Black Friday came a week early this year.
It seemed like any given night in the NBA this past Friday. Unfortunately for hoops fans, it was a night that saw not one, not two, but three all-star caliber players go down with an injury.
Derrick Rose, fresh off an 18-month hiatus to heal a torn left ACL, now has a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. He had surgery to repair it on Monday, and will miss the remainder of the season. Infinite bummer.
Marc Gasol, one of fantasy’s best C options, suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain of his left knee. Thankfully it wasn’t a tear and he won’t require surgery. A timetable for his return should become clearer in the next few days and he’s considered to be out indefinitely for the time being.
Andre Iguodala, in the midst of a fantastic first season with the Golden State Warriors, strained his left hamstring on Friday night. The degree of the strain has yet to be announced, but thankfully he won’t need surgery. He is also out indefinitely.
Whatever we’ve done to bother the basketball gods, we should repent indefinitely.
A great number of you have to scramble to fill the voids left by losing an early-round talent for an undefined amount of time. Some incredibly unfortunate owners might even have to replace two to three injured players.
Our own Mark Berenbaum owns all three of Rose, Gasol, and Iggy in his most important league. He describes the feeling as, “A mix of selfish depression for my team, and sadness for the players.” I would’ve cursed a lot more than that if it had been me, but I respect him for taking the high road.
In an attempt to help you all resolve any depression or sadness you might be feeling, this week’s installment will be focused on adds or buys that could help you ease the pain of losing Rose or to stay afloat while you stash Gasol and Iggy (neither are considered droppable until the “indefinitely” tag is clarified).
Add Harrison Barnes
With Iggy out for the foreseeable future, Harrison Barnes figures to be the immediate beneficiary. In the playoffs last year, Barnes came into his own with averages of 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.6 threes per game. People started getting excited about his potential for the following year and looked forward to a Warriors perimeter of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Barnes for years to come.
That plan changed slightly when the Warriors were able to add Andre Iguodala during the offseason. It was obviously a great add by the Dubs, but one couldn’t help but wonder what the move would do to the confidence and development of Barnes.
He missed some time to start this year with toe inflammation and he was inconsistent as he adjusted to his new role in the first few games back. In his last six games, however, he has topped double-digit points and hit at least one three per contest, regardless of if he came of the bench (three games) or started (three games, replacing Stephen Curry and Iguodala).
During the last four games, he has really taken off with averages of 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 threes in 41.8 minutes per game. On top of that, he’s shooting a blistering .531 from the field and .800 from three (not a typo). He is a valuable player worth owning in standard leagues when coming off the bench, but he’s a must own player as a starter. Without any firm idea of Iggy’s return date, Barnes shouldn’t be on a single waiver wire.
Add Kosta Koufos / Monitor Ed Davis
Replacing Gasol’s all-around fantasy lines will be difficult, but the Grizzlies will be giving extra minutes to Kosta Koufos and Ed Davis, both of whom make for decent pickups.
Kosta Koufos is most likely to slide into the role of starting C, a position which he held and maintained for 81 games with the Nuggets last year. Despite being a starter, he still had to fight with JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried, and Timofey Mozgov for time on the floor in a crowded frontcourt and only averaged 22.4 minutes per game as a result. Because of that, his averages of 8.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, while solid, hardly jump off the page.
Extrapolate those numbers over starter minutes, however, and you’ll see the potential for big things in a now-thin Grizzlies frontline. Koufos’ career per-36 numbers are 12.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 1.9 blocks. His career .545 shooting from the field doesn’t hurt either. He has never averaged more minutes than last year’s 22.4, but the need will likely be there to do so now.
Ed Davis will also have to absorb a lot of minutes backing up both Zach Randolph and Koufos. Davis hasn’t done very much this year in 12.3 minutes per game, averaging a forgettable 3.4 points and 3.1 rebounds. For a better sample of what he can do when given decent minutes, there was a two-month period through December and January last year when Davis averaged 29.5 minutes for the Raptors.
During that time, he put up a respectable 12.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.0 block while shooting .542 from the field. If he gets similar minutes over this next stretch with the Grizzlies, he will get the opportunity to put up similar numbers. He’s not a must add player just yet, but he’s worth putting on your watch list to see how this new frontcourt situation in Memphis develops.
Add Mike Dunleavy / Kirk Hinrich
To go along with Rose being out for the season, Jimmy Butler is expected to miss two to three weeks with a sprained toe in his right foot. While the Bulls backcourt is down two starters, Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich will both see an increased role and are worth a look.
In his last three games as a starter, Dunleavy has averaged 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.0 threes, shooting .577 from the field and .462 from downtown. He’s hit at least one shot from deep in his last 10 games and is a great add for someone in need of points, threes, or a boost in percentages.
