On December 21st, Danilo Gallinari was diagnosed with a mensicus tear in his right knee and is expected to miss a minimum of three weeks due to surgery. Since his entry into the league in 2008-2009, Gallinari has missed a total of 191 games, a number that will surely increase. This injury is especially unfortunate, as Gallinari was just getting into the swing of things this season after sitting out all of last season recovering from an ACL injury. His previous two games prior to the declared injury saw Gallinari post the following stat lines: December 18th against the Houston Rockets: 16 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 3PMs; December 21st against the Indiana Pacers: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 3PM. For those that took a late-round gamble on him, that foresight was starting to pay off this past week. However, with his latest injury setback it is hard to justify keeping him on any roster moving forward. For those that peg him as a super-skilled combo forward (which is true), it is just as easy to peg him as an “injury prone” player. Gallinari’s expected miss time should have an impact on Wilson Chandler. However, the way Gallinari was playing so far this season, he had already taken a back seat to Chandler in the lineup.
The “Sorry for Jabari” campaign, which was spearheaded by Grantland’s Bill Simmons, was geared toward the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks intentional or non-intentional tanking efforts last season for the former Duke University sensation. Last week, it was announced that Jabari Parker will sit the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL. This is a crushing blow to Parker, Coach Kidd, and the Bucks franchise, which appeared on the verge of making a sneaky run to the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The injury will allow Parker to spend the remainder of the season, plus the upcoming offseason, to work on his upper body strength and prepare for what is expected to be a very strong sophomore campaign. Giannis Antetokounmpo will see a bump in his minutes and is expected to be a reliable Fantasy Basketball contributor the remainder of the season. For the second year in a row, the “Sorry for Jabari” tag will remain. However, this year the campaign is directed toward Parker, the Bucks, and his Fantasy owners.
When the Miami Heat lost LeBron James to Cleveland, Pat Riley quickly retooled the roster with the free agent acquisitions of Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts. It looks like the Heat’s luck has run out, as McRoberts was diagnosed with a torn right lateral meniscus last week and may be out for the remainder of the season. The Heat have underperformed the entire season but still have the talent to contend for a deep playoff run. McRoberts was expected to be a key frontcourt piece to have them compete with the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, and the Washington Wizards this season. With McRoberts out, Justin Hamilton and Hassan Whiteside have seen an increase in their minutes. However, neither player is worthy of a Fantasy roster spot. Chris Bosh has also missed time this season, but reports are that he expects to suit up for Christmas against LeBron and the Cavs.
The Portland Trailblazers lost their starting center, Robin Lopez. Lopez, unlike his brother Brook Lopez, has been fortunate enough to stay away from the injury bug for most of his career. Lopez had a career year with the Blazers last season and is a complementary fit to LaMarcus Aldridge. Lopez recently reported on Twitter that he will be missing between 6-7 weeks, which is longer than the originally reported four weeks. With the amount of time Lopez will be missing it is hard to make a persuasive argument to keep him on any Fantasy roster. My money is on Chris Kaman to shine out of the Kaman, Thomas Robinson, and Joel Freeland bench. Kaman brings the most experience and has the ability to bring a double-double every night. I would not be surprised if the younger guys are given more minutes to boost their confidence levels, but I can’t see either Robinson or Freeland outperforming Kaman for the next seven weeks that Lopez is out.
Monday should mark the return of David Lee for Coach Kerr’s Golden State Warriors. We have discussed in prior segments the possibility of Lee coming off the bench, since Draymond Green has proven that he can do everything from defense to offense to Coach Kerr’s liking. However, with Andrew Bogut out, it does not appear that this discussion will take place at this current time. Bogut is expected to be out until the middle of January and Lee should insert right into the starting lineup at the Center position. Lee is a Fantasy Baketball favorite, as he is destined to finish with a double-double every night. With the ball movement on the Warriors’ offensive end, it should be expected that Lee, who is an above-average spot shooter and passer from the high post, will make an impact upon his return.
As previously reported, the Minnesota Timberwolves veteran trio of Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, and Ricky Rubio are expected to return in January at some time. The injury to all three has allowed Andrew Wiggins, Zach Lavine, and Gorgui Dieng to garner more minutes without the pressure of being benched for more experienced players. Wiggins, however, is the only player worth owning and starting in standard leagues.
With Christmas in three days, here’s what I expect to happen on an action-packed NBA Christmas Day:
- There’s no better place to catch an afternoon of hoops on Christmas Day than the Garden. This is even truer this year if you’re a Wizards fan. The Wiz stop into NYC to give Phil Jackson, the Knicks, and their fans some more coal!
- LeBron Claus comes back to Miami to spoil Christmas for that city. I expect Chris Bosh to suit up and have a big game to prove to LeBron Claus that they don’t believe in him!
- The Thunder and Spurs matchup is the Christmas game of the day. Coach Popovich has been a Scrooge before with fans and I would not be surprised if Pop sat out any of his big three to ruin Christmas!
- Kobe Bryant reunites with his long time friend Pau Gasol for a Christmas night special that should be a blowout. It might be tough keeping your eyes open for this game between the ugly play of the Lakers and the copious amounts of egg nog and Kahlua consumed by that point on Christmas night.
- The Warriors and Clippers have the night cap on Christmas. Can you really celebrate Christmas in California when it’s 70 degrees plus?
Merry Christmas to all!