We’re getting close to the fantasy playoffs, so fantasy owners don’t have the luxury to wait on injured players quite like they did back in November. Even after just a week from the All-Star break, the injuries are already starting to pile up.
The Lakers had a surprise for us on Wednesday with LeBron James (groin) out for Thursday against the Warriors. This comes after LeBron dropped a season-high 40 points on Tuesday, but he may have hurt his groin on a dunk over Josh Hart. LeBron had a groin issue limit him last year to keep him to just 55 games for the lowest game count of any season in his NBA career.
The last time LeBron James was hurt, it was Rajon Rondo getting out there in the first unit, and of course Kyle Kuzma would also benefit. Plus, we could see more Alex Caruso with coach Frank Vogel needing to count on his second unit more.
The other big piece of injury news from Wednesday was Joel Embiid (shoulder) needing an MRI today after a sprain kept him out for most of Wednesday’s loss to the Cavs. With Ben Simmons (back) already down for at least two weeks, the 76ers are really going to have to lean on guys like Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz, Kyle O’Quinn and Alec Burks will all have to step up. Shake looks like the real deal after a 20-point Wednesday. Shake absolutely needs to be added while you could say the same for Korkmaz.
Other injury news from the week
Malik Monk is suspended indefinitely and it sounds like his season is over. Coach James Borrego said that Caleb Martin will step up at first, and Dwayne Bacon should get called back up after a 51-point game in the G League. Cody Martin and Jalen McDaniels should also play more.
The Grizzlies lost their power forward depth with Brandon Clarke (quad) joining Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) for likely at least two weeks in street clothes. De’Anthony Melton started on Wednesday to guard Russell Westbrook while Josh Jackson, Kyle Anderson and Gorgui Dieng all saw more playing time.
Kelly Oubre (knee) did not play on Wednesday and he’s going to get opinions on his knee. Just as this column was posted, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! reports that Oubre has a torn meniscus. Not good. Dario Saric got the start Wednesday, but Cam Johnson should start to see some big minutes with the Suns set to play their younger guys.
LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder) didn’t play on Wednesday to put Lonnie Walker IV in the first unit, but the Spurs are hopeful LMA can play on Saturday against the Magic. Jakob Poeltl was a huge flop on Wednesday.
The Bulls could start to get some guys back with Otto Porter (foot) and Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) going through practices. They might be annoying to own as the Bulls look at the lottery this summer. Coby White (back) was hurt today, so that could be something to watch.
Kemba Walker (left knee) is still out after missing the last four games. Jayson Tatum is on a tear while Marcus Smart starts with more Brad Wanamaker and Grant Williams. Hopefully, Kemba can get out there for one game this week.
Dewayne Dedmon (elbow) had an MRI, did not play on Wednesday, and will miss at least three more games. GM Travis Schlenk had talked up Bruno Fernando during the Wednesday broadcast, which could mean Dedmon is going to miss more time than three games. Cam Reddish would also benefit with more John Collins at the five.
Bruce Brown (knee) did not play on Tuesday, and the Pistons tanking could cause them to be on the cautious side. Derrick Rose still has a minutes limit, so it was Brandon Knight who took on more minutes. This could be a headache.
Luka Doncic (left thumb) hurt his thumb multiple times on Wednesday and he was splinted up after the game. It sounds like he’s going to be OK, but expect him to be on the injury report.
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Adds from the week
A lot of easy adds from the last couple weeks are still widely available in Naz Reid (29% owned in Yahoo! Leagues), Cam Reddish (30%), Trevor Ariza (28%), Kevin Porter Jr. (23%), James Johnson (19%) and several others.
Shake Milton (11% owned in Yahoo! Leagues) - He’s already likely added in all competitive leagues, but Milton looks like he could be a difference-making add in fantasy. In the last three games, Milton averaged 14.7 points, 3.0 boards, 4.0 dimes, 0.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 3.3 treys on a 53/63/100 shooting line. Milton is leading the team in touch time at 4.9 minutes per game over those three and he’s had the ball in his hands on for a team-high 5.04 seconds per touch in that span, too. He’s coming off a 20-point Wednesday with 6.6 minutes of touch time, so he’s clearly emerging as one of the primary ball-handlers to get this offense going. He needs to be owned in all standard leagues.
