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When last we saw Clippers big Blake Griffin, he was playing 36 minutes in a loss at Toronto, delivering a rich stat line (26-6-9-1-1). No obvious signs of trouble.
But on Sunday morning, bad news broke:
Brutal. Just brutal.
We don't yet have a clear recovery timetable for Blake — could be two weeks, could be six or more — so let's simply say he's out indefinitely. The Clips currently occupy the sixth spot in the Western Conference standings, both Griffin and J.J. Redick (back) are sidelined, and the near-term schedule is a minefield: at OKC, at Dal, Hou, SA, Sac, Mem, at Hou, at Mem, at Chi. So things could certainly get rough for L.A.
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Fantasy-wise, a familiar vet (and respected fashion maven) figures to gain value...
PF/C Spencer Hawes, LAC (30 percent owned)
Hawes has been stuck at 17 minutes per game to this point in the season, averaging just 6.1 points and 3.9 boards, not really helping the fantasy community. But he drew the start on Sunday, and his minutes should jump to 28-32 during Blake's absence. With that sort of playing time, he's a decent bet to give us plenty of 13-and-7 games, with threes and blocks and acceptable percentages — not exactly Griffin-ish, but not bad. He needs to be added, today.
SG/SF Gerald Henderson, Cha (21 percent owned)
Henderson has scored 17 points or more in four of his last five games, so it's tough to argue with the recent production. We're not talking about an across-the-board contributor here (despite the 9-dime game on Saturday), and he's not a significant 3-point threat, but he can certainly help anyone who's scuffling in a points league. Charlotte is dealing with non-trivial injury issues at the moment (Kemba, MKG), so Henderson's minutes are safe for now.
PG Jordan Clarkson, LAL (18 percent owned)
Sure, Clarkson had the 0-for-4 clunker last Wednesday in a loss to Milwaukee, but the rookie has been mostly useful in recent days. He's starting, playing 30-plus minutes per night, typically scoring in the teens, with assists and steals. I'd added him in two leagues, dropped him for Hawes in one.
SG/SF Paul George, Ind (10 percent)
Yeah, it's merely a mid-season dart throw. A scratch-off ticket. Yet another injured player to manage around. If you're the owner of a middle-of-the-pack fantasy team, battling injuries, then George isn't worth the flier. But if your season has been smooth to this point ... well, it's probably time to take George's rehab seriously. (You've seen the post-practice clips, right?)
Few of us thought George would make it back in 2014-15 following the horrific summer injury, but he's hoping to return to full practices by March 1. Clearly there's no guarantee that he'll see game action in March or April, but it's at least a legit possibility. In the Eastern Conference, teams are finding it difficult to tank their way out of the playoff race, so the Pacers are in the mix, even at 19-32. If George returns for the closing weeks at limited minutes, that's a huge win for Indy.
Again, there are no promises being made with George. But I've picked him up in a pair of head-to-head/ weekly-lineup leagues, just in case. If nothing else, perhaps he can serve as a fantasy trade sweetener ahead of the deadline.