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Fantasy: Which NBA Injuries Are Worrisome?

Basketball Insiders takes a look at the more concerning injuries to hit fantasy contributors early on this season.

Susan Bible

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The 2014-15 NBA season hasn’t even reached the end of one full week and already fantasy owners are groaning over injuries.

Seasoned owners analyze the injury status of desired players prior to draft day, weighing the damage of missed games against the benefit of eventual return. Of course, some are no-brainers. Kevin Durant (foot surgery) wasn’t among the top two picks in most leagues this season, but he didn’t fall far in the first round. No return date has been provided for the reigning MVP, but he’s projected to return in December. Even Steve Nash was a gamble despite the gushing eyewitness reports all summer of his healthy return. Those who drafted Nash were sorely disappointed when he was officially ruled out for the year (back pain) just five days before the season started.

On the other hand, some players who were expected to miss games (Rajon Rondo, for one) delighted owners with his surprise start on opening day. For owners of Marcus Smart, well, they were not so delighted. And on the opposite end, we have rookie Julius Randle who suffered a broken leg in the Los Angeles Lakers’ opener and will miss the entire season. You can’t anticipate events like that.

Injuries are maddening to fantasy owners, but it’s an unavoidable part of the game. Without question, injuries are tricky to manage as decisions must be made quickly when news breaks. Do you stash, run to the waiver wire or propose a trade? You have to determine who will get more minutes because of injury and what could happen if said benefactor plays so well that the returning player doesn’t return to his previous numbers. Trying to master it all is what makes this game so fun and so very addicting.

Ideally, owners draft healthy players or those projected to return to 100 percent health in the very near future, and then hope for the best. An injury-free season is rarely the case, but experienced fantasy owners know the importance of staying on top of injuries on a daily basis.

There are a number of solid players who were drafted yet aren’t scheduled to take the court for some time. We’ll focus on some of these players recovering from injury and what their absence could mean to your season.

As always, when we talk fantasy basketball here, it is based on nine-category fantasy scoring leagues that account for points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made, turnovers, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.

Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder
What’s in the water in Oklahoma City? When a camp invitee – Lance Thomas – averages 25.0 minutes in the first three games of a new season, you know something is terribly wrong. The injuries just won’t stop for this team. The season started without the services of Durant, Anthony Morrow (sprained MCL), Mitch McGary (fractured foot), Reggie Jackson (twisted ankle) and Jeremy Lamb (back sprain). Now Westbrook is sidelined after breaking the second metacarpal of his shooting hand. He just had surgery and will be re-evaluated in four weeks, so his official return remains unknown at this point. With a player of Westbrook’s caliber, fantasy owners will keep him benched. Don’t lose sight of the fact this fantasy season is early. He may end up returning around the same time Durant returns, which allows plenty of time for these two to post those valuable numbers. In the meantime, take a look at Perry Jones if you can afford to drop a player on your roster. Jones responded very well in the game in which Westbrook went down, posting a career-high 32 points with seven rebounds, three assists and three three-pointers. In addition, he went 9-of-11 in free throws and 10-of-17 in field goals. Note: this writer grabbed Jones off the waiver wire following that outing and has no regrets.

Victor Oladipo  – Orlando Magic
Anyone with a heart has got to feel bad for Oladipo. Instead of embarking on a projected fantasy breakout second season, he’s at home recuperating from surgery to repair a facial fracture sustained in practice just a few days before the season started. This occurred on the heels of a sprained MCL suffered on the fourth day of training camp. The facial injury required insertion of a metal plate and screws just below his eye. Oladipo has significant swelling and can’t begin to think about any type of conditioning program until he’s off pain medication. As a result, his return date is undetermined yet some are predicting he could take the court by early December. Fantasy owners were expecting an improved Oladipo with his 20-pound weight loss and attention to mid-range jumpers in the offseason. He’s a player who can contribute meaningfully in multiple categories. Last season he averaged 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 steals while shooting 41.9 percent from the field. When he does return to the court, he’ll possibly be wearing a protective face mask and a knee brace.

Jodie Meeks- Detroit Pistons
Detroit was thrilled to have landed their main target, guard Jodie Meeks, in free agency in the offseason. Playing for the Lakers last year, Meeks averaged a career-high 15.7 points, with 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.1 in three-pointers. When a CT scan revealed a lower back stress reaction after experiencing spasms in the preseason, he was ruled out for the next eight weeks. Coach Stan Van Gundy is perplexed as to how the injury occurred since he suffered no discernable hit or fall. Now it appears Meeks will miss 22 games. Van Gundy had been singing his praises with his ability to score in bunches, come off screens and draw fouls. He was expected to play significant minutes, perhaps even a starting role. With rehabilitation and rest, Meeks is projected to make a full recovery.

Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards
Fantasy owners were pumped to see how Beal would perform this season, starting alongside of John Wall to comprise one of the league’s top starting backcourt duos. Unfortunately, Beal suffered a non-displaced wrist fracture during a preseason game. He had surgery and should return around Thanksgiving. He’s keeping a positive attitude, thankful the injury wasn’t ligament-related and noting the injury was to his non-shooting hand. Beal’s cast has been removed and he’s putting up one-handed free throws at practice. The 21-year-old shooting guard was expected to take a greater leap than the already-impressive one he made last season. He averaged 17.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 turnovers, 1.9 in three-pointers (40.2 percent) and 41.9 percent in field goal shooting. He’s a fantasy dream with his ability to contribute across the board.

Brook Lopez – Brooklyn Nets
When Lopez is healthy, he’s among the top offensive centers in this league. When he’s not – which has been the case of late – he’s frustrating to owners. He appeared in just 17 games last season as a starter, averaging 20.7 points, 1.8 blocks and 6.0 rebounds in 31.4 minutes. Right now, his return date is a mystery though he says he may try to play this week. Coach Lionel Hollins recently said he’s abandoned feeling optimistic about Lopez due to missed practices. This is certainly not music to any fantasy owner’s ears. Lopez, 7’0, has evidently suffered a setback (nagging pain) in his recovery from a soft tissue injury to his surgically-repaired right foot. Again, not the words we want to hear. Recall he played in only five games in 2011-12 because of a fractured right foot which required surgery. He then had corrective surgery in 2013, and he re-injured it last year which required two procedures during one surgery, followed by left ankle surgery. Big men and recurring foot problems? This is definitely worrisome.

Nick Young – Los Angeles Lakers
Young had to undergo surgery in early October after tearing a ligament in his right thumb in a training camp workout. The timetable for return is approximately eight weeks although coach Byron Scott estimated 5-7 weeks. His cast has been removed, so perhaps we’ll see him in late November. The Lakers can sure use his help; they’ve begun the season with a 0-4 record, which is the worst start since 1957 when the team was in Minneapolis. Young got a tremendous opportunity in his first season with the Lakers while Kobe Bryant was sidelined and was rewarded with a multi-year contract. He caught the attention of many in his role off the bench, logging career-highs and team-highs in points (17.9) and three-pointers (2.1) in 28.3 minutes. Young is poised for a breakout year in a sixth-man role.

George Hill – Indiana Pacers

Hill’s knee injury will keep him sidelined a minimum of two more weeks.

Jose Calderon – New York Knicks

Shane Larkin is stepping in for the injured Calderon (calf). He will miss at least another two weeks.

Michael Carter-Williams – Philadelphia 76ers

A shoulder injury has kept Carter-Williams off the floor. He’s expected to participate in a full practice later this week, so keep fingers crossed.

Patty Mills – San Antonio Spurs

After undergoing rotator cuff surgery in July, Mills is not expected back in action until January.

Anthony Morrow – Oklahoma City Thunder

Morrow won’t play with his new team for about five weeks due to a sprained MCL. His teammate, rookie Mitch McGary, is sidelined another six weeks with a foot fracture.

Vitor Faverani – Boston Celtics

Faverani (knee) won’t return until possibly early December.

Damien Inglis – Milwaukee Bucks

A foot fracture will keep Inglis from making his NBA debut for at least another five weeks.

We hope this information will be helpful to you as strategies are planned in your fantasy basketball league. Just keep on top of injury news and set your rosters accordingly.

Which injuries are you most concerned about so far? Tell us in the comments section below.

Susan Bible covers the Oklahoma City Thunder for Basketball Insiders and writes about all NBA teams. She is a Senior Newslines Editor and contributes to fantasy basketball coverage.

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Draft Kings

DraftKings Preview: Best Value Plays 4/13

Cody Taylor shares his list of top bargain players (under $6,000) on DraftKings tonight.

Cody Taylor

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Each Wednesday, we help you build your DraftKings lineups for the upcoming night of action. The point of these articles is to highlight relatively cheap players who are poised to do well given their recent success and upcoming matchup.

