The NBA playoffs will begin in roughly four weeks. For key players on title-contending teams, the first priority over the next month will be to sustain health.
That’s why seemingly minor injuries are scary for fantasy owners. The Bulls continue to exercise extreme caution with Derrick Rose (groin), who does not appear close to a return. Dwight Howard (back) popped up with a random DNP Sunday. Mike Conley (ankle) and Wilson Chandler (groin) also sat out weekend games.
All this brings us to Andrew Bynum, who has been one of the best values in fantasy basketball all season long. He hasn’t missed a single game due to injury, has logged 35.9 minutes per night and is averaging career-highs in points and rebounds while swatting 2.0 shots.
But during the second quarter of Sunday night‘s win over the Warriors, Bynum came down on the foot of a teammate and turned his left ankle. He immediately motioned for a sub and went to the locker room. The good news is that Bynum walked off under his own power and X-rays came back negative. It’s being called a “moderate” sprain. The bad news is that he was due for a rest anyway and this is a perfect time for the Lakers to give him one.
Consider Bynum very questionable for the Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back. The Lakers’ priority will be to get him peaking a month from now, leaving Pau Gasol, Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts with increased roles. Murphy started the second half Sunday night, kicking Gasol to center.
WEEKEND INJURY NOTES
As mentioned above, Derrick Rose (groin) is not close. He still hasn’t participated in a contact practice and he’s still having a hard time running through the scar tissue.
Richard Hamilton is hoping to play on Monday, but he’ll be eased back in very slowly.
Charles Jenkins left Sunday night’s game with a knee contusion. He was technically available to return, but this is a nice little opening for Nate Robinson. Nasty Nate went off for 17 points, seven assists, five 3-pointers and two steals in Jenkins’ absence.
We’ve got a new lame pun for Jeremy Lin: Linjured. He’s got a torn meniscus and is out six weeks. Baron Davis in four starts this season: 8.5 points, 5.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.0 3-pointers. Iman Shumpert also gets a nice boost.
Nikola Pekovic’s ankle injury isn’t season-ending, but the Wolves are playing it safe. They know an aggravation could lead to the need for surgery. Consider Pekovic doubtful for Monday and questionable for Wednesday.
J.J. Barea (thigh) is hoping to return on Wednesday. If healthy, he’ll get plenty of burn despite a bench role.
Eric Gordon (knee) is tentatively expected to get on the floor sometime in the next week, but he’ll be handled with kid gloves. The Hornets have just three games this week and one of them is a back-to-back. Not good.
Wilson Chandler (groin) was a late scratch on Sunday, giving Corey Brewer the start. Danilo Gallinari (thumb) was targeting this week for his return to practice.
Ray Allen (ankle) continues to go through shootarounds, but he’s healing surprisingly slow. The Celtics are off until Wednesday, giving him a decent shot at returning then.
Trevor Booker and Nene Hilario are both battling plantar fasciitis. It’s a great spot for intriguing talent Kevin Seraphin, who can play both center and power forward. The Frenchman is averaging 10.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while playing just 26.5 minutes over the last 10 games. Whenever Booker or Nene is out, there’s a ton of upside on those numbers.
Dwight Howard was a late scratch Sunday due to back spasms. The Magic say that Dwight got punched in the back by Brendan Haywood on Friday, leading to the injury. Regardless, it doesn’t sound overly serious.
Sleeper of the year Ryan Anderson sprained his right ankle late in Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets. He’s officially day-to-day.
Carl Landry missed both weekend games with a sprained ankle. With Chris Kaman, Gustavo Ayon and Jason Smith all healthy now anyway, there’s not much reason to mess around here.
With Grant Hill (knee) out at least two weeks, Shannon Brown has a big up arrow. In five starts this year, Brown is averaging 18.4 points and 2.2 treys per game.
J.J. Hickson is doing an excellent job of humiliating the Kings for cutting him. Now that Joel Przybilla’s knee issues are acting up again, Hickson is locked into big minutes. Over the last four games, Hickson is averaging 19.2 points and 8.0 rebounds.
Kyrie Irving (shoulder) was very close to playing Saturday. He should be fine for Tuesday.
Corey Maggette (Achilles) is predictably sidelined again, possibly for a week. Reggie Williams is going to start at small forward and be an asset in the 3-point department. Elsewhere in Charlotte, Byron Mullens replaced Tyrus Thomas as the starting power forward.
Ben Gordon (groin) and Rodney Stuckey (hamstring) remain day-to-day, but Austin Daye’s lack of production as the starter is scary. The light just isn’t going on for Daye despite roto-friendly talent.
WEEKLY GAME COUNT (April 2 to April 8)
5 - Grizzlies, Kings
4 - Raptors, Jazz, Wizards, Sixers, Suns, Blazers, Spurs, Heat, Thunder, Bucks, Nets, Celtics, Bobcats, Mavericks, Pistons, Warriors, Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Cavaliers
3 - Rockets, Nuggets, Bulls, Hornets, Knicks, Magic, Wolves, Hawks
Five-game notes: Mike Conley (sprained right ankle) is questionable for Monday. O.J. Mayo is a nice option in weekly formats. … Marreesse Speights in 39 starts this year: 9.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks. Close your eyes and expect that kind of production despite the wild inconsistency. … The rapidly improving Jason Thompson is over his ankle injury and ready to party.
Three-game notes: Marcus Camby has seized the starting center job from Sam Dalembert. More on that in Rotating Rotations Tuesday. … No news is bad news on Kevin Martin (shoulder). Courtney Lee continues to impress. … JaVale McGee has a shorter leash in Denver. He saw just 11 minutes Sunday. … C.J. Watson is really struggling, turning the backup point guard gig into a timeshare with John Lucas. … The Hornets are suddenly showing some signs of health. Jarrett Jack (ankle), Chris Kaman (illness) and Gustavo Ayon (personal) all played Sunday. Kaman and Jason Smith project as the usual starters up front. … Even with just three games, Iman Shumpert has major upside. The Knicks are suddenly desperate at point guard and both wing spots.