We made it to the All-Star break with only the Clippers vs. Celtics and the Thunder vs. Pelicans tonight for a two-game slate to cap off the unofficial first half of the season. A lot of players will have a week to get right to recover from injuries, but we had two major injuries on Wednesday night to put the outlook for two studs in question.
The big injury on Wednesday night was Damian Lillard suffering a groin strain in the second half against the Grizzlies. Devin Booker has already replaced Dame for the All-Star Game, and we’ll have to wait for an MRI on one of the most indestructible players in the NBA. Lillard has routinely been a stud to finish the season, and he’s the only player in the league to be a top-six guy for each of the last three seasons for total nine-category value after the break. Lillard said he didn’t feel a pop when he suffered the injury, and he didn’t sound too distraught after the game. “When it happened, I just felt it,” Lillard said about the injury (via NBC Sports Northwest). “I knew that I pulled it. It made no sense to be out there for the last few minutes and risk trying to play through it and make things worse. I walked off the court just fine even though it was painful.” Groin issues tend to require some time off, so it’s possible that Dame is out to start the post-break run. There will be more below, but Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. look like great adds right now.
The other big injury was an MRI revealed Karl-Anthony Towns had a “wrist injury” and he missed Wednesday’s game. Towns suffered a left wrist injury back in the middle of January, and coach Ryan Saunders had said he has been playing through it. The good news is the Wolves are off for nine days, so maybe that’ll be enough to get him right. However, it’s hard to not worry here after KAT was questionable for a month due to knee injury, and the Wolves may try to tank it up to get a higher lottery pick in June. Coach Ryan Saunder said the injury isn’t something the team can control, and they’ll “try to push forward.” This could just be a one-game thing, but it really makes sense to add Naz Reid and James Johnson while we wait for the games to start up again next week.
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Other injuries to monitor over the break
Luke Kennard (knee) could be back after the break and could be someone to watch in a messy backcourt rotation.
Jusuf Nurkic (leg) could be back at some point after the break and it’s time to stash him in even shallower non-IR daily leagues.
Richaun Holmes (shoulder) could be back next month, and Alex Len (hip) could return sooner. The Kings went with Nemanja Bjelica as a five last night to open up some run for Kent Bazemore. This could be good news for Jabari Parker, too.
Deandre Ayton (ankle) has another ankle injury, and perhaps the break can get him right.
Patrick Beverley (groin) is still getting over his aggravated groin injury.
Thomas Bryant (foot) expects to be back after the break after he aggravated his foot injury.
Tyler Herro’s ankle issue could still keep him out after the break. That Miami rotation is super deep right now, so Herro is likely a drop.
D.J. Augustin (knee) should be back after the break and had some value prior to his injury. A possible deep-league stash.
Adds from the week
Jae Crowder (38%), Trevor Ariza (26%), Dewayne Dedmon (44%), Larry Nance (63%), Rui Hachimura (56%), Brandon Clarke (68%), Malik Beasley (49%) and some others have already seen their ownerships shoot up in the last couple days and are likely already owned where they need to be.
Damion Lee (20%) - His ownership surprisingly didn’t spike after his career-high 26 points on Monday, and Lee put up an across-the-board line on Wednesday with 10 points, five boards, three dimes, three steals and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes. Coach Steve Kerr is shifting his guard rotation to make Jordan Poole a point, so Lee should have a very long leash with minutes in the 30s. Sure, Stephen Curry (hand) could come back and cut into Lee’s usage, but that’s no lock as the Warriors hunt the No. 1 lottery position.
Moe Wagner (25%) - In limited playing time, Wagner has been productive so far with 10.2 points, 4.4 boards, 1.0 dimes, 0.6 steals and 0.4 blocks on a 64/14/62 shooting line since returning from injury. Wagner was among the league leaders for TS%, and his playing time figures to trend up as he gets his legs back. He was also ejected on Wednesday, so that explains why he went from 27 minutes on Tuesday to 17 minutes on Wednesday. Thomas Bryant (foot) is likely going to have some restrictions on him after the break, so Wagner could get to 24-26 minutes on a regular basis. If that’s the case, he could score in the teens with plenty of goodies on great shooting. Don’t forget, he was a “run, don’t walk” add back when Bryant was hurt earlier this year, and he was already flirting with mid-round upside as Bryant’s backup. He has very attractive upside.