Hinrich is no stranger to the starting PG job in Chicago, as he started all 60 games he played in last year while Rose was sidelined. His numbers weren’t spectacular at 7.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.2 threes, but they were serviceable. In his first game starting for Derrick Rose on Sunday, he put up 9 points, 2 rebounds, 7 assists, and a three. I wouldn’t run to pick him up, but he should see an increase in productivity on a depleted Bulls team and is worth an add for a team desperate to find a PG.
Buy Wesley Matthews
Wesley Matthews is often forgotten as Portland’s fourth option behind LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and Nicolas Batum. He was even left off this year’s all-star ballot, representing what was arguably one of its biggest snubs. He’s playing like he has a total chip on his shoulder and is worthy of our attention. He’s so hot right now, I hear the NBA Jam announcer yell “He’s heating up!” or “He’s on fire!” in my head every time Wes swishes one from downtown.
On the season, Matthews is averaging 17.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.0 steal, 3.0 threes, and only 1.2 turnovers. That’s good enough for seventh on our NBA Player Rankings, where his nERD (stat explained here) is 15.7. He has hit multiple triples in 12 of his 14 games this season and hasn’t hit fewer than three in his last five outings. He is second in the league in threes made this year with 42 over 14 games. He has increased his average number of threes made per game in each season of his 5-year career. Simply put, he’s killing it from deep.
His current shooting of .568 from the field and .525 from three are well above his career numbers of .449 and .402 respectively. This likely means that a regression will eventually come, but I still don’t believe in selling high at this point. His combination of scoring, steals, rebounds, and threes combined with solid percentages and a low turnover rate make for a great glue guy on any fantasy squad.
He currently leads the league with an offensive rating of 133.9. He is seventh in the Association in win shares, behind such esteemed company as Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Paul George, and LeBron James. He’s doing all this on a 12-2 Blazers team that is turning a lot of heads with its impressive play and Matthews is a big part of the reason why. See if you can steal him from an owner trying to sell high.
Nene has been hampered by injuries at various points in his career and is rarely trusted as a long-term option in fantasy. He has been garnering attention lately, however, with some stellar play in big minutes. He looks healthy, for the time being at least.
In the last five games, Nene has put up sterling numbers, going for 17.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.4 blocks in 36.1 minutes per game. The assists are very good for a PF/C and that kind of all-around production is the kind of thing owners get from bigs like Marc Gasol. Anyone who is reeling from the loss of the big Spaniard should be looking to get Nene on their roster through the waiver wire or a trade. Regardless, he should be owned in all standard leagues while his health holds up.
Sell Andrew Bogut
I love Andrew Bogut as a player. He’s tough, he’s unselfish, he’s a defensive anchor, and his Australian accent is super cool. Unfortunately, he’s been plagued by injuries his whole career, averaging only 55 games played per season in his eight years in the Association. That includes a combined 40 games over his last two seasons.
So far this year, Bogut has played in every single game for the Warriors. Although he started the year playing relatively limited minutes, he has averaged a healthy 34.7 over his last five games. During that time he has been the Aussie we’ve all known and loved, putting up 9.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks, while shooting .550 from the field.
His defensive rating of 94.7 on the season is good for eighth in the league and he’s also eighth in the league in defensive rebound percentage at an impressive 26.8. I’d like to think that he sustains this production, but I’ve been hurt too many times to believe it at this point.
It seems a bit hypocritical to recommend buying injury-proned Nene and selling equally injury-proned Bogut in the same article, but Nene is just a much bigger focal point of the Wizards offence than Bogut is for the Warriors. Nene’s usage rate is 20.3 compared to Bogut’s 13.5. Nene is asked to put up 10.5 shots per game, while Bogut only puts up 5.9 in Golden State’s run-and-gun offence. They could both be broken down by next week, but I trust in Nene a little bit more. While healthy, they’d both make for useful Marc Gasol replacements.
Hold/Buy Jeff Green
Jeff Green returned to the Celtics last year after missing the entire 2011-12 season recovering from heart surgery that threatened his career and his life. The beginning of the season was a bumpy ride, but people were just happy to see that Green had survived the scare and could resume his career. They didn’t really care how well he played, as long as he was out there and was healthy.
In the last month of the season, however, Jeff Green was a bona fide fantasy stud. He started the year on most waiver wires, but was almost universally owned during those last 16 games. He put up averages of 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.0 block, and 1.6 threes on .509 shooting from the floor and was likely a contributor to a good many fantasy championships.
With Rajon Rondo missing time to recover from an ACL repair and the Celtics’ roster effectively gutted after the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn, this was supposed to be the year of Jeff Green. It’s been a bit shaky to start, highlighted most obviously during a recent two-game stretch in which Green went 2 for 13 on his way to averaging 3.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, no steals, 1.0 block, and no threes.
Green’s overall numbers for the season aren’t terrible at first glance, with averages of 15.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.3 threes on .445 shooting from the field and .778 from the line. The problem is that there are stretches, like the aforementioned two games, where he simply disappears entirely. Owners are growing frustrated with Green’s inconsistency and I see a lot of questions about dropping him or throwing him into trades.
