Jared Johnson

Basketball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Is It Worth It?

Monday, March 19, 2018


Week 23 Schedule: Games Played

 

4 Games: ATL, BKN, CHA, CHI, CLE, DET, HOU, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIL, NOP, NYK, PHI, SAS, TOR, UTA

 

3 Games: BOS, DAL, DEN, GSW, LAL, MIN, OKC, ORL, PHX, POR, SAC, WAS

 

Is it worth it?

 

With the fantasy playoffs officially underway and numerous star players around the league out with various long-term injuries, the question on everyone’s mind is: “Is this guy worth hanging onto?” It can be an extremely fraught decision for owners at this particular juncture of the fantasy season, forcing fantasy GMs to either cut ties with the stars that brought them to the promise land, or risk carrying dead roster space through a playoff round with the hopes of being greatly rewarded the proceeding week. There's a multitude of factors at play here, but I’ll do my best to break down the risks and rewards associated with each star player currently out.

 

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Note: If you’ve got an open IR-spot or a bye week, there’s nothing wrong with hanging on. The below analysis assumes you’re currently fighting to advance to the next round.

 

Kawhi Leonard (quad) was ruled out for Monday’s game a full 24 hours in advance, and Gregg Popovich said on Saturday that Leonard’s medical staff still hasn’t cleared him. He doesn’t seem particularly close, and after Monday, he’ll have just 11 more games to get back out there. The Spurs are also just 0.5 games ahead of the Timberwolves for the No. 7 seed, and with teams like the Clippers and Nuggets still making a bid for the postseason, there’s a foreseeable scenario where the Spurs will drop out of the playoff hunt. If that happens, there will be no reason for San Antonio to bring Leonard back, and I don’t see a situation unfolding where they rush him back and risk a setback in order to just barely sneak into the playoffs. Even if Leonard gets back, I assume he’ll be dealing with a sever minutes limit for at least the first week and if history holds, he wouldn’t be allowed to play unless he had a full two days off in between games. Basically, Leonard is more of a liability than an asset at this point, and I’d recommend letting someone else deal with him. He’s played in just nine games this season.

 

Jimmy Butler (knee surgery) spoke to the media for the first time since going under the knife on Sunday and declared he expects to return prior to the postseason, although he wouldn’t provide a specific target date. The Wolves never offered a timetable and have yet to announce the specific procedure he had performed, but him suggesting he’ll be back soon partnered with Shams Charania’s reported timetable of 4-6 weeks, it would seem he had his meniscus clipped rather than repaired. Based on the initial 4-6 week timetable we received from Charania of Yahoo! Sports, the earliest we could possibly expect to see Butler back on the court would be for a home game against the Grizzlies on March 26, meaning he won’t play at all next week. There are also no guarantees he’ll come back immediately upon clearing the four-week mark, and you have to expect some restrictions once he does get back out there. That means he might not really be contributing in a meaningful way until April, so if your playoffs started at Week-22, I’d go ahead and just cut him.

 

Kevin Love (hand) is hopeful to return on Friday, March 23, which would give him the potential for two games this week. I think Love’s conditioning should be fine considering he was only dealing with a hand injury (it’s not like he couldn’t run), so I’d expect him to ramp things up fairly quickly, particularly with Cleveland desperate for a big man and fighting for seeding out East. Friday does seem reasonable, so if you feel comfortable in your matchup, I’d suggest trying to stash Love. It’s not often you can swoop up a top-30 prospect off the wire.

 

Larry Nance (hamstring) missed his second game in a row on Saturday, but he almost played, so maybe he’ll be able to get back out there for Monday’s game against Milwaukee. However, if he sits, owners shouldn’t hesitate to cut him, particularly with his value set to take a fairly large hit once Kevin Love get back out there.

 

John Wall (knee) recently went through some 5-on-0 work and has reportedly been dunking the ball at practices. He’s inching his way closer to a return, but until he’s cleared for 5-on-5 work, he won’t be getting back out there. The Wizards don’t play until Wednesday, which gives Wall time to get in a good practice, so we’ll be monitoring this situation closely. I’d say he has a 50-50 shot of making his return to the court for Wednesday’s game against the Spurs, but without 5-on-5, the odds will drop to zero. He’s a risky guy to stash with just three games total next week, but the reports have been good enough thus far, that I’m willing to hang on until we get an update from the next practice to get a better read on his odds for Wednesday. If we find out on Monday or Tuesday that he’s sitting Wednesday, I’m cutting him.  

