The Dreaded Non-Contact Injury
Jimmy Butler went down with an ugly non-contact right knee injury during the third quarter of Friday’s loss to the Rockets, and could not put any pressure at all on his right leg as he was carried back to the locker room.
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) February 24, 2018
— ESPN (@espn) February 24, 2018
X-rays came back negative, but that really doesn’t tell us anything, as it’s the MRI that will reveal whether or not he tore a ligament in his knee – he’s scheduled for one on Saturday. Tom Thibodeau would not comment on the extent of the injury after the game, but non-contact injuries are extremely worrisome, and the mood in the Minnesota locker room was reportedly “somber.” If you want a positive spin, David Aldridge reported that there’s “some optimism” that Butler did not tear his ACL, and Buckets himself was reportedly in “good spirits” after the game, but as a pessimist/realist, I take these sorts of reports with a grain of salt. Owners should hang on until we get official word, but brace for the worst and hope for the best… Thibodeau had Buckets averaging 40 minutes a game through the month of February.
In terms of fantasy hoops, Andrew Wiggins is going to be one of the primary beneficiaries, as his usage rate has spiked to 27.7 while Butler has been off the floor this season (his 40-point explosion earlier in the year came while Butler was watching from the sidelines). Karl-Anthony Towns, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford will also have more shots coming their way sans Jimmy, Nemanja Bjelica could be moving into the starting lineup, and Shabazz Muhammad will be a more consistent part of the rotation. Both Crawford and Bjelica are on the radar in deep leagues, and if forced to choose between the two, I’d lean towards Bjelica.
Through four games as a starter this season, Bjelica compiled averages of 11.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 triples, 1.8 dimes, 1.8 steals and 1.0 turnover per game on 41.5% shooting from the field and 80.0% shooting from the stripe.
Jamal Crawford also had a nice two-game stretch earlier in the year when Buckets was out, posting averages of 20.0 points, 5.0 assists, 1.0 trey and 1.0 turnover, but he was hitting an unsustainable 61.5% of his attempts over that two-game span. He should be able to offer up some points, dimes and triples, but there won’t be many defensive stats and he’ll be inconsistent, which is why I’d lean towards Bjelica.
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No. 1 Stud
Anthony Davis propelled the Pelicans to victory during Friday’s 124-123 overtime win over the Heat, exploding for 45 points (17-of-34 FGs, 10-of-11 FTs), 17 rebounds, two assists, five steals, five swats and two turnovers in 41 minutes of floor time. He’s been on another planet ever since DeMarcus Cousins hit the sidelines, registering averages of 32.7 points, 12.7 boards, 2.3 dimes, 1.5 trey-bombs, 2.5 steals, 2.4 swats and 2.8 turnovers per contest on 49.8% shooting from the field and 82.4% from the charity stripe, which has been good enough for the No. 1 spot in fantasy hoops. The Pelicans are battling for the No. 8 seed out West, so as long as AD can stay healthy, the gaudy stat lines should continue.
On the Radar
John Collins got another start and finished with nine points (4-of-6 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), nine boards and two swats over 30 minutes. The Hawks initiated the buyout process with Ersan Ilyasova on Friday, so Collins should be a starter the rest of the way, making him a must-own guy in all leagues. Like all rookie bigs, foul trouble and inconsistency will be an issue, but he should be a nice source of blocks with double-double potential.
Taurean Prince wasn’t horrible on Friday, scoring 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting to go with seven boards, two triples, two assists, three steals and six turnovers in 27 minutes. Prince has been woefully inconsistent this year, but he’s been better through the month of February with averages of 13.8 points, 2.2 assists, 1.7 triples, 1.1 steals and 2.4 turnovers per game on 37.8% shooting. His FG% is tough to swallow in category-based leagues, but he becomes a lot more palatable in points leagues.
Isaiah Taylor went 7-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe on his way to 17 points, six assists, two steals and two turnovers in 23 minutes off the bench. Taylor outplayed Dennis Schroder in this one, and also had a nice 13-point, seven-dime outing in the final game prior to the All-Star break, so he’s on the radar in deep leagues.
Ish Smith hit 9-of-11 shots on his way to 20 points, six assists, two rebounds, one 3-pointer and two turnovers in 33 minutes. Reggie Jackson (ankle) won’t be back for at least another few weeks, and he’ll likely be eased back into things once he does get back out there, so as long as Smith is starting he’ll be worth owning in most formats.
