As trade deadlines rapidly approach in many head-to-head leagues, it is time try and identify which of your key players will rest, and which will finish on their feet. In order to help you evaluate ten of the prime suspects to see limited minutes and surprise DNPs, Cafe veterans RedHopeful and plonden will present the arguments for you to decide.
This season is especially hard to predict as there is stiff competition among the league’s elite to earn the rights to home court in the playoffs. In narrowing the list of candidates to debate, we had to leave off other likely players to get rested, such as Marcus Camby or Jermaine O’Neal. In general terms, the players selected for our list tend to be older or have earned the ‘injury prone’ stigma during their career. They also tend to be from either the truly elite or the truly awful teams in the league. With that being said, let’s take a look at each of the ten players and the arguments.
RedHopeful: Red Alert – we have entered the Butler injury zone! In the last two years, Caron has missed a total of thirty-four games after the All-Star break. He has already missed a couple of games this month due to soreness in his right hip. Remember last season, he missed a slew of games due to a left hip flexor. With the Wizards in a tight race for Blake Griffin, it’s difficult to imagine Butler playing through any kind of pains down the stretch.
plonden: Butler certainly has an injury history and a pattern of end of the year shutdowns. This season, however, Butler has only missed five games and has stayed relatively healthy. Unlike Jamison, Butler is in the prime of his career and is hoping to get one more solid contract in his career, which is dependent upon him shaking the ‘injury prone’ label.
plonden: With the Wizards lottery bound, Antawn Jamison has little left to play for this season except for pride and maybe a little bit of stat-stuffing. The Wizards also have a pair of young forwards to develop in Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee. Furthermore, Brendan Haywood is itching to get back on the court and regain the confidence he built up after a solid campaign last season. With all these big bodies that deserve minutes and nothing left to play for, thirty-two year old Jamison should see restricted minutes and a couple of surprise DNPs down the stretch.
RedHopeful: If injury-free, it’s hard to envision Antawn sitting as he’s a gamer who is known for not liking to sit out. Moreover, if Arenas is going to make an appearance this season, it’s likely Wizards management will want to see how all their stars operate together before next season.
RedHopeful: BD is having perhaps his most unproductive year since coming into the league. In addition to having already missed fourteen games, he is shooting a career low FG% (36.3) and 3 point FG% (29.4). There had been reports that he hasn’t gotten along with coach Mike Dunleavy, and, there were rumors the Clippers were trying to move him before this year’s trade deadline. Many fans have called his play lackadaisical and he has himself admitted to looking to next season. It’s no wonder fantasy owners should be concerned whether Davis helps them down the stretch.
plonden: Don’t look now, but the Clippers are making noise out West! Recently, the Clippers upset the reigning champs and seem to be genuinely optimistic about the future. As this squad is hopelessly out of the playoff picture, the Clippers need to find some sort of chemistry to prepare for next season. As point guards often set a team’s tone, Davis will be crucial in finding a team identity, which can only be done on the court.
plonden: Having played in only fifteen games so far this season, Chris Kaman’s return this season is by no means set in stone. In fact, the Clippers disclosed that Kaman recently suffered a setback to returning to the court from his strained left arch. Kaman has suffered setback after setback with this injury, as the initial estimates had Kaman coming back in mid-December. Even if Kaman does make it back, there is a high chance that he could aggravate his injury or that he could play in very limited minutes. This is truly a lost season for the Kaveman.
RedHopeful: It’s been quite a forgettable year for not just Chris but the whole Clippers organization. They’ll likely want to see where Kaman fits among Camby and Randolph so they can have a good idea what direction they want to take next season.
RedHopeful: CB4’s career history indicates he is likely to miss games every season. The last three years he has at least missed 12 games in a season to some sort of leg injury. Considering he’s missed only five this season, there is a good chance we’ll see him out of action again. Also, Bosh has voiced his displeasure about Toronto’s disappointing record. With Toronto barely still in the playoff mix, another stretch of losses might convince Chris to just take care of his body and look forward to next season.
plonden: Bosh has proven himself to be a fiery competitor and has been consistently underrated throughout his career. To the shock of many, Bosh was arguably the best big man on the Olympic squad this summer. As the undisputed leader of the Raptors, expect Bosh to show up and bring his A-game every single day, whether playoff-bound or lottery-bound.
plonden: Relative to preseason expectations after the acquisition of Jermaine O’Neal, the Raptors have been disappointing across the board. Jose Calderon is partially responsible for the under-achievement of the Raptors as he has been dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. If the playoffs were to start today, the Raptors would be on the outside looking in. If the Raptors cannot put together a serious win streak in the coming days, Toronto will have nothing to look forward to except for a lottery pick and a summer of rest. You have to believe that they will handle their prized Spanish floor general with kid gloves in order to get his body right for next season.
