This is it. For most standard fantasy basketball leagues, we’re just a weekend away from the fantasy playoffs. As a result, we’ve reached the point of the season in which your team really can’t have a bad week. One bad week, or even a few sluggish days, and your season will likely come to an end. This means you have to still be aggressive on the waiver wire, picking up any players who suddenly start trending up over these final few weeks.
The best way to do this is to track injuries. With every injury or absence to a key rotation player, someone has to step in and fill those minutes and production. So if you can capitalize on these opportunities, you might just win yourself a championship. So let’s take a look at some of the most recent injuries and updates around the league, pinpointing which players are most likely to step up in the wake of absences.
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NBA Trends and Injuries
G Jamal Murray
Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL in his left knee at the end of Monday night’s game against the Warriors. The injury is a devastating blow to Murray and the Nuggets, who have won eight of their last ten games and currently sit as the 4 seed in the Western Conference. The injury will likely lead to MVP candidate Nikola Jokic running the offense even more than usual, as the Nuggets attempt to work through this major setback.
G Monte Morris
Monte Morris, the trusted backup guard out of Iowa St., should get a nice boost in minutes as a result of the injury. Morris is not a flashy player, and he likely won’t knock your socks off with any of his stat lines, but he is a consistent producer who does everything you could ask for in a backup guard. Morris shoots the ball well at 47.9% from the floor, along with a 38.1% mark from beyond the arc and 78.3% from the free-throw line. And while he only scores 10.4 points per game in his 26 minutes, his 3.3 assists to just 0.8 turnovers per game are great for anyone playing in 9-cat leagues. Realistically, Morris is probably a guy who is more valuable to his NBA team than he is to your fantasy team, but he still does plenty to contribute in fantasy hoops.
G/F Will Barton
Aside from Morris, many people are of the assumption that Facundo Campazzo will step into a share of Murray’s role. The fact of the matter, however, is that Campazzo simply isn’t that type of player. Will Barton, on the other hand, is now probably the third most capable scorer on the Nuggets after Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. Barton struggled in the team’s first game without Murray last night, but he has been trending up in a big way since April 1st. The nine-year NBA veteran has averaged 15.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2 threes per game in that span and those numbers could rise with the absence of Murray. If the Nuggets are going to make a run without their all-star point guard this season, Barton will need to play some of his best basketball down the stretch.
G/F Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo suffered what appeared to be a non-contact right knee injury last Thursday against the Lakers. While tests have come back negative so far, the injury is to the same leg on which he ruptured a quad tendon a while back, so the Heat are going to be extremely careful. Hopefully, Oladipo will be able to return to the court soon, but some of his backcourt teammates will be able to benefit with their minutes trending up in the meantime.
G Kendrick Nunn
After sitting out six games in a row, Kendrick Nunn not only rejoined the rotation but entered the starting lineup for Miami in the wake of Oladipo’s knee injury. The sophomore has played well in his return to the lineup, scoring 15 or more points in two of the three games, while knocking down at least one triple and collecting a steal per game. Nunn scored 15.3 points per game in his rookie campaign a year ago, and his ability to score has never been in doubt, so he could be very valuable to fantasy teams for as long as he remains a consistent part of Erik Spoelstra’s rotations. And with 27 minutes per game across their last three contests, he is trending up in a hurry.
F/C Richaun Holmes
Richaun Holmes suffered a right hamstring strain in Monday night’s game against the Pelicans and will be forced to miss at least the next three games. Holmes was one of the few bright spots for a Kings team that has now lost eight in a row, averaging 16.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in the last month. With the Kings also missing Marvin Bagley III, who’s been out since March 15th, the Kings will be very thin in the frontcourt for the foreseeable future.
C Hassan Whiteside
It’s been an incredibly disappointing first season in Sacramento for Hassan Whiteside, but it seems he might finally be trending up as we draw closer to the season’s end. Playing 23 minutes last night due to Holmes’ absence, his most in a game since February 15th, Whiteside went off for 12 points, 9 boards, 2 assists, a steal, and 4 blocks. Truthfully, this is very close to the kind of production we were hoping to see from him all season, but hey, better late than never, right?
The Kings have almost no choice but to give Whiteside minutes at this point, as their other big men options are Damian Jones, who actually got the start last night, and Chimezie Metu. Assuming (and desperately hoping) the Kings continue to give Whiteside at least 20 minutes per game until Holmes returns, the big man who averaged a double-double in each of the past six seasons should have no trouble making an impact on the box score each night.
F/C PJ Washington
For what seems like the hundredth week in a row, the Charlotte Hornets are dealing with another injury to a key rotation player. PJ Washington suffered a sprained right ankle on Sunday and has already missed each of the team’s past two games. He joins LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, and Malik Monk on the sidelines, as the Hornets desperately try to cling to their one-game lead on the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
F/C Bismack Biyombo
Last week, I wrote about the increased roles that Miles Bridges and Jalen McDaniels would have in the wake of Gordon Hayward going down. Bridges has probably played the best four-game stretch of his life, averaging 20.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 threes per game. Meanwhile, McDaniels just topped 40 minutes in a game for the first time in his career, dropping 16 points with 8 boards, 2 steals, and 2 triples. Both of them will continue to trend up as they now need to carry an even larger load on offense.
Another interesting player who has now stepped into the starting lineup due to all the injuries Charlotte is dealing with is Bismack Biyombo. The big man double-doubled with 10 points and 12 rebounds in his first start, while collecting a steal and 2 blocks in his second and most recent start last night. The 10-year veteran is not the most exciting player in the world, but he will be a solid source of rebounds and blocks with some very efficient scoring while his minutes remain in the mid-20s.
There’s still time to make a few last-minute tweaks to your roster with the help of Mike Omelan’s Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire!
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