Believe it or not, I don’t have to start this off by telling you that 23 more players got injured this past week. What a refreshing change of pace. And actually, the injury arrow is beginning to turn around as several key fantasy assets are on the mend and nearing returns to the court as you’ll read a little further down. We did have a few new injuries, but none seem overly serious.
In other news, the 76ers finally got rid of Jhalil Okafor. After trying to trade him since 1956, the Brooklyn Nets (of course it was Brooklyn) acquired him, plus Nick Stauskas and a 2019 2nd round pick, in exchange for forward Trevor Booker. There are not many fantasy implications here. Booker’s value takes a hit going to Philadelphia, and since he was only a borderline fantasy player to begin with, he can safely be dropped now.
The Nets are likely going to give Okafor more playing time than he received in Philly but it’s going to take a while before we can trust him in fantasy. He showed some promise in his rookie season, averaging 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks, but hasn’t been fantasy relevant since then. Okafor has also never played more than 53 games in a season. It makes sense to give him a chance in deeper leagues, but I’d hold off for a bit in standard leagues. At least until he shows that he can be useful.
Games Played by Team This Week
4 Games: BKN, BOS, CHA, CLE, DET, HOU, LAC, MEM, MIA, OKC, POR, TOR, WAS.
3 Games: ATL, CHI, DAL, DEN, IND, MIL, MIN, NOR, NYK, ORL, PHO, SAC, SAS, UTA.
2 Games: GSW, LAL, PHI.
Buddy Hield (SG – SAC)
If you’ve been on the Buddy Hield roller coaster this season, you’ll know that he can be incredibly frustrating to own in fantasy. The talent and upside are there, but the consistency is lagging behind. However, that talent and upside is beginning to peek out again.
Over the last three games, Hield has averaged 18.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, and 3.3 3-pointers. You have our attention Mr. Hield, but can you sustain this? His minutes have been trending up, which definitely helps his case. This could just be another peak before a valley, but the upside definitely makes him worth grabbing in standard leagues.
Milos Teodosic (PG – LAC)
Saying that the Clippers are hurting at point guard is like saying walking outside here in Maine in January and saying it’s cold out. A pretty obvious statement. With Chris Paul now a Rocket and Patrick Beverley done for the season, the Clippers turned to C.J. Williams the other night as their starting point guard.
“Oh yeah, C.J. Williams. I know that guy!” Yeah, not so much.
The return of Milos Teodosic next week is going to be a breath of fresh air for the Clippers and point guard-needy fantasy owners. He only was able to sneak in two games at the start of the season before going down with his foot injury. Those combined 31 minutes and 58 seconds aren’t much to go off of, but he did have 11 points, eight assists, and three 3-pointers. The Clippers desperately need Teodosic on the court, so expect 30+ minutes a night upon his return. If your fantasy team is struggling in assists and/or 3’s, Milos is your guy.
Caris LeVert (SG/SF – BKN)
I feel like I’ve recommended half of the Brooklyn Nets roster at this point. What is wrong with me? That’s a topic for another day, but a good topic right now is why you should add Caris LeVert. Over the last two weeks, LeVert has really upped his play with averages of 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.9 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 1.2 3-pointers. He can help you with a little of everything across the board. The minutes are holding steady in the upper-20’s, so this looks like more than just a blip on the fantasy radar for LeVert.
Marcus Smart (PG – BOS)
As a Celtics fan, I hate to do this, but it needs to be done. Smart is one of those guys that you love having on your team and most opposing teams hate to have to deal with. In fantasy, he does his share of good, but the offensive deficiencies are becoming too severe. It’s usually fair to assume that a young player will get better as they mature and learn how to be an NBA player. That might be true for Smart on the defensive end, but certainly not offensively.
This is Smart’s fourth season and his worst when it comes to shooting. His 31.8% shooting is over 4% lower than his 35.9% last season. To put it in perspective, even Lonzo Ball is shooting better than him, albeit only slightly, at 31.9%. The 4.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists would look a heck of a lot better with 12-15 PPG and a shooting percentage above 40%. Smart is still a borderline player to own in fantasy, but if there’s a hot free agent available, it would be smart to cut ties with him.
Kawhi Leonard (SF – SAS)
Hopefully, this is the last time you’ll see Leonard’s name in this section this season. After appearing here basically every week since opening night, Leonard is finally just days away from making his season debut.
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is now targeting his return on Tuesday against Dallas, league sources tell @mikecwright and me. He has yet to play this season with a quad injury.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 8, 2017
It’s about damn time. I’m sure Greg Popovich will limit Leonard’s minutes for a few weeks and give him a night off here and there, but any of Kawhi is better than no Kawhi at all. Check on his status during the day on Tuesday and be ready to insert him back into your lineup.
Stephen Curry (PG – GSW)
A sprained right ankle is going to keep the NBA’s three-point assassin out for at least the next week until he gets re-evaluated. Luckily, the Warriors play only twice this week before a four-game set the following week. Hopefully, Curry is back for that four-game set. However, until he gets re-evaluated, his return is very much up in the air.
John Wall (PG – WAS)
Wall hasn’t played in a game since November 22nd. However, it sounds like his absence is about to come to an end. After going through five on five practice Saturday, Wall said that his knee “felt great.” Well, that’s certainly encouraging to hear. The Wizards have a couple days off before playing the Nets on Tuesday. Wall has a chance of making his return then, thus killing any fantasy value for Tim Frazier and Tomas Satoransky.
Nikola Jokic (C – DEN)
It still doesn’t appear that Jokic is close to playing. In every game over the last week, he’s been ruled out the day before the game, which shows that he hasn’t even been close to playing in any of these games. Kenneth Faried will continue to have decent value while Jokic is out. Owners in weekly leagues should keep him on the bench for one more week.
Paul George (SF – OKC)
A right calf contusion has kept George out of action for the last two games. Luckily, it doesn’t sound serious and there’s a good chance he plays on Monday. Consider him day-to-day.
Devin Booker (SG – PHO)
Fresh off a five-game stretch in which he averaged 31.6 PPG, Booker will now miss the next few weeks recovering from a left adductor injury he suffered in the final minutes of Tuesday’s loss in Toronto. In his absence, T.J. Warren, Josh Jackson, and Mike James all get a slight bump in value.
Aaron Gordon (PF – ORL)
After suffering a concussion Friday night against Denver, Aaron Gordon had to watch Saturday night’s game against Atlanta from the sidelines. He’s currently in the NBA’s concussion protocol and will not return until he is cleared by team doctors. Luckily, Orlando has a few days off and don’t play again until Wednesday. For now, consider Gordon questionable for that game.
I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question about a player not covered here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask me there.