Tonight features 14 games on the schedule as most teams wrap up their regular season. With nearly every team in action tonight, you will have plenty of options when building your DraftKings rosters. Everyone wants superstar players in their lineup, but in order to afford those players, you’ll need some of these value plays on your squad as well.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to enter our DraftKings league before 7 p.m. ET tonight. It’s FREE for new users! Here are six bargain players to keep an eye on tonight – all of whom will cost you less than $6,000:

PG: Seth Curry, Sacramento Kings – $5,000

With the Kings shutting down five of their top scorers for the rest of the season, look for Curry to continue to see plenty of playing time. Curry is coming off of his best game in the NBA in which he recorded 20 points, 15 assists, three rebounds and three steals on Monday night against the Phoenix Suns.

Curry’s career night was good for 54.3 fantasy points. Since March 25, Curry has seen a much bigger role with the Kings as he’s averaging 28.7 minutes per game after playing sparingly before that. He’s averaging 15.7 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from three-point range during that time frame.

Honorable Mention: Tim Frazier – $5,900

SG: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers – $5,000

Before you laugh at this selection, consider what we know going into Bryant’s last game. It’s been reported that Lakers head coach Byron Scott plans on letting Bryant play as much as he wants and Scott stated on the record that he’s instructing other players to “get KB the ball.” Knowing the type of player that Bryant is, he’ll want to play big minutes and go out with an impressive performance. Field goal percentage isn’t factored in for DraftKings’ scoring system, so Bryant can shoot it as much as he wants without negatively impacting your team.

He has flashed some vintage Kobe performances a couple of times already this month, as he dropped 35 points on the Houston Rockets on Sunday and he scored 34 points against the Boston Celtics back on April 3. The Utah Jazz desperately need a win tonight (as well as a Houston loss against Sacramento in order to make the playoffs), and Bryant would love nothing more to player spoiler one last time in front of the home crowd at Staples Center. It’s also worth noting that Utah will be without their defensive anchor Rudy Gobert. This is the final time you can have Kobe in your lineup and he may be a steal at $5,000.

Honorable Mention: Evan Fournier – $5,100

SF: Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks – $5,100

Bazemore has been arguably one of the best fantasy players over his last four games for the Hawks. Over this stretch, Bazemore is averaging 17 points, eight rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game, which has translated to 41 fantasy points per game.

Bazemore has proven this season that he can contribute on both ends of the floor and make his presence felt in a variety of ways. On April 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he scored only seven points, but added 12 rebounds, six assists and three blocks, which was good for 36.5 fantasy points. The Hawks should continue to play their starters with playoff seeding on the line heading into the final night of action.

Honorable Mention: Maurice Harkless – $4,600

PF: Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets – $5,300

Williams is another starter who you can count on playing since the Hornets are still fighting for playoff seeding. Some of the league’s best players could be getting some rest tonight with playoff positions already locked up, but Williams seems likely to play as he normally would.

Williams has been very consistent over his last six outings, as he’s scored at least 24 fantasy points in each of those games. The Hornets are up against the Orlando Magic tonight, and Williams went off for 26 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a block the last time the Hornets and the Magic faced off on March 16.

Honorable Mention: Jabari Parker – $5,900

C: Mason Plumlee, Portland Trail Blazers – $4,700

Plumlee has been very productive over the past several weeks. Since March 1, Plumlee has scored fewer than 20 fantasy points just twice (in a span of 21 games). He’s a guy who comes in at price lower than $5,000 and he seems likely to give you at least 20 fantasy points.

He has proven that he can do a little bit of everything, as he’s averaging 12.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals in five games during the month of April.

Honorable Mention: Jonas Valanciunas – $5,000

UTIL: Toney Douglas, New Orleans Pelicans – $5,500

The Pelicans have been ready for the offseason for quite some time now given all of the injuries they have endured this season. Douglas has been a direct beneficiary of those injuries, starting in 17 out of the Pelicans’ last 18 games.

Douglas has turned in four-straight outings with at least 30 fantasy points and has been one of the team’s leading scorers in each of those games. Look for that production to continue as the Pelicans face off against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that ranks 26th against opposing point guards.

If you are taking our advice tonight, let me know how your team did by reaching out to me on Twitter, @CodyTaylorNBA.

*****

We encourage you to give these players a look as you build your starting lineups for tonight. Here are contests you can enter now:

Sharpshooter:
– Last chance to play before the playoffs start
– Prove your NBA knowledge
– Make every game more exciting
– FREE for new users
– Must join by Wednesday, April 13th at 8:00 pm EST
– Salary cap style drafting: $50,000 to select PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F and Utility

Giant Double Up:
– Last chance to play before the playoffs start
– Prove your NBA knowledge
– Make every game more exciting
– Must join by Wednesday, April 13th at 8:00pm EST
– Salary cap style drafting: $50,000 to select PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F and Utility

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Draft Kings

DraftKings Preview: Best Value Plays 4/6

Who are the best value players on DraftKings? Cody Taylor gives his top options cheaper than $6,000.

