There were two NBA games on Thursday night, but the big topics of conversation were green & yellow uniforms, as well as the health of Andrew Bogut, Eric Gordon and Andrea Bargnani.
The news on all three players is not good and six weeks sounds about right for all three of them, although we’re still awaiting the official timetable on Bogut and Bargnani. It sounds like Bogut’s ankle is broken, or shall we say fractured, while Bargnani’s calf could possibly be torn. And while Gordon’s knee doesn’t seem to be afflicted with ligament or cartilage damage, something is obviously not right. I hate to say this, but I would strongly consider dropping all three of them in fantasy hoops. We still don’t have a definitive timetable on Bargnani, but I expect him to be iffy to return anytime in the next six weeks, and the same can be said for the other two. We’re quickly approaching Week 6 and there are only 18 weeks in this year’s season. That means we’re nearly 1/3 of the way through, and none of the three are expected to see daylight before we hit week 12. Maybe one of them will come back and be a difference maker in the fantasy playoffs, but I’m thinking it’s better to cut your losses and get a healthy body in your lineup.
While the news on those three isn’t great, there do appear to be options available in many leagues, although savvy owners were picking these guys up overnight on Wednesday. Here are some names I’d consider in the wake of injury-fest 2012.
Linas Kleiza – 25 points on Wednesday and should see big minutes with Bargnani sidelined indefinitely.
James Johnson – Already a hot pickup and should see more touches sans Bargnani.
Trevor Ariza – Hit just 1-of-8 shots on Wednesday, but benefits from loss of Gordon.
Drew Gooden – Went nuts last time Bogut was out and should be an automatic pickup right now.
Ersan Ilyasova – Had 19 boards on Wednesday and will help Gooden fill the Bogut void.
Marco Belinelli – Struggling, but starting with Gordon out.
Amir Johnson – Has to see a big increase in minutes with Bargnani out.
Leandro Barbosa – He’s playing very well and should continue to do so.
As for the games last night, the Celtics mounted a furious comeback and overcame a 27-point deficit to beat the Magic, despite not having Rajon Rondo or Ray Allen. In fantasy news, there doesn’t appear to be a timetable on Rondo’s return from a wrist injury, but I don’t think his situation is anywhere near as dire as the aforementioned players’. E’Twaun Moore had a career-high 16 points and Avery Bradley started in place of Rondo, but had just six points and two assists. Oh, and Jermaine O’Neal was out again with a sore knee, so Brandon Bass started, but had just 10 points and five rebounds. Unlike the injury situations with Bogut, Gordon and Bargnani, the Celtics just don’t have any firepower on their bench that can pick up the fantasy slack for the stars.
For the Magic, Dwight Howard fought through back spasms to have another Howard-like game, but the Magic just didn’t have it last night. Howard, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Jameer Nelson and Ryan Anderson all scored between seven and 16 points, which is just boring. In fact, this game was tough to watch before the Celtics mounted their big fourth-quarter comeback.
After that game ended, folks tuning into TNT had three thoughts on their minds as the Clippers and Grizzlies game tipped off. Either viewers thought they had tuned into an alternate version of the movie Semi-Pro, in which the Tropics were playing the Kansas City Kings, or maybe the KC Kings were facing the Washington Generals, or Ernie Johnson was hosting high school night basketball, featuring the Cathedral Irish and West Rowan Falcons. I was watching this one from a sports bar with no audio, and it was tough to stomach.
The Grizzlies donned seemingly huge green shorts and yellow jerseys, while the Clippers donned baby blue unis, and the whole thing had a serious 70’s vibe. Marc Gasol simply looked overmatched by the dreadful colors and large shorts, which was a throwback nod to the Memphis Tams, whoever that may be. And it was tough to even tell the difference between Mike Conley and Chris Paul, which should be enough information to tell you just how bad the uniforms were.
In actual game news, Blake Griffin flirted with a triple-double and Paul looked good in his second game back from a hamstring injury, as the Clippers took down the Grizzlies by a score of 98-91. Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay had another big line for the Grizzlies, while O.J. Mayo started the second half over big man Marreese Speights, and finished with 14 points and three 3-pointers. Mayo is worth a pickup right now, and has scored in double figures in six straight games. Speights had an apparent case of DeAndre Jordan-itis, but my guess is he sticks in the starting five over Mayo going forward. But if Mayo does somehow crack the starting lineup for good, he’ll go from being a nice waiver-wire pickup to a must-own player in a hurry.
As for players who can probably be dropped in order to pick up one of the aforementioned injury replacements off waiver wires in fantasy, B.J. Mullens and Chris Kaman come to mind, along with guys like Marvin Williams, Boris Diaw, Lamar Odom and Brandon Rush. Other guys worth picking up right now include Tyrus Thomas, Austin Daye (keep an eye on him after Wednesday’s 28-point explosion), Andre Miller (Ty Lawson could miss a couple games with an ankle sprain), Tiago Splitter, Rodney Stuckey, Landry Fields, Nicolas Batum, Chandler Parsons, Chuck Hayes (back Saturday?), Ronnie Brewer (starting for Luol Deng), Jimmer Fredette, Isaiah Thomas (Marcus Thornton is out), Bismack Biyombo, Derrick Brown, Jordan Farmar and Gustavo Ayon, who is getting run over Kaman in New Orleans.
Ray Allen – Was out Thursday with ankle sprain and questionable Friday.
Rajon Rondo – Missed Thursday with wrist injury and could miss several more games.
B.J. Mullens – Has a bruised shooting hand and will be replaced by DeSagana Diop on Friday.
Gerald Henderson – Ruled out for Friday with bruised tailbone, Matt Carroll will start.
D.J. Augustin – Will likely miss the rest of the week (toe), with Kemba Walker and Derrick Brown filling in.
Luol Deng – Says he wants to return on Sunday, making Ronnie Brewer a shaky pickup.
Dirk Nowitzki – Should be back on Sunday, signaling an end to Shawn Marion’s nice run.
Ty Lawson - Ankle injury could keep him out the rest of this week.
Arron Afflalo – Doubtful for Friday with achilles injury.
Rudy Fernandez – Doubtful as well with a groin injury.
Tayshaun Prince – Iffy for tonight for personal reasons, Austin Daye could shine again.
Ben Gordon – Shoulder injury could keep him out again on Friday.
Zach Randolph – Targeting mid-February from knee injury, might be worth stashing now.
Dwyane Wade – Has missed six straight games with sprained ankle, iffy for Friday.
Luke Ridnour – Missed Wednesday with sore knee, Wayne Ellington benefits.
Michael Beasley – Nearing a return, but role in question with Derrick Williams playing well.
Andrew Bogut – Could be done for season with broken ankle. Drew Gooden now a must-own.
MarShon Brooks – Achilles injury, but could play on Friday.
Brook Lopez – Targeting mid-February return, can be grabbed and stashed.
Eric Gordon – Will be out 3-6 weeks with bruised knee, cuttable depending on options.
Baron Davis – Should play next week, but I’m not sold on him being able to get/stay healthy.
Spencer Hawes – I’ve been holding on and he could play this weekend through sore achilles.
Grant Hill – Took stitches above eye, but should be back tonight.
Manu Ginobili – Targeting mid-February at earliest from hand injury, might also be worth stashing.
Marcus Thornton – Thigh injury is lingering and could miss another week.
Chuck Hayes – Hoping to play on Saturday after missing several weeks with shoulder injury.
Andrea Bargnani – We’re awaiting MRI results, but could be out for several weeks.
Al Jefferson – Ankle tendonitis leaves him iffy for Friday. Derrick Favors will play well if he’s out.