Injuries took a heavy toll this week, shifting player values and outlooks overnight, so this week's Saturday Dose will break down the latest updates as of Saturday afternoon, letting you know who's in, probable, hopeful, questionable, iffy, unlikely, doubtful, or out. Game news and random information and analysis is sprinkled throughout, and for more information (and links) you can always refer to Rotoworld's ever-changing injury report.
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) sat out Friday's game in Canada, but his return is seemingly imminent and he might be in uniform for Sunday's matinee. (As an aside, why do the Raptors play every single Sunday afternoon...something to do with a TV contract? Update courtesy of RW reader Wilson: "The Raptors play Sundays because they share the ACC with the Leafs who generally play on Saturdays ... During a typical week, I find the Raptors play Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, while the Leafs play on the other days." Makes sense, and thanks for all of your replies!) Bargnani should get all the minutes he can handle in the coming weeks as the Raptors try to entice a team to trade for him. Assuming his shot returns and he posts a few eye-catching games with 20+ points, fantasy owners should be trying as hard as Bryan Colangelo to unload him.
For the Spurs, Manu Ginobili (tight hamstring) will not play on Saturday, Tim Duncan (knee) is probable to play after four DNPs, and both DeJuan Blair (knee) and Matt Bonner (knee) seem ready to roll. Random aside: if you haven’t used NBA.com’s advanced stats tools, you should check it out. This link shows how the Spurs compare with the Wizards, their opponent on Saturday, but there are tons of ways to slice the data.
Wesley Matthews is expected to sit out Saturday's game with a sprained ankle that caused him to leave the arena on Friday with crutches and a walking boot. The Blazers' bench is too poor to expect anyone to mimic his production this weekend, though owners hunting 3-pointers should have Luke Babbitt in their sights. Ronnie Price is also questionable to play on Saturday with a sprained ankle.
Suns veteran Jermaine O'Neal has been out with an irregular heartbeat, but fortunately it was caught early and treated with medication, and he's due back on Tuesday. We've yet to see how much he'll play under Lindsey Hunter, but his return won't do anything to help Marcin Gortat, who over the past four games has averaged 11.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals and 1.0 blocks, while playing only 30 minutes per game. Much has been made of Michael Beasley’s mini breakout since Hunter took over, but Friday’s game (four points on 2-of-13 shooting, three turnovers in 28 minutes) was a great reminder that B-EZ is about as reliable as a knockoff Rolex 50 feet underwater.
In a rare spot of bright news for the Wolves, Ricky Rubio will no longer be playing with a medical minute-limit. I'd be more excited if he weren't shooting 29.3 percent from the field this season, with a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He's also shooting 1-of-16 from downtown this season, an appalling total which fantasy owners would do well to remember. Personally, I'd try to use the lifting of his minute-limit as an opportunity to trade him...failing that, I'm not against cutting him in re-draft leagues for the flavor-of-the-week. His per-game value is mired in the late-200s in both eight- and nine-cat leagues, and even with more minutes and a subsequent across-the-board boost, you'd probably have to punt FG percentage to wring value out of him. Again, Plan A is to trade him since his name carries more weight than his game this season.
Jason Richardson's knees are an ongoing issue and he's scheduled to soon visit a specialist in Colorado, which makes him very iffy for Monday's game. Nick Young is playing well in seven games as a fill-in starter, averaging 16.7 points, 2.3 threes, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals and only 1.0 turnovers in 35 minutes per game. Just keep in mind that he's prone to cold spells and his value is weighted heavily toward shooting/scoring stats, so he's a volatile fantasy option.
Elsewhere in the City of Brotherly Love, Andrew Bynum (knees) could return to action as soon as Feb 20, though I remain skeptical of his timetable until we've seen him running full-court during 5-on-5 drills. He has enough upside, however, that I recommend stashing him if (and only if) you're cruising into the fantasy playoffs.
The Magic have been limping along for most of the season and Jameer Nelson was the latest injury victim, hurting his forearm on Friday and finishing with just two points in 19 minutes. X-rays were negative but there was enough swelling to require a compression sleeve and I'll be surprised if he doesn't have more tests performed on Saturday, leaving him iffy to play vs. the Bucks. Hopefully it's nothing serious, as he's coming off one of the best months in his career, with January averages of 18.9 points, 3.0 threes, 3.7 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Those numbers are good enough for top-30 value.
Arron Afflalo remains day-to-day with a sore calf and a strained left Achilles. It seems like a classic scenario where one injury led to another injury due to overcompensation, and rest is the best option. J.J. Redick has been the guy to step up reliably in his absence.
The Hawks are expected to get Anthony Morrow back in the near future, possibly as soon as Saturday. He sat out the entire month of January with hip and back issues and for now I'd avoid him outside of deep leagues -- even without Lou Williams the Hawks have enough SG/SFs to limit Morrow's playing time. One of those guards, Devin Harris, is battling an ankle injury but is expected to play off the bench on Saturday. DeShawn Stevenson is a perpetual game-time decision who won't play in consecutive games. John Jenkins is mopping up minutes off the bench and the only guy I trust here is Kyle Korver, who is simply freaking out in his past 15 games, averaging 13.1 points, 3.3 three-pointers, 4.3 boards, 2.2 assists and 0.9 steals, while shooting 52 percent on FGs and 81 percent on FTs. He's outperforming Nicolas Batum and Dwyane Wade in nine-cat leagues over the past month and should continue to be a rock-solid value, even when these gaudy numbers begin to fade. Zaza Pachulia is doubtful to play on Saturday with a sore Achilles, which would be his third DNP in the past five games. With Al Horford healthy, Zaza is only relevant in 20-team leagues.
The Bulls are nearly as banged up as the Hawks, though for once Luol Deng isn't in the pool of injured players. Kirk Hinrich (elbow) is questionable for Saturday's game, Carlos Boozer is very iffy with a "sore and stiff" hamstring, and Derrick Rose (knee) is probably out until after the All-Star break, but he has begun full-contact work and I won't be shocked if he's back sooner. The bad news is that Joakim Noah is out indefinitely with swelling and plantar fasciitis, the same injury that cost him 17 games and put him on a minute-limit during the 2009-10 season. It's a chronic condition (as Nene can attest) which has reared its ugly head again for Joakim, and his owners should be blitzing their leagues with trade offers. It never hurts to try, so aim high. Taj Gibson will start at center as long as Noah is out, and makes a very nice target for those in need of boards and blocks.
Dirk Nowitzki is battling an adductor/groin injury and he's questionable to face the Thunder on Monday, but the good news is that his knee feels fine. It's just Father Time, bro.