The NBA's first full slate of the season is Wednesday, but there are already injuries worth keeping an eye on. If you're looking for players to add in daily lineup/waiver leagues, or guys to add to your watchlist in weekly formats, there are some suggestions below.
LaMelo Ball, Hornets
Injury: Grade 2 Ankle Sprain, out potentially 1-2 weeks
Who to watch: Kelly Oubre (62% rostered), Cody Martin (4% rostered)
Terry Rozier (99%) is expected to start at point guard and should see a nice boost in assists with Ball sidelined, but that's not actionable information, given his roster rate.
Fantasy managers in shallower leagues may have an opportunity to pick up Kelly Oubre, who should see 30-plus minutes in the absence of Ball, and he'll have long-term viability with Miles Bridges out of the picture. Managers in standard-to-deep leagues should watch Cody Martin. He's a jack-of-all-trades and averaged 8.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals when seeing at least 24 minutes last season.
Zach LaVine, Bulls
Injury: Knee maintenance, out 1-2 games
Who to watch: Alex Caruso (21%), Coby White (12%)
LaVine needing games off already for load maintenance is a bad sign. He played through the issue last year, appearing in 67 games, but then he underwent offseason surgery. Fantasy managers rostering LaVine need to keep his rest potential in mind. Dumping him off to a rival manager might not be a bad idea.
The Bulls have a lot of guard options, but the leading shooting guard candidates are Alex Caruso and Coby White. In 22 starts last year, Caruso averaged 5.8 points, 4.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals, though he averaged 1.7 steals in 28.0 minutes overall last season. In 17 starts, White averaged 16.5 points, 4.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 34.8 minutes.
Lonzo Ball, Bulls
Injury: Meniscus surgery, out indefinitely with hope for January
Who to watch: Ayo Dosunmu (60%), Goran Dragic (10%)
Ball is a good IR-spot stash, but expectations should be tempered. His knee wasn't doing well before the surgery, and the January timetable could be optimistic.
Ayo Dosunmu will be starting at point guard, and sophomore guards are always good bets to break out. As a starter last year, he averaged 10.8 points, 5.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals. He shot an impressive 52/35/79. Goran Dragic is more of a flier. He's in his twilight years.
Keegan Murray, Kings
Injury: COVID-19 protocols, out about a week
Who to watch: KZ Okpala (0%), Trey Lyles (1%), Chimezie Metu (1%)
It's unclear how Sacramento will handle Murray's short-term absence. I would be surprised if any of the three players listed have fantasy relevance. However, I still wanted to list Murray next to his backup options to demonstrate how necessary he already is to this Kings team. If, for some reason, a rival fantasy manager is open to moving Murray at a relatively low price, take the offer.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Hawks
Injury: Knee surgery, "a ways away" from returning
Who to watch: De'Andre Hunter (70%), Justin Holiday (2%)
Bogdanovic's timetable is unclear, so stash him on the IR now and be patient. When he returns, he should continue to be an effective sixth man for Atlanta.
In his absence, I expect De'Andre Hunter to absorb more usage. He's due for a breakout season in a contract year after being plagued by injuries, limiting him to just 139 games in his first three campaigns. In his 74 career games seeing 30-39 minutes, he's averaged 15.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Justin Holiday is a deep-league flier. He'll come off the bench but has upside as a three-and-D performer.
Khris Middleton, Bucks
Injury: Wrist surgery, out a few weeks
Who to watch: Grayson Allen (15%), Pat Connaughton (2%)
Milwaukee probably won't rush Middleton back. The Bucks' focus is getting in a rhythm late in the year and keeping everyone healthy.
When Grayson Allen saw at least 28 minutes last season, he averaged 13.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists. And Middleton was available in some of those games. Allen's usage should be higher with Middleton out. Pat Connaughton should also see increased action but is dealing with a calf injury himself. He could be out until November.
Robert Williams, Celtics
Injury: Knee surgery, aiming for January return
Who to watch: Grant Williams (2%), Noah Vonleh (0%), Blake Griffin (4%)
Williams' persistent knee issues throughout his career have continued, and he underwent surgery plus a PRP procedure. He needs to be stashed on an IR, but you might only have him at his full workload for the fantasy playoffs.
We got a preview Tuesday about how Boston will handle its reserve center rotation behind Al Horford. It was ugly. Noah Vonleh looks to be the No. 2, followed by Blake Griffin. The latter has more upside but could barely squeeze into the Nets' rotation last season. Grant Williams isn't a center, but he could end up seeing time there out of necessity. Still, he's a low-usage option. Al Horford (92%) managers are the real winners.
Markelle Fultz, Magic
Injury: Broken big toe, likely back in November
Who to watch: R.J. Hampton (2%), Terrence Ross (3%)
Fultz might be a tough IR stash since his upside is relatively low compared to someone like Robert Williams or Khris Middleton, but there's still potential that he's a top-100 player per game.
In his absence, Cole Anthony (80%) and Jalen Suggs (81%) should start in the backcourt, but both players are probably rostered if you're in a standard league. Pick them up if they're somehow available.
R.J. Hampton and Terrence Ross may be the only genuinely actionable moves, but both players are deep-league fliers. Ross has 3-and-D upside, and Hampton fits the Magic's rebuilding timetable.
Jaren Jackson, Grizzlies
Injury: Foot surgery, could return in November
Who to watch: Santi Aldