With the season just a few days away, I’ll be covering the latest injury news for all those last minute drafters. Guys will be held out of preseason games for various ailments, so don’t overreact to every DNP in the preseason box scores. I can’t cover every NBA injury, but will try to cover the biggest injuries to start the season.
Unless you have been living under a rock over the summer, you have seen Paul George’s gruesome injury. He broke his leg in an US Olympic Team scrimmage. The leg injury has a 12-18 month timetable so George will be out for the entire regular season. He may play in the playoffs, but that doesn’t affect us fantasy players.
In redraft leagues, you don’t draft George. He won’t be playing this season, but should return to form the following year. In dynasty leagues, it gets a little trickier. If your team isn’t competing this year, then definitely invest a mid-round pick on him and stash him for the next season. If you think you can compete this year, get someone else who will play this year.
With George’s injury and Lance Stephenson’s trade to the Charlotte Hornets, there will be a lot of playing time and statistics up for grabs. Larry Bird says that the offense will rely more on George Hill. He’s never been the focal point of the offense so there may be some growing pains, but he’s a solid career shooter (44.8 FG%, 80.8 FT%, and 37.1 3FP%) and with increases in the counting stats, should be a solid mid-round value. He’s suffered a knee contusion, but should be ready to go for the start of the season.
David West is 34, but if George Hill has any trouble with the added pressure, West should see an increase of touches in the post. After averaging 14 points and 6.8 rebounds last season, I could easily see him return to the 17+ ppg and 7+ rpg he’s done for most of his career.
Recent acquisition, Rodney Stuckey, should get a lot of minutes, but will probably only help you with scoring. He’s never been an asset in steals and threes, stats you expect out of your guards, and I don’t see that changing much. He’s also dealing with a sprained right ankle and may not be ready for the start of the regular season.
Outside of Paul George, the biggest offseason injury news belongs to Kevin Durant. He has a Jones fracture in his foot that will keep him out until late November or early December, roughly 20 games of the Thunder’s schedule. Durant had successful surgery on October 16 and will be reevaluated in six weeks.
Now we’re talking about the best fantasy player last year and probably the consensus #1 pick this year, if he were healthy. So where do you draft an injured superstar? I’m seeing him going in the first round of drafts and Yahoo! ADP has him at 4.8, which includes the drafters who drafted him prior to his injury in early October.
I personally won’t be drafting him in the first round in standard leagues, but have no problem grabbing him in the second round. It may take him a little while to get back into the flow of things once he comes back, but he should still provide elite stats for ¾ of the season. In dynasty leagues, you’re still going to keep Durant. He’s young and should be one of the best players for years to come.
This injury directly benefits Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and to a lesser extent, Reggie Jackson. They will be looked upon to take up some of Durant’s touches and points. You’re still drafting Westbrook and Ibaka in the 1st/2nd round, but I would bump up Jackson a little bit and hope to trade him when Durant gets close to returning.
Primed by many for a breakout season, Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal suffered a broken wrist during the preseason. He’ll be out for six to eight weeks to start the season. It may take some time to regain his shooting form, but unlike Durant’s leg injury, Beal should still be in great conditioning shape when he returns. Despite the injury, I’m still investing in Beal to deliver top 40 statistics, when he can be had for a 6th/7th round pick (his current Yahoo! ADP is 65.2).
The main benefactors are John Wall and Paul Pierce. Already an offensive stud, Wall will have the ball in his hands even more. The only downside is that Wall often times tries to do too much when Beal is off the court so an increase in turnovers should be expected.
Pierce is much older and should see the most minutes at the 2/3 in Beal’s absence. However, the Wizards will be trying to save him for their playoff run. As a result, Glen Rice Jr., Otto Porter, and Pierce will be sharing a lot of the playing time. Hopefully Rice Jr. and Porter can improve upon their summer league play and step up in Beal’s and departed Trevor Ariza’s absence. Even as a Wizards fan, those guys are wait and see players for me, but be prepared to pounce on the waiver wire should either start the season strong.
Should we start calling Brook Lopez ‘Broke Lopez?’ The man almost always seems to be hurt with something. After suffering a right foot sprain, he’ll be out two weeks to start the season. If he could stay healthy, he would be one of the top centers in fantasy. The Nets remain optimistic about his return and plan to revolve the offense around him, but he’s dealt with foot injuries in the past and is a player I’m avoiding in drafts.
The only remaining player from the Boston Celtics’ championship big four, Rajon Rondo is recovering from a broken hand. He has yet to participate in a full contact practice, but don’t expect him to miss too much time to start the season. Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley should see plenty of time to start the season and could be in for even more minutes, should Rondo be traded midseason.
Michael Carter-Williams still doesn’t have a timetable for his return from a shoulder injury. With the Sixers in rebuild mode, there won’t be any rush to get MCW back before he is ready. That being said, once he’s back and healthy, he should build on his rookie season and still remains a guy I’m targeting.
Good luck to those drafting this weekend. Feel free to post comments and come back every Friday during the regular season for the latest injury news!