By Nick Whalen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
As we move through Week 4 of the fantasy basketball season, injuries have begun to dominate the headlines. From the Celtics losing Gordon Hayward over the weekend to De’Aaron Fox going down with an ankle injury, the league’s latest onslaught of bad news carries major fantasy ramifications.
But it hasn’t been all bad on the injury front. The Clippers expect to get their second All-Star back sometime this week, while Victor Oladipo continues to progress in his rehab from last season’s knee injury.
We dive into those updates and more this week.
The Sacramento Kings will be without De’Aaron Fox ...
... for the next several weeks, with his absence likely to stretch into early December. Fox suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain — that’s the bad kind — during practice Monday. While Fox was off to a disappointing start — he ranks outside the top 180 in Yahoo leagues — his loss is still a massive blow for fantasy managers.
For the next month, Cory Joseph (8 percent rostered) suddenly carries some intrigue, but the real winner is Bogdan Bogdanovic, who’s still available in nearly a third of Yahoo leagues. Like Fox, Bogdanovic got off to a rough start, but he’s found a groove of late, putting up 14.6 points and 3.6 made threes over his last five games. In Saturday’s win over Atlanta, Bogdanovic went for 20 points, five assists, four rebounds, one steal, one block, and five threes. With Marvin Bagley still sidelined, the Kings will lean on Bogdanovic as perhaps the No. 2 offensive option behind Buddy Hield.
Just when it looked like the old Gordon Hayward was back ...
... the Celtics announced Sunday that the 29 year old will miss roughly six weeks due to a broken hand. Hayward had initially hoped to avoid surgery, but after meeting with a specialist on Monday, it was determined that a procedure would be required. The good news for those rostering Hayward is the surgery has already taken place, but we likely won’t see him again until around Christmas.
In terms of total production, Hayward had been a top-50 player in the early going, and he nearly cracked the top-25 on a per-game basis. His seven-game run to begin the season — 20.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.7 threes — was as good as he’d ever looked in a Celtics’ uniform.
Without Hayward on Monday against Dallas, Brad Stevens didn’t dip too far into his bench to find a replacement. Javonte Green (13 minutes), Grant Williams (eight) and Semi Ojeleye (five) — three top candidates to pick up minutes at forward — didn’t see much opportunity, but Brad Wanamaker played a season-high 21 minutes, finishing with 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
Wanamaker and Williams, in particular, are names to keep an eye on over the next few weeks, but for now, at least, it looks as though the Celtics may simply lean more heavily on their regular options — Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart — for increased minutes. Tatum led the team in shots Monday, but he hit just one of 18 attempts, becoming just the third player in the last 46 years to go 1-of-18 or worse from the field.
Another Eastern Conference wing hit the shelf ...
... over the weekend, as Shams Charania reports Khris Middleton will miss “several weeks” with a quad injury, which he sustained during Sunday’s win over Oklahoma City. This is an injury that probably impacts fantasy managers more than it does the actual team. As long as Giannis Antetokounmpo is healthy, the Bucks will be fine. And they’re entering a particularly soft portion of the schedule. On top of that, Milwaukee is fairly deep on the wing with players like Sterling Brown, Pat Connaughton, Wesley Matthews, and Donte DiVincenzo. It’s tough to say which of those may be worth rostering in the short term, but all four are 5% rostered, or less, in Yahoo leagues. My guess is Brown gets first crack at the lion’s share of Middleton’s minutes, but Antetokounmpo managers may be the ones who benefit most.
In more positive injury news, the Pacers assigned Victor Oladipo ...
... to their G League affiliate on Tuesday. Oladipo will practice with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants as the Pacers prepare to host the Thunder on Tuesday night. While he remains without a firm timetable, this is a significant step forward as he approaches the 10-month mark since his last NBA game (Jan. 23).
After a fourth straight 30-point game Monday night, D’Angelo Russell ...
... has clawed his way back into the top-60 in Yahoo leagues. If he can maintain his elevated usage rate (39.7% over the last four games) in the absence of Stephen Curry, Russell should continue to climb. Even as he provides almost no defensive value, Russell is up to 26.3 points per game for the season to go with 4.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.4 made threes. That latter number would be career-high, and he’s also shooting a career-best 45.1% from the field — up from 43.4% a year ago.
Mike Conley still finds himself outside the top 170 ...
