Fantasy Hoops: Russell Westbrook Is Risky Business

  • Daniel Dobish

There are plenty of injuries around The Association. We take a 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.

Cleveland Cavaliers swingman C.J. Miles (ankle) was able to take part in a full practice session Saturday, and he might be able to give it a go at L.A. Clippers Sunday. He has been sidelined for several weeks, so expect him to be a little shaky at first. However, if he can play Sunday, he is worth a look in the upcoming week in most leagues of 12 or more teams. … Cavaliers C Spencer Hawes (ankle) made it through Friday’s game without any setbacks, posting 22 points and 13 rebounds at Golden State. Start Hawes as you normally would in the upcoming Fantasy week.

Detroit Pistons C Andre Drummond (neck) left Saturday’s game against Indiana due to a neck injury suffering during a collision with behemoth C Roy Hibbert. It is uncertain if he suffered a concussion, and the team will take every precaution to find out. If Drummond is forced out, Fs Greg Monroe and Josh Smith are likely to fill the void in the rebounding department, so they would therefore see a slight bump in Fantasy appeal. F Jonas Jerebko might also re-emerge as a somewhat useful Fantasy option in deeper leagues with more minutes.

Indiana Pacers C Andrew Bynum (knee) racked up 15 points with nine rebounds and a blocked shot Saturday against the Pistons, playing 20 minutes. He could re-emerge as a useful Fantasy option in deeper leagues, but those in leagues of 12 or fewer teams will still find him too risky. He could play one night, and then be held out the next due to his wonky knee. There is just too much risk at this critical juncture of the season to roll the dice on Bynum. … PG C.J. Watson (hamstring) was sidelined Saturday against the Pistons due to a strained right hamstring, and G Donald Sloan (personal) was away from the team for personal reasons. Watson should be avoided in all deeper leagues heading into the new week, as he has been banged up with a multitude of injuries lately, and is just too risky at this point.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is reporting C Nikola Pekovic (ankle) left Friday’s game at Charlotte due to pain in his ankle, and he said it was so bad he could not move. Rookie C Gorgui Dieng stepped in and might be a decent short-term Fantasy addition in deeper leagues if Pekovic is forced to miss time. … G A.J. Price (appendix) underwent an appendectomy last week, and he remains sidelined. There is no timetable on when he’ll return, but Fantasy owners won’t lose any sleep about that.

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told The Oklahoman that PG Russell Westbrook (knee) will rest during some of the team’s back-to-back situations down the stretch, a la Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo, who has done so all season to rest his knee. The Thunder have six back-to-back situations untll the end of the regular season, so it is a good idea to scoop up PG Reggie Jackson if he is available. Jackson will especially be useful in daily Fantasy formats, although we’re not exactly sure when. Brooks did not elaborate on when the rest would come, and if it would be all or just some of the back-to-backs. The first back-to-back is this week, with a game Thursday in Cleveland and Friday in Toronto. With just three games on tap, he is a very risky play in all Fantasy formats.

Orlando Magic C Nikola Vucevic (ankle) rolled his ankle Friday, but he was able to return to the game. The good news is that he has three full days to rest before the team takes the court Tuesday at Golden State. With four games in the upcoming scoring period, and the fact he returned to his last game after suffering the injury, Fantasy owners can feel pretty confident he’ll be ready to play without issue.

Portland Trail Blazers PF/C LaMarcus Aldridge (back) will once again be on the sideline for Sunday’s game against Golden State. There is no guarantee he returns Tuesday against Milwaukee. With the Blazers scheduled for just three games, it is too risky to start Aldridge in cumulative formats at this point. … G Mo Williams (hip) is out Sunday, and he will remain sidelined for a while. Keep him sidelined in all Fantasy leagues until he can officially return and prove his health.

Toronto Raptors PF Patrick Patterson (elbow) will be sidelined at least another week, so Fantasy owners need to keep him reserved. However, he reports he will be re-evaluated Monday, so that could be the first step toward a clear timetable on when he will return to game action.

The Utah Jazz have a couple of game-time decisions for Sunday’s game against San Antonio. SF Marvin Williams (back) is nursing a strained lower back, and if he cannot prove his health against the Spurs, keep him reserved in the upcoming week. … G John Lucas III (ankle) is also a game-time decision, but this should affect those in the deepest of Fantasy leagues only.

Washington Wizards SG Bradley Beal (ankle) rolled his ankle Friday, and looked to be in a great deal of discomfort as he helped off the court by a couple of teammates. However, he was a surprise starter Saturday, posting 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting with five assists and a pair of rebounds in 37 minutes. It appears he is fine, so start him as you normally would in all Fantasy leagues in the upcoming week. … SF Martell Webster (back) shook off a back ailment to play 28 minutes off the bench against Brooklyn Saturday. He is worth a look in leagues of 12 or more Fantasy teams only.

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