Cody Taylor

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Wednesday in the NBA is typically one of the busiest nights of the week as most teams are in action. There are eight games set to tip off tonight, leaving you with plenty of options when building your DraftKings lineups.

The key to winning in DraftKings is having some cheaper players on your rosters who will perform well and allow you to afford players like James Harden, Kemba Walker and Paul George (among others). We’re here to help you set your lineups by highlighting several cheaper players who seem poised to do well given their recent success or upcoming matchup.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to enter our DraftKings league before 7 p.m. ET tonight. It is FREE for new users! Click here to draft your team. Here are six bargain players to keep an eye on tonight – all of whom will cost you less than $6,000:

PG: Tim Frazier, New Orleans Pelicans – $4,600

Frazier seems like a safe bet to have in your lineup for the remainder of the season. The Pelicans have been battered by injuries this season, and Frazier will be relied on heavily. Frazier began the season with the Portland Trail Blazers, but averaged less than eight minutes per game — he’s averaging 28.1 minutes in 11 games with the Pelicans.

Frazier has proven that, when given an opportunity to play extended minutes, he can contribute all across the board. He’s averaging 13.5 points, 6.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game during his brief stint in New Orleans, which has translated to 30 fantasy points per game. He’s been on a tear lately, as he’s averaging 37.9 fantasy points over his last four outings.

Honorable Mention: Shane Larkin – $4,300

SG: Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic – $4,500

Fournier should be a player you can count on for at least 20 fantasy points or so. Outside of a few players like James Harden, Victor Oladipo and C.J. McCollum, there are really not a lot of the top names in action tonight at shooting guard, so this may be where you opt to go cheaper.

Since the beginning of March, Fournier has been a consistent fantasy option as he’s scored fewer than 20 fantasy points only four times (in a span of 17 games). He’s shown that he can get hot as well as he recorded 22 points, three assists and two rebounds on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Honorable Mention: James Ennis – $3,500

SF: Maurice Harkless, Portland Trail Blazers – $4,100

Harkless is another player who has greatly benefited from an increased role. After playing sparingly for most of the season, Harkless has started the past eight games in a row for the Blazers and has been a solid fantasy option in the starting lineup.

Harkless is coming off of his best fantasy performance of the season after recording 20 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, two assists and two steals last night for the Blazers, which was good for 48.5 fantasy points. In 11 games as a starter, Harkless is averaging 13.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and nearly one block per game. During his current stretch as a starter, he’s averaging 29.1 fantasy points per game.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Hamilton – $4,200

PF: Thomas Robinson, Brooklyn Nets – $4,700

We’re seeing many teams having to go with some of their deeper role players and Robinson fits that bill. He’s seen a huge spike in playing time over the past week or so as he’s earned the start in three out of the Nets’ last four games. He’s averaging 13.3 points and 12.3 rebounds during that stretch, which has been good for 36 fantasy points per game.

Robinson is a good candidate to earn the bonus points DraftKings hands out for double-doubles as he’s turned in four-straight double-double performances. It seems like a safe bet to continue to ride with Robinson in your lineups until he cools off. With just five games remaining for the Nets, keep Robinson on your radar as the regular season winds down.

Honorable Mention: Markieff Morris – $5,300

C: Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets – $4,200

Zeller has been playing very well over the past week or so for the Hornets. He’s turned in four-straight outings with at least 20 fantasy points, including back-to-back performances with over 30 points last week.

He turned in one of his better all around performances of the season on Sunday, recording eight points, six rebounds and five steals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. With several of the top centers in action tonight, you may want to slide Zeller into your utility spot.

Honorable Mention: Mason Plumlee – $4,400

UTIL: Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic – $5,600

Payton has been playing better in recent weeks after having an up-and-down season. Payton has scored at least 25 fantasy points in each of his last seven games. During that stretch, Payton recorded his first triple-double of the year, scoring 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, which was good for 53.5 fantasy points.

Given his ability to rebound and distribute the ball, he can go off on any given night and come close to notching another triple-double. If you are in need of a utility player or another guard, Payton could be your guy.

 

If you are taking our advice tonight, let me know how your team did by reaching out to me on Twitter, @CodyTaylorNBA.

 

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Draft Kings

DraftKings Preview: Best Value Plays 3/30

Who are the best bargain plays on DraftKings? Here are a number of guys cheaper than $6,000 to play.

Cody Taylor

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Wednesday in the NBA is typically one of the busiest nights of the week as most teams are in action. There are nine games set to tip off tonight, leaving you with plenty of options when building your DraftKings lineups.