De’Andre Hunter (22%) - One of the handful of guys who finds his way on this column all too often, he looks to be back in our lives with some solid play lately. In his last three, he’s averaged 13.7 points, 6.7 boards, 1.7 dimes, 2.7 steals and 2.7 treys on a 42/47/60 shooting line. Coach Lloyd Pierce seems sold on playing him huge minutes, so he should be close to 35 even with Cam Reddish back now.
Thon Maker (19%) - In fantasy, he was getting dumped like a truck, truck, truck, but now we’re all like what, what, what? Maker has really shined since the deadline, averaging 14.0 points, 6.0 boards, 1.5 dimes, 1.5 blocks, 0.8 steals and 1.3 treys on a 58/42/64 shooting line. The Pistons appear to be set on playing most of their younger guys, and Maker was still able to get key minutes on Wednesday even with Markieff Morris back out there -- Sekou Doumbouya isn’t playing well enough for big minutes. Maker was always viewed as a high-upside guy, and you might remember when the Bucks were going to try him out at point guard in Vegas, but that obviously won’t be happening. While Maker won’t be anything close to Christian Wood, with Sekou fading and even John Henson disappearing on Wednesday, Maker could be an impact guy in competitive leagues.
Anfernee Simons (4%) - This one is all about the Damian Lillard (groin) injury. It does help he did go off on Wednesday with a season-high 22 points in 28 minutes. Simons has been valuable without Dame next to him, putting up per-36 stats of 17.7 points, 4.3 boards, 2.8 dimes, 0.6 steals and 2.1 treys on a 42/39/85 shooting line. Even if you cut the sample down to Simons with C.J. McCollum and without Dame, Simons still has per-36 stats of 16.7 points, 4.9 boards, 2.5 dimes, 0.5 steals and 2.2 treys. He also has a much better shooting line at 47/48/92 in that 378-minute sample. Simons did flop in his two games without Dame earlier this season due to just a 27.3 FG%, averaging 9.5 points, 2.5 boards, 2.5 dimes and 1.5 treys in 26.7 minutes per game, but the Blazers are a little thinner on the wing with Rodney Hood (Achilles) out for the season this time around. We know Simons has it in him with a big summer league performance and that epic 37/6/9 line in the 2018-19 season finale. He’s an easy stash as we wait on details on Dame D.O.L.L.A.
Kevin Porter Jr. (9%) - The Kevin Love (Achilles) soreness issue could really unlock KPJ’s upside. Plus, Cedi Osman isn’t playing great either to really open things up for him, and it certainly helps he’s playing extremely well on offense. Since returning from injury, Porter Jr. has averaged 15.3 points, 2.6 boards, 2.1 dimes, 1.1 steals, 2.0 treys and 2.4 turnovers on a 52/49/67 shooting line. He’s shot 80% at the rim in this span and he’s really improved as a shooter in that span. He’s also hit 31-plus minutes in two of the last three, and coach John Beilein clearly trusts him right now. Beilein even played him down the stretch back on Jan. 30 despite Porter’s seven turnovers. Things are looking up in a big way.
Seth Curry (18%) - It’s hard to buy someone who is just on a hot streak, but goodness Curry is on fire right now. In five February games, Curry has scored 18.8 points per game on a 56/65(!)/100 shooting line. You may have heard Curry kids can shoot it, and Curry should start to push the other G/F guys for more playing time even with Luka Doncic back in action. Plus, with Dwight Powell (Achilles) out and now with Kristaps Porzingis more open to playing the five, Curry has more paths to minutes.
