Happy Thanksgiving! There’s a lot to be thankful for this year and a lot of it is bigger than the world of fantasy basketball, but even just as fantasy owners we have some things to be thankful for lately. Not many injuries this week! It was one of the lightest weeks for injuries and somehow we didn’t really have many major injuries on a 14-game night on Wednesday. Even over the weekend, it looked like Kemba Walker was headed for several weeks on the sidelines, but luckily he was out there on Wednesday to ball out for a season-high 39 points. So awesome for one of the good guys in the NBA. Perhaps nothing sums up the lighter injuries than Anthony Davis hurting his elbow in the second half on Wednesday, showing some pain on the bench, and not even going to the locker room in New Orleans before returning to cap his season-high 41 points in a win.
This week easily has the lightest crop of pickups this week, so chances are you’re not going to be looking to adjust your roster.
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Injuries since Monday
Josh Richardson (hamstring tightness) did not play in the second half on Wednesday. He had some tightness earlier this month, so hopefully it was just a precaution. Furkan Korkmaz started the second half.
Sadly, Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) was one of the bigger injuries on Wednesday and hopefully he’s going to be OK. Shaq Harrison started the second half, but he only played seven minutes.
Rodney McGruder (leg) did not return on Wednesday and it looks like he’s going to miss some time.
Kawhi Leonard (knee) was out yet again on Wednesday. He’ll be getting a ton of games off this season.
Since highlighting Kendrick Nunn and Devonte’ Graham to kick off this column, I’ve been pretty proud of the mid-week adds highlighted in this column so far, but again there’s really not much to feel great about this week. I’m not just being lazy for the holiday.
Just a couple quick guys who have returned and are already way over the 35% owned mark:
Josh Hart (43%) - It was an unceremonious return for Hart on Wednesday, finishing with nine points, five rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes. The Pelicans second unit is why they lost to the Lakers, so Hart certainly didn’t help himself going forward. J.J. Redick said last week that the Pelicans look like they have found their new starting lineup with him and Kenrich Williams in there, so Hart is going to have a tough time finding his way to 25-30 minutes.
Justise Winslow (61%) - He finally returned from a concussion, playing 34 minutes in Houston with 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one turnover in a loss. With Jimmy Butler out, it was interesting that coach Erik Spoelstra started Goran Dragic for the first time on Wednesday. I’m not dropping someone I’ve been counting on for Winslow, but I’d consider swapping out a guy that isn’t helping right now.
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Kevin Huerter (33%) - He could be back sooner than later and was playing well just before his shoulder injury. If you can stash him for 1-2 weeks, it makes sense in competitive leagues.
Jakob Poeltl (11%) - A double-dip from last week, he’s really come through with consistent minutes in the 20s, including a five-block Wednesday against the Wolves. As mentioned last week, the Spurs are in disarray, so it’s open season on possible pickups from that roster. Poeltl has great blocking upside and the Spurs defense needs help, so it makes sense to see what Jakob can do. Plus, the Spurs basically need to rework their whole roster, so maybe LaMarcus Aldridge is dealt to open up even more playing time. Based on the social media activity of DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray this week, all bets are off.
Bismack Biyombo (5%) - Perhaps the biggest deep-league add on Wednesday, Biyombo was awesome in a start against Andre Drummond. He scored a season-high 19 points with nine rebounds, one assist, two blocks and no turnovers in 34 minutes. Yes, Cody Zeller (hip) did not play and coach James Borrego said the Hornets “obviously” missed Zeller, but Borrego talked up how Biz QB’d the defense and protected the paint. Back in the preseason, Borrego said he was going to prioritize rim protection over 3-pointers on defense, but the Hornets have allowed more makes at the rim than any team in the league. Borrego also said the Hornets could be looking to make rotation changes, and he seemed very pleased with a win over the Pistons. There’s a decent chance we’re dropping Bizzy B over the weekend, but I like the idea of adding him to see if he can string some games together, especially if you need a center.
Mo Bamba (21%) - Another double-dip here, but Bamba has clearly outperformed Khem Birch, who is getting the lion’s share of the playing time. In Bamba’s last three games since the Nikola Vucevic injury, he’s averaged 10.0 points, 7.7 boards, 1.3 dimes, 0.7 steals, 2.3 blocks and 2.0 treys on a 52.2 FG%. He was always the higher per-minute upside guy compared to Birch, but the playing time has been close to a 50/50 split after not playing more than 16 minutes in a game this season prior to the injury to the All-Star. Vooch should be back soon, so Bamba may only have another week or so of value.
Jarrett Culver (15%) - Coach Ryan Saunders likely looked at the numbers with how Andrew Wiggins has been better with Culver next to him than Jeff Teague, and Saunders even said Wiggins is the de facto PG in the lineup. Culver has seen the last two starts and hasn’t done much with them yet, averaging 12.0 points, 3.5 boards, 4.0 dimes, 1.5 steals and 1.0 treys. Culver’s horrendous 36/28/42 shooting line is going to severely cap his upside in category leagues, but at least he has a role solidified.
Cameron Johnson (3%) - Hello career-high 32 minutes on Wednesday, scoring 17 points with four rebounds, one assist, one block, one steal and three 3-pointers. A door may have opened for Cam with some inconsistency from Mikal Bridges and he did take advantage of some Kelly Oubre foul trouble on Wednesday. The Suns offense is built on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, so getting Johnson more shots makes sense to help in that regard. This rotation is a mess, so he’s likely going to have some ups and downs.
Nicolas Batum (34%) - Besides Biyombo, coach James Borrego praised Batum for his play on defense late, including guarding Derrick Rose down the stretch. Batum scored a season-high 13 points in 31 minutes in the win on Wednesday, and again Borrego said changes were coming. Batum likely won’t sustain value through the course of the season because after the game Borrego said he liked how his young guys got to close out a tight game, and of course the Hornets will prioritize youth once they’re out of the playoff race later this year.
Keita Bates-Diop (1%) - That 22-point game on Saturday without Robert Covington looks to be no fluke, averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 boards, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals in 25.0 minutes in the last two games. KBD has been used 3-5 under coach Ryan Saunders, so he has a path to more minutes in a variety of scenarios. Plus, the Wolves have won two games in a row, so getting him out there has helped in the win column. The change to the rotation has helped him more than Culver, and there’s really nothing in KBD’s way right now to see consistent playing time.
Matisse Thybulle (6%) - NASDAQ brought the STOCKs as usual on Wednesday with four steals and two blocks in 21 minutes. The injury to Josh Richardson should open up some more minutes for him, but it does sound like Richardson’s hammy tightness is minor.
Omari Spellman (2%) - He had a monster game on Wednesday with 13 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, three blocks and two steals in 24 minutes. Kevon Looney is going to be back soon, so I’d prioritize him over Spellman.
Jordan McRae (5%) - C.J. Miles (wrist) is going to miss some time, so that should open up more playing time for the Orange Mamba. He’s hit 24 minutes in three straight games, including a season-high 21 points on Tuesday. The Wizards offense is currently No. 2 in the NBA for offensive rating and they’re fourth in pace, so there’s a big pie available here.
Lonnie Walker IV (0%) - A double dip again from last week, but man, the Spurs are so bad that he has to be mentioned again real fast.