Jonas Nader

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Everybody Hurts

Friday, March 9, 2018


There was a ton of injury news on Thursday so we're going to spend most of our time breaking down the latest updates and fantasy implications for each. Stephen Curry sprained his right ankle for the fourth time since December, Anthony Davis is day-to-day with a left ankle sprain and we haven’t even scratched the surface of a busy Thursday night, so let’s dive right in. If you need fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!

 

 

Evan Fournier’s season in jeopardy

 

Evan Fournier was diagnosed with a sprained left MCL on Thursday afternoon, an injury that could potentially keep him out for the remainder of the season. When asked if he thought he would play again, Fournier was a little more optimistic. “No, I don’t think so,” Fournier said of missing the rest of the campaign. That would be really disappointing to end my season like that. So, no. I don’t think so.” 

 

Unfortunately, the Magic still haven’t revealed the severity of the injury, so we’re completely in the dark as to whether he’s day-to-day or week-to-week. My money is on the latter. As I’m writing this, the Magic are in a 3-way tie for the third best draft lottery odds, and for that reason I could see the Magic being extra cautious. If you don’t have an I.R. spot, I’d say it’s time to move on, especially with most fantasy playoffs starting up after this weekend. 

 

Jonathon Simmons has been trending down for a while, but he’s a pickup again following this news and should be able to comfortably reach 30 minutes most nights. He still might not be a top-100 player in standard leagues, though. Mario Hezonja and Jonathan Isaac both get bumps as well, but I’ll discuss them below. 

 

 

Aaron Gordon (concussion) goes down again

 

For the second time this season and the third time of his NBA career, Aaron Gordon is in the concussion protocol after colliding with Julius Randle on Wednesday night. He missed two games with his concussion earlier this season, and he missed three games late in the 2015-16 season with his third one. This puts his status for next week up in the air which is just brutal timing with the fantasy playoffs starting up. Gordon was just getting into a nice rhythm as well, scoring 27+ points in two out of his last four. 

 

The Magic don’t have a great fantasy playoff schedule (3-3-3) over the next few weeks, but I’m still scooping up Mario Hezonja in as many leagues as possible while AG is on the shelf. The last time Aaron Gordon missed a stretch of games (9 of them), Hezonja stepped up with averages of 16.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.8 steals and 2.3 triples. Those are early-round numbers and he has to be considered a must-start player in the short term. 

 

As many of you know, Jonathan Isaac is one of my favorite rookies and I think he’ll eventually be one of the best in this class. He’s more of a defensive specialist right now and his upside is limited by minutes restrictions after months on the sidelines with a bad ankle injury. However, you have to think that the Magic ease his restrictions now and it’s worth noting that coach Frank Vogel was even considering moving him into the lineup before we heard the bad news about Fournier and Gordon. Hezonja is the top pickup in 12-team leagues, but Isaac is trending up and I won’t hesitate to grab him if he plays well on Friday and if his minutes reach the mid-20s. In just 16 minutes per game over his last four, Isaac is averaging 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals. 

 

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Stephen Curry can’t catch a break

 

For the fourth time since December, Stephen Curry injured his right ankle on Thursday. He was able to shoot his free throws before limping to the locker room where he was re-taped. The Warriors put his ankle through some “functionality tests,” but he was ruled out for the game shortly after. If there’s a bit of good news here, it’s that the Warriors are calling this a “tweak” and not a sprain. Coach Steve Kerr called this tweak similar to the one he picked up in Atlanta, and even though Curry "lobbied" to get back into the game tonight, the Warriors are going to play it safe and sit him on Friday vs. Portland. However, this means he should have a really good chance of playing on Sunday vs. the Wolves. 

Note: Right after submitting this article, coach Kerr announced that Curry will also miss Sunday's game vs. the Wolves, but it does sound like it's just a precaution. 

Kevin Durant gets a 7.6 usage rate bump with Curry off the floor, Klay Thompson gets a 7.0 usage rate bump and Draymond Green gets a slight usage rate bump and his assist percentages climbs from 26.3% to 32.7% without Curry. Golden State’s other three All-Stars will eat without Curry, but there aren’t any great pickups in Golden State. I would’ve said Andre Iguodala (wrist), but he’s banged up right now and the Warriors have a 3-3-4 fantasy playoff schedule. 

 

 

Anthony Davis gets good news (sorta)

 

An MRI on Anthony Davis’ left ankle on Thursday afternoon revealed a left ankle sprain. He’s officially day-to-day, but the Pelicans are calling him doubtful for Friday’s game vs. the Wizards. Davis’ ankle started "swelling significantly" prior to their plane ride back to New Orleans on Wednesday night, so the fact that he will miss at least one game isn’t exactly surprising. The Pelicans do have a massive game against the Jazz on Sunday, so hopefully The Brow can make it back for that one. 