Reggie Bullock came through with 13 points, three triples, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover across 31 minutes. He’s been a steady top-100 option since the Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris were sent away in the Blake Griffin deal with averages of 14.8 points, 2.7 triples, 3.8 boards, 1.4 dimes and 1.2 turnovers per contest on 49.1% shooting, so give him a look if those numbers are appealing.
Tomas Satoransky put up 11 points, one 3-pointer, two assists, two rebounds, one steal and one turnover in 34 minutes. He’s been a sneaky top-25 option ever since entering the starting lineup, posting averages of 12.0 points, 5.6 dimes, 1.3 triples, 1.6 steals and just 1.4 turnovers per game on 56.3% shooting, so he should be owned in way more than just 34% of Yahoo! Leagues.
Alex Len got the start with Tyson Chandler (neck) unavailable and finished with 14 points, 13 boards, one assist, one steal, one swat and zero turnovers in 24 minutes. He’s about as inconsistent as they come, but with Chandler dealing with an actual injury, he should be looking at another few starts as the last center standing in Phoenix. I wouldn’t cut anyone with long-term upside to nab him, but if you’ve got some trash on your roster, there’s nothing wrong with taking a flier on Len.
Tyrone Wallace started in place of Danilo Gallinari (hand) on Friday and finished with 15 points (6-of-13 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), eight rebounds, four assists, one 3-pointer, one block and one turnover in 37 minutes. He’s been impressive as a starter this season, owning averages of 11.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.5 swats per contest on 48.9% shooting, so if The Rooster can’t play on Tuesday, Wallace will be someone to consider streaming.
Larry Nance looked great in 27 minutes off the bench on Friday, tallying 15 points (6-of-11 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), eight boards, two dimes, four steals, two swats and just one turnover. This was easily his best game in a Cavs’ jersey, and I’d expect him to continue to get better as he adjusts to his new team. Nance’s numbers don’t often pop off the box score, but his ability rack up the defensive stats makes him an attractive deep league asset.
Al-Farouq Aminu only missed once during Friday’s easy win in Utah, netting 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with two triples, eight rebounds, one steal and one turnover in 33 minutes. He’s not the highest upside guy, but with averages of 9.6 points, 7.3 boards, 1.9 treys, 1.0 steal, 0.6 swats and 1.0 turnover per game on the year, he’s worth owning in most leagues.
Moe Harkless ripped away a season-high six steals on his way to six points, three boards, two assists, one block and one turnover in 26 minutes. He’s been incredibly inconsistent this season, but a six-steal game puts him on the radar as a potential steals specialist in really deep leagues.
Dejounte Murray went 5-of-9 from the field and 2-of-2 from the stripe on his way to 12 points, four rebounds, five assists, one block and three turnovers in 23 minutes of action. He had a really rough stretch in mid-January, but he’s been better as of late, posting averages of 10.9 points, 7.3 boards, 4.3 dimes, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks and 2.0 turnovers per game on 50.0% shooting over the past 11 games, which has been good enough for top-95 value in 9-cat leagues. He’s not the most consistent guy out there, but you got to love his ability to bring you blocks from the point guard position. He’s a fine low-end PG to own in deep leagues.
Josh Hart came through with yet another points-boards double-double on Friday, scoring 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting (1-of-2 from the line) to go with 10 rebounds, two assists, one 3-pointer, one steal and one turnover in 34 minutes. He’s really come alive through the month of February with averages of 12.3 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 triples, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 swats and 1.3 turnovers per game on 54.5% shooting, which has been good enough for top-50 value in 9-cat leagues.
Ivica Zubac, who had a 19-point, 11-board double-double in the final game heading into the All-Star break came through with 14 points (6-of-7 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), six rebounds, one assist and one turnover in 18 minutes off the bench on Friday. He had some post-break success last year with averages of 10.0 points, 4.5 boards and 1.1 blocks on 55.3% shooting from the field and 56.0% shooting from the stripe, so he’ll be a name to watch over this second half of the season with the Lakers playing for Ping-Pong balls.
Emeka Okafor swatted away another five shots in a start on Friday, adding two points, seven boards, one assist and one turnover over 18 minutes. He’ll be moving in and out of the starting five based on the matchup, but when he’s starting, he has some low-end appeal in deep leagues as a shot-blocking specialist.
Danilo Gallinari (right hand) did not play Friday after tweaking his shooting hand on Thursday, and he should be considered questionable for Tuesday’s game in Denver. Avery Bradley (groin) missed his second game in a row on Friday, and he too should be considered questionable for Tuesday’s game. Austin Rivers and Lou Williams will see some more shots come there way while both these guys are on the sidelines, and Tyrone Wallace will have another opportunity to start.
