January 06, 2012
Let's cut right to the unpleasant details here. Stephen Curry has sprained his ankle seven times in the past 15 months, with a surgical procedure and rehabilitation mixed in (four before, three after). His past six starts, dating back to the Warriors' final preseason game and covering 15 days, have produced three sprains to his surgically-repaired ligaments. Here's the video of each of the seven sprains - what is particularly troubling is that most are not influenced by contact. There are plenty of theories as to why this keeps happening, but what is certain is that the Warriors can no longer put off the decision to shut Curry down and spare him a truly serious injury, which has moved from a matter of "if" to an inevitable "when". The Warriors have done anything but exercise caution with Curry, but that has to change now, or at least it needs to. Curry is set to be evaluated by team doctors on Saturday, with a course of action to be determined at that point. So let's take a look at fallout from what is expected to be some bad news for Curry and his fantasy owners.
Mark Jackson apparently does not like what he's seen from Ishmael Smith thus far, because Charles Jenkins has been announced as the starter for Friday. Jenkins was a very successful four-year starter at Hofstra and does lots of things well. He's smart, plays with determination, has good size, can knock down a jumper or get to the rim, and is a willing defender. What we don't yet know is how much of a leash Mark Jackson will give Jenkins, because he's already talking up Nate Robinson's game. Nate Rob can give this team some energy off the bench, but it's in everyone's best interest that Jenkins succeeds as the starting point guard. I'd give Jenkins a roster spot shot before Robinson because I do not expect him to fail, but both players are worth a look in deeper leagues while we wait for a Curry update. Monta Ellis can also slide to point guard occasionally, opening up more minutes for Brandon Rush and Klay Thompson. Rush has been wildly inconsistent but certainly is notable for combined threes, steals, and blocks potential, and his role certainly doesn't shrink with Curry out. Thompson has yet to show he'll do anything but shoot long jumpshots, so keep expecting some threes (1 per game, 38%), a poor shooting percentage (33% FG), and little-to-no supporting stats. As for the Warriors' other notables: Ellis is back up over 40 minutes per game (43 over the over past two) and will be run into the ground if Curry is out for an extended period; David Lee's responsibilities will expand, and he'll have a chance to get his offensive game back on track; and Dorell Wright will need to step up, so there's that.
• Eric Gordon experienced swelling in his knee after playing 39 minutes in the team's 101-93 loss the 76ers on Wednesday and has been shut down for at least two weeks. Gordon looked strong and aggressive after an initial week of rest, but there are obviously reasons to be disappointed and concerned here, although it's really a positive that the Hornets clearly have Gordon's best long-term interests in mind. Marco Belinelli will once again start in Gordon's place, but he's shooting just 32 percent on the season, including 29 percent from three (40% career). Those percentages should come around a bit, but he's not offering much outside of threes even in a best-case. Newly-acquired Xavier Henry will back up Belinelli, and Jarrett Jack will continue to shoulder a heavy load for this team moving forward.
• Corey Maggette has been diagnosed with a strained left hamstring and is expected to be sidelined for two to four weeks as a result. If you've been looking for a reason to cut Maggette in a standard league, this is it. His solid (and expected) contributions in foul shooting (5.2 FTA, 87%) have been more than offset by his other stats (30% FG, 2.5 turnovers, 0.5 steals) and there aren't likely to be dramatic enough improvements moving forward to warrant a wait. And hamstring injuries do tend to linger. Derrick Brown will move into the starting five but won't move the needle in anything but the deepest of leagues. Bump up all other notable Bobcats regulars, as they'll see a usage uptick while Maggette is out. The Bobcats have lost Maggette but will gain Tyrus Thomas, who expected to make his season debut on Friday. He'll jump right into the rotation with playing time at both forward spots and will be plenty useful for fantasy even if he only approximates his career per-25 minute averages (10.2 points, 6.4 boards, 1.1 steals, 1.7 blocks). If you've been waiting for that right time to add Thomas (49% owned), this is it. And you may want to also consider Kemba Walker if he's been cut loose in your league recently. His per-minute numbers are excellent and that jumper is going to start falling at some point, and we should see D.J. Augustin, Walker, and Gerald Henderson on the court together with more regularity.
