We’ve rounded up notable NBA injury news to help fantasy basketball owners with trade targets and free-agent pickups. Let’s get to it.
Jeremy Lin, PG, Brooklyn Nets
Jeremy Lin suffered a strained left hamstring against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 2 and will be re-evaluated next week, according to the team. In his absence, rookie Isaiah Whitehead has moved into the starting lineup and has averaged 7.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 24.5 minutes per night across two games. Until the Nets provide an updated timetable on Lin’s return, his owners have no choice but to stand pat. In the meantime, Whitehead is only worth a look in deeper leagues, as his long-term value is likely to fade once Lin comes back.
Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks
During Friday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Dirk Nowitzki had to leave early due to soreness in his right Achilles tendon, and he’s expected to be out at least through the weekend, per Dwain Price of the Star-Telegram. After the game, head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters, “He’s going to be out for a while. We’ll update you guys in about seven days,” which suggests Nowitzki’s absence could linger beyond that point. Harrison Barnes has erupted with Dirk sidelined, blowing up for back-to-back 30-point games, which helped guide Dallas to two straight wins after a 0-5 start to the year. Much like with Lin, those who have Nowitzki on their fantasy rosters can only stand pat for now until a more definitive timetable emerges.
Deron Williams, PG, Dallas Mavericks
Nowitzki isn’t the only notable starter nursing an injury in the Big D. Point guard Deron Williams, no stranger to health ailments in recent years, has missed the Mavericks’ past three games due to a left calf strain. Dallas has yet to release a timetable for Williams’ return, but given his injury history, he’s not a must-own player in shallower leagues. If the likes of Taj Gibson, Lou Williams or Tyler Johnson are still available—or Jrue Holiday, whose return may be imminent—owners should consider dumping Williams for one of those players. With Willams out, J.J. Barea has likewise shouldered more of the offensive load for Dallas, making him one of the best short-term pickups on the waiver wire at the moment.
Lance Stephenson, PG/SG, New Orleans Pelicans
After New Orleans’ loss to the Phoenix Suns on Nov. 4, the Pelicans announced Lance Stephenson suffered a groin injury that required surgery, per ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Stephenson would be sidelined for 6-10 weeks, which led the Pelicans to waive him and sign Archie Goodwin in his place. Those who picked up Stephenson in deeper leagues should cut him if you haven’t already, while his injury bodes well for Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans’ chances of being immediate impact-makers upon their respective returns.
Jae Crowder, SF, Boston Celtics: Jae Crowder is still nursing a sprained ankle and is “unlikely” to be back before late next week, head coach Brad Stevens told reporters Thursday. Jaylen Brown has been starting in Crowder’s place since he went down, but owners in shallow leagues should be able to find waiver-wire pickups with more long-term upside.
Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal left Wednesday’s win over the Celtics with hamstring tightness, but an MRI came back clean Thursday, according to J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. He’s currently questionable for Friday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tomas Satoransky and Marcus Thornton would benefit most from Beal’s absence, but neither are worth a pickup unless the Wizards suddenly decide to hold Beal out for an extended period.
Al Horford, C, Boston Celtics: Al Horford remains in the NBA’s concussion protocol after suffering a concussion last week. He did not practice with the team on Thursday and is doubtful for Friday night’s tilt against the New York Knicks, but he did participate in “a few things with the team,” Stevens told reporters. Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller will continue holding down the fort in Boston’s frontcourt for as long as Horford is sidelined.
Jonas Valanciunas, C, Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas has missed the Raptors’ past two games with a knee contusion, although he was a game-time decision for Wednesday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. If he continues to miss more time, rookies Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl may keep their grasp on the starting job, but Patrick Patterson and Lucas Nogueira are the Toronto frontcourt players worth targeting for owners in deeper leagues.
Updates on Returns
Danny Green, SG, San Antonio Spurs: Danny Green made his season debut Wednesday after suffering a groin injury during the preseason, finishing with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, four steals, three rebounds, two assists and two treys in 26 minutes. Green was a resounding disappointment last year and his 2-of-8 mark from downtown doesn’t inspire much confidence, but he’s worth a flier given how productive he was in fantasy during the 2014-15 campaign.
Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Boston Celtics: Kelly Olynyk also made his season debut Wednesday against the Wizards, finishing with two points on 1-of-6 shooting, six rebounds and one assist in 26 minutes. If he can supplant Tyler Zeller as the starter in Horford’s absence, Olynyk could have some short-term fantasy appeal, but that’s likely to fade for owners in shallow leagues once Horford can return. Owners in deeper leagues should pick him up, though, if you’re looking to shake up your roster.
Roy Hibbert, C, Charlotte Hornets: Roy Hibbert, who has missed all but Charlotte’s first two games this season, is currently listed as probable for Friday night’s tilt against the Raptors, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. While it’s unclear whether he’ll reclaim the starting gig immediately, his return isn’t great news for Cody Zeller’s fantasy value. Pick Hibbert up if you’re in need of rebounds and blocks.
Reggie Jackson, PG, Detroit Pistons: Reggie Jackson resumed basketball activities Monday, per Rod Beard of the Detroit News, putting him on track to return sometime in the next few weeks. If you’re in a league where he’s floating on the waiver wire, it’s time to stash him. Those counting on Ish Smith should only expect him to retain relevance until early December at the latest, at which point he should be sent back to the waiver wire.