Thursday was a reminder of how quickly a season can change. One injury can ruin one player’s season, while opening the door for a breakout from another. When Nikola Jokic went down in what appeared to be serious fashion, with an expression of grueling pain on his face, the Fantasy Basketball community froze.
Jokic has been one of the pleasant breakouts this year, especially over his past seven games in which he’s scored 52, 47, 54, 32, 35, 47 and 59 Fantasy points, the latter coming in last night’s game before he exited with the injury. It’s doubly impressive after the slow start he got off to thanks to the inept Mike Malone messing with his rotation and keeping Jokic off the floor.
Jokic was diagnosed with a hip pointer, and as of 9:30 a.m. Friday, he was scheduled for an MRI on the hip. The injury to Jokic appeared to be less severe than initially thought, as he was walking under his own power in the locker room area. But if Jokic were to miss significant time, that would open the door for Jusuf Nurkic to take over in Denver… or does it?
The Nuggets have been adamant that they are going to move the 22-year-old, seven foot center because of the breakout season that Jokic is having, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. But Jokic’s injury may change the Nuggets’ plan, as Denver is currently the eighth seed looking to make a run at the playoffs.
Nurkic showed what he could do when he’s given the minutes, as he scored double-digits in points over six of the Nuggets’ first seven games of the year. Whether you pick him up as Jokic insurance or with the trade deadline that is less than a month away, Nurkic is worth a stash, as one way or another, his stock is about to go way up.
I’m buying Chandler Parsons, even with all the injury concerns and him being inactive in two of the Grizzlies’ past three games. He gave a little glimpse of what he is still capable of with his performance against the Rockets with 12 points, two rebounds, four assists and three steals in 22 minutes. If you ask the casual Fantasy hoops player about Parsons, they will say they’re staying away from him due to the time missed and lack of production due to injuries. He’s probably floating around on your waiver wire, so scoop him up. If someone owns him, offer them a low-ball deal, and they’ll probably take it just to rid themselves of the headache of owning him. Parsons’ minutes will increase going forward, and so will the production.
With every game the Nets lose, the smile on my face gets bigger and bigger. Now, it’s nothing against Brooklyn, but sitting dead last in the NBA standings gives them no reason not to unleash Caris LeVert. The rookie out of Michigan was inactive for the first 20 games of the season, but over his last 11 games, LeVert has played fewer than 20 minutes just twice. LeVert has a usage of 17.4 over his past 10 games, and is contributing across the board. LeVert is going to get a lot of run in the second half of the season, so buy him up now. In keeper leagues, now’s the time to get him, as he’s going to be a trendy pick heading into drafts this fall.
T.J. Warren’s early-season success was fun, but he’s cooled off as of late. Before his 21-point performance against the Nuggets, Warren had three straight games with single-digit points, despite receiving 29, 21 and 30 minutes, respectively. In his first 13 games of the season, including the game in which he was injured against Indiana, Warren scored 20 or more points in five games, becoming a breakout for Fantasy owners. However, after returning from a head injury, Warren has had just three games with 20 points or more in 20 games.
It’s not just the scoring that has gone down for Warren either. In the 12 games before suffering his injury, Warren had a usage rate of 24. In the 20 games since returning, Warren’s usage has dipped down to 17.2. His ownership has reflected his decline on ESPN, as he’s down to being owned in 30.7 percent of leagues. Owners in CBS leagues haven’t caught up, yet, as he’s still owned in 75 percent of leagues.
Any time you’re the main recipient of playing time and exposure behind Anthony Davis, you need to be owned in Fantasy leagues. That’s the case with Terrance Jones, who is an intriguing own in Fantasy, as Davis continues to be bitten by the injury bug, missing games altogether or leaving midway through.
Jones showed what he was capable of Jan. 23 against the Cavaliers, when he dropped 36 points, 11 boards, three blocks, one assist and two steals in 36 minutes to lead the Pelicans over the defending champs. Jones typically gets minutes in the low- to mid-20s, but even with Davis returning to the starting lineup Wednesday, the Pelicans opted to keep Jones in the starting lineup, moving him to power forward. Should Davis miss any significant time, Jones would become a must-start Fantasy option day in and day out. Think of him as the best handcuff available and hold on to him.