 

We can expect to see Jrue Holiday and Nikola Mirotic carry the Pelicans on offense in the short term, and guys like E’Twaun Moore and Rajon Rondo will have to step up as well. Assuming those guys aren’t available in your league, Cheick Diallo is the only other player that intrigues me. Sure Darius Miller could be a nice source of 3-pointers and Emeka Okafor can rack up a few blocks and rebounds in a 20-minute role, but in terms of raw upside, Diallo is probably the guy you should take a flier on in 14- and 16-team leagues. He has only played more than 20 minutes in one game this season, but he put up 13 points, 15 rebounds, one assist and three steals in that contest. In the five games that he played more than 22 minutes last season, Diallo averaged 13.4 points, 10.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks. He has the talent, it’s just a matter of whether coach Alvin Gentry actually uses him. 

 

 

Jaylen Brown goes down hard

 

Jaylen Brown had the scariest fall of the NBA season on Thursday, as he slipped off the rim following a dunk and landed on the back of his head. He stayed on the floor for a while and a stretcher was brought out, but Brown ultimately didn’t need it and walked off under his own power. Brown reportedly felt "pretty good" leaving the arena, and he a went to get a CT scan before flying back with the Celtics on Thursday night. He’s still going to be tested for a concussion, but it sounds like he avoided a serious injury which is a huge relief. Expect to see more two-PG lineups if Brown misses time with guys like Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart getting a bump. Marcus Morris will also play more, but I’d rather own the first two. 

 

 

Kyrie Irving returns in style

 

Kyrie Irving (knee) returned to the lineup and led the Celtics to a win over the Wolves with 23 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, three treys and two steals. He missed Monday’s game vs. the Bulls and wasn’t even expected to play this week, so this was a nice surprise to his fantasy owners. Celtics GM Danny Ainge said on a radio show that he thinks Irving will need to manage his knee the rest of his career, so we may see him pick up another DNP here and there as the season draws to a close. "I don't think it's anything serious, but we want Kyrie healthy and fresh," Ainge added. "And he carries a heavy burden, the offensive load that he carries. So we're OK with him missing some games. We feel like we have a deep roster and we need him to be healthy and fresh.” With those comments in mind, that’s just another reason why Smart and Rozier belong on fantasy rosters, although their fantasy playoff schedule is brutal (3-3-3 over the next few weeks). 

 

 

Josh Jackson injures knee in loss

 

The Suns were already shorthanded on Thursday with T.J. Warren (back spasms) sitting out, but things only got worse when Josh Jackson went down with a knee injury. However, an MRI came back negative and he’s considered day-to-day with “left knee irritation.” I could see him missing Saturday’s game vs. Charlotte, but I’d say there’s a pretty good chance Jackson is able to play on Tuesday vs. LeBron James and the Cavaliers during the fantasy playoffs. I’d hold him if possible until we get more info. There aren’t any great pickups, though Troy Daniels does have the green light from deep and could have some appeal if both Warren and Jackson miss time. Daniels attempted 12 triples on Thursday, but he only hit two of them despite shooting 39.8% from deep prior to Thursday. 

 

 

Notes: 

 

A lot of fantasy owners were watching Marquese Chriss closely tonight because he averaged 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 2.5 blocks and 3.0 treys in his previous two games, so of course he flopped with five points, four rebounds and one steal in 24 minutes. You can’t rely on him during the fantasy playoffs. 

 

Corey Brewer had 17 points with four rebounds, one assist, one steal and two triples in the starting lineup for the Thunder, but given the opponent and Brewer’s history, this has fluke written all over it. Ignore him. 

 

Nemanja Bjelica had a monster game on Thursday, scoring a career-high 30 points with 12 rebounds, two assists and six treys in 40 minutes. We know coach Tom Thibodeau is going to ride him while Jimmy Butler (knee) is out, and Butler isn’t expected back for at least a couple more weeks. He’s a strong pickup despite a poor fantasy playoff schedule for the Wolves, as he averaged 10.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 triples in eight previous starts. 

 

Caris LeVert had 22 points, four rebounds, eight assists, one steal and two turnovers in 30 minutes, and he closed another game with the second unit rolling. LeVert has looked much better since the All-Star break and had that big 27-point game vs. the Clippers a couple games ago, but he’s going to be a volatile fantasy option while D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie are healthy.




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