Just days after the resurgence of Andrew Bynum ends in a crumpling heap on the floor, Jameer Nelson suffered a disclocated right shoulder in a loss to Dallas on Monday. He’ll have an MRI on Tuesday but it’s fair to assume he will be sidelined for about a month.
If Nelson needs surgery, his season is over.
This is a cruel blow to anyone that owned Nelson, who after years of promising stretches was having the best season of his career. He was averaging 16.7 points, 5.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals and two 3-pointers per game while shooting .503 from the floor and .887 from the line.
Basketball Monster had Nelson ranked as the 18th best fantasy player this season in nine category leagues (20th in eight category leagues). A lot of teams just lost their best fantasy player.
No waiver wire slouch is going to put lipstick on that pig, but there are some intriguing backcourt options for the Magic that may be worth of fantasy consideration.
Rookie Courtney Lee got the start alongside Nelson on Monday and played 33 minutes. It was his 13 consecutive start and sixth straight game logging 30-plus minutes.
As a starter, Lee is averaging 9.1 points, 1.3 3-pointers, 1.2 steals, 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists and shooting .449 from the floor and .813 from the line.
But with the Magic needing someone to take Nelson’s 12 shots per game and the inconsistent Mickael Pietrus still getting back to the flow, Lee could be a strong source of 3’s, steals and FT% from here on out.
If you’ve been debating about picking up Pietrus because of his up-and-down nature and injury history, hesitate no more. He’s got 64 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists, four 3’s and is 22-of-34 from the floor and 13-of-15 from the line in four games since returning from a broken right wrist.
But those four games have belied Pietrus’ streaky nature with a 27-point outburst followed by a four-point game followed by a 22-point game followed by just eight points on Monday.
Still, Pietrus is averaging a career-high 12.3 points per game (17.1 points per 36 minutes, also a career best). His percentages of .470 and .831 are very respectable but so far out of line with his career norms (.443/.676) that it’s hard to have much confidence that they will hold steady.
Pietrus is much more of an outside player than he’s ever been. A lot of his value previously came from a rare mix of 3’s, steals and blocks with some rebounds mixed in. But with Dwight Howard owning the paint for Orlando, Pietrus is now a solid flier for some 3’s and steals only as his rebound and block rates have plummeted.
And it’s going to be very interesting how often the Magic will turn to veteran point guard Anthony Johnson. Lee is a rookie and Pietrus not a good ballhandler, so someone is going to have to run that offense. They will run a good portion of it through Hedo Turkoglu, but will need a true point guard at times as well.
Johnson is worthless from a scoring standpoint, with terrible percentages (.371 FG% this season, .412 career; .727 FT% this season, .738 career) but he can still dish (5.2 assists and just 1.7 steals per 36 minutes) and contribute a moderate amount of 3-pointers and steals.
Still, Johnson shouldn’t be considered as a pickup. But keep an eye on him in deep leagues if you’re hurting for assists.
And last but not least is the intriguing of case J.J. Redick. He can be one of the league’s best 3-point and free-throw shooters with enough minutes, but does he do nearly enough to warrant them?
Redick doesn’t rebound well, is not an adept passer and his his assist-to-turnover ratio is less than 2-to-1. He provides little in the way of defensive stats and his inability to defend is why he can’t stay on the floor as a pro.
Not a whole of reasons to even consider pickup him up, but let’s face it. There will always be people with a hard-on for college basketball greats that just “need the chance” to be great pros. In your league, it’s probably the guy that owns Adam Morrison.