Gorgui Dieng (33%) - Another obvious add here with Brandon Clarke (quad) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) down for two weeks. In his last three games, Dieng averaged 12.7 points, 7.3 boards, 1.3 steals, 1.7 blocks and 1.0 treys on a 65/43/71 shooting line in 22.7 minutes per game. Two games ago, Dieng played six minutes next to Jonas Valanciunas, but he was at zero minutes next to JV in the small-ball matchup against the Rockets. Dieng also saw four minutes next to JV three games ago, too. The Grizzlies should use some Dieng at PF in their upcoming B2B on Friday vs. the Kings and Saturday against the Lakers. Plus, they have a four-game week next week, so Dieng should have some terrific value with Clarke and JJJ unlikely for action that week.
Furkan Korkmaz (12%) - Losing Joel Embiid’s 31.1 usage rate is going to open up a ton of shots, especially with the centers filling in likely to have lower usage rates. Ben Simmons also has a 20.5 usage rate, so we’re talking 35-40 possessions becoming available here. In 186 minutes without Ben and Joel, Korkmaz has per-36 stats of 21.1 points, 3.1 boards, 2.3 dimes, 1.0 steals and 4.6 treys. I’d certainly prefer Shake, but Poppin’ Korkz is a fairly easy add for owners seeking points and treys.
Harry Giles (21%) - He’s finally alive as coach Luke Walton is playing him consistently. On Saturday, Giles had his first double-double of his career with a 14-12 line in a career-high 32 minutes in a win over the Clippers. He followed that up with a 13/9/4 line in 24 minutes against the Dubs on Tuesday, and Walton has really dialed back his Nemanja Bjelica center minutes over the last week. The Kings are playing well again with a three-game winning streak and it’s not a coincidence that Giles’ play has increased in that time. He gets a B2B starting tonight and Richaun Holmes (shoulder) still doesn’t have a target date.
Josh Jackson (5%) - He’s back in our lives, averaging 13.0 points, 4.3 boards, 1.0 dimes, 0.3 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.7 treys on a 50/42/67 shooting line over his last three. Dieng is clearly ahead of Jackson as an add right now, but the Grizzlies are going nowhere fast with a four-game losing streak. They also have a horrendous schedule for March, so they could prioritize Jackson more to see if he can take a step forward. As mentioned above, the Grizzlies get six games over a nine-day stretch. De’Anthony Melton should already be owned in most formats, but Jackson has shown he can rack up stats when given minutes.
Cam Johnson (1%) - As mentioned above, it sounds like Kelly Oubre (knee) is set to miss time. Monty Williams mentioned Oubre is getting “opinions” on his knee, and he had a sleeve on his knee on Wednesday. Williams also talked about owing the team a look at the young Suns, so Johnson figures to get a very long look if Oubre is indeed down for a bit. He saw minutes down the stretch against the Clippers on Wednesday, finishing with 11 points, three rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers in 27 minutes. In fact, the Suns used a Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Johnson, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton lineup for six minutes on Wednesday, including four minutes in the fourth. That lineup had only been used for five minutes prior to Wednesday, so expect plenty of Johnson to finish the season. He should be a cheaper version of Korkmaz.
Dario Saric (20%) - He got the start, but Saric probably won’t be holding the job for long as Cam Johnson makes a charge. The Suns do get a back-to-back set on Friday and Saturday, so Saric could be a decent streaming play in favorable matchups against the Pistons and Warriors (Draymond Green might rest).
Bruno Fernando (1%) - As mentioned above, Dewayne Dedmon is going to miss at least three games, and the Hawks sound like they’re excited to see what Fernando can do. The matchup against Nikola Vucevic on Wednesday was likely a factor in starting Bruno, and he played pretty well with a stat line of 10 points, nine boards, one dime and one steal in 22 minutes. He’s really more of a streaming play, but the Hawks do get matchups against big frontcourts sans Dedmon with the Nets, Blazers and Grizzlies.