He’s only going to be more valuable when Rondo eventually comes back and takes some of the pressure off. I expect Green to return mid-round value on the year with early-round upside. Those who spent a mid-round pick on him should be fine, if they just have patience while he figures out how to be the first option, after spending his whole career being the third or fourth. Hold him if you’ve got him, buy him if you don’t.
Add Tobias Harris
Tobias Harris was in the Magic lineup on Sunday, returning from a preseason ankle injury that had kept him out the entire season. He only played 16 minutes, going for 6 points and 1 rebound.
Don’t let the lackluster line fool you. He’s currently only owned in 62% of Yahoo leagues and he should be owned in far more than that. Coming over in a mid-season trade for J.J. Redick last year, he averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.4 blocks, and 1.0 three in 27 games. That was good enough for 45th on basketballmonster.com’s player rankings for that period.
With the return of Glen “Big Baby” Davis as well this past weekend, some would argue that Harris stands to lose minutes to Davis at PF. The Magic, however, are clearly promoting a youth movement with Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, Victor Oladipo, and Harris at the forefront. It wouldn’t be surprising to see veterans like Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, or Big Baby moved in a deal to free up minutes for youth development. He has a lot of talent and can be a complete nine-category threat when given the minutes. Make sure you pick him up if he’s available.
Add Caron Butler
Let’s face the facts, Caron Butler has been an average fantasy player for a few years now. He started in 78 games for the Clippers last year and put up ho-hum numbers of 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 1.6 threes. He was good for a decent streaming play from time to time, but was rarely worth owning in standard leagues.
This year, he has started in 10 games for a depleted Bucks team and is making some noise early. He’s currently averaging 14.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 2.1 threes. On Friday night, he went nova for 38 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and 4 threes and likely won money for anyone who played him in a daily game.
There’s a decent chance that Butler comes back down to Earth once the Bucks get healthier, but he looks locked into big minutes for now and he should be owned while he’s hot.
Buy/Add Shawn Marion
Shawn Marion is often an afterthought in fantasy basketball. He hasn’t been ranked very high going into drafts in years and his ownership percentage fluctuates greatly as hot new free agents come around.
One thing Marion gives you though is consistency. Last year, he finished the season at 37 on basketballmonster.com’s player ranking system, and he’s up to his old tricks again this year, ranking at 47.
At age 35, he’s still a defensive specialist on the wing and plays a solid 32.2 minutes per game for the Mavs. He’s productive during that time with averages of 12.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 0.9 threes.
The points and rebounds are valuable enough, but players that can give you at least one steal, one block, and one three per game are rare and underrated. In fact, Josh Smith and Rudy Gay are currently the only players in the league that do so, with Marion only a few threes away from being in that club. He’s a good add or trade target if you’ll be without Andre Iguodala for a while.
Add Jared Sullinger
The Celtics’ frontcourt has been a bit of a mess this season. Vitor Faverani, Kelly Olynyk, Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass, and Jared Sullinger have all played minutes at the PF and C positions to varying success. Although Faverani and Olynyk have looked ownable at different times, Sullinger seems to be developing the most big-game potential and steadiness.
Sully was moved into the starting lineup three games ago and has responded with some great numbers. Over that stretch he’s averaging 15.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 0.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks, including a 19-point, 17-rebound outburst against the formidable Spurs frontline on Wednesday night.
His peripherals aren’t very encouraging (1.2 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.6 blocks on the season), but the scoring and rebounding makes him worth a look in standard leagues for people in need of those categories. His conditioning has been questioned in the past, but coach Brad Stevens seems to be intent on developing him and his stock looks to be on the rise.
Add Gerald Green
Last week, I recommended Eric Bledsoe as one of this season’s must-have players. It seems that I have a slight curse when it comes to this, as I’ve recommended buys on Larry Sanders, Derrick Rose, and Bledsoe so far this year, only to have them go down with injuries shortly after posting. No matter. The one and only good thing that comes from injuries to star players is that role players get a chance to prove themselves.
Gerald Green, generally known more for his dunking and cupcakes than playing ability, has gotten two such opportunities this year. First when Goran Dragic missed a few games with various cuts and bruises and now with Bledsoe on the shelf with a shin injury. In the eight games that Green has started, he’s gone off for 17.5 points, 0.9 steals, 0.9 blocks, and a remarkable 3.1 threes.
His rebounding (3.4) and assist (1.9) numbers leave a little to be desired, but any owner in need of scoring or threes should add Green while he’s starting. Bledsoe has claimed to be in quite a bit of pain when walking, so it’s hard to imagine that he’ll come back too quickly. Even if he does, Green has been relatively effective in his bench role as well and has the opportunity to sustain value on a Suns team that is relatively low on talent.