Friday started off with a pair of heartbreaking stories as it was announced that both Al Horford and Russell Westbrook will miss extended time due to their injuries. As the night progressed more injury news piled up as LeBron James looked gimpy and Bradley Beal went down with what looks like a serious injury. But it wasn’t all bad news. Larry Sanders returned and the aforementioned Stephen Curry did work for the blazing Warriors.
1. Curry notches a triple-double
Despite shooting just 5-17 from the field Curry posted a very nice triple-double on Friday night. The lightning-quick guard scored 14 points and set career-highs with 16 assists and 10 rebounds. He did turn the ball over seven times but on a night where the Warriors won by 29 points, Curry’s line is even more rewarding for fantasy owners. The Warriors have now won four straight and although Curry has been in a shooting funk as of late, his assist numbers have risen to compensate as he’s handing out 11 helpers per contest during the winning streak. He should be a top-5 fantasy player all year.
2. LeBron carry’s heavy load, gets banged up
In a game without Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, and Chris Andersen, LeBron James was forced to play over 43 minutes against a feisty Kings squad. Although he put up 33 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, James finished the game with a strained groin and a tweaked left ankle in a losing effort. The Heat travel to Portland on Saturday to play the Blazers and with James gimpy, he could potentially sit out. However, as we’ve seen before, James is a warrior and will play if he can. He recently played a game against the Pacers after publicly stating that there was a good chance he’d miss it, so owners would be wise to wait as long as possible before making any roster decisions involving James.
3. Beal down and out?
While James dealt with a slew of nagging injuries on Friday, Washington’s Bradley Beal may have suffered a serious injury against Minnesota. The guard hurt his left leg and went down in a heap during the fourth quarter. He had to be carried off the court and although X-rays were negative, he left the arena on crutches and is scheduled for an MRI on Saturday. Both Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza would see more touches if Beal misses any significant time. Ariza should already be owned and Webster is worth a speculative add given how bad the injury looked. Stay tuned as more information about Beal becomes available.
4. Reggie will get run with Westbrook out
Russell Westbrook underwent surgery on his right knee Friday and will be out until the All-Star break. This news came rather suddenly for fantasy owners but the silver lining here is that Reggie Jackson, who was already gaining some steam, is now the starting point guard and will get a ton of run going forward. Jackson started on Friday against Charlotte and although he shot poorly (4-19), he played over 30 minutes and should be much better going forward. Jeremy Lamb, who scored 10 points in nearly 24 minutes on Friday, is also worth a look while Westbrook is out.
5. With Horford out, who will step up?
The Hawks didn’t play on Friday night but will take on Charlotte Saturday. With Al Horford likely out for the year with a torn pectoral, the question remains, who will gain fantasy value in his absence? It’s honestly a tough call and a bit of a crapshoot at this point. In the short term, other stars like Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague should get even more touches going forward. Looking at the waiver wire guys like Elton Brand, Gustavo Ayon, Mike Scott, and even Pero Antic are all likely available in your league. However, waiting to see who emerges on Saturday night is probably the best strategy at this point. It’s also quite possible that the Hawks will play a lot more small ball with Lou Williams and Shelvin Mack benefiting.
6. Larry Sanders returns to hapless Bucks
On a day where injuries were the hot story, there was one notable return to report and that’s the Bucks’ Larry Sanders. The big man came off the bench to score 10 points with seven rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes. He fouled out but looked solid, providing his team with a much-needed inside presence. He really didn’t play alongside John Henson and it will be interesting to see if both can start down low. Either way, Sanders is very talented and is playing on a poor squad. He should not be available on any waiver wires and is a good bet to bounce back in 2014.
7. Hamilton serviceable in start
Jordan Hamilton supplanted the slumping Randy Foye in the starting line-up on Friday night and played well, scoring 12 points with two three-pointers and seven rebounds. The Denver guard was coming off a scoreless 18 minutes performance on Monday so this line comes with a grain of salt. However, Foye only played seven minutes and Hamilton played 32. The 23-year-old could carve out a role similar to Foye’s and be a good source of triples and boards given his 6-7 frame. He’s worth a look in deep leagues especially if he keeps starting.
8. Shumpert disappears in defeat
The Knicks blew a fourth quarter lead on Friday, dropping a tough one to the Raptors. While the loss was disheartening for the Knicks, the play of Iman Shumpert was also a cause for concern. The guard came in with a bruised thigh, which certainly played a role in his scoreless 12-minute performance. However, his play in general has been awful for the majority of the year and with Carmelo Anthony out, he hasn’t stepped up. He's averaging just six points, and nearly five rebounds on the season, making him droppable in most leagues. Sure, there is upside there when he’s nabbing defensive stats and hitting from downtown but if you’re still waiting for him to figure it out, it’s time to cut bait.
9. Iguodala still slumping
While teammate Stephen Curry was putting up numbers across the board, Andre Iguodala was barely visible on Friday night. The swingman scored just eight points with three rebounds and two turnovers in 25 minutes. Yes, it was a blowout but since returning two weeks ago, Iguodala hasn’t looked right at all. In his six games back he’s scored just 40 total points and is averaging more turnovers than assists. That’s a far cry from a guy who was putting up top-40 numbers before going down in late November. He should get back on track soon so now is a great time to swoop in and send a buy-low offer.
10. Hayward quietly balling
Gordon Hayward had a big night on Friday, scoring 24 points with nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals as the Jazz bested the Lakers. While Hayward has been a streaky top-75 guy all season, he’s been red hot over the last week. With averages of 17 points, 8.7 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one block, and two triples per game, he’s hitting first round value in most leagues. While he’ll likely cool off, Hayward has really come into his own recently. Owners may want to capitalize and flip him for a more established star but on a rebuilding Jazz squad, Hayward could be that star going forward.