Fantasy Hoops: Plug David Lee Back In Immediately

You can feel confident starting David Lee in all Fantasy leagues. Photo Credit: Keith Allison

There are plenty of injuries around The Association. We take a look at the most important ones for Fantasy owners, analyzing not only the injured player and when he’ll be back, but who benefits from his absence.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has already announced PF Paul Millsap (knee) is out for Sunday’s game in Phoenix. That’s great news for the Fantasy prospects of forwards Elton BrandDeMarre Carroll and Mike Scott,who will each likely see a slight bump in minutes and production. The biggest winner of the group might be Carroll, although his propensity for injury, especially with his hamstrings, make him a bit of a concern. … C Pero Antic(ankle) was listed as a limited participant in practice Friday, but he is coming along slowly, but surely. Fantasy owners will want him reserved for now, but he could be a valuable option down the stretch with PF/C Gustavo Ayon (shoulder) ruled out for the season.

The middle is a mess for the Boston Celtics, as it has been for a good chunk of the season. C Kelly Olynyk (toe) is nursing a toe injury which has him doubtful for Saturday’s game against Indiana, and C Vitor Faverani (knee) might require surgery, according to The Boston Globe. It’s great news for the prospects of PF/C Jared Sullinger(concussion), who has really taken a giant step forward in his development. He has emerged as a solid No. 5 or 6 Fantasy forward in most formats. Sullinger is over the concussion which scrambled his eggs a little bit, and it would be a shock if he sat out Saturday. Fs Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries are also worth owning in deeper leagues if you are desperate for big men, and especially if Sully suffers some sort of a setback. … SF Gerald Wallace (knee) would also be in the mix for minutes up front, but he has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus, sidelining him indefinitely.

The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to resemble a MASH unit rather than a basketball squad. SG Dion Waiters (knee) was forced out again Friday against Utah, and he joined swingman C.J. Miles (ankle) and PF/C Anderson Varejao(assorted injuries) in street clothes. Head coach Mike Brown did tell The Cleveland Plain Dealer that Miles and A.V. are progressing, however. The Cavs have been leaning heavily upon G Jarrett Jack lately with Waiters nicked up, and he has been a nice short-term Fantasy addition. And C Spencer Hawes has been huge since his acquisition from the Philadelphia 76ers, so Varejao isn’t guaranteed to regain his starting job even when he is healthy.

Denver Nuggets swingman Wilson Chandler (knee) is dealing with a knee sprain, but head coach Brian Shaw downplayed the injury, according to The Denver Post. Monitor Chandler’s performance Saturday. If he plays without any restrictions, he will be a safe Fantasy play for the upcoming week. If he sits, reserve him.

Golden State Warriors C David Lee (illness) returned to the starting lineup Friday in New York after coming off the bench Wednesday in his return. He had 10 points and six rebounds in New York, playing just 24 minutes due to the lopsided result of the game. The return of Lee to full health, and the fact CAndrew Bogut is also back, spells doom for the Fantasy appeal of F Draymond Green and C Jermaine O’Neal. Both will now be reserves, and are only worth hanging onto the in the deepest of Fantasy formats.

Houston Rockets PF Chandler Parsons (illness) has been under the weather for the past couple of days, according to the team’s website, and he did not practice Friday. Still, it doesn’t appear he will be sidelined long, if at all, and Fantasy owners shouldn’t be too terribly worried heading into the new week. … The Houston Chronicle reports that PG Patrick Beverley (jaw) was popped in the jaw during practice Friday, but it doesn’t sound like a big concern heading into Saturday’s game. However, if he sits over the weekend, you’ll know why.

Los Angeles Clippers SG Jamal Crawford (calf) has a minor strain of the calf, and he will be sidelined anywhere from two to three weeks, according to With Crawford on the Injured List, joining SG J.J. Redick (hip), it appears Gs Darren Collison and swingman Jared Dudley will be the big winners in the short term, as far as more minutes and playing time. Swingman Danny Granger also could factor in, but he needs to learn the system and his new teammates before he is given a meaningful role.

