If injuries have ravaged your team, you are not alone. Many owners have come to the harsh realization that their season is coming to a close faster than they expected. But, just like Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Benes said, “I’m here for you”. If you are in the playoff hunt and need somebody to get you over the edge, you’re reading the right article.
In just the past few weeks, the NBA has seen Chris Paul, Jabari Parker, Zach Lavine, Joel Embiid and Kevin Love go down with serious injuries that will take them out for most of the remainder of the fantasy basketball calendar (depending on your league setup). Other superstars have been sitting periodically with different ailments but are expected to return at some point in the near future. Other players with nagging injuries such as Avery Bradley and Cody Zeller probably helped many people get out to a solid start but are now lacking production from a reliable source.
Here are the facts: you will not be able to replace your injured superstar, period. It is impossible to think that you can; somebody not in contention might as for a kings ransom for you to take a superstar off their hands but, buyer beware. Depth and production from multiple sources can be just as, if not more, important than one single superstar. Studies at the end of fantasy seasons, regardless of sport, often show the percentage of players on winning teams and it is not usually your superstars that are on the list- it is the smaller role players that contribute day after day. Also on those lists are the over-performing, unexpected rise of a lesser known commodity. That said, here are some players that may be left for you to scoop up in time for a playoff run.
As of Valentine’s Day, Shabazz had scored in double digits in 8 of 10 contests. It is no secret that scoring is what Shabazz does best as he will not often provide additional statistics for other categories. He will have an occasional strong rebounding game and will also be fairly consistent with an average of half a steal per game. He also very rarely turns the ball over. Again, these other category contributions are limited but, with Zach Lavine out, he will see more floor time and with chances comes exactly that, a chance. If you need points, grab Muhammed; he is getting more confident every game.
While everyone scratched their heads as to how the Cavaliers were going to replace Kevin Love, Korver appears to have the first crack at the job. Obviously, Korver is a Shooting Guard compared to Love being a Power Forward; however, in Cleveland’s offense, floor spacing is important which is what Korver does best. Lebron James will move towards playing more Power Forward in Love’s absence which will also help his production (if you’re lucky enough to own him). Korver has scored in double digits in 5 of his last 7 games and has hit at least two 3-pointers in that same seven game stretch. He also provides a few smaller contributions to rebounding, steals, and assists.
Hopefully you aren’t late to the party on Hardaway Jr. Some owners may have been nervous picking him up with playing time being in question but, he has thrived with Korver’s departure from Atlanta. The numbers speak for themselves. Ten straight games of double-digit scoring. Ten straight games of more than two rebounds. Eight straight games of two or more assists. Sprinkle in healthy playing time, occasional steals, nine of ten games with a three pointer and you have that player that will be on a lot of fantasy championship rosters. If he is available, thank your fellow owners for sleeping through the past month of the season.
TJ McConnell and Jahlil Okafor
Allow me to speak out of both sides of my mouth for a moment. McConnell has been a solid, consistent contributor all year. It is looking less likely that Philadelphia is going to make a move at the deadline with one of their big men meaning that his place in the rotation is safe. Over the past five games McConnell has averaged ten points and six assists. This is not a bad stat line if you are need for some sort of production assist in Chris Paul’s absence. Now for the other voice in my head- the 76ers are actively shopping Jahlil Okafor. The expectation is that they will find a home for him and for his sake, I hope they do. He has handled being a trade target by sitting on the bench protecting a potential injury so the 76ers can get something in return with nothing but class. Most owners, in redraft leagues especially, have given up on the up and down play / playing time of Okafor. If a team makes a move for Okafor, they are going to play him. It likely won’t be to a contender but, rather to a team looking to get last year’s #3 overall draft pick on a cheap deal and see if they can find lightning in a bottle. He will see a minutes and production increase with any move that comes his way and may even become a top 10 Center on a per game basis by seasons end. Grab him now- worst case scenario, you drop him after the deadline if he is still rotting away on the bench.
Nurkic falls under the same principle as stated above with Okafor. Portland didn’t trade for Nurkic to sit him on the bench. Portland isn’t winning the West this year and wouldn’t hurt itself by staying in the lottery (they’ve had great luck before. Remember Greg Oden?). If you need to make a reach or do something desperate get in the playoffs for your league, make Nurkic your flyer. He was strong enough in the preseason to unseat Jokic in Denver’s starting five so he has the chance to make a great first impression in Portland. He could provide any fantasy team with decent scoring and rebounding averages.
Don’t let injuries ruin your fantasy season! Take some chances and secure as much steady production as you can. As always, feedback is welcomed. If you have any players that you think are going to save a fantasy season, please share them in the comments below.