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5 Fantasy Basketball Players Returning From Injury

Depending on the injury, or the reason for absence, a player might be ready to come back swinging, or need to be eased into their regular workload. In this article, we’ll highlight five players who are returning from an absence, and how you should be thinking about them going into this year’s fantasy drafts.

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Five Players Returning From Injury

Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic, SF, PF:

I’ll be completely avoiding Jonathan Isaac in fantasy this year. He hasn’t played in two years, and I imagine he’ll be eased into action and given load management plans throughout the year. This isn’t the same situation as John Wall, who hasn’t played in two years due to being shelved. Isaac was recovering from injury. While other players are working on their game to improve, he’s working on rehabbing to get back to what he once was. He’s a special asset in fantasy as he averages almost 3 stocks per game, which is a scarce stat to chase and very valuable. On the other hand, he also hasn’t averaged more than 12 points per game in a season yet. With Paolo, Anthony, Suggs, Carter Jr., and Fultz in the mix, there are a lot more mouths to feed, than when Isaac first came onto the scene. I can see him disappointing those who roster him this year. Don’t chase the hype.

Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets, SG, SF:

If you’re like me, you see the name Joe Harris, and say, “Oh, yeah…I forgot about him.” I can tell you one person who hasn’t forgotten Joe Harris, and his name is Sean Marks (GM of the Brooklyn Nets). The Nets were hardly full strength last year, and despite all the behind the scenes drama, the Nets are going to have the opportunity to compete for a championship this year. KD, Kyrie, Ben Simmons, TJ Warren, Nic Claxton, Seth Curry, and Joe Harris is a pretty solid seven deep rotation. Not only does Harris provide perimeter defense, but also a whopping 46% three point shooting percentage! That’s on six three pointers per game, too! He only played 14 games last year, but he’s been incredibly durable his whole career. He’s played 69 games or better in four of his last five years in the league. I expect him to come back to the lineup and get the same 30 minutes per game that he’s averaged on the Nets for the last four years. Pick him up.

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets, PG, SG:

He hasn’t played in a year, and fans are excited for him to come back. I’m sure Jokic is excited he won’t have to do everything, and I’m excited to watch a new look Denver team. However, from a fantasy perspective, he is going to be eased in I’d imagine and there’s going to be some re-integration necessary as Michael Porter Jr. will be returning from his back injury, and Bruce Brown who is one of my favorite “do-everything” players, is going to have to figure out his role on the team. It’s one thing to come back into your role as the star of a team, it’s another to do so when a team is completely different from the last time you played with them. I’ll be pumping the breaks on Jamal Murray, not because I don’t think he’ll be good, but rather because you’ll have to spend relatively high value draft capital on him. I don’t believe he’s worth that risk.

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, PG:

2017: 30.6%

2018: 29.3%

2019: 30.3%

2020: 31.4%

2021: 29.3%

Those are the usage rates for Damian Lillard since 2017. They are simply eye-popping. He averaged over 35 minutes in each of those seasons as well. When Dame returns to the lineup, it’s Dame’s team. Not much else needs to be said. If you like drafting players who average 25/4/7 over their careers, you’ll like Dame Lillard.

Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers, PG, SG:

He’s been easy for people to forget about. He was perpetually on the trade block, despite the fact that he improved his statistics every year since entering the league. He was hurt last year, Darius Garland broke out, and the Cavs went to the playoffs. But the bottom line is he’s healthy right now, and he was a 20-point-per-game scorer. He’s not the type of player that takes a backseat, so I expect him to take a lot of Caris LeVert’s usage, and Garland will likely also take fewer shots as a result. Sexton’s essentially auditioning for a new team and a new contract for next year. You have every reason to believe in him this year for fantasy.

For more great analysis check out our full 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Draft Kit!

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