In the early part of the NBA season, a lot of injured players seemed to have the timetable of being back around the NBA All-Star break. With the respective All-Star teams named Thursday night, the All-Star Game is right around the corner.
But will the pivotal injured players be able to return to the court to help their teams and Fantasy teams alike?
One injured player who can make a big difference upon returning is Ben Simmons, who could return around the All-Star Game, as reported by ESPN earlier in the week.
How is Simmons going to fit into this offense? Well, Brett Brown continues to talk about the No. 1 overall pick as a point guard. Since lesser talents like T.J. McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez have found success in the Sixers’ backcourt for Fantasy purposes, a fully healthy Simmons should thrive down the Fantasy stretch.
We often talk about Fantasy Football players who can win titles for owners. Well, Simmons is the hoops equivalent to Ty Montgomery or Davante Adams. A big second half from Simmons can benefit Fantasy owners who have either stashed him, are trading for him or claiming him off the waiver wire.
Simmons, too, will be eased back into action, as he’s a rookie coming off a foot injury. But his playmaking abilities make him a must-add option, even if you’re forced to use up a bench spot on him until he’s ready to make his NBA debut.
One injured player has already returned to action as Houston Rockets center Clint Capela returned from a broken fibula, Tuesday against the Heat. Capela has played just 20 combined minutes in his two games back. The Rockets played consecutive games to start the week, so the team expectedly eased him back into action.
In what has been a year of breakout big men – like Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Myles Turner – Capela’s breakout got lost in the shuffle due to his injury.
Now that he’s back on the court, Capela’s minutes and production will continue to trend upward, making him a nice buy-low option with his arrow pointing up. Capela won’t post the same type of Fantasy numbers as the aforementioned bigs, but he will help Fantasy owners in need of blocks and boards
Per ESPN’s Marc Stein, Khris Middleton is expected to return to action for the Milwaukee Bucks before the All-Star break. It’s a miraculous return, considering that Middleton tore his hamstring in September. The Bucks reportedly expect Middleton to make an early- to mid-February season debut.
Now, hamstring injuries have a history of lingering, so it’s something that has to be taken into account with the Bucks’ swingman. But with the Bucks competing for the playoffs, Middleton would provide a big boost to Milwaukee and his Fantasy owners.
Middleton was the No. 22 player on ESPN’s Player Rater last year, as he averaged 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game; he also shot 40 percent from behind the arc.
Similar to Simmons, talent like Middleton just isn’t available on the waiver wire at this point in the season unless a new role is created by a trade. It’ll be interesting to see how Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo mesh on the floor with the latter’s breakout this year. Even if his production dips slightly with Antetokounmpo’s emergence, Middleton is a must-add option if he’s on your waiver wire, or if you can acquire him for cheap in a deal.
There are players recovering from injuries left and right, but there are also players on the other side of the coin. The worst recent injury happened to Rudy Gay, who ruptured his Achilles. Obviously, his season is over, but what is the long-term outlook for him now? Achilles injuries are one of the hardest to return from in any sport, let alone basketball, due to the repeated stress on players’ feet.
Gay was set to be a free agent this offseason, but even at full strength, he was always a tad overrated in my book. For those in dynasty leagues, I’d look to find an owner who believes that Gay can make a comeback from an injury that has derailed so many careers before his.
But which doors will his injury open up in Sacramento? Well, not many, to be honest. Matt Barnes? Meh. Garrett Temple? Maybe. Omri Casspi? Well, he’s dealing with his own injury, but when he’s fully healthy, it’s possible. There’s just not a lot to like all around with the Gay injury.
It’s either me being stubborn or stupid, but I’m going to continue to hold on to George Hill despite yet another injury. Hill was on fire to start the season, but he’s cooled down some since returning from his concussion. If Hill heals right from his recent ankle injury, he’s still a player you’re starting more nights than not. If you get into a roster crunch, I’d understand if you’d have to move on from Hill. But don’t take a low-ball offer from a leaguemate or part ways with Hill if you’re able to help it.