There was good news for Fantasy owners of new sensation SG Kent Bazemore. A team spokesman told The Orange County Register that he did not feel swingman Nick Young (knee) “is real close” to a return to the lineup. Bazemore has been sensational since his acquisition from Golden State, and he has gotten more playing time than expected with Young out. It appears Bazemore will get extended play, making him useful into the new week. … In some good news for the Lake Show, swingman Xavier Henry (knee) continues to rehab his knee with L.A. of the D-League. He is rounding into game shape, and would give the team an infusion of offense, but the landscape has changed dramatically since he left with injury. Young emerged as a strong play, and Bazemore has come on and carved a role for himself. Henry will be fighting for scraps when he is ready, making his initial Fantasy value upon return very minimal.

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced that both SG Kevin Martin (thumb) and C Nikola Pekovic (ankle) took part in the team’s 5-on-5 scrimmage Friday, and both appear to be rounding the corner and heading for returns Saturday at Sacramento. The team has four games on the upcoming schedule, so if they’re able to make it through a full game Saturday without any ill-effects, they’ll be fantastic for Fantasy owners for the upcoming scoring period. The return of Martin is especially bad for G J.J. Barea and SF Chase Budinger, as they will see significant drops in playing time with Martin getting starter’s minutes. The return of Pekovic is bad for the prospects of PF Dante Cunningham, who has done a yeoman-like job in Pekovic’s stead.

If you’re a Fantasy owner of New Orleans Pelicans PG Brian Roberts, congratulations. At one point recently, it appears PG Jrue Holiday (leg) was nearing a return from his stress fracture, but he will now require season-ending surgery instead. Roberts remains a viable Fantasy option for the rest of the season, as the keys to the Pelicans’ car are his.

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that swingman Arron Afflalo (ankle, illness) will make the short trip down to Miami Saturday. Not only is he battling his ankle injury, but he is also sick. SF Maurice Harkless is a player worth targeting in Fantasy leagues which allow daily transactions. Once Afflalo returns, perhaps as early as Sunday’s favorable matchup against Philadelphia, Harkless is back to having minimal appeal. If Afflalo cannot go Sunday, either, it is a good idea to keep him reserved with just two games on the docket next week.

All signs point toward a possible return for Phoenix Suns G Eric Bledsoe (knee) sooner rather than later. The team has yet to issue a timetable on when he will return to game action, but he might be able to scrimmage in a 5-on-5 situation as soon as Saturday. If so, the noose is tightening on the Fantasy effectiveness of SG Gerald Green, who will see a substantially lesser role upon Bledsoe’s return.

Fantasy owners continue to patiently await the return of Trail Blazers PF/C LaMarcus Aldridge (groin). He was able to take part in a full practice session Friday, so that might be great for his availability Saturday against the Nuggets. If sounds like Aldridge is getting close, even if he cannot go Saturday. The team has four games in the upcoming week, with a very favorable matchup Monday against the Lakers. Monitor updates for Aldridge very closely, as when he gets the green light to play, he could have a very big week with games at Dallas and Houston, two defensively challenged teams. … F Thomas Robinson (knee) exploded onto the scene with 14 points and 18 rebounds last Sunday, but then tweaked his knee Tuesday to kill his Fantasy appeal. With Aldridge rounding the bend toward full health, Robinson’s Fantasy usefulness window might already be closed. … C Meyers Leonard(ankle) has missed about 10 days of action, and he was originally expected to miss two to three weeks. Fantasy owners need to keep him reserved, and perhaps even drop him since he only had value with Aldridge sidelined.

San Antonio Spurs PG Tony Parker (lower body) has been sidelined with a multitude of nagging lower-body aches and pains, and he was OUT Friday against Charlotte. Gs Marco BelinelliCory Joseph and Patty Mills have emerged as useful Fantasy options with Parker sidelined, but the veteran is likely to be back Sunday. Joseph will be dealt the biggest blow, as he’ll be back to coming off the bench. Belinelli is likely to lose the least amount of Fantasy value, as head coach Gregg Popovich has been able to find him minutes lately regardless.