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Mike Gallagher

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NBA Injury Impact

Thursday, January 10, 2019


We’re at the halfway point of the year with all but nine teams getting to 41 games on the season. With that, there should be a few more injury risks or possible shutdowns going forward as teams either tank it up or position themselves for a postseason run. With that in mind, I thought it might be useful to run down some of the injury fallout for injuries from Sunday to Wednesday for this Thursday column.

 

Usually, it’ll be 1-2 injuries in a deep-dive style, and then I’ll hit the other injury news and sort of cut to the chase. It might vary a bit with style because after all this column will be depending on how things play out with DNPs. In other words, maybe it'll be one super deep dive, or other weeks it might be a handful of injuries with an even amount of analysis.


When it’s not Thursday, follow me on Twitter @MikeSGallagher for lots of injury news and analysis.


Devin Booker (back) - He suffered the injury on Sunday and has missed the last two games. This seems to be an aggravation for Book because he was listed as questionable for Dec. 31 with a back injury. Back in that game last week, Booker was about five minutes late for warmups and he basically had his back and hamstrings stretched out while on the floor leading up to the game. Booker was getting stretched out yesterday, but that’s not exactly the most encouraging sign. Back when he was getting over a hammy strain last month, Booker was going through pre-game warmups as recent as Dec. 6, but he did not return to game action until Dec. 15. Sure, a back injury is way different than a hammy strain, but it could be a while before he’s back in action. Plus, the Suns sitting in second in the lottery standings won’t help him either, so injuries to his back and hammy increase the chances he'll be shut down.


If you missed NBA Matchups from Tuesday, here’s how it played out after Booker’s injury on Sunday:


Booker exited with 5:33 left in the second quarter with De’Anthony Melton replacing him. Melton was then replaced by Josh Jackson with 2:52 left in the second to make Jamal Crawford the PG with Jackson, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton for most of that time. Jackson is clearly the big winner from the Booker news with a 18.5 minutes in the second half with 14 points, Warren had a team-high 20.1 minutes with 15 points, De’Anthony Melton was up to 16.5 in the second half, Bridges had 14.5 and Jamal Crawford sat at 12.4 (Kelly Oubre Jr. 8.5, Elie Okobo 5.6). The Crawford, Melton, Warren, Jackson and Ayton lineup was essentially the closing lineup with a few subs in the fourth quarter along the way in the close loss.


The Suns have also played close contests in the last two Booker has missed with a 115-111 home win over the Kings on Tuesday and a 104-94 loss in Dallas on Wednesday. Much like the Sunday second half, the easy analysis is Josh Jackson is the biggest winner, averaging 15.0 points, 5.0 boards, 4.0 dimes, 3.0 steals, 3.0 turnovers and 1.0 treys in 30.5 minutes per game. Jackson and T.J. Warren are the only two players to see run in the four most-used lineups over the last two. Jackson was also playing better leading up to this run, so maybe it’s a repeat of last season when he was awful until January and then turned it on after that. Plus, he’s played so well that maybe he gets a starting job even when Booker is back. It also appears T.J. Warren and Kelly Oubre are somewhat safe as the only other two Suns to play 30 minutes in each of the last two games with Oubre getting especially hot. Warren has also been fairly effective without Booker, posting per-36 stats of 22.6 points, 5.1 boards, 1.6 dimes, and 1.2 turnovers with a 2.1 usage rate boost on the year.


De’Anthony Melton is also a big winner over the last two, averaging 7.0 points, 3.5 boards, 7.0 dimes, 3.0 steals, 2.0 blocks and 0.5 treys. Before the Booker news, Melton was only used in one of the four most-used lineup combos and just three of the 16 most used. Now, he’s in the six of the eight most-used lineup combos since Sunday. He did get in a little foul trouble on Wednesday, but it’s pretty clear Igor wants to give Melton more run. He should be owned in most fantasy leagues at least until Booker is back and will continue to offer plenty of upside in DFS.


Over those two games, the starting unit of De’Anthony Melton, Josh Jackson, Mikal Bridges, T.J. Warren and Deandre Ayton played 24 minutes combined with a +8.4 net rating. That lineup did not play in the fourth in either of the two games, and the Suns only used it for 3.1 minutes in one of the two second quarters. Coach Igor Kokoskov made a lot of different tweaks to his rotation in the two games with only one non-starting lineup getting minutes in both games with more than 2.5 minutes per game (Melton, Jackson, Kelly Oubre, Warren, Holmes). Part of that is because Jamal Crawford didn’t play on Wednesday, and Igor said that it was his decision because of the back-to-back set. He added he wanted to play Eile Okobo more because of that, so it’s hard to buy into Okobo’s 23 minutes with 10 points, four boards and three dimes from last night.


So what’s up with Mikal Bridges? That would be Troy Daniels, who has played 13.5 minutes per game over the last two. Over the last three games, those two have played together for just four minutes combined, which led to Bridges playing just 22.5 minutes in his last two. Bridges was sitting at 31.5 minutes per game in the two games with Booker active, but it shouldn’t be long before Bridges is back to getting 30-plus minutes. Igor has talked about how the Suns need offense without Booker, and his answer appears to be Daniels in certain spots.


As for the centers, they’re not really affected by the Booker news because Igor doesn’t play two-center lineups. Although, Deandre Ayton’s slumps have coincided with Booker being out. He shoots the ball worse without Book, he fouls more, and he has a -11.6 net rating without him, too (-4.1 with). Igor loves Richaun Holmes for his presence in the paint, and he’s done enough per-minute to be counted on in most fantasy leagues. Quincy Acy has also been a straight backup to Warren as a PF.


