We are less than 12 hours from the start of the NBA season. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been bombarded news regarding players having one ailment or another.
The preseason is a time when every hangnail or sore throat becomes valid reason for a player to be sidelined for a week. There are so many “injury” reports during this time period that paying too much attention will make you wary of drafting anyone.
Well now that NBA and fantasy rosters are set, we finally have a clearer picture of which players have injuries that will make you start tearing your hair out right from the start.
Blake Griffin (SF/PF): Griffin has a stress fracture in his kneecap (link) and could miss the first six weeks of the season. Even if he returns more quickly, he’ll basically be starting from scratch with his conditioning, which means he won’t be up to full speed until December. Not good.
Griffin was 62nd in my roto rankings. He was expected to post solid averages of 16.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while chipping in close to one steal and one block.
But my rankings are not based only on averages but on projected season totals (projected per game averages times projected games played). His outlook was for 77 games. He is going to fall far short.
Griffin will be lucky to reach 60 games this season and only two players projected to play less than 60 games were included in my rankings. Those players were Mike Dunleavy (52 games, ranked 150th) and Tracy McGrady (46 games, ranked 146th).
Basically, Griffin has slipped into the realm were he was borderline draftable. But if you have him, he’s worth hanging on to for his potential second half value. In the meantime, Chris Kaman and Al Thornton become more valuable since Griffin won’t be there to steal frontcourt minutes.
Don’t expect any marginal Clippers like Craig Smith or DeAndre Jordan to contribute anything other than the occasional solid game. They are not worth picking up unless it’s a very deep league.
Baron Davis (PG): In more Clippers news, Davis is questionable for the team’s season opener with a foot injury. Davis is projected to miss 12 games this season, so the odd injury is going to happen and it doesn’t appear to be serious.
However, as long as he’s out, the value of Eric Gordon (already ranked 22nd) rises even further. Sebastian Telfair could also find some value in assists and steals, but don’t expect it to be a long-term pickup. Davis will be back soon.
Pau Gasol (PF/C): Gasol is a game-time decision for the Lakers with a hamstring injury. This injury isn’t considered terribly serious, but hamstring injuries to have a tendency to linger.
Obvious his absence would mean a huge boost for Andrew Bynum, who will play despite preseason shoulder problems.
Bynum, however, is projected to miss 18 games this season due to his inability to stay healthy in his short career.
Derrick Rose (PG): Rose is dealing with an ankle injury and his status for the season opener is up in the air. Even if he plays, it’s likely to be in a reduced role. Rose’s ranking of 69 was based on him playing 79 games and even if he reaches that number, he is starting the season cautiously.
This has echoes of Deron Williams’ situation from last season. Williams was drafted not expecting to miss many games due to a preseason ankle problem but struggled from the start and didn’t start playing like a Top 25 player until December.
Kirk Hinrich, who I seemed to like more than most with a ranking of 96th, may get off to a solid start as a result of Rose’s ankle.
Josh Howard (SG/SF): Ranked 70th overall in the roto rankings, Howard is slowly recovering from offseason wrist and ankle surgery. His impending recovery has been delayed time and time again and now the Mavericks are saying he might miss the first few weeks of the season.
Based on the surgery, Howard was projected to miss nine games this season. But he was expected to be healthy to start. Bad news if you drafted Howard, great news if your drafted Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden or Tim Thomas – all of whom might see some increased value.
Glen Davis (SF/PF): Davis wasn’t drafted in many leagues, but his season-ending-before-it-began thumb injury will have some fantasy impact. It means larger-than-expected roles for Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics didn’t have a lot of size to begin with and now will need as many minutes as possible from their veteran big men.
Al Jefferson (PF/C): He will play. That was a close one.
Kevin Love (PF/C): Jefferson’s teammate was less lucky as Love will miss the first two months of the season following hand surgery. All of a sudden, Ryan Gomes looks palatable.
Raja Bell (SG): Even when he was projected to play 74 games, Bell was 164th in the roto rankings. My system does not look favorably upon one-cat wonders. So the loss of Bell for as many as four months after wrist surgery isn’t a roto tragedy.
However, his absence means increased production for Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin, both of whom are superior players. Bobcats coach Larry Brown has a way of favoring less-productive veterans over more-talented youngsters so clearing Bell from Augustin’s path is especially helpful.
Augustin was ranked at 112 and while he doesn’t become a Top 50 player by any stretch, his increase in value will become substantial. Expect him to average around 15 points with two 3-pointers and one steal per game.
Luis Scola (PF/C), Al Horford (PF/C), Antawn Jamison (SF/PF): All three are optimistic about playing their respective teams’ season openers.
And so it begins…. Good Luck!