We start this week’s injury report with some good news. The 76ers welcomed back Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel to the court on Thursday night. MCW immediately contributed, posting a 19/8/5 line off the bench. It was good to see him play 30 minutes in his first game back, and I expect to see him starting soon.
Nerlens Noel came off the bench as well, after missing two games with a sprained ankle. Although the 76ers were glad to have them back, it really didn’t matter. The Mavericks destroyed the 76ers 123-70. The Mavericks scored more points in the first half (73) than the 76ers scored in the entire game!
Now for the bad news: Derrick Rose is hurt again. Rose left Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury late in the 4th quarter. His status for Saturday’s game is up in the air as we await more information. In the games he’s played, Rose looks like his old self. The problem is that he hasn’t played that many games. He’s missed four games already with a pair of sprained ankles. Even if the hamstring injury isn’t serious, expect to see him miss some games here and there. The Bulls are more concerned about Rose’s long term health and having him ready to go for the playoffs.
When Rose doesn’t dress, look for Aaron Brooks to provide value. He’s shown in the past that he can still produce when given the minutes. Brooks has averaged 16 ppg, 6 apg, and 2.75 spg in the four games that Rose has been out. The minutes won’t be consistent, but Brooks will have upside for starters’ minutes off the bench and is a great start in daily salary cap leagues whenever Rose is ailing.
A recurring theme in the comments section last week was the status of Ricky Rubio. He left last Friday’s game against the Orlando Magic with an ankle injury. Fortunately for Rubio and fantasy owners, he did not break his ankle, but instead has a severely sprained ankle. The injury will keep him out of the lineup for the next 7-8 weeks, putting a return somewhere around late December. Rubio is an elite contributor in steals and assists and it will be difficult to replace those stats on the waiver wire.
Most people assumed that the Rubio injury would open the door for backup point guard Mo Williams. However, just because a guy is the backup on the depth chart, doesn’t necessarily mean he is going to get the first crack at minutes. Coach Flip Saunders decided to insert Zach LaVine into the starting lineup, instead of Mo. He prefers to have LaVine surrounded by older veterans in the starting rotation, allowing Williams to run the younger second unit. Hopefully you didn’t rush to add Williams and drop someone more proven.
A rookie, LaVine will be doing a lot of learning on the job. The minutes will be there (30 mpg in two starts), but there is a reason he only saw 5 minutes of court time before Ricky Rubio went down. In two starts, LaVine has put up 13 points, 13 assists, and 9 rebounds on 4/14 shooting from the field. There is definitely some value to be had in the assist department, but he’s only 19 years old and was drafted as a project.
Mo Williams has only seen 18 mpg since Rubio was injured and didn’t do much with those minutes (4 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds in two games). Williams will continue to come off the bench, unless LaVine really struggles, but the Timberwolves are in total rebuild mode so I doubt that will happen. LaVine is the better fantasy player since he’s starting and getting more minutes, but I don’t think either is a must add, except in deep leagues.
The Celtics also received an injury scare to their guard last Friday. Marcus Smart was carted off the court on a stretcher with a leg injury. After undergoing further tests, he was diagnosed with a left ankle sprain and bone bruise. He is expected to be out for the next two to three weeks. Smart was not owned in nearly as many leagues as Rubio, but this injury still affects fantasy leagues.
Avery Bradley will get a slight uptick in minutes, though he was already seeing around 30 minutes a night. Bradley won’t get the assists of your traditional point guard, but will provide solid scoring, steals, and 3 point shooting (15.7 ppg, 1.0 spg, 1.6 3PTM so far this season). Owned in only 59% of leagues, I’d rather pick up Bradley over LaVine or Williams, though Bradley won’t replace Rubio’s stats.
There was some worry that Rajon Rondo might not be ready to start the season. He not only started opening night, but also has been a triple double threat every night. Rondo did miss a game last week to remove a screw from his surgically repaired hand, but should be 100% going forward. More concerning to his fantasy prospects is a trade from the Celtics.
Updating David Lee’s hamstring injury, he will be out at least another week. The MRI he underwent last week revealed that he has an aggravated strained left hamstring. The good news is that Lee was able to test out his leg during Wednesday’s practice. He did some running up and down the court, but is not expected to be evaluated again until next week at the earliest. Owned in 73% of Yahoo leagues, run to pickup Draymond Green off waivers. He continues to start and see 30+ minutes a night while Lee is sidelined. Unlike a lot of injury replacements, Green should have value even when Lee returns.
Portland Trailblazer Nicolas Batum is day to day with a right knee contusion, after banging knees with teammate Robin Lopez. Unfortunately for Batum, that’s the only banging Sideshow Bob does. Batum missed two games on Tuesday and Wednesday, but there isn’t a specific timetable for his return. Allen Crabbe has started in Batum’s place, but isn’t worth picking up. For now, expect Batum to miss another game or two, before returning back to the starting lineup. Given his slow start and injury, now is the perfect time to buy low on Batum. Already averaging 7.7 rpg and 5.7 apg, his 9 ppg will rise. He’s not going to shoot 36% from the field all season.