In Part 1 and Part 2, we covered players who were injured last year but are expected to be healthy to start the season. Now we will cover the players who are not expected to be healthy to start the year.
Again, there is a point at which any of these guys may become worth the risk if they become cheap enough. You’ll have to decide in your own drafts.
There is a bit of mystery surrounding the availability of Kyrie. Recovering from a fractured kneecap suffered during the NBA Finals, his timetable has ranged from opening day to January. What we do know is that is still rehabbing, has yet to return to practice, there’s no official timetable for a return and the Cavs are going to be very cautious.
For me that points more to the far end of the estimated range as opposed to the near end, with plenty of off days after he returns. In H2H and redraft leagues, all of the uncertainty says “stay away.” In keeper leagues, I wouldn’t let him slip beyond the second tier of point guards. In the meantime, boost Mo Williams and J.R. Smith up a round or two, as they stand to benefit from any extended time Irving misses.
Rose fractured his left orbital bone on the first day of training camp. Russell Westbrook suffered a similar injury last year, returning quickly with no ill effects. I would expect the same for Rose. The bigger question here is how will sitting out training camp and preseason affect Rose. The Bulls have a new coach, a new system and a new number-one option in Jimmy Butler. Rose was pretty inconsistent last year and missing camp suggests that trend is likely to continue. I would have taken a flyer on him, but I’m less optimistic about a breakout now and his ADP’s of 57 to 73 still do not reflect the downside risk.
Matthews tore his Achilles in March last year. He’s in his seventh month of recovery, which typically requires 9- to 12-months. That said, he has been aggressive with his timelines since surgery, there have been no reported setbacks and the latest talk is that he will be ready for opening night. Yet to play in a game, Matthews is doing contact drills at practice.
The bigger concerns for fantasy owners will be any minutes restriction and the level of play upon his return. Wes is now 29 years old and with the Mavs seemingly willing to take a step back this season, expect an abundance of caution and a lost step or two. With ADPs ranging from 74 to 105, I am likely to take a pass.
Who knows what to do with Whiteside? He came out of nowhere, posted monster lines in limited minutes, got suspended and battled nagging injuries. Preseason was supposed to provide some clues about whether his success was sustainable. Unfortunately, he reported to camp with a calf strain and has yet to play in the preseason. Whiteside has now scrimmaged and appears poised to play soon, but the injury raises a fewconcerns.
First, obviously is his durability. Second, on a team with championship aspirations, and so many veterans, can he fit in? Third, how can you draft him at 32-33 (his ADP’s at Yahoo! and ESPN), when there is so much unknown here? If you are going to take such a big risk, why not do so on a player with more upside like Karl Anthony Towns, who is going 20 picks later?
Terrence Jones/Donatas Motiejunas
Houston’s PF all post fantasy-friendly lines and present quite the dilemma for the Rockets. Jones shows flashes of brilliance but lacks dependability. He struggled to start the year, likely due to health, as he was in and out of the lineup. He took off after the all-star break, when Howard went down and Motiejunas moved over to center, then Jones limped over the line and really struggled in the playoffs. He missed time in training camp with bruised ribs before returning to play in one preseason game.
After a solid first half, Motiejunas struggled in the second half where he shot only 41.7% on his two’s, lining up against bigger opponents. The pounding may have also affected his back, which forced him to shut it down in April and later required surgery. He remains without a timetable and has not participated in camp to date, though he has started running. Opening night is out of the question.
Another concern is that Houston had success playing Trevor Ariza at the four, drafted a pair of forwards in Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell and saw Clint Capela emerge as a viable rotation candidate on the block. Jones has a leg up considering he is able to play now, but this confused situation will likely remain volatile. Jones’ draft cost is relatively low given the upside, so feel free to take him but for deep leaguers, Capela and Motiejunas (who can be freely acquired) should be paired to mitigate the risk.
Dunleavy is one those guys who sneaks up on you and after 82 games has posted a solid line with no hype. He is likely to miss the first month or two of the season and with the quality young options on Chicago’s roster is basically now undraftable. While his minutes are likely to be shared amongst Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, it is the latter who you need to know. (Mirotic is already fairly priced.)
McDermott was excellent in Summer League and that has continued in the preseason. While his defensive struggles would have kept him stapled to the bench under Thibodeau, the same does not appear to the case for new coach Fred Hoiberg. He goes from someone to watch to someone to grab right now, as I doubt he gives the minutes back to Dunleavy.
Shumpert had surgery on his right wrist and is expected to be out until January. While he wasn’t draftable before and really isn’t now, this further opens up opportunities for Smith and Williams.
MKG had shoulder surgery and is expected to be out six months. If you haven’t already, strike him off your cheat sheets. His minutes are expected to go to a committee of Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb and P. J. Hairston. Lin has looked great so far in the pre-season, while Lamb and Hairston continue to struggle. Lin is the safe play and makes for an excellent late-round flyer in standard leagues.