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Fire up the tank: Chet Holmgren goes down with season-ending foot surgery
OKC's No. 2 overall pick, Chet Holmgren, has already been ruled out for his entire rookie season after he suffered a Lisfranc injury in his right foot during a Pro-Am game in Seattle. The injury will require surgery to repair, and the Thunder have already applied for the Disabled Player Exception from the league, so we'll have to wait another year before we see this shot-blocking maestro on the floor.
What is a Lisfranc injury? Well, it's not all that common in basketball, but it's essentially a dislocation of the second metatarsal bone in the foot. The most recent NBA examples we have of this injury are from Udonis Haslem and Furkan Korkmaz, but Korkmaz isn't the best comparison, as he was able to recovery without surgery. For Haslem, he suffered his Lisfranc injury on Nov. 11, 2010 and went on to miss the remainder of the regular season, although he was able to return during Miami's postseason run (six months later) on May 9, 2011, and he only missed two games the following season.
Because this injury is so uncommon in basketball, it hasn't been largely studied, although McHale and colleagues published a report in 2016 on 28 NFL players with Lisfranc injuries. 26 of the 28 players returned to competition at an average of 11 months and had no difference in athletic performance compared to pre-injury levels, so I wouldn't be worried about Holmgren's long-term upside. In fact, I think during this lost season would be an ideal time to try and snag him for cheap in dynasty leagues.
As for the Thunder, I think Chet's injury all but guarantees we'll see another tank-a-thon, making guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey risky draft day targets with the inevitable shutdown risk. It's now-or-never for the Aleksej Pokusevski believers.
After much hoopla this summer following Kevin Durant's trade (and firing) request, the Nets and KD sat down and decided the best path forward would be to continue their partnership together in Brooklyn. That means that KD, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons will comprise the Nets' Big Three, and we'll finally get to see what that looks like this upcoming season after Simmons sat out his entire 2021-22 campaign.
Simmons, who did not play last year after suffering a hernia in his back which required offseason surgery, has recently been cleared for 3-on-3 work and he's expected to be cleared for 5-on-5 work in the coming weeks. He should be good to go for training camp, and he could be headed for a big year, as he'll be looking to silence his critics. Yes, last season was lost both due to injury and mental health issues, but before that he was coming off three straight All-Star seasons and he ranked inside the top-40 (punting FT) in each of those seasons. He won't offer you many (if any) 3-pointers, and he'll be a negative for your FT%, but Simmons is a constant triple-double threat who can provide elite numbers in the dimes and defensive categories. The dime dropping opportunities shouldn't be lacking playing next to some of the best scorers in the league, so he's looking like a quality value-pick towards the 90s on draft day.
As for KD and Kyrie, they'll simply need to stay healthy, but both guys should be first-round-caliber players on a per-game basis.
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The Donovan Mitchell Saga
After another disappointing postseason run, the Jazz seem keen to blow up their roster, as evidenced by Quin Snyder's departure and the Rudy Gobert trade they pulled off earlier this summer. Donovan Mitchell's name has come up in a ton of trade rumors, so he appears to be the next domino to fall, and there have been reports that Utah would like to get a trade done before training camp.
The Knicks have been the most consistently mentioned team in the Mitchell sweepstakes, and they're reportedly willing to include RJ Barrett in any purposed deal, although that may have just been complicated by the extension that Barrett signed. Utah's desire for a bevy of first-round picks has also been a sticking point, but considering that they were able to extract four, future first-round picks from Minnesota in exchange for Rudy Gobert, it seems unlikely they will lower their asking price on their All-Star guard.
As for Mitchell's fantasy value, he should be fine wherever he winds up, but it's tough to evaluate any of the other Utah guys at the moment, as we have no idea what this team will look like to open the 2022-23 season. However, if the Jazz do decide to go with a full rebuild, then it's possible we could see Malik Beasley, Talen Horton-Tucker, Jared Vanderbilt, Udoka Azubuike and Walker Kessler get some time to shine.
Patrick Beverley, a known nemesis of Russell Westbrook's, was traded from the Jazz to the Lakers in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson, and this trade hinted at two things. One, the Jazz sure do seem intent on rebuilding and, two, Westbrook's time with the Lakers could already be nearing its conclusion.
Per Lakers' reporter Jovan Buha, "Beverley's arrival makes it more likely that Westbrook will be off the active roster by the start of training camp, either through a trade or the team sending him home a la the Rockets with John Wall last season, according to a source close to the situation.” Now, there have been conflicting reports as to whether the Lakers would outright send Westbrook home if they're not able to find a trade, but it's obvious that Russ doesn't work on this team, and LeBron James' championship window is closing as he enters his age-38 season. The problem with any potential Westbrook trade, though, is the Lakers would likely need to mortgage their future by including multiple first-round picks to get a team willing to take on Westbrook and his $47 million contract.
As for the fantasy takeaways from this trade, I do think that Talen Horton-Tucker could gain some late-round draft appeal in Utah depending on what that roster looks like if/when Donovan Mitchell is traded. Beverley isn't much of a factor in fantasy hoops, though, and Westbrook isn't my cup of tea with how he can destroy you in three categories: FG%, FT%, TOs.
Down Goes Danilo
Danilo Gallinari suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee while playing for the Italian National Team at the FIBA qualifiers, and he'll be out indefinitely as he recovers from that injury. The Rooster inked a two-year, $13.3 million deal with Boston as a free agent this summer, but now it's unclear exactly when he'll be ready to help contribute to the Celtics' second unit. The 33-year-old vet has had a lot of knee issues in the past, and he tends to be a slow healer, so this is a guy I'd recommend avoiding on draft day.
Report: Celtics have “no long-term concerns” about Robert Williams' knee
Answering questions in a recent mailbag, Celtics' reporter, Brian Robb, said that speaking to his sources behind the scenes, Boston has “no longer-term concerns” regarding Robert Williams' surgically-repaired knee.
As a refresher, Williams underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee on March 28, which caused him to miss the final seven games of the regular season. However, just a little over three weeks into his 4-6 week timetable, the Time Lord was rushed back to the floor for Boston's postseason run, and his knee continued to give him trouble throughout the playoffs. Williams was told by Boston's medical staff that he couldn't make the injury any worse by playing through it, but that's also the same story they sold to Isaiah Thomas, when he played through a bad hip injury that altered his career. It's also worth noting that Williams returned to the floor abnormally fast, and he didn't look quite right throughout Boston's postseason run.
It was also revealed this summer that Jayson Tatum played through a nondisplaced fracture in his left wrist, which doesn't quite portray a flattering picture of Boston's medical staff. Call me skeptical of their declarative statements.
That's not to say I wouldn't draft the Time Lord with a top-40 pick this season. He was great last year, and the good news is that he didn't require another knee procedure, so ample rest during the offseason should have him ready to go by training camp. That said, knee issues for an explosive big man are always concerning, so I do think there is some risk to consider here.