Starts and Sits
Courtney Lee NYK – START ‘EM
Lee has been in a nice rhythm of late, and he’s one of the few reliable options the Knicks have left in the backcourt and on the wing. With Tim Hardaway Jr. still on the shelf, the Knicks are leaning on Lee a lot, and he’s averaging over 32 minutes a game. He has put up 5 3’s in his last 2 games and has provided consistent production from long distance all season, shooting 46% from 3-point range. He may revert to the mean a bit from an efficiency standpoint, but his points and 3 point volume should remain steady. Lee also gives you solid steal numbers (1.4 per game) and adds decent value across the stat sheet. As long as Hardaway remains out, Lee is a no–doubt starting option.
Dennis Smith Jr. DAL – SIT ‘EM
DSJ has been put up solid numbers as a rookie so far, making him a useful fantasy asset. Unfortunately, Smith Jr. will be on the shelf for at least the next two games due to hip and groin trouble. He’s an elevated injury risk according to Inside Injuries, and the timeline for him to return to the lineup is still uncertain. Smith’s 29.6 usage rate will leave a big hole to be filled, but the Mavs have solid depth options with J.J. Barea, Devin Harris and Yogi Ferrell all in line for upticks in minutes and touches, meaning that Dallas won’t rush back a young asset if they don’t have to. Give Smith Jr. some time on the bench until he comes back and proves that he is healthy. If you need a replacement, Ferrell could be worth a look.
Allen Crabbe BRKN – START ‘EM
Brooklyn has plenty of injuries this season in the backcourt, most notably to DeAngelo Russell and Jeremy Lin. Lin is out for the season and Russell won’t be back for quite some time, meaning that there will be plenty of shots to go around in the Brooklyn offense. Crabbe just returned from a back injury that cost him a week, but he appears to be back close to full strength, as he’s played 30+ minutes in his past two games. Crabbe should see more and more shots with the injuries in Brooklyn, and he will be a big 3 point contributor (he’s made 6 in his past two games). Give Crabbe the start this week as he continues to get back in a rhythm, especially if you need 3s.
Rodney Hood UTAH – SIT ‘EM
Hood is allegedly inching closer to a return, but his absence from Saturday’s game was the 7th he’s missed in a row after spraining his ankle on November 25th. It’s possible that he returns this week, but he remains a high injury risk according to Inside Injuries, so he’ll likely be eased back in if he even does make his return soon. In Hood’s absence, Alec Burks and Donovan Mitchell have emerged as top scoring options for Utah.
Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Options
Kris Dunn – PG CHI
Kris Dunn has been the latest player to benefit from the Bulls rebuild, having gained the starting point guard position in the wake of the Derrick Rose trade. The second year player out of Providence is in his first year in Chicago. After starting off the season coming off the bench, he has averaged 32 minutes per game over his last 7, and 34 over his last 4. His playing time saw its biggest boost recently, after he consistently outplayed fellow guard Jerian Grant over the last several weeks. Dunn has double digit points in 6 of his last 7 games, with two of those games being 20+ affairs. He has also averaged 7.5 assists per game over that period and has been a proficient rebounder considering his position, averaging over 5 rebounds per game. There is no doubt that Dunn is worth owning right now, and there is no reason to believe that will change until at the very earliest the return of Zach Lavine. That will be at least another month, and it may not be until the All-Star break, meaning Dunn will be valuable from a fantasy perspective for at least the next 15-20 games.
Danilo Gallinari – SF LAC
Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari returned from injury last Wednesday, and he will help to fill the void at forward that has been there since his injury in early November. The Clippers had struggled to a 4-12 record since Gallinari’s injury, but not all of that was because of Gallinari’s absence. Blake Griffin has also been out since late November, and he is not expected to return for 6-8 weeks. In the meantime, Gallinari will play his normal time at small forward and help to pick up time at power forward during small-man sets. Gallinari should average 35+ minutes per game, and possibly sneak into the 40s based on his play. On the season, he is averaging 13.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He came of the injury list hot, with a 25 point effort in his second game back. He probably isn’t going to have many double-doubles, as he just isn’t a strong rebounder, but he will consistently give you double-digit points, and has the 20+ point upside. He should see a slight boost in his value while Griffin is out, and he should be a solid bench piece for most teams for the next 6-8 weeks.
Caris LeVert – SG BKN
Despite the chaos that has surrounds the Brooklyn Nets, Caris LeVert has been a player on the rise, and one that is worth fantasy consideration. With Russell out for the foreseeable future, the Nets have been filling both guard spots with a committee of LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Crabbe, and Isaiah Whitehead. While Dinwiddie has in some ways become the de facto starting point guard, LeVert and Crabbe have been logging similar amounts of playing time, both hovering around 30 minutes per game. The difference has been the level of performance between LeVert and Crabbe, with Crabbe averaging 11.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game since returning from a back injury a week ago, and LeVert averaging 14, 2.5, and 4, respectively, over that same time period. While Crabbe has a slight rebound advantage, LeVert has a fairly substantial point and assist advantage. Crabbe is the more established player, but LeVert might be performing better right now. For the time being, they will both continue to see similar amounts of playing time, but if either begins to pull away, the other will see a decrease in usage.
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