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NBA Trends and Injuries: 7 Players on the Rise

We’re now within three weeks of the fantasy basketball playoffs beginning. As we approach these final games, it is important to let go of injured players who are taking up valuable roster spots if they are unlikely to make an impact before your season is over. They could come back to score 50 points a game, but it does you no good if your team has already been eliminated. Conversely, it is of equal importance to add players to the end of your roster who are trending up as we make our way down the final stretch. These are the guys who could help you win your league if they heat up as the season comes to a close. And with so many injuries of late, there are plenty of guys taking on expanded roles, and some of them are taking full advantage of these opportunities. So let’s dive right in and take a look at some players who are trending up and could be a catalyst for your teams as you make one last push toward the postseason.

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NBA Trends and Injuries

Chicago Bulls

G/F Zach LaVine

Chicago’s leading scorer missed last night’s game due to a sprained right ankle. He had been playing through the pain for a few games, but aggravated it Monday, leading to his absence against the Suns. The injury doesn’t appear to be too serious, but there is a lot of playmaking responsibility up for grabs for as long as he remains on the sidelines.

G Coby White

Coby White is day-to-day with a neck injury that forced him to miss the first games of his career, after suiting up for his first 109 matchups. Coach Billy Donovan stated that he “doesn’t anticipate it being anything long-term”, but anything neck or back-related can be tricky.

F/C Lauri Markkanen

With injuries to the majority of the Bulls backcourt, the team elected to go big against the Suns last night, sliding Thaddeus Young to the three and inserting Markkanen into the starting five. In response, Markkanen topped 30 minutes for the first time since March 17, recording a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The output was very encouraging after he had previously been benched in favor of a Young and Nikola Vucevic pairing down low. Key performances like these while LaVine is out are crucial for Markkanen if he hopes to earn back a larger role down the stretch. For now at least, it appears that the stretch big may be starting to trend back up.

G Tomas Satoransky

Satoransky is not the flashiest player, and his stat lines will rarely amaze, but he is always good for some solid production. And that production has increased of late due to the absences of LaVine and White. Sato has reached 30 minutes in back-to-back games, averaging 11.5 points and 7.5 assists with 1.5 steals and a three in each game. He is unlikely to do too much more than that on any given night, but he has recorded 7 or more assists in six of his last ten games, along with decent contributions to every other category besides blocks. He should be able to maintain fantasy value for as long as Chicago’s backcourt is depleted, and possibly even beyond that, as his minutes had been starting to trend up before the injuries.

G/F Denzel Valentine

Valentine came out of nowhere last night to put up 19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 threes in just over 29 minutes of action. It was his first time topping 20 minutes since March 1st, and the most minutes he had played since February 15th. The entirety of his value is tied to these injuries, but he has shown capable in the past of stuffing the stat sheet when given a large enough workload. He should be nothing more than a flyer in fantasy, but he could have a few more strong performances before the rest of the team returns to full health.

Toronto Raptors

G Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry is set to miss the next seven to ten days with a right foot infection. Coach Nick Nurse said “it’s not going very well,” so this news is obviously less than encouraging. With the Raptors now five games out of the last spot in the Eastern Conference, and having lost 13 of their last 14 games (they’ve won once since February 26th), the team doesn’t have too much motivation to rush Lowry back before he’s back to 100%.

G/F Gary Trent Jr.

Trent had his best game as a Raptor last night, dropping a career-high 31 points with 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and 6 threes on 12-of-22 from the floor. It took him until just his fourth game in a Raptors uniform to endear himself to his new fans, as he made it apparent that he will be a major focal point of Toronto’s offense, at least until Lowry returns. He played 38 and 36 minutes in each of the past two games, leading the team in minutes played over that span. As I briefly discussed a while back, he already had his breakout this season when he stepped up for Portland in the wake of CJ McCollum going down, but it now seems as though his value will only trend up with his new team.

Atlanta Hawks

F/C John Collins

The Atlanta Hawks just can’t seem to catch a break. Having seemingly become a regular in this weekly piece, John Collins finds himself on the shelf for the first time this season. The big man will miss tonight’s game with a left ankle sprain after he awkwardly landed on Clint Capela‘s foot Tuesday night and had to exit the game early. Collins was just two games removed from his best output of the season, as he scored 38 points with 12 boards to lead the Hawks to their only win within their last five games.

G/F Bogdan Bogdanovic

Bogdan Bogdanovic erupted for 22 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, and 4 threes in a season-high 37 minutes on Tuesday night. The versatile forward got the start and then took full advantage of Collins leaving the game early, having by far his best game as a member of the Hawks. With Collins out for the foreseeable future, and De’Andre Hunter back on the sidelines with more knee pain, Bogdanovic has a chance to see major minutes over the next bunch of games. He averaged over 15 points per game with across-the-board production in 29 minutes per game for the Kings a season ago, so he is quickly trending up as the key beneficiary from these injuries.

F Danilo Gallinari

Gallinari is another option to step into a larger role for the Hawks as they attempt to continue their playoff push without Collins or Hunter. Gallo’s minutes have stuck in the low to mid-20s of late, but that could change for as long as they remain out. The veteran has not been overly impressive lately, but he has managed to score in double-figures in each of his last four games, and he had a stretch at the beginning of March in which he topped 20 points in four out of five games. He could trend up quickly with an increase in minutes, especially if he starts to heat up from behind the arc.

Los Angeles Clippers

F Paul George

Paul George will miss his third consecutive game tonight with a sore right foot. George had been playing well up until the injury, recording a points/rebounds double-double, a points/assists double-double, and missing a triple-double by one rebound and one assist, all within his last five games.

G/F Luke Kennard

After playing just 7 minutes on March 27th, Luke Kennard has stepped into a much larger role in place of Paul George, and he has delivered. Kennard knocked down 8-of-11 shots and 5 threes on his way to a season-high 21 points with 5 boards and 2 assists on Monday. He then followed up that strong performance with 17 more points and 3 threes Tuesday against the Magic. Having played 32 and 33 minutes in those two games, he seems locked into this role until George is able to make it back onto the floor. As a result, Kennard is trending up as a strong source of scoring and threes, as well as a potentially sneaky source of boards and assists, for as long as George remains out of the lineup.

For more help in making that final playoff push, check out the latest Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire.

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