Jordan McLaughlin (2%) - Ryan Saunders pulled a new lineup quirk out on Wednesday with five minutes of McLaughlin next to D’Angelo Russell in the fourth quarter. It crushed with a +105.6 net rating as the Wolves pulled off a comeback in Miami with Russell having a game-clinching block on Jimmy Butler. In the last four games, that’s the only quarter McLaughlin played next to Russell, but that might happen more often going forward. Plus, the Wolves have said they are going to manage D-Lo, so McLaughlin will likely get at least one start on Mar. 3 or 4 and then later next month on 13-14 and 17-18. The Wolves will likely want to get a longer look at him, so he should be a sneaky value guy for the next month.
Lonnie Walker IV (1%) - He got the start on Wednesday for LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder), scoring 12 points with three rebounds, two assists, three blocks and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes. We’ve seen this movie before, but coach Gregg Popovich did have some supportive comments on Walker after the game. “Lonnie is getting minutes and figuring things out,” Pop said. “He’s understanding more and more what it takes, how to be solid, more than anything, on both ends of the court. It takes time, but he’s guarding a heck of a guy in Mr. Doncic tonight. All those are great lessons for him." Plus, you can add that to a frustrated DeMar DeRozan last night after a loss to the Mavs. "It’s beyond frustrating,” DeRozan said. “Just losing period is frustrating. Extremely frustrating. That’s all I can say about it." If the Spurs do slide in the standings, we could see DeMar get shut down to open up minutes for LW4. Plus, the Spurs do have a great schedule for game counts to finish the season after their two-game week.
Jake Layman (1%) - He was out there down the stretch with Naz Reid and James Johnson in foul trouble. He’s someone to keep an eye on as his minutes ramp up, and don’t forget the Wolves had really talked him up back over the summer. He’s probably just going to be a stream in deep leagues, but don’t forget about that aforementioned B2B on Mar. 3-4.
Cody Martin (1%) - Malik Monk is probably out for the year, so Martin should have a solidified role the rest of the way. Martin did sub in for Devonte’ Graham in the first quarter on Wednesday, finishing with nine points, nine rebounds, two assists and one turnover in 25 minutes. Coach James Borrego has been talking up Martin for months now, and he should have a shot at 30 minutes on a regular basis. The problem is that he’s not exactly a per-minute stud, but maybe Monk getting out of the mix can up his production. For what it’s worth he had a 20-plus usage rate with 24-plus minutes for the first time in a game on Tuesday.
James Ennis (0%) - The Magic look to have found their starting forward across from Aaron Gordon, who is on fire, by the way. In the last two, Ennis averaged 12.5 points, 4.0 boards, 1.0 dimes and 1.0 treys in 27.7 minutes per game. The Magic have a great schedule right now with six games over the next 1.5 weeks, including a B2B this weekend.
Jerome Robinson (0%) - He had a memorable night on Wednesday with a game-winning jumper, a big rebound, and game-icing free throws to beat the Nets on Wednesday. It’s still a bit of a logjam and the big takeaway here is that Troy Brown really can’t be trusted anymore. If the Wizards do reel in Bradley Beal, Robinson could be someone to watch.
Shaquille Harrison (0%) - The Bulls could get Otto Porter Jr. back soon, but Harrison is coming off a good game with 11 points, three boards, two steals and two blocks in 22 minutes. He’s been adept at steals in his career, and Otto would likely have some major restrictions upon his return. He gets four games next week, too.
Jalen McDaniels (0%) - He was the first sub on Wednesday as he backs up Miles Bridges for the most part, but the Hornets going smaller more often could open up time for him. McDaniels stats are pretty boring, but the playing time might be there for some deep-league streaming.
Adam Mokoka (0%) - If the Bulls do tank it up, maybe Mokoka Joe can heat up -- he wouldn’t need a self-heating cup either. Mokoka received some MVP chants when he went off for 15 points in five minutes on Feb. 6.
Norvel Pelle (0%) and Kyle O’Quinn (1%) - With Joel Embiid out, these two figure to fight over the scraps behind Al Horford. Perhaps one of the two can run away with the backup role, but until then there's not enough upside to add in most leagues.