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Kevin Durant has suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot, which will sideline him 6-8 weeks, although this timetable isn’t concrete since it’s unclear if he’ll require surgery or not. It sounds like at best, he’ll miss the first month of the season, with a real chance his absence will extend beyond that. It’s rough news for fantasy basketball’s No. 1 player.
According to Basketball Monster, over the past two seasons the difference between Durant and the No. 2 player (LeBron James), has been equal to the difference between James and the No. 6 player (Anthony Davis), and that’s on a per-game basis (Durant has missed a total of two games over this span). Durant won the scoring title and league MVP last year, and no player is a bigger help to free throw percentage in fantasy terms.
There’s still an argument to take Durant in the first round in head-to-head formats, but this news obviously knocks him down draft boards a bit. In rotisserie leagues, Durant now looks more like a mid-second round pick, depending on your willingness to gamble. Still, it’s doubtful KD falls out of the second round in most leagues.
Russell Westbrook already led the NBA in Usage Rate last season, but it’s safe to expect his role to be even greater as long as Durant is out. He should be a top-five fantasy player over the first couple of months of the season. Anthony Morrow and Reggie Jackson are the two other biggest beneficiaries, with the former an interesting late-round flier for those in search of help in three-pointers and the latter now an exciting target in the middle rounds.
Jackson left Friday’s game with an arm injury, but assuming it’s not serious, he suddenly becomes Oklahoma City’s No. 2 scoring option. He averaged 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.1 threes in 26 starts last season, and the team will need to replace a lot of offense, as Durant averaged 20.8 field goal attempts and 9.9 free throw attempts last year.
The Durant injury is a tough blow, but it doesn’t sound like an injury that should affect his performance once he’s able to return to the court. He’s been fantasy basketball’s No. 1 player in four of the past five seasons (he finished third in the other) but will now likely be taken in the 15-20 range of drafts with this news.