As if the start of T.J. Ford’s season wasn’t disappointing enough, his recent resurgence was cut short on Wednesday. After scoring six early points he was removed from the game due to back spasms and will be considered day-to-day.
Injuries are always a lingering threat with Ford, who has never played more than 75 games in a season and has missed more than 25 games twice in his five-year career. Ford was projected to play 73 games this season.
It’s too early to tell how long the injury will linger, but Ford doesn’t exactly have the reputation as a quick healer. His absence will provide ample extra opportunities for Brandon Rush and Earl Watson.
Rush has struggled with an ankle injury to start the season but has reached double figures in two of his last three games. He had 11 points and seven rebounds and nailed a pair of 3-pointers after Ford’s departure on Wednesday.
Even with excessive minutes, Rush’s only asset in his ability to make roughly 1.5 3-pointers per 36 minutes. His percentages are poor and he’s not enough of a facilitator to contribute in asssists.
That brings us to Watson, who played superbly after Ford’s demise. Watson played a season-high 35 minutes – one more than Rush – and had a season-high 16 points with six rebounds, three assists and three steals. He made 4-of-6 shots, including three 3-pointers, and 5-of-6 free throws.
Before getting too excited, it must be noted that the game was against the Golden State Warriors, who are the fantasy equivalent of the Golden Goose. Which I think makes the Knicks something like Jack’s magic beans, but I digress.
Watson’s per minute numbers have always been intriguing. For his career, he’s averaging 11.6 points, 7.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 3-pointers per 36 minutes. His lifetime percentages of .416/.706 are bad, but it with minutes he’s a solid fantasy point guard equivalent to an 11th or 12th round draft pick.
Of course, his value now and for the remainder of the season remains entirely dependant on Ford’s recovery. But Watson could be a nice fill-in in the interim and an interesting handicap for the injury-prone throughout the season.