The injury bug has continued to wreak havoc, as we have seen both Gerald Wallace and Yao Ming go down with major injuries in the span of less than a week. With the season more than two-thirds of the way through, it is very important not to panic even though your roster may be in shambles at the moment. It is a tough task to keep track of all the injury and player updates that we are being bombarded with right now, and even if you manage to keep up, you sometimes find yourself wondering what in the world they mean. In this article I will break it all down for you, get you up to date, and let you know what you should be expecting.
Hot Off The Press
• Zydrunas Ilgauskas will be out for at least two more weeks with a strained back. “I’ve been fighting it for the past two or three months and it just got worse over the last few days,” Ilgauskas said. With Cleveland a near lock to make the playoffs, Ilgauskas will be in no rush to get back on the court and will rest up to get healthy for the postseason. Anderson Varejao got the start at center against Chicago in his absence, while Ben Wallace and Joe Smith both saw an increase in minutes. Wallace’s FT% impact is still a cause for concern but he has looked much better in Cleveland and should be owned in almost all standard 2 center leagues. Varejao’s most valuable contributions (his high energy and ability to draw offensive fouls) do not translate to the fantasy realm, so he will never be more than a borderline roster-worthy player. Keep an eye on his production though, because at this point he should be considered a viable reserve option if you are short on centers.
• Mike Miller has missed the last six games with a back injury, but should be back for Memphis’ game on Wednesday against the Nets. “We’re pointing more toward New Jersey (than Chicago). But that’s not set in stone. He’s on target,” coach Marc Iavaroni said. He was back on the court Monday afternoon, and participated in the team’s full-contact practice without restrictions. Expect Juan Carlos Navarro and Hakim Warrick to lose some minutes when Miller returns to the lineup.
• Chris Bosh will miss at least the remaining two games of the Raptors’ road trip against Orlando (3/4) and Miami (3/5) with a sore knee. “Our thinking right now, unless something happens different, is not to even play him these next [two] games,” coach Sam Mitchell told Toronto’s FAN 590. “I haven’t tried to run. Just doing certain movements right now [hurt],” Bosh said. “It is what it is and I just have to be patient.” Rasho Nesterovic got the start Sunday night against Charlotte in Bosh’s absence and made the most of it, finishing with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots in 27 minutes. On the other hand, Andrea Bargnani failed to step up his game, finishing with a dismal six points and five rebounds on 2-of-8 shooting. Look for Toronto to bounce back from their embarrassing showing and finish off the road trip strong. Anthony Parker, Jose Calderon, Jamario Moon, and T.J. Ford should all see a short-term boost in value and remain strong plays in all standard leagues.
• Tim Thomas is expected to miss at least the next three games with a groin injury. Al Thornton looked to be the obvious player who would benefit in Thomas’ absence, but that has not been the case so far. Chris Kaman returned to the lineup on Saturday against Detroit, while Josh Powell got his second straight start at power forward. If Thomas’ injury lingers, which is a definite possibility, Powell could have some value and should warrant a roster spot in deeper leagues if he continues to see 30+ minutes a game. At this point Thornton should have already been picked up in most standard leagues, but if he is still available, I would pick him up.
• Jason Terry sustained a shoulder injury during the 4th quarter of Sunday’s game against the Lakers. He thought that he had dislocated it initially, but the good news is that he was able to return and play through the pain. He is listed as questionable for tonight’s game against Utah and hopefully the injury will not cause him to miss any games. Jerry Stackhouse would benefit the most in Terry’s absence.
• Andris Biedrins is not expected to play this week as he recovers from an appendectomy. Coach Don Nelson will continue to use a combination of Chris Webber, Brandan Wright, and Austin Croshere to fill the void at center. Al Harrington finally looks like he is out of his shooting slump and should see a considerable boost in production.
• Dorell Wright underwent successful surgery on his hyperextended knee and will miss the rest of the regular season. With the news that coach Pat Riley is strongly considering shutting down All-Star guard Dwyane Wade for the season, Ricky Davis could be in store for a huge boost in value. Send your trade offers away and try to buy Davis low while you can.
In Their Absence
• Since Yao Ming went down last week with a season-ending foot injury, we have gotten a glimpse into how the Rockets’ frontcourt is going to shape out and what type of production to expect out of its members. Shane Battier has taken his game to the next level and raised his three-pointers made and block averages to 2.3 and 3.0, respectively. He should be good for top-35 value from here on out and is a good buy-low candidate since his full season value puts him right around 60th. Luis Scola is the next biggest beneficiary and has made big strides since taking on the starting PF role. He has averaged 15.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.7 steals on 67% shooting from the field since Yao’s injury and capped it off with an 18 point, 14 rebound effort Sunday night against Denver. The versatility he provides your fantasy lineups with SF, PF, and C eligibility is another reason why he has been a hot waiver wire addition and should be owned in all standard leagues. Another guy worth mentioning is rookie Carl Landry, who made the most of his 20 minutes back on January 11th by going 7-for-7 from the field and posting the first double-double of his NBA career. He hasn’t looked back and has been part of the rotation ever since. Landry is extremely efficient, rarely turning the ball over, and shooting an incredible 64.1% from the field. He is fifth amongst all power forwards in rebound rate and has been averaging more than 10 points a game. If he is available in your league I would definitely consider picking him up. The road stops at 41-year-old Dikembe Mutombo. He is a very good source of blocks and will grab a fair share of rebounds, but beyond that he does not offer much in terms of value. He is worth a roster spot if you are short on centers in a deep league and in desperate need of some extra blocks.
• Gerald Wallace has been out with a Grade 3 concussion for more than a week now, and at this point it is pretty safe to say that ‘Crash’ is likely done for the season. The Bobcats have struggled mightily without Wallace, going 1-3 with an average point differential of almost -9 points. His injury has opened the door for Jared Dudley and Matt Carroll to get more minutes. Neither will put up extraordinary lines, but they are both efficient (low TO, high %), roto-friendly contributors who can give you a boost in certain categories. Dudley will give you more rebounds, steals, and a high FT% while Carroll will give you points and three-pointers made. Pick them up only if their strengths meet your needs.
Justin Phan is an aspiring sportswriter and one of the Cafe's recognized fantasy experts. Catch up with Justin, who posts as Rounders Block, and many other great minds at the Cafe's forums.
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