rivers’ 10/5/5 line.
What is the deal with Achilles’ injuries in Detroit? First, Brandon Jennings goes down and now Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has a sore Achilles. KCP had started to pick things up with a 28 and 18-point game prior to Wednesday’s early exit. He’s day-to-day going into the weekend and Jodie Meeks should be the main beneficiary, should KCP miss any more time.
Alex Len left Thursday’s game early in the third quarter, after landing awkwardly on his right ankle. X-rays were negative so it appears that Len avoided major injury. Should he miss any time, Miles Plumlee will see an uptick in minutes.
We finally saw the return of Ricky Rubio on Monday (9.0 ppg, 6.5 apg, and 3 rpg in two games). He may be a little rusty to start, but should provide elite steals and assists in the second half of the season. Zach LaVine has been dealing with an ankle injury, but should play in Friday’s game. Although LaVine won’t lose all of his value, I expect to see LaVine and Mo Williams in a time-share of minutes off the bench, now that Rubio and Kevin Martin are healthy.