RedHopeful: His hamstring injury wasn’t too serious and it won’t be something that threatens to linger into next season. In addition, Raptors are probably interested in trying to appease Bosh so a nice winning streak(s) to close out the season would be helpful.
RedHopeful: Recently Manu was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right ankle and is expected to miss two-to-three weeks. Ginobili had off season surgery on his left ankle so it’s not unreasonable to expect foot problems with the Argentine. When it comes to the Spurs, it’s all about the post season. With the second best record in the Western Conference, San Antonio can afford to be careful with Manu. Even if Ginobili fails to suffer any setbacks, the Spurs will most likely monitor his minutes and possibly sit him some additional games to have him at full strength for a deep playoff run.
plonden: The Spurs are one team that will be making an appearance in this year’s playoffs. With this being an odd year, the Spurs are looking to continue the pattern and pickup another championship ring. That being said, Ginobli is one of the Spurs most potent weapons and will need to be playing his best basketball if the Spurs are to have any chance of winning it all. To get back into game shape, Manu will need to work himself into shape for the playoffs on the court.
plonden: To the surprise of many, Vince Carter has matured quite a bit this season into a genuine leader for the New Jersey Nets. However, Carter and others have also realized that the future of the Nets lies in Mark Cuban cast-off Devin Harris’ capable hands. As such, Carter was shopped aggressively at the trade deadline in hopes of getting out from under his sizable contract. Similar to the Raptors, the Nets are not in playoff position at the moment. If the Nets do not gain ground in the playoff hunt, Nets Coach Lawrence Frank has an opportunity to audition his other players, which will result in reduced minutes and missed games due to “flu-like symptoms” for veteran Vince.
RedHopeful: Carter claimed he was ready to make it through this season for better or worse. Regardless, the Nets are still in the thick of a playoff hunt and that doesn’t figure to change provided they remain relatively healthy.
RedHopeful: While Danny isn’t considered an injury risk per se, he was considered one back in college (reason he fell in the draft). This season, we have seen him suffer through a number of ailments from broken teeth to a concussion to knee issues. His latest – a partial tendon tear in the sole of his right foot has forced him to shut it down for awhile. Even though he’s only expected to miss up to three weeks, you can bet the Indiana Pacers will be careful with him the rest of the year. He has blossomed into an NBA All-Star, the Pacers are currently outside the playoffs and Danny was signed to a lengthy extension this season.
plonden: We have learned two things about Danny Granger this season. Number one, Granger is a stud and has put to rest the doubters who said last season was a fluke. Number two, Granger is a trooper and will play through any amount of pain in order to be on the court. With a few weeks rest, Granger should be able to get his body right enough to finish out the season on the court.
plonden: If we were compiling a list of lost-season candidates for this year, Mike Dunleavy would definitely be an unqualified first teamer. With a lingering knee injury, Dunleavy’s status for the rest of the season is already in jeopardy. After missing the better part of the beginning of the season, Dunleavy returned to play 18 games. He also experienced setbacks to his knee injury. If, and this is a very big if, Dunleavy does return, he faces an extreme likelihood of re-injury and the subsequent shutdown. Again, with the Pacers pretty much out of the playoff hunt, they have no reason to risk further damage to their second best player’s knee.
RedHopeful: Admittedly, his knee has been so questionable all year, but there is an outside chance it may make a sudden turn for the best. Also, it’s not unfathomable the Pacers find themselves with a realistic shot at making the playoffs so they’d look for him to return if he’s at all able to contribute.
Bonus: The Celtics’ Big Three
plonden: The recent loss of Kevin Garnett has helped illustrate exactly how dominant the Celtics’s Big Three of KG, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce are. With that being said, the Celtics also face stiffer competition in the East than they did last year in Lebron James’ Cavaliers and Dwight Howard’s Magic. In preparation for a grueling post-season, Coach Doc Rivers will certainly be limiting the minutes of his trio of veterans. When facing non-playoff teams, Doc may even pull a member of the Big Three in order to give them rest for the final push to defend their title.
RedHopeful: This season isn’t a runaway and the Celtics realized how important home court advantage throughout the playoffs was last season. Also, some have pondered that their rest last season was an important factor for their close first round matchup with Atlanta.
Phil Londen is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Phil in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of plonden. Oleh Kosel is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Oleh in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of RedHopeful.
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