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Fantasy Basketball: Kemba Walker’s Fantasy Owners Will Be Smiling Soon
There are plenty of injuries around The Association. We look at the most important injuries for Fantasy owners, analyzing not only the injured player and when he’ll be back, but who benefits from his absence.
Atlanta Hawks PG Jeff Teague (ankle) was able to return to practice Thursday, and that makes his return look likely for Friday’s game in Philadelphia. If he is able to return either Friday or Saturday and make it through one full game without any setbacks, it will be safe to get him back into the active Fantasy lineup. The temporary value of PGShelvin Mack dries up with Teague’s return, and Mack is only worth retaining in the deepest of Fantasy leagues and long-term formats.
The good news for Brooklyn Nets SF Andrei Kirilenko (calf) is that the MRI on his sore calf was negative, but AK47 remains day-to-day. Fantasy owners in daily leagues with deep rosters will want to reserve him. Those in standard weekly formats can move along, as he shouldn’t be anywhere near your roster.
Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo (knee) is expected to be back in the starting lineup for Sunday’s matinee against the Orlando Magic. He was rested for the second half of a back-to-back, as the Celtics are not taking any chances with their stud point guard. The good news for C’s fans and Rondo’s Fantasy owners is that Rondo will not play again until Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Philadelphia, in a very favorable matchup, and then he will square off against Sacramento at home Friday, Feb. 7, in another favorable game. However, the team has a back-to-back Sunday, Feb. 9, against Dallas, and Monday, Feb. 10, at Milwaukee. It would seem logical that first-year coach Brad Stevens would use Rondo in the more difficult game against the Mavericks, especially at home. That is, if Rondo does indeed sit out a third straight back-to-back situation. They likely could do without Rondo in Milwaukee and still fare well. And after his Wednesday, Feb. 12 game against San Antonio, he’ll have a full week off due to the All-Star break.
The Charlotte Observer reports that Bobcats PG Kemba Walker(ankle) was able to practice Thursday without any restrictions or setbacks. If Walker returns either Friday at L.A. Lakers, or Saturday at Phoenix, it will be safe to get him back into the active Fantasy lineup in all leagues. However, due to unfortunate scheduling, those in standard head-to-head leagues would have Walker for just two games in the upcoming scoring period and then two more games the following week before the All-Star break. Walker’s return splashes cold water on the Fantasy value of PG Ramon Sessions, who is worth keeping in most leagues, but only as a reserve.
In other Charlotte news, PF/C Al Jefferson (shoulder) suffered a shoulder ailment Wednesday, forcing him out of the game briefly. He was able to return after treatment, and seemed upbeat about his status for Friday, but he remains a question mark for the upcoming scoring period until he plays a game or two without any setbacks.
Cleveland Cavaliers C Anderson Varejao (knee) missed Thursday’s game against New York due to a knee injury, and he is a question mark heading into Saturday’s game with Houston. If he is unable to play over the weekend, daily Fantasy owners will find value in big men Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. If Andy cannot play Saturday, he is a risky play for Fantasy owners heading into the new week. It would be a good idea to keep him reserved until he can officially play one full game without any ill-effects of the injury.
Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle told ESPNDallas.com that SF Shawn Marion (shoulder) is “clearly affected” by his shoulder injury. Marion did not practice Thursday, and he is a question mark heading into what would be a favorable matchup against Sacramento Friday. Daily Fantasy owners will want to steer clear of Marion Friday. The tough thing for weekly owners is that the Mavs do not play again until Monday against Cleveland, so if he sits tonight, you have a tough decision to make. The Mavs have four games on the upcoming schedule, but it’s unclear how many Marion will participate. Just to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to reserve him in standard formats if he sits Friday.
Denver Nuggets PG Nate Robinson (knee) has some sort of an anterior cruciate ligament injury, and there are conflicting media reports as to whether it is a sprain or a tear. Either way, it appears Robinson is down for a while, so if you depend upon him for Fantasy purposes, you’ll need to make alternate plans. Also, PG Ty Lawson(shoulder) is nursing a rotator cuff injury to his left shoulder, which is his non-shooting shoulder. However, he is considered a game-time decision for Friday. If he sits, PG Evan Fournier would be a nice addition for daily Fantasy owners.
