It’s been a bad couple weeks for big men. A lot of top producing forwards and centers seem to have been bitten by the injury bug around Thanksgiving.
Initially, DeMarcus Cousins was only considered day-to-day with viral meningitis. After missing his 8th straight game, coach Mike Malone was unsure when he would get his big man back. He’s been ruled out for the rest of the weekend, with his playing status in jeopardy for next week.
While Cousins has been out, Reggie Evans has grabbed almost every available rebound. Well not really, but he has had games of 13, 14, and 20 rebounds, while starting for Cousins. Jason Thompson has offered a more balanced increase in production (11 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 2.4 apg in last 5 games), but the biggest beneficiary has been Rudy Gay.
With Cousins declared out for at least the weekend, now is the best time to sell high on Gay. He has a usage rate (total number of possessions per 48 minutes) of 30.2 when Cousins is out, but a 25.3 usage rate when Cousins is playing alongside him. As a result, Gay has increased his scoring, rebounds, and assists with Cousins off the floor. Try to trade him this weekend for a top 20/30 player, before Cousins gets back and steals touches away from him.
Like Cousins, Dwight Howard continues to rack up the DNPs, having missed 11 straight games due to a knee injury. The good news is that Howard was able to take part in most of Tuesday’s practice, before sitting out Wednesday and Thursday’s games. Howard hopes to get in another couple days of practice, with hopes of returning to the lineup on Saturday against the Nuggets.
With Howard potentially returning on Saturday, it will push Tarik Black back to the bench and cut into some of Donatas Motiejunas’ production. DoMo should still have value with Terrence Jones and Kostas Papanikolaou out, but deep league owners should try and package him in a 2-for-1 deal while his value is high.
BREAKING NEWS: Brook Lopez is hurt. Well it’s not really breaking news to owners who have had to deal with his injury history. On Sunday, Lopez was diagnosed with a lower back strain. He has yet to play a full season of basketball since the 2010-11 season, but it appears that Lopez avoided a major injury this time. He’ll be reevaluated early next week, giving us a better timetable for his return.
In the meantime, Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee will see increased minutes. It might be a wise time to invest in Mason Plumlee, who could be in line for even more minutes if the Nets’ found a team stupid enough to take on Lopez’s salary. The Nets have been rumored to be trying to move Lopez, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson.
Plumlee started Wednesday’s game and went 8/8 with 3 blocks in 28 minutes. With starter’s minutes, I could see Mason putting up numbers similar to what his older brother, Miles Plumlee, did last year in Phoenix (8.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg, and 1.1 bpg in 24.6 mpg). It might not be enough for standard leagues, but is something to consider for teams in need of blocks.
Another injury prone big man, Nikola Pekovic, suffered a setback to his ankle and may not return until mid-January. Pek missed 28 games last season with the same ankle injury. Since he has an injury history with his ankles, don’t look to have Pekovic back in your lineup anytime soon. Those who invested in Gorgui Dieng will be happy to have him seeing starter’s minutes well into January. He’s still available in 32% of Yahoo leagues so go grab him, if you haven’t already.
Fellow T-Wolf (what’s the singular version of T-Wolves? T-Wolf? T-Wolve?), Mo Williams has been ruled out for Friday’s game, with no timetable for his return. Williams has been suffering from back spasms, a lingering injury that has also sidelined Carmelo Anthony and Nikola Vucevic in recent weeks. Anthony only missed a few games, while Vucci Mane has been out 5 games and counting. Consider Williams day-to-day for the time being.
With Williams out, Zach LaVine has seen an uptick in minutes. In the four games that Williams has missed, he’s provided 14.5 ppg, 6.75 apg, and 4.25 rpg. Until we hear when Williams will return, LaVine is a fine pickup for teams in need of assists.
David Lee is targeting a return to the court on Monday. Well, we’ve heard that one before. We shall wait and see if that actually comes to fruition, but he’s traveling with the team on their upcoming road trip. Draymond Green continues to do a superb job filling in for Lee, but Lee will cut into Green’s minutes, even if Green remains the starter.
After missing 8 games with a bone bruise, the Suns are hopeful that Isaiah Thomas will return to the lineup on Friday. That’s no guarantee, but is encouraging news for owners.
Tony Wroten did not play on Wednesday against the Hawks, but has a chance to play on Friday. Even if he doesn’t play Friday, Wroten should be back shortly. In the meantime, Alexey Shved will be the backup point guard.
Lastly, Wizards sharp shooter Martell Webster went through his first full practice this season on Thursday, with hopes of returning around Christmas. Webster has been out all season, after surgery to repair a herniated disk in June. Webster was a relevant fantasy player last year, but Rasual Butler has been doing a good job in his role this year. I’m not recommending picking up Webster, but owners who have picked up the red hot Butler, should be aware that Webster might eat into Butler’s production.