 

Klay Thompson has been out since March 14 with a fractured thumb, and when news broke on the injury, Steve Kerr suggested he’d be out for “a couple weeks.” He’s going to be re-evaluated on Thursday, which will be one week and a day into his “couple weeks” timetable, but I’d be very surprised to see him take the floor at all this week; particularly with Golden State having a firm command of the No. 2 seed. Klay did say he believed he’d be able to beat his timetable, but literally, every player ever has said that when asked about an injury. If you feel extremely confident in your upcoming matchup, then you could maybe justify hanging onto Thompson, but if you’re going to be in a tough battle I’d probably just cut him.

 

Kevin Durant (ribs) was hit with a rough two-week timetable on March 16, so he’s guaranteed to miss the next two weeks of action. Your playoff battles are only going to get tougher and tougher over the next two weeks, so it’s tough for me to envision a situation where it would be worth hanging onto KD if your postseason began on Week-22. However, if you’re in a situation where you’re atop the pack, have a bye week and the playoffs don’t start until this week, stashing KD could be an option. You would have to be able to go through Week-23 without him, but he’ll be there for the fantasy Finals; it’s a risky strategy so where you are in the standings and when your playoffs begin will have everything to do with it. Again, if your playoffs started Week-22; he’s toast.

 

Stephen Curry (ankle) is going to be re-evaluated on Thursday, March 22. He’s been out since March 9, so he is a bit further along in his recovery than the other guys. He won’t play Monday in San Antonio, but if all goes well at his evaluation, there’s a chance we’ll see him back out there for Friday’s game against the Hawks (player do tend to like to return with easy matchups). It’s a tough call, but I’d try and hang onto Curry if I could.

 

Brandon Ingram (groin) will not play Monday against the Pacers, giving him a max of two games played for Week-23, and there are no guarantees he’ll return at all this week. Luke Walton said that Ingram might be able to return during the four-game road trip, but the road trip extends all the way to March 26. Considering he won’t play until Thursday at the earliest, I’m cutting him in most places. I’ll be watching the wire like a Hawk for updates in case he is cleared for Thursday, but that’s just too long to hold onto dead roster space at this point in the season.

 

Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle) arrived in New Orleans in a walking boot and will not play Tuesday against the Pelicans. That gives him a max of two games played, and with zero incentive for Dallas to rush him back, it could be zero games played this week. DSJ’s production has been very volatile, so he doesn’t really offer enough upside to justify hanging on in most scenarios.

 

Kris Dunn (toe) will not play on Monday in New York, and head coach Fred Hoiberg seemed to imply that Dunn is looking at multi-games on the shelf by describing his injury as a “turf-toe type” thing. Turf toe injuries can only heal with prolonged rest, and the Bulls will use any excuse to put a terrible product on the floor with the hopes of more Ping-Pong balls, so Dunn might not be back anytime soon. The Bulls do have four games next week, so if you’re confident in your matchup you could make a case for at least hanging on until Wednesday, but if he misses Wednesday’s game as well it’ll be time to cut bait. Cameron Payne will be the primary beneficiary in his absence and is worth a look.

 

Lauri Markkanen (back) will miss his fourth game in a row on Monday, and it’s unclear exactly when he’ll be able to make it back to the court. Considering he’s dealing with a back injury, you have to feel like he’s getting close at this point, so he’s another guy who I might think about hanging on to until Wednesday. Meanwhile, Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine are going to be extremely busy on Monday and are both worth streaming.

 

Zach LaVine (knee) won’t even travel to New York for Monday’s game, but with him simply dealing with soreness, I’d say he has a decent shot of getting back out there on Wednesday. I’m hanging onto LaVine.

 

An MRI revealed chronic tendinitis in Nicolas Batum’s left Achilles and he will not play Monday vs. the 76ers. Not good. Not good at all. Batum’s return will be based on “how he responds to treatment,” so in other words, he’s out indefinitely and there’s not much incentive to rush him back with the Hornets seven games out of the No. 8 spot out East. Achilles issues are nothing to play with, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this turn into a shutdown situation, and this is one of the harder cut/hold decisions to make. Batum is obviously loaded with upside, he was producing at a top-30 rate over the past few weeks, and the Hornets also have four games next week. It’s just tough to get past the update which suggests this is a long-term issue, so he’s a guy I’d strongly consider cutting if you’re locked into a tough playoff battle. 

 

Hassan Whiteside (hip) will miss his fifth game in a row on Monday and he remains without an official timetable to return. The Heat do have four games next week, so owners may want to hold off on making the cut decision until Wednesday, but if he’s still not back by then I’m cutting him.

 


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A hoops fanatic, Jared Johnson has been a member of the Rotoworld team since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJ831, and feel free to send him your questions regarding trades, draft strategies and all things fantasy basketball.
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