Fantasy Basketball reaction: Kevin Durant's season in doubt following knee injury
With Kevin Durant potentially done for the rest of the regular season, Chris Towers looks at the wide-ranging Fantasy fallout.
There is never a good time to deal with injuries in Fantasy, but this is an especially tough time.
Not only are the playoffs looming, but with just about six weeks left in the season, anything more than an ankle roll has the potential to be a season-ender, and teams might be less incentivized to give a specific timeline at this point.
So, of course, the NBA world has been rocked by a series of high-profile injuries in recent weeks, starting with Kevin Love , Kyle Lowry and Joel Embiid . The biggest hit of all came Wednesday, as the Golden State Warriors announced Kevin Durant is out indefinitely after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain in Tuesday’s game.
The diagnosis Durant received Wednesday actually came pretty close to being a best-case scenario for the Warriors, who can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing their MVP candidate (one of two, natch) should be ready for the start of the playoffs. He will be re-evaluated in four weeks, and hasn’t been ruled out for the end of the regular season, as of yet.
The news obviously isn’t as rosy for Fantasy players. If you have an open IR spot, go ahead and stash Durant in the hopes he can return closer to four weeks, but that would be an exceedingly optimistic timetable. According to InStreetClothes.com, players who suffer an in-season Grade 2 MCL sprain have missed 21 games, on average. With only 22 left on the Warriors’ schedule, Durant’s season looks all but done.
The Warriors don’t have any obvious in-house replacement for Durant, although newly signed Matt Barnes , along with Andre Iguodala , could jump into Fantasy relevance. Klay Thompson , Stephen Curry , and Draymond Green should all see their numbers improve as well, and Thompson in particular could shine; he averages 28.1 points per-36 minutes when Durant is off the floor and both Curry and Green are playing. He could step up as the No. 1 offensive option, with Curry and Green doing more playmaking.
If you’re going to look for help with Durant out, your best bet will likely be to look elsewhere. I would prioritize someone like Terrence Ross (60 percent owned) if he is available and you are looking for a perimeter player, specifically. Ross has taken to his new home in Orlando well, averaging 18.5 points and 3.0 3-pointers in his first two games with the Orlando Magic . Also consider Gary Harris (72 percent), T.J. Warren (81 percent), or Nikola Mirotic (64 percent), where available.
If you aren’t concerned about position, Willy Hernangomez (68 percent owned) should be solid down the stretch as the New York Knicks ’ starter, once he gets passed this ankle injury. Cory Joseph (47 percent) will never put up huge numbers on a consistent basis, but he is proving helpful as the starter for Lowry. With Lowry likely out for most of the remainder of the Fantasy regular season, Joseph should have a consistent role moving forward. And, while consistently will clearly be an issue, Willie Cauley-Stein (80 percent) could be a starting-caliber option down the stretch.
If you’re playing in a deeper format, some other names to consider are: Bobby Portis , Alan Williams , Caris LeVert , Spencer Dinwiddie , Alex Abrines , Doug McDermott , Bobby Portis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson , Skal Labissiere .
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