The key to winning in DraftKings is having some cheaper players on your rosters who will perform well and allow you to afford players like Stephen Curry, Hassan Whiteside and Kawhi Leonard among others. We’re here to help you set your lineups by highlighting several players who seem poised to do well given their recent success or upcoming matchup.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to enter our DraftKings league before 7 p.m. ET tonight. It is $3 to play (or FREE for new users) and it has a $10,000 first-place prize (and a $100,000 total prize pool). Click here to draft your team. Here are six bargain players to keep an eye on tonight – all of whom will cost you less than $6,000:

PG: Toney Douglas, New Orleans Pelicans – $4,900

It seems as though just about any player you can get your hands on from the Pelicans could be a safe bet. The team announced on Tuesday that Jrue Holiday and Alonzo Gee will miss the rest of the season, which leaves the team with seven players on the injured reserve out for the rest of the year.

Douglas comes in as a solid option for you tonight and he won’t break your budget. In his increased role, he’s become a very reliable fantasy option as he’s scored at least 20 fantasy points in 10 out of his last 11 outings. If you’re looking for a cheap option at point guard, Douglas could be your guy.

Honorable Mention: Shelvin Mack – $6,000

SG: Josh Richardson, Miami HEAT – $4,700

Richardson has benefited from an increased role with the team in recent weeks. His minutes per game have increased from 15.7 in January to a season-high 29.1 minutes per game in March. He’s averaging 12.8 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists during the month of March.

He earned his second start of the season for Miami on Monday against the Brooklyn Nets in place of a sick Goran Dragic. Richardson would be in line to earn the start again tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers if Dragic can’t go, but Richardson should still be a great option for you even if Dragic does play. Miami has Dragic listed as questionable for tonight’s game, so keep an eye on his status closer to tip off.

Honorable Mention: J.J. Redick – $4,700

SF: Mirza Teletovic, Phoenix Suns – $4,700

With only a couple of the top small forwards in action tonight, Teletovic could be an option for you if you want to go cheaper here in order to save of your money for some other players. Teletovic and the Suns face off against a Milwaukee Bucks team that ranks 29th against opposing small forwards.

He’s been a reliable option over the past week or so as he’s turned in five-straight outings with at least 20 fantasy points. During that stretch, Teletovic has averaged 15 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Suns.

Honorable Mention: Matt Barnes – $5,300

PF: JaMychal Green, Memphis Grizzlies – $5,000

Green is another guy to target tonight on a very favorable matchup against a Denver Nuggets team that ranks 28th against opposing power forwards. Green has proven that he can contribute big games, as he’s turned in some performances with over 20 points for the Grizzlies.

There are a lot of the top power forwards in action tonight, so Green may be a guy you want to put in your forward or utility slots. The Grizzlies have been decimated by injuries this season so Green will have plenty of opportunities during games to contribute.

Honorable Mention: Patrick Patterson – $3,900

C: Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors – $5,100

Valanciunas has put together a solid week of performances as he’s scored at least 20 fantasy points in four-straight games. He’s a prime candidate to earn the bonus points DraftKings hands out for double-doubles as he’s recorded 19 double-doubles this season.

Valanciunas faces a great matchup tonight as the Atlanta Hawks are the fourth-worst team in the league against opposing centers. He could be a great option for your team as a utility player as well.

Honorable Mention: Bismack Biyombo – $4,300

UTIL: D.J. Augustin, Denver Nuggets – $4,700

If you took our advice on Augustin last week, he turned in a solid outing for you. Last week against the Philadelphia 76ers, Augustin recorded 22 fantasy points after having nine points, five assists, two assists and two steals for the Nuggets.

After that outing, he turned in performances with 39.8 and 41.5 fantasy points. If you are in need of a cheap utility guy, Augustin could be your guy since he’s been playing so well as of late.

If you are taking our advice tonight, let me know how your team did by reaching out to me on Twitter, @CodyTaylorNBA.

*****

We encourage you to give these players a look as you build your starting lineups for tonight. Here are two contests you can enter tonight:

$100,000 Hot Shot:
– Make every shot and rebound more exciting
– $10,000 first-place prize and a $100,000 prize pool
– $3 to play or FREE for new users
– Must join by Wednesday, March 30th at 7:30pm EST
– Salary cap style drafting: $50,000 to select PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F and Utility

$5 Double Up:
– Make every shot and rebound more exciting
– $5 to play – finish in the top half of the contest and you double your money for a $10 prize
– Must join by Wednesday, March 30th at 7:30pm EST
– Salary cap style drafting: $50,000 to select PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F and Utility

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