Naz Reid (2%) - Naz is like half man, half amazing. With Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) out, Naz saw 22 minutes against the Hornets with 12 points, six boards, one steal, one block and no turnovers. He’s been very productive when he steps on the floor, putting up per-36 stats of 23.3 points, 8.7 boards, 2.3 dimes, 1.0 steals, 1.7 blocks and 3.7 treys on a 42/36/76 shooting line. Reid had already won the backup center job, and he’s growing in front of our very eyes since his out-of-the-blue summer league run back in July. He did also see 10 minutes in a game next to KAT last Wednesday, so maybe things open up there. Given the Wolves’ record, I’d give Naz a slight edge as an add over…
James Johnson (6%) - The black-belted big man got a start at center on Wednesday and filled it up with five points, five boards, five assists, three steals, three blocks and one 3-pointer in 32 minutes. As mentioned above, we can’t be totally sold that KAT will be coming back, and Johnson as gone on runs as a stat-stuffing option. Plus, the Wolves offense suits his style of play. He does have a player option next year, and the Wolves may start to tank it up. If you have KAT, adding Johnson makes a lot of sense.
Gary Trent Jr. (16%) - It looked like he was headed to Cut City after his second four-point game in a row on Wednesday, but Trent Jr. would also get a boost if Dame does need to miss time. GTJ had a huge week last week with a three-game run of 18.7 points per game. Unlike Simons, Trent Jr. can probably stay on the wire while we wait on news, but if we do find out Dame is out, Trent Jr. is worth an add in competitive leagues.
Cam Reddish (14%) - He had a scary knee injury on Wednesday, but Reddish was able to return late in the fourth quarter. He had a useful stat line on Wednesday with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Reddish’s defense should keep him on the floor, and he’s shown at times he can add some non-scoring stats. He’s likely going to tank FG%, but coach Lloyd Pierce should turn to him more often.
Cody Martin (1%) - The timing of his concussion couldn’t have been worse with coach James Borrego now looking to his young guys for more minutes. Martin was doing on-court work on Wednesday, so he should be back after the break. In his last two active games, Martin averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 boards, 2.0 dimes, 1.5 steals and 1.5 treys in 32.2 minutes per game. Add that to how Terry Rozier has a knee issue, Martin could be someone to watch in a hurry.
Malik Monk (14%) - He’s on fire right now, averaging 20.0 points, 3.8 boards, 1.5 dimes, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.5 treys on a 55/50/80 shooting line over his last four. He was used as a backup PG on Wednesday with Terry Rozier out, and of course the Hornets had reportedly prioritized getting more out of Monk this season back when they were looking for front office help. To Monk’s credit, he is up to a respectable 43.8 FG% on the year, but he’s been empty on defensive stats through most of his career with not much in the non-scoring areas. I’d be skeptical about his outlook going forward, but there are worse players to add.
Jordan Poole (2%) - For now he’s the starting PG, scoring 12 points with three rebounds, three assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes against the Suns on Wednesday. Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is Ky Bowman becomes an easy drop, and it’s still a tough sell on Poole with his 29.5 FG% on the season. Although, he is at 41.8 FG% in February, averaging 10.7 points, 2.7 dimes, 0.8 steals and 1.2 trey in those games. He’s basically a middle-class man’s version of Malik Monk, and of course the Steph factor is on the horizon.
Moe Harkless (3%) - He played 25 minutes on Wednesday compared to just 10 minutes from Taj Gibson, so maybe Harkless can find a path closer to 30 minutes. He’s shown he could be a steal, block and three guy in previous years, and this team needs some help at forward right now.
D.J. Augustin (20%) - He was kind of rolling prior to his injury, averaging 13.2 points, 2.5 boards, 5.2 dimes, 0.7 steals and 1.5 treys over his six January games. DJA should be back after the break, but he’s still likely more of a stream play in deep leagues.
Jerome Robinson (0%) - He’s found a rotation spot right now with minutes a tick under 20 when garbage time isn’t a factor. Robinson would likely need a Beal shutdown to get on the map, but the Wizards offense has turned some guys into hot fantasy pickups.