Tyreke Evans exited Friday’s game with a right rib injury and did not return, ending his evening with 15 points, 10 assists, three 3-pointers, four rebounds, three steals and four turnovers across 31 minutes. The injury didn’t look that bad, but with the Grizzlies going nowhere and set to play again on Saturday, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Evans sit out the second game of this back-to-back set. Wayne Selden (right knee) did not play Friday, and if both he and Evans are on the sidelines on Saturday, it could be Ben McLemore or Kobi Simmons earning the start, with more shots falling to Marc Gasol and Andrew Harrison. Harrison might be worth streaming in that scenario.
Lonzo Ball (knee) got back out there following a 15-game absence on Friday, tallying nine points, seven boards, six dimes, three triples and two turnovers in just 17 minutes off the bench. The Lakers are going to ease him back into things, but he should be back in the starting five soon enough. As a side note, he did share the floor with Isaiah Thomas, which is good news for both IT and Ball’s rest-of-season outlook.
LaMarcus Aldridge (knee soreness) returned from a two-game absence and posted 38 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal in 36 minutes. It seems unlikely that Kawhi Leonard (quad) will get back to the court this season, and the Spurs are just barely clinging to the No. 3 seed, so random rest days for LMA shouldn’t be too much of an issue down the stretch. I see him finishing the year as a top-20 guy.
John Henson (hamstring) was back in the starting five on Friday, logging 36 minutes on his way to 12 points, eight boards, three turnovers and no defensive statistics. The blocks are usually there for Henson, and he’s a reasonable low-end big to own in deep leagues.
Tyson Chandler (neck) did not play Friday, and him hitting the sidelines will likely be a common occurrence over this second half of the season. Alex Len got the start in his place, and he’s on the radar in deep leagues, despite being consistently inconsistent throughout his career.
Ricky Rubio, who missed the final three games heading into the break with a hip issue, was back in action on Friday and finished with four points, four boards, two assists and three turnovers in 20 minutes. Not great, but the game was a blowout and he was playing well prior to going down, so maybe he’ll be able to turn things around on Saturday against the Mavericks.
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) is “getting better,” but remained on the sidelines for Friday’s game against New Orleans. It sounds like he could be back relatively soon, but while he’s out, his minutes will be divvied up between James Johnson, Bam Adebayo and Hassan Whiteside.
Marreese Speights (personal) will miss at least the next two games for Orlando.
Nerlens Noel (thumb) will remain on the sidelines for at least another two games for the Mavericks. There are really no guarantees he’ll see the court again this season.
Rudy Gay (heel) returned from a two-month layoff on Friday, scoring five points on 2-of-4 shooting (1-of-2 from the stripe) to go with three rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes off the bench. I’d leave him on the wire in most leagues.
Danny Green (illness) did not play, and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in Cleveland.
Jordan Bell (ankle) won’t play Saturday vs. the Thunder, but there’s a good chance we’ll see him back in action on Monday in New York. JaVale McGee will earn another start on Saturday with Zaza Pachulia backing him up.
Marcus Smart (hand, knee) was back in action on Friday, finishing with 12 points, two triples, six dimes, three boards and three turnovers in 26 minutes off the bench. He’s worth owning in deep leagues if you’re okay with horrendous shooting percentages.
Trevor Ariza (hamstring) returned from a month-long layoff on Friday, tallying 11 points, three triples, five boards, one assist, one steal, one block and zero turnovers through 26 minutes as a starter. With Ariza back in action, Luc Mbah a Moute returned to the second unit where he finished with just one point and one rebound over 24 minutes. If you were using Mbah a Moute while Ariza was out, now would be the time to go ahead and send him back to the waiver wire. Ariza’s hamstring didn’t seem to bother him at all, so he should be fine moving forward.
Eric Gordon (illness) sat out Friday’s game and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game in Denver.
Aron Baynes exited Friday’s game with an elbow injury and did not return, so consider him questionable for Saturday’s game in New York. If he’s out, Daniel Theis and Greg Monroe will see an uptick in minutes, but those guys are too inconsistent to trust in most settings.
Glenn Robinson III (ankle) made his season debut on Friday, recording four points, two rebounds, one assist and one turnover in 19 minutes off the bench. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to establish himself as a factor in fantasy hoops this season while the Indiana forwards are healthy.
Manu Ginobili (chest) is questionable to play Sunday vs. Cleveland.