The regular season ends April 10, and we're rapidly approaching that date. Many fantasy leagues will be ending soon, but there's still work to be done. Plenty of players have gone down with injury or have returned over the past few weeks, and it's worth sifting through the noise and seeing how we can approach things in fantasy.
Most notably, we have news on Chris Paul, Steph Curry and Domantas Sabonis. Zion Williamson and Damian Lillard were also officially ruled out for the year, but that was all but set in stone before the formal announcements.
Chris Paul ahead of schedule
When Paul's initial timetable was released, it seemed like he might barely be back in time for the playoffs. That was going to put the Suns in a challenging position regarding how quickly to rush him back. However, it now appears he's ahead of schedule in his recovery, and he could return this week after practicing Tuesday. Fantasy managers who added Cameron Payne should plan to drop him and find production elsewhere. Paul figures to be semi-limited in his first few games, but it helps that he's not been dealing with a lower-body injury.
Blazers, Pelicans still injury-riddled
Zion Williamson is officially out for the year, and the news isn't surprising. Williamson's rehab has been fraught with issues all year, and even if the Pelicans make the play-in tournament, they have practically zero chance of making it past the first round. The emerging star's health for next season has to be the top priority.
The bigger and more immediate issue for New Orleans is Brandon Ingram's hamstring injury, which has kept him out since March 8. That's led to increased action for Jaxson Hayes – seeing more time at power forward – Naji Marshall and Trey Murphy.
Damian Lillard has also been ruled out for the year, which was to be expected given that Portland is throwing out some of the most barren lineups in recent memory to lose by 40 every night and secure a better draft position. Even some of the priority development pieces – Anfernee Simons and Josh Hart – can't stay on the court. Fantasy managers have had to turn to Justise Winslow, Trendon Watford, Drew Eubanks and Brandon Williams of late. Eubanks isn't even on a standard deal. He's sitting on a third 10-day contract.
Patrick Williams returns
Williams has appeared in the Bulls' past two games after last playing in the fifth game of the season. He's an integral part of Chicago's defensive gameplan and provides a strong presence on that side of the ball on the wing, similar to Alex Caruso's presence in the backcourt, to help counter the offensively-tilted games of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.
Williams hasn't seen over 19 minutes since returning, but even when he does, he may not have fantasy relevance in 12-team leagues. He was a low-usage player as a rookie last season on a much worse team, and his usage will presumably remain low while surrounded by more offensive talent. His return has also glued Derrick Jones to the bench.
Lonzo Ball hits snag in rehab
We haven't been getting positive news on Ball's rehab, but he suffered a noteworthy setback Monday. It was announced that he would take a 10-day break from running – a serious issue with the playoffs just around the corner. It would be a surprise if Ball returned during the regular season, so fantasy managers who have been holding out hope should probably cut bait. If Alex Caruso is available, he's worth a look, though fantasy managers shouldn't expect more than assist and steals production.
Brook Lopez back as starter
Lopez has played four games since returning from back surgery stemming from an issue that kept him out since the second game of the season. He struggled in his first two games off the bench, but he's been back with the starters for two matchups and has looked more like himself, averaging 12.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 assists in 22.0 minutes.
His workload will presumably continue to creep up slowly over the next week or so before the postseason. He's probably worth a pickup in 12-team leagues, especially given the thin center position. Bobby Portis' workload and usage may be reduced, but he'll still be a vital part of the Bucks' gameplan.
Porzingis healthy, playing well
Porzingis missed over a month of action between Jan. 30 and March 4, being traded from the Mavericks to the Wizards during that absence. He's appeared in eight games since March 6 with Washington, averaging 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks in 26.1 minutes. Notably, he played in both ends of a back-to-back and cracked the 30-minute mark in his most recent appearance against the Rockets, where he popped for 22 points, 13 boards, five blocks, four assists and one steal.
The most noticeable changes to his game since switching teams are his passing and free-throw attempts. Per 36 minutes compared to his time in Dallas this season, his assists are up from 2.5 to 3.4, and his free-throw attempts are up from 6.1 to 10.6.
Curry out until playoffs?
Curry suffered a sprained foot during the March 16 game against the Celtics, and he's set to be re-evaluated in early April. Given that most fantasy leagues end around that time -- if not before, Curry is likely a drop candidate. In the two games he's already missed, Jordan Poole has played 76 combined minutes, Klay Thompson has played 70, and Otto Porter has seen 55.
Poole should be the biggest beneficiary from a usage perspective, and he's already averaged 25.2 points and 4.5 assists across the past 10 games. Porter could be worth a speculative add, but he's been dealing with injuries all season. We may need a few more games to see exactly how the new rotation shakes out.
Sabonis facing extended absence
The Kings' new starting center was diagnosed with a bruised left knee Monday and will be out for at least the next five games. Sacramento has suddenly become extremely thin at center with Richaun Holmes (personal) also out for the year. Damian Jones, Alex Len and Chimezie Metu are candidates to see increased run. Jones and Metu seem to have earned more of the organization's trust, so those seem like the best targets.