• Thursday's good news for the Kings was that Paul Westphal was relieved of his duties and replaced by Keith Smart. The bad news was that Chuck Hayes suffered a separated shoulder and will be sidelined for up to a month. The injury means that Hayes can be dropped in all but deep formats, and J.J. Hickson and Jason Thompson are now both in line for regular minutes. The coaching change breathes some much-needed new life into the roster and franchise, and there certainly were signs of life in their comeback win over the Bucks on Thursday night. The Kings also benefited from a players-only meeting, organized by Hayes and held earlier in the day. Make no mistake, this is still a roster full of players that prefer isolation plays and are typically not concerned with efficiency, and they are now missing their best defensive player, but the move away from Westphal can be looked at as nothing but a positive. The expected rotation isn't likely to change much moving forward, but the level of energy and effort given by the players almost certainly will.
• Kobe Bryant is receiving numbing injections before every game just to allow him to play. Couple this news with the reaction by Kobe and Lakers fans to his rank on the latest hoops Big Board and I can only advise that you pursue one course of action: find the Lakers fan in your league and sell! Click here for a breakdown of the lengths that Kobe has to go to just to suit up every night, and keep in mind that we're just two weeks into a four-month season.
• Jason Kidd left Thursday's game with a non-specific lower back injury and will have his status updated sometime on Friday. Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois, and Delonte West would be in line for Kidd's minutes if he were to happen to miss some time.
• Other Friday status updates: Derrick Rose (elbow) is expected to play, while Richard Hamilton (groin) will be a game-time decision .. Deron Williams and Kris Humphries are expected to play, MarShon Brooks will be a game-time decision .. Ray Allen (illness) is expected to play .. Kyle Lowry (foot) will be a game-time decision .. The Pistons will be without both Rodney Stuckey (groin) and Ben Gordon (personal). Brandon Knight and Austin Daye will start in their respective places .. Andrew Bogut (personal) is currently in Australia and is expected to miss "a few more games" .. J.J. Barea (hamstring) is out .. Devin Harris (calf) and Josh Howard (quad) are both expected to play .. Nene Hilario (heel) will be a game-time decision.
• Iman Shumpert was a highlight in the Knicks' otherwise unimpressive 118-110 loss to the Bobcats on Wednesday. Shumpert returned early from a knee injury and scored 18 points in 30 minutes (6-10 FG) while adding four threes, two steals, and a block. There was talk of his replacing Landry Fields in the starting five as soon as Friday, but Mike D'Antoni decided to not make the move and said he'd worry about "the other fluff stuff" later. Shumpert will clearly play steady minutes even as a reserve and deserves consideration in fantasy leagues, but be careful not to overstate his possible impact. He does have great strength and athleticism that can manifest itself in steals, boards, and free throw attempts, but made only three of 13 shots in his season debut and does not project to have much efficiency on offense, particularly within half-court sets. Feel free to grab him in standard formats, but be realistic with expectations and prepare for inconsistency regardless of role. Fields is really struggling and looks expendable in most standard leagues.
• Kenneth Faried had some hype coming into the season because he averaged 13.5 boards, 1.8 steals, and 2 blocks over his final three college seasons and because things like this also tend to happen when he's on the court. But the Nuggets are deep at the power positions and George Karl is happy with the current rotation - click here for Karl's detailed explanation as to why Faried is only going to be seeing garbage minutes for the foreseeable future.
• Scanning the Buzz Index: Drew Gooden is in line for a few more starts with Andrew Bogut away from the team and will have a very steady role otherwise. There are cheap, solid big-man stats waiting for you here .. So maybe Marvin Williams is still what we thought he was, after all? .. Gary Neal played only 20 minutes in his first start but managed 12 points, four threes, five boards, and two steals. The minutes and production will climb as he works his way back to full game shape .. I can understand impatience with Samuel Dalembert, but he will eventually be the starter. He joined the Rockets without the benefits of even a short camp, and Jordan Hill is clearly not the answer at center against the majority of the league's teams .. Rick Adelman has been masterful with his point guard minutes this season, and Luke Ridnour has been the "other" benefactor. In 27 minutes, he's averaged 11.3 points on 54-percent shooting, 1.2 threes, 3.7 assists, and 1 steal. Those are useful numbers that should hold fairly steady, even if Ricky Rubio were to get a promotion.
Check the comments below and @busersports on Twitter for further status updates