Brand-Aid Needed

Elton Brand goes for a ball fake, and we all end up getting screwed.

Elton Brand goes for a ball fake, and we all end up getting screwed.

As if you weren’t already regretting using your first round pick on Elton Brand this season, the big lug went at dislocated his right shoulder in Wednesday night’s victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. This is awful news.

A dislocated shoulder isn’t a season-ending injury, although the results of a postgame MRI are yet to be revealed. The best-case scenario here is to expect Brand to come back in about a month.

So…what now? 

I have Brand in one league and have been touting him as a buy-low option for the last few weeks. Obviously, that’s no longer the case. Of course, if you could acquire Brand in exchange for Jeff Foster, etc., I would do it.

But how do you replace Brand for the next four weeks? The “good” news is that Brand was not playing all that well, so you only have to replace 16 points, 10 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. His percentages and steal totals were subpar.

It would be much harder to withstand this blow if he was putting up 24 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1.2 steals and shooting 55 percent from the floor. Maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better.

Anyway, an interesting and overlooked option is probably on his own team in the form of rookie Marreese Speights, who went for 12 points and seven rebounds in Brand’s absence on Wednesday.

Speights is 6-10 and 245 pounds, making him far more suited to thrive in the up-and-down style the Sixers are likely to play with Brand out. He is averaging 17.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes and shooting 48 percent from the floor. 

Brand’s injury also adds value to Reggie Evans, who grabbed nine rebounds in a season-high 17 minutes on Wednesday. But Evans is a one-trick pony and Speights is a far more interesting flyer that could contribute across the boards.

Louis Williams and Thaddeus Young will also benefit from the void as both will be looked upon to pick up the slack. I don’t think this summons the resurgence of Andre Iguodala, who has already been playing much better in December (19.3 points, 7.7 rebounds) anyway.

As I’ve said in previous posts, Iguodala will gradually get back to last season’s form but won’t take a huge step forward. He’s just not Danny Granger good.

Looking for some under-owned players around the NBA that could help offset the loss of rebounds and blocks, we come up with a relatively short list:

Boston’s Kendrick Perkins is only owned in 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues and is averaging 8.4 points and 1.8 blocks while shooting 57 percent. And for those in head-to-head leagues, the Celtics have four very favorable matchups next week.

Joel Pryzbilla and Erick Dampier are 29th and 30th in the NBA in rebounding, respectively, and both are sparsely owned.

Przybilla is ownedin 40 percent of leagues and averaging eight rebounds and 1.4 blocks and shootin 79 percent (!!!) from the floor.  His minutes have been inconsistent of late but Portland does have four advantageous matchups next week.

Dampier is owned in only 12 percent Yahoo! leagues despite notching 7.8 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and shooting 62 percent. He’s terribly inconsistent but the rebounding totals in his last six games are: 14, 11, 8, 5, 4, 15. Plus, Dallas also has four games next week.

The Cavaliers offer a couple of options as old standby Ben Wallace is averaging 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks this season (though his percentages still suck) and Sideshow Bob Varejao is pulling down 6.8 rebounds and shooting 58 percent. Both are owned in just 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

And then there is the aforementioned Foster, who is collecting 6.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and shooting 54 percent. Not great numbers overall, but he is averaging 9.2 rebounds per 36 minutes and just got moved into the Pacers starting lineup (but who knows for how long).

Injured big men are unequivocally the hardest commodity to replace in fantasy. Mainly because there are not many players languishing on NBA benches that can average a double-double and block shots (aside from Paul Millsap).

The key is to weather the storm. If you have a team with lots of big guys, grab someone who can help you plug the gap in rebounds and blocks until Brand gets back. If he was your one frontcourt crown jewel, maybe it’s time to go full throttle after assists, 3-pointers, etc.

Either way, you can go around telling people that Elton Brand punched you in the nuts, just like you feared he would. That’s what it feel like, doesn’t it?

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