After hearing numerous conflicting reports over the past few weeks, it was confirmed on Tuesday that Tracy McGrady needs season-ending microfracture surgery on his left knee.
No one act shocked. You all knew the possibilities when you drafted him and saw the writing on the wall when this happened. Not going to spend any time pontificating on McGrady’s decline or the damage this does to his fantasy owners. It was risk you chose to take and it didn’t work out. Deal with it.
But McGrady was playing 34 minutes and taking 14 shots per game and handling the ball quite a bit. In short, a bunch of Rockets just got some fantasy value. In most leagues, it’ll be a race to the waiver wire.
We’re going to ignore Yao Ming and Ron Artest here, since they have been valuable all season long and will remain so. Both may score a little more but don’t expect any dramatic changes in value. In fact, Yao owners are probably happy he’s still standing this far into the season.
Luis Scola and Rafer Alston have both been playing around 30 minutes per game this season. That shouldn’t change much and both players will continue to provide a 10th or 11th round value for the rest of the season.
The remaining culprits:
Shane Battier (SF; 6-8, 220): There are probably a slew of owners that grabbed Battier on Tuesday after he put up 19 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal in a win against New Jersey.
Unfortunately, those owners are likely to be disappointed in the long run. All of Battier’s numbers have trended downwards this season and those who watch him say he has lost a step. It may be that he is just now recovering from his ankle injury, but age is also likely playing a factor.
Battier is definitely worth grabbing if you have a roster spot you’ve bee trying to fill. He is well known for his statistical versatility. But per 36 minutes he is averaging just 6.4 points, 1.3 3-pointers, 4.8 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 0.8 blocks.
It’s hard to support the idea that more minutes will help his per minute numbers since his ankle is obviously still a factor. But just the possibility of contributing across multiple categories is worth taking a shot on him. It could pay off with him being a fantastic player for the utility slot.
Von Wafer (PG/SG; 6-5, 210 lbs): This is not rocket science, no pun intended.
In 11 starts earlier this season, Wafer averaged 16.4 points, 1.8 3-pointers and 1.4 steals while shooting .497 from the floor. He came off the bench and scored 19 in 27 minutes on Tuesday as Houston began life without McGrady.
Wafer might not take McGrady’s place in the starting lineup, but he’ll likely get the most minutes off the bench and that gives him plenty of value.
This season’s per minutes numbers are impressive: 17.1 points, 1.3 steals, 1.9 3-pointers, 3.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per 36 minutes with a decent enough .447 FG% and a solid .783 FT%.
If he gets around 30 minutes per game, which is very likely, he could put up numbers similar to Anthony Parker and provide an eighth or ninth round value for the remainder of the season.
Carl Landry (SF/PF; 6-9, 248 lbs): Landry reminds me of Paul Millsap. One of those guys you know just needs the chance to play major minutes and he’ll produce. And then nominal NBA fans will say he came out of nowehere while the rest of us know he just needed to get a break.
With that said, don’t mistake me for thinking Landry is as good as Millsap. He’s not. But he’s better than the playing time he gets with the Rockets because of their loaded frontcourt.
I also don’t think McGrady’s injury is Landry’s big chance. That will come if Artest, Scola or Battier goes down. After all, he got only nine minutes on Tuesday. But those in deeper leagues have to give him a look.
Per 36 minutes, Landry is putting up 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting .561 from the floor and .834 from the line. He doesn’t provide in any other categories, which limits his overall value.
The strongest case you can make for the guy is this: he has played 25 minutes or more 10 times this season and in those 10 games he is averaging 12.9 points and 7.7 rebounds. Yet he has not played 30 minutes in a game this season.
Landry has very little current value, but one more injury to the aging Rockets and he’s on the cusp of a breakthrough.
Aaron Brooks (PG/SG; 6-0, 161 lbs): Brooks is a pretty typical young point guard. Loves to shoot the three although he’s not particularly good at it (.344 for his career), a dreadful FG%, excellent FT% and a solid if unspectacular 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Per 36 minutes this season he has averaged 16.3 points, 2.1 3-pointers, 4.2 assists and 0.8 steals. His percentages are .400/.883.
An injury to Alston would be more beneficial to Brooks since they are too small to play alongside each other. He will remain a backup and has limited value as a result.