NBA Trends and Injuries: 6 Players on the Rise
It’s almost that time of year. Fantasy playoffs. We’re just 10 days away. If your team is beginning to peak right about now, you’re in a great spot heading into the postseason. You probably feel pretty good about your chances of winning your league at this point. But if you’re anything like me, your team is trending down in a hurry. Injuries have ravaged my roster, and I’m doing everything in my power to limp my way into the playoffs.
In order to do this, I have to take advantage of the abundance of injuries by adding their replacements to my roster. With every injury, there is a player (or maybe multiple players) sitting behind that guy who now has a newfound opportunity to shine. So let’s take a look at some of these players to determine who is on the rise in the wake of their injured teammates.
What?! You’re not hosting your fantasy basketball league on Fantrax? Inconceivable! Check out all the features of Fantrax Fantasy Basketball Commissioner and we’re pretty sure you’ll come around to our way of thinking.
NBA Trends and Injuries
G Malcolm Brogdon
Malcolm Brogdon sat out last night for the fourth straight game with a hip injury. He was able to practice on Monday, so it likely isn’t too serious, but it’s serious enough that he’s missed four games while the Pacers sit just a game out of the playoffs. The 28-year-old could potentially be back for the team’s next game, but there is a lot of value to be had should his absence continue into the weekend.
F/C Domantas Sabonis
In similar fashion to his teammate, Domantas Sabonis missed his third straight game last night, despite coach Nate Bjorkgren saying he is likely to return any day now. Fortunately, the all-star big man seems to have dodged a bullet, as sprained ankles can keep players out for lengthy periods. That said, there will continue to be a lot of opportunities on offense up for grabs if Indiana’s top two leading scorers sit out any more games.
F/C Myles Turner
While Sabonis got lucky with a somewhat mild ankle sprain, it seems Myles Turner fared much worse. The NBA’s leading shot-blocker seems likely to miss a few weeks with the left ankle injury he suffered Tuesday night. Turner was playing well of late with 22 blocks in his last six games and double-digit scoring in four of his last five. His absence will leave plenty of available minutes in the frontcourt, especially if Sabonis remains out as well.
Averaging over 25 minutes per game for the first time in four seasons, T.J. McConnell has made the most of those minutes to put up the best numbers of his career. The point guard is averaging 7.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 1.7 steals on an impressive 54.9% from the floor. Despite most of those numbers being career-highs, McConnell has been even better of late with 11.9 points and 7.6 assists per game in his last 12 contests. With Brogdon out the last four games, T.J. has taken full advantage of regular minutes in the 30s. He has shot 60% or better from the field in each game, putting up 13.8 points and 8.8 assists, including a 19-point, 15-assists effort last night against the Timberwolves. The 29-year-old is trending up as an elite assists option with extremely efficient scoring for as long as the Pacers remain shorthanded.
C Goga Bitadze
There are a number of players for the Pacers who will likely step up at some point with a big game. Guys like Justin Holiday, his brother, Aaron Holiday, Doug McDermott, Jeremy Lamb, and Jakarr Sampson are inconsistent at times but are all capable of having the occasional breakout performance. The player that is trending up the most however, is Goga Bitadze. The 18th overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft has shown a versatile skillset in extremely limited minutes, but that could all change now that the Pacers are without their starting big men. As a result, Bitadze drew his first start of the season last night, and the big man did not disappoint. The 21-year-old shot 6-for-11 from the floor for 14 points to go along with 3 boards, 5 assists, a steal, a block, and 2 threes in 25 minutes. The potential for major across-the-board production is there, and he could easily play his way into more minutes if he continues to impress.
G/F Gordon Hayward
As if losing LaMelo Ball to injury a few weeks ago wasn’t bad enough, the Hornets will now try to finish off their hunt for the NBA playoffs without Gordon Hayward. The first-year Hornet suffered a right foot sprain on Friday and will miss at least the next four weeks. It’s a tough loss, as Hayward was having a very strong season with 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.9 threes per game.
Having an up-and-down season to date, Miles Bridges looks like the guy who will step into a larger offensive role for the Hornets down the stretch. Including the game in which Hayward got injured, Bridges has averaged 16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 2.7 threes in the three games without the team’s starting forward. After starting for the second straight game and playing 36 minutes last night, Bridges is trending up with the potential for some huge performances until Hayward returns.
Playing 20 or more minutes for just the third time all season, Jalen McDaniels came out of nowhere to put up a career-high 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 3 threes last night against the Thunder. McDaniels got the start with the Hornets trying to go small, and it was clearly a huge success. Not only did McDaniels have the game of his life in his 32 minutes of play, but the Hornets won the game, a great sign for the chances of McDaniels continuing to see major minutes over the next month. It’d be great to see him impact the box score again tomorrow night to ensure this wasn’t a complete fluke, but he is still trending up as an enticing option with the Hornets searching for players to step up.
Previously leading the Raptors offense with Kyle Lowry already injured, Fred VanVleet has now missed the last two games as he deals with a strained left hip flexor. Second on the team in usage rate this season, VanVleet was having a terrific season with a career-best 19.8 points per game with 4.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.7 steals, and 3.3 threes. With both of Toronto’s starting guards on the sidelines, there is plenty of playing time to be had in the backcourt. Newcomer Gary Trent Jr. has stepped up, but a lot of minutes are still up for grabs.
G/F DeAndre’ Bembry
After only playing twice between March 14th and April 2nd, DeAndre’ Bembry has been thrust right back into the thick of things, playing key minutes in each of Toronto’s last three games. The former Atlanta Hawk is averaging 10.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and an impressive 2.7 steals in that span. He has also shot 50% or better in all three games since returning, an encouraging feat for someone not exactly known for his efficiency. His upside isn’t the highest, but as long as he keeps getting 30 or more minutes, he will be a strong source of steals with decent production across the board.
After going the entire season without playing 20 minutes in a game, Malachi Flynn has gotten over 30 minutes in each of the team’s past three games. The highly touted rookie has lived up to the hype, scoring 14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.7 steals, 1.3 blocks, and 1.7 threes per game in that time. Flynn has impressed coach Nick Nurse with his defense, an attribute that will certainly help him keep his minutes at or above 30 while Lowry and VanVleet remain out. Having already shown the ability to stuff the stat sheet, the 22-year-old is quickly trending in the right direction for as long as the Raptors are without their starting backcourt. And if he keeps up this level of play, he could be earning himself a much larger role for when Lowry and VanVleet do return.
For more help in making that final playoff push check out the latest Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire.
Fantrax was one of the fastest-growing fantasy sites of 2020 and we’re not letting our foot off the pedal now! With multi-team trades, designated commissioner/league managers, and drag/drop easy click methods, Fantrax is sure to excite the serious fantasy sports fan – sign up now for a free year at Fantrax.com.