One of the reasons I prefer fantasy basketball to fantasy football is that in basketball it is much less likely to have your entire season derailed by an injury. That being said, opening night of the 2017-18 NBA season twisted my world view right along with Gordon Hayward’s ankle. Ouch!
It is when these things happen that I am reminded of two famous quotes: “Knowledge is power,” which I saw on a bumper sticker, and “Chaos is a ladder,” words spoken by the scheming Littlefinger in Season 1 of Game of Thrones. An injury can open the door for this year’s waiver wire MVP or at least offer a younger player an opportunity to get more minutes and become fantasy relevant. In order to take advantage you must not only act quickly, but you need to know which players will benefit the most, and that my friend is not easy.
So without further ado, here are the major injuries lingering around the NBA, some suggestions for which replacements to target, and whether you should stash, drop, or use an I.R. spot (if your league allows it):
Miles Plumlee – Strained Right Quad – Late October – Leave on waivers
Even with a healthy Plumlee, Dwayne Dedmon and John Collins are the Hawks big men to own, and both are are a couple of my favorite sleepers. Dedmon does not offer much in the way of offense, but he is perfect for teams in need of rebounds and blocks (he had three blocks in his first game). Collins offers much more offensive upside, evidenced by his 14 points (in just 22 minutes) in his first career game.
Jeremy Lin – Knee – Out for season – Drop
Ever since Linsanity gripped the nation, Jeremy Lin seems to be consistently undervalued. Son, Razzball’s very own basketball guru, was one of the few “experts” who I saw giving Lin the respect he deserves. As a scoring point guard on the league’s fastest paced team, Lin was all set to deliver an outstanding fantasy season. That dream died on Wednesday night as the Harvard grad ruptured his patellar tendon ending his season after just three quarters of play.
At the moment it is a bit murky as to who stands to benefit the most from Lin’s injury. The obvious answer is D’Angelo Russell, who is now locked into a HUGE role for the Nets. I know what you’re thinking, “Dick, Russell is already owned in my league, so this information is about as helpful as a nose plug in a McDonald’s bathroom.” Well don’t worry, there’s more. The immediate beneficiary should be Caris LeVert. He had a solid opener and he was able to put together some nice games last season. The man unfortunately named Spencer Dinwiddie will also get extra run and so will Isaiah Whitehead (who was inactive for game one). LeVert is the add here, but owners needing a guard may also want to check the waiver wire for Terry Rozier, Donovan Mitchell, and, in deeper leagues, J.J. Barea
Gordon Hayward – Demolished Ankle/Leg – Out indefinitely – I.R. or Drop
Hayward’s gruesome ankle injury was the biggest story to come out of a very exciting opening night. Look up the video and images if you have a strong stomach, but basically Hayward’s ankle became possessed, spun around, and vomited pea soup all over Lebron’s ripped Nike jersey. Jaylen Brown becomes a must-add and Jayson Tatum is going to get a lot of run and looked really good. Marcus Morris should get more minutes when he comes back and Marcus Smart is in line to have the best season of his career (if he can consistently make a shot inside the 3-point line). Terry Rozier is a name to keep an eye on in deeper leagues, especially if you need steals. Non-Celtics to look for on waivers include Taurean Prince, Donovan Mitchell, Danny Green, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Marco Belinelli.
Marcus Morris – Knee – Late October – Stash
While Morris works to get back into game shape, he may very well get Wally Pip’d by super rookie Jayson Tatum (who had a double-double in his first game as a pro). Nevertheless, I think Morris is worth a stash in most leagues
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – Personal – Nobody knows, but probably soon – Stash
The team has not released any information about why MKG is away from the team. Jeremy Lamb played well last season when MKG and Batum missed time and he looked really good in the preseason, but this is really only a concern if you are in a deeper league.
Nicolas Batum – Elbow – Thanksgiving-ish – Stash
Batum did not need surgery and the injury is to his non-shooting elbow, so he could possibly meet the low end of his 6-8 week timetable. He is a nice stash if you have an IR spot. Jeremy Lamb averaged 15.2 points, 8.2 boards, and 2.6 assists in five starts last season filling in for Batum and MKG.
Michael Carter-Williams – Knee – End of October – Leave on waivers
MCW is only worth owning if you are collecting letters or making your own Alphabet Soup. Keep an eye on Malik Monk if he is not already owned in your league.
Bobby Portis – Bullying – November 7th – Leave on waivers
Portis has been suspended for 8 games for doing a poor job of helping Nikola Mirotic put in his contact lenses. Lauri Markkanen should be scooped up in most leagues while Denzel Valentine may be worth rostering in deeper leagues.
Nikola Mirotic – Face – End of November – Stash on I.R. or Drop
Pretty sure Bobby Portis will not be getting a Christmas card from Mirotic this year after Portis clocked him at practice sending him to the hospital for facial surgery. Mirotic is probably not worth holding onto outside of really deep leagues.
Isaiah Thomas – Hip – Targeting January – Stash
It is still really unclear when Thomas will actually get back on the court, but if you drafted him (more than likely because he was auto-drafted for you), then you have to stash him. Derrick Rose will play a lot, but he cannot even be counted on to make a team flight. If you own Thomas and need point guard stats to get you through the rest of 2017, then check out the blurb about Jeremy Lin for some suggestions.
Seth Curry – Leg – Could be back October 23rd – Stash
Curry is actually getting pretty close to playing. In the meantime, J.J. Barea and Yogi Ferrell will be picking up most of the slack next to Dennis Smith Jr. (who looks poised for a big rookie year). I will admit it, I am a Barea fan. I seem to own him in between injuries almost every season and he puts up really nice numbers in the 5-10 games he manages to play every year.
Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green – Knee – Questionable for Friday – Stash duh!
Dray was the second biggest injury on opening night, but he and the Dubs seem to have dodged a bullet as the results of his MRI came back negative. He could miss a couple of games since the Warriors really have no need to rush him back, but owners can breathe a sigh of relief. I have learned that if Draymond cannot play, then the Warriors will start rookie Jordan Bell, who looked great off the bench on Tuesday. Bell is someone to keep an eye on for his rebounds, blocks and steals potential, but keep in mind that both Draymond and Andre Iguodala will be back soon. Nick Young could also see some extra minutes and he is coming off a huge game. THRAGNOF!
Andre Iguodala – Back – Targeting October 20th – Stash
Dre should be back on Friday which will reduce the minutes of Nick Young and Patrick McCaw unless Dray is still out of action. Iggy doesn’t light it up in any one category, but he’s capable of helping fantasy teams in most leagues.
Chris Paul – Knee – Day-to-Day – Stash duh!
Paul had to sit out Wednesday’s game to rest his left knee and owners should be prepared for this to be a semi-regular occurrence in back-to-back games. James Harden and Eric Gordon should be set for big games when Paul sits.
Myles Turner – Neck – Questionable for Friday – Stash duh!
Turner is a surprise addition to the injury report after a huge opening game. Apparently he woke up stiff, which normally nothing to be concerned about, except in this case it was his neck. It does not appear to be serious. Turner is going to have tremendous season and should return first round value.
San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard – Quad – Out indefinitely – Stash duh!
Leonard missed the opening game and all he is doing at practice is shooting free throws AKA Shaqtice, so it does not appear that he is anywhere close to returning. Rudy Gay should pick up a few more minutes, but the Spurs want to take it slow with him as well. Danny Green had great first game, so he appears to be the biggest beneficiary of Leonard’s missed time. Green is a nice add in most leagues.
Jason Smith – Shoulder – Day-to-Day – Leave on waivers
Smith makes the injury report because his absence opens up more minutes for Kelly Oubre Jr. who, now in his third season, looks like a potential break-out candidate. I think that Oubre could be one of this year’s waiver wire MVPs, so add accordingly.
Markieff Morris – Groin (ouch) – Early November – Stash I guess
Here is the other Morris brother taking up space on fantasy rosters. Apparently Morris is close to returning to full-contact practice (hopefully he doesn’t misinterpret this like Bobby Portis did), so he may actually be back in early November, beating the original estimate. His return could take some minutes away from Oubre, but I can see the Wizards playing some small-ball lineups with Gortat heading to the bench.