Injuries, injuries, and more injuries. Can everyone stop getting injured? That’d be great, thanks. We had several big names suffer injuries over the past week, including one of my personal favorites, Nikola Jokic. The Joker joins frontcourt teammate Paul Millsap on the shelf, which opens more playing time for someone we’ll discuss below. Joining the Denver Nuggets with frontcourt injury concerns are the Atlanta Hawks, who will be without both John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon for the next few weeks.
The frontcourt injuries don’t stop there, either. Several other top big men have gotten bit by the injury bug over the last week, making the waiver wire that much more important right now. The injury report below is as star-studded as ever and looks more like an All-Star team than an injury report. Luckily, 19 NBA teams play four games this week, so there are plenty of options to add to help fill-in for all these injuries.
Several Injuries are Causing Owners to Scramble to the Waiver Wire
Games Played by Team This Week
4 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, IND, MEM, MIL, NOR, NYK, ORL, PHI, PHO, SAS, UTA, WAS.
3 Games: BKN, GSW, MIN, OKC, SAC, TOR.
2 Games: HOU, LAC, LAL, MIA, POR.
Ersan Ilyasova (SF/PF – ATL)
With the injuries to John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon, Ilyasova is going to get a lot of playing time over the next few weeks. That began on Thursday night when he scored 22 points in 30 minutes in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He followed that up with a near double-double (9 points, 11 rebounds) last night. The upside isn’t overly high for this James Franco lookalike, but playing time is half the battle when it comes to fantasy value, and he’s certainly going to have that over the next month or so. Averages in the vicinity of 15 points and 6-7 rebounds should be a surprise for Ilyasova over the next month or so with a sprinkle of steals and 3-pointers.
Kenneth Faried (PF/C – DEN)
Like with Ilyasova above, Faried’s inclusion on this list is due to added playing time from the injuries to Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic. Over the last three games, Faried has gotten 25.3 minutes per game with averages of 13 points and 10 rebounds on 61.9% shooting. Unfortunately, those three categories are usually the only ones he can help in, though he might be able to add in a little defensive stats with the adding playing time, but don’t expect too much. If you’re one of the unfortunate managers that has lost a big man or two over the last couple of weeks, give a long look to Faried.
Jordan Bell (PF/C – GSW)
This is one of those adds for deeper competitive leagues. After a productive collegiate career at Oregon, Bell wasn’t expected to get much run this season. There was just too much depth and talent on the Golden State Warriors roster for Bell to make an impact. However, Zaza Pachulia is getting only around 14-15 games as the starting center, and more and more of those center minutes are going to Bell lately.
Bell is one of those high-motor players that is active all over the court and can help you out in many different ways. His minutes are still a tad erratic, but he’s had a couple really good games over the last couple of weeks. In 26 minutes against Chicago, Bell had seven points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and six blocks. Then on Friday night, he scored a career-high 16 points and added a steal and three blocks. You can see from those lines that there’s a good amount of upside here. All he needs is more consistent playing time to show that. According to coach Steve Kerr, that could be happening soon.
“He’s going to play some more. He’s a rookie,” Kerr said. “So he’s got to learn the league. He’s got to learn concepts. I’m bringing him along slowly. I’m really pleased with his production. You’ll see more of him coming up.”
He’s not worth an add in shallow leagues yet, but in competitive 12+ team leagues, Bell is firmly on the radar.
Jusuf Nurkic (C – POR)
A big man that doesn’t shoot 3’s and shoots only 46% from the field isn’t quite as valuable as it used to be. Nurkic was drafted as a top-50 player before the season, but he hasn’t provided value anywhere near that so far. In addition to his low field goal percentage, he’s shooting only 64.6% from the charity stripe and his 3.2 turnovers are very high for a low-post type of big man.
Obviously, Nurkic is too good to drop, but it’s time to start shopping him around. With all the injured big men right now, you can probably get a pretty penny for a guy like Nurkic. Throw him on the trade block and see what offers you receive. You’ll probably get a good one or two.
Blake Griffin (PF/C – LAC)
This one stings. Griffin was having a career year before an MCL sprain that will cost him the next month or two. Before the injury, he was averaging 23.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and a career-high 2.2 3-pointers per game. In his absence, guys like Sam Dekker, Danilo Gallinari (whenever he returns), and Wesley Johnson should all see a slight uptick in fantasy value.
Kawhi Leonard (SF – SAS)
Finally, Leonard is nearing a return. It’s about damn time. But don’t forget, Coach Popovich said Tony Parker was close to a return and it was still another two weeks before he returned to action. Don’t expect Leonard back in the next few days, but a return in the next week or so appears likely. The buy low window here is closing quickly.
Nikola Jokic (C – DEN)
Add Jokic’s name to the long list of elite players that have or are going to miss extended time. A left ankle sprain is going to cost him several games, but thankfully there was no structural damage. While he’s out, Faried gets a big uptick in value.
Kemba Walker (PG – CHA)
Kemba Walker looks a little out of place here, doesn’t he? The only guard on the injury report this week has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. However, he is hoping to return Monday against the Magic and looks on track to play. Keep an eye on his status throughout the day on Monday and get ready to insert him back into fantasy lineups.
Kristaps Porzingis (PF/C – NYK)
White battling a nagging ankle injury, Porzingis now has to deal with an illness as well. This combination caused him to miss practice Saturday and likely will keep him on the sidelines today against Orlando. With a back to back set Sunday and Monday, don’t expect Porzingis back on the court until tomorrow. The Knicks might even play it safe with their star big man and keep him out against the Pacers as well.
Hassan Whiteside (C – MIA)
Whiteside’s troublesome knee is causing him to miss more time, and it’s going to be more than a couple of games this time. He was recently quoted as saying that he’s not going to play until his knee has totally healed. Who knows when that’s going to be. Only Whiteside can make that determination on when his knee feels good enough to return to the court. This sounds like a multi-week absence that could stretch out longer than that. Don’t be surprised if we don’t see Whiteside back until after Christmas.
John Collins (PF/C – ATL)
A sprained AC joint in his left shoulder is going to cost John Collins the next 2-3 weeks of action. This injury brings a promising rookie season to a screeching halt. He showed promise to start the season, but he has really taken off once he started getting more consistent playing time. Over the last two weeks, Collins averaged 13.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks on a ridiculous 76% shooting from the field. His value was trending strongly upward before the injury, so he’s definitely a player worth holding onto, regardless if you have an IR spot until he returns in a few weeks.
Dewayne Dedmon (C – ATL)
The Hawks are looking really thin in the frontcourt these days with Dewayne Dedmon also out of commission. Dedmon’s injury will cost him more time than Collins’ and could keep him out of the lineup for the next month and a half. Like Collins, Dedmon was finding his stride over the last few weeks. He was putting up top-100 value at the time of his injury and getting better as the season progressed. Even with his strong play of late, Dedmon’s lower fantasy ceiling makes him harder to hold onto. Unless you have an open IR spot, you can give him the boot.
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.