... but he’s now strung together three consecutive games of normal Mike Conley production. Capped by a 22-point, seven-assist outing Monday night, Conley is averaging 19.0 points, 4.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 made threes over his last three contests. He’s hit 10 threes in his last two games alone. Perhaps most importantly, Conley is back to taking care of the ball, with just six total turnovers in the last three games, compared to an average of 3.1 per game through his first seven.
Very, very quietly, Jonathan Isaac has crept his way ...
... into the top 10 in Yahoo leagues. The Magic have been arguably the toughest team to watch not named the New York Knicks, which has caused Isaac’s mini-breakout to fly under the radar. After another double-digit scoring effort Sunday night — his seventh in eight games — Isaac now sits at 12.1 points per game for the season to go with 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 3.0 blocks (!!!), and a 49/38/91 shooting line. Over his last five games, Isaac is averaging a combined 5.0 steals and blocks.
A player who’s made a similar leap is Toronto’s OG Anunoby ...
... who currently ranks inside the top 20 but had to be removed from Monday night’s game after an inadvertent poke in the eye. The third-year wing will meet with a specialist in Los Angeles on Tuesday before the team heads north to Portland in advance of Wednesday night’s game. Coming into Monday, Anunoby held averages of 13.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.4 blocks and 2.1 made threes while shooting 55% from the field and 53% from three.
In the event Anunoby is forced to miss time, it looks like Toronto — which is already without Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka — will pivot to Nets cast-off Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who played a season-high 29 minutes Monday night.
We are living in a world in which Andrew Wiggins is ...
... currently a top-25 fantasy player. Wiggins went for a game-high 33 points in Monday’s win over Detroit, adding six rebounds, five assists, one block and one steal for one of his most complete performances of the season. Since a 10-of-27 shooting performance on opening night, Wiggins is hitting just a shade under 49% of his field goals and 36.1% of his threes. His free throw percentage (72.5%) remains an issue, and the defensive stats will likely wane, but Maple Jordan Wiggins’ leap in field goal efficiency and three-point shooting alone have vaulted him well beyond early season projections. Through 10 games, Wiggins’ usage rate sits at 27.8% — up more than three points over last season (24.4%).
Both Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose returned to action ...
... for the Pistons on Monday night. For Griffin, it was his season debut after knee and hamstring injuries hampered him during training camp. While he committed four turnovers in 24 minutes, Griffin looked mostly comfortable, finishing with 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists while going 6-of-8 at the foul line. Rose, meanwhile, struggled in his return from a four-game absence. He replaced Bruce Brown in the starting lineup but had only six points (3-13 FG) and five assists in 20 minutes.
The Pistons will hold both players out of Tuesday’s game against Miami for rest purposes.
Waiver Wire Names to Watch
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors (28% rostered)
Boucher was initially more of a speculative add in the wake of Serge Ibaka’s injury, but over the last two nights, he’s proven he belongs on rosters for the time being. Boucher went for 15 points, three blocks and two steals in Sunday’s win over the Lakers and followed up with 13 points, six rebounds, three three-pointers, and two blocks — including this one on Montrezl Harrell — Monday against the Clippers.
Danuel House, Houston Rockets (52%)
I know he’s currently banged up, but House has been a borderline-top-50 player, and he’s worth an add as the Rockets head into another four-game Week 5. The 26 year old has started all but one game thus far, and prior to Monday’s contest — which he left after 12 minutes with a back injury — House was averaging 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks and 2.8 made threes. To date, he’s been the vastly superior option to Eric Gordon, and even if/when Gordon’s shooting comes around, he doesn’t carry the defensive upside of House, who had six steals in 32 minutes Saturday against Chicago.
Mikal Bridges (41%) and Dario Saric (39%), Phoenix Suns
Neither player has shot the ball well to begin the year, but they’re both locked into 20-plus-minute rotation spots in a fast-paced, productive offense. Bridges offers steals (1.6 per game) and rebounds, while Saric is more of a true scorer who’s hit 2.0 threes per game in the past. Both players’ current shooting splits are tough to stomach, but the Suns are the only team with five games in Week 5, while three teams — Indiana, Memphis, Orlando — play just two games.
Side note: Aron Baynes — top-40 player, Aron Baynes — is still available in 28% of Yahoo leagues.