Houston Rockets SG James Harden (thumb) missed a second straight game Wednesday, and he is a question mark for Saturday against Cleveland. The good news is that he will have two full days to recover. However, he only has one chance to prove his health before the new week. From all indications, it sounds like he is close, so even if he doesn’t play Saturday, Fantasy owners might want to take a chance on him. PG Jeremy Lin continues to benefit nicely from Harden’s absence with extended play, and PG Aaron Brooks is also a decent daily option in deeper formats until Harden officially makes it back.
Los Angeles Lakers PG Steve Nash (back) was able to go full out in practice Thursday, although he is not expected to play Friday. Still, Nash is nearing a return, and if he is available in your Fantasy league, now is the time to stash him away. Swingman Jodie Meeks (foot) has stepped up his game lately, but he is dealing with a sore right foot. The injury was bad enough that he was sent for a MRI, but the good news is that he does not have any kind of stress fracture. Look for Meeks to push through the injury and play Friday against Charlotte. Lastly, while SGJordan Farmar (hamstring) was able to return to practice with contact Thursday, expect him to miss at least another week, and perhaps to sit through the All-Star break just as a precaution.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that C Nikola Pekovic (ankle) had a MRI, which revealed bursitis in his right ankle. He is expected to be sidelined seven to 10 days before being re-evaluated. That’s awfully close to the All-Star break, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see him sit until at least Feb. 19 against Indiana. In the meantime, C Ronny Turiaf has some nice short-term Fantasy appeal.
New Orleans Pelicans PF/C Anthony Davis (finger) dislocated a finger Tuesday, but had the finger popped back into place. He finished the game strong, and indicated he would be fine to play Wednesday. He wasn’t. He missed that game, and is now a legitimate Fantasy concern heading into Saturday’s game against Chicago. If A.D. sits against the Bulls, he is a risky play heading into the new scoring period. However, since the Pelicans have four games on tap, he is a safe Fantasy play in most formats.
New York Knicks PF/C Andrea Bargnani (elbow) is considered out indefinitely due to a torn ligament in his right elbow. If you normally rely upon Bargnani for Fantasy purposes, it is likely a good idea to drop him in most formats.
Oklahoma City Thunder PG Russell Westbrook (knee) remains on track to return after the All-Star break, and Fantasy owners shouldn’t expect to see him sooner than that. Plus, the Thunder is cruising along anyway, crushing the defending champion Miami Heat in their own barn Thursday, so there is no hurry on their part.
Phoenix Suns PG Goran Dragic (elbow) showed no ill-effects of the elbow injury which was bugging him, going for 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting Thursday night in Indiana. Start him in all Fantasy leagues as you normally would.
Sacramento Kings head coach Michael Malone told KXTX TV that PF/C DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) was limited to half-court drills in practice Thursday, and might not play in Friday’s game in Dallas. Cousins has two cracks to return and prove his health this weekend before Fantasy owners have to decide whether to activate him for the upcoming week. On a brighter note, SF Rudy Gay (Achilles’) was able to practice without restrictions Thursday, and he is expected to make his much-anticipated return Friday in Big D. If he plays in Dallas Friday, or San Antonio Saturday, all Fantasy owners can safely plug him back in.
San Antonio Spurs SG Manu Ginobili is expected to miss three to four weeks after an MRI revealed a strained hamstring earlier this week. Head coach Gregg Popovich used G Nando De Colo in the starting lineup Wednesday against Chicago, but it is SG Marco Belinelli that is expected to be the biggest beneficiary from Ginobili’s longer-term injury. De Colo is only worth an add in the deepest of Fantasy formats.
Toronto Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan (ankle) told TSN.ca that he could have played Wednesday, and that is he about “90 percent.” Double D expects to play Friday at Denver. If DeRozan makes it through Friday’s game in Denver, and Saturday’s game in Portland, he’ll be safe play for Fantasy owners in all formats.
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