Adds and cheaper DFS plays: Kelly Oubre, De’Anthony Melton, Josh Jackson

Boosts: Richaun Holmes, T.J. Warren

Watch Lists: Elie Okobo, Troy Daniels, Jamal Crawford


Other News


Jared Dudley (hamstring), Allen Crabbe (knee), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin), and Caris LeVert (foot) - Yikes. Dudley looks like he’ll be out of the lineup for a handful of games after a hamstring pull with 6:35 left in the third quarter on Wednesday. Crabbe is still out with a bad fat pad in his knee and he will be re-evaluated in the next week. Hollis-Jefferson is getting over his second groin pull since the summer, and the Nets continue to rule him out well before an upcoming game -- this new groin issue is to a different side, though. We’re still a little in the dark on LeVert, but he is sitting on the bench and doesn’t appear to be limping while walking around.


All these injuries to forwards mean DeMarre Carroll is probably going to have to play almost straight PF. After the Dudley injury, Carroll was in a whopping 10 of the 12 lineups, finishing with 17 points, three rebounds and two 3-pointers in just 21 minutes. He didn’t play on Monday because of a back-to-back set, but the Nets won’t play a B2B until Jan. 28-29. He should be looking at heavy minutes as a multiple-category stat filler.


After the Dudley injury, Carroll was first in minutes, Shabazz Napier was second and Treveon Graham was third. In the last three games, Napier has played 13 minutes next to both D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie. He played next to just Russell for 30 and just Dinwiddie for 30, so clearly coach Kenny Atkinson trusts his multiple-PG lineups with 'Bazz in the mix. Napier has been sitting at 26.0 minutes per game over the last five even with Russell and Dinwiddie both in the lineup, averaging 12.2 points, 3.2 boards, 4.0 dimes, 1.0 steals and 1.8 treys. He should rack up the counting stats. Treveon Graham might be in the starting lineup to keep Carroll in his current role, but he’s not exactly a stat filler. Per 36, he’s sitting at just 5.1 points, 4.8 boards, 2.2 dimes, 1.1 blocks, 0.7 steals and 0.7 treys. He could be a DFS punt or a deep-league add, and hey I’ll take him over someone like Chandler Hutchison.


Joe Harris can also play multiple positions and averaged 18.3 points per game over his last three full active games. Plus, Rodions Kurucs is back and should see big minutes with the lack of depth, making him a pickup again after the drought from last week. Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis offer higher floors because RHJ plays some five. Russell and Dinwiddie shouldn’t be affected, but they could offer higher floors.


Gary Harris (hamstring) - He is banged up again, but we know the deal here. Malik Beasley and Monte Morris should put up serviceable stats while Harris is out. Beasley’s strong play has also made Juancho Hernangomez fall out of favor in fantasy.


Larry Nance (knee) - He's going to miss time with a knee injury. The Cavs are in trouble with their center depth with just Tristan Thompson, Ante Zizic and Channing Frye as options. Plus, Frye started at PF on Wednesday like Nance did, but he's impossible to trust in most fantasy circumstances. Zizic could be an interesting stash because Thompson was a game-time call with foot soreness -- he missed time with a foot issue last month. Plus, guys like Jordan Clarkson and Alec Burks could be asked to make more plays. As for Collin Sexton, man, he's impossible to trust in nine-cat leagues right now.


Nerlens Noel (concussion) - Thank goodness he’s OK after that scary fall, but he’ll likely miss several games. It should be Patrick Patterson as the backup C, but it’s worth a mention Jerami Grant played 14 minutes as the lone PF/C this season. He should gain some value.


Moe Harkless (knee) - He can’t shake the knee soreness, and it could be Jake Layman starting for a few. Layman isn’t the guy you want in fantasy, though. That would be Seth Curry after a 17-point Wednesday. He has played next to both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum for 88 minutes on the year, posting a +21.2 net rating. Just keep an eye on him in deep leagues, unless Harkless gets ruled out for a longer period of time.


Rudy Gay (wrist) - His wrist injury is back. On Saturday, it looked like he was flexing his wrist after a fall into the first row, so that may have been when he aggravated it. Coach Gregg Popovich said he’ll miss more time, but there really isn’t anyone worthwhile as a fantasy add. Jakob Poeltl got the last two starts, but it was Davis Bertans closing in the second half. Marco Belinelli could be the sneaky winner, as well.


Ricky Rubio (hamstring) and Dante Exum (ankle) - Both guys are expected to miss 1-2 weeks, which moves Raul Neto into the first unit. Neto got the playing time on Wednesday with 30.6 minutes, scoring 10 points with three rebounds, three assists, one steal and two turnovers. He actually shot the ball a bit with 11 attempts from the field, but Neto is probably going to be the worst per-minute starting PGs out there.


So what about the remaining 17 minutes at PG? That would be Donovan Mitchell playing in the remaining lineups with more than 17 minutes there to open up some time for Kyle Korver and Royce O’Neale. Korver would be the guy you’d want to target because he’s so efficient as a shooter while O’Neale is more of a reality guy over fantasy.



Mike Gallagher has covered fantasy hoops for eight years and this season is his second with Rotoworld. You can find him on Twitter talking about a player's shots at the rim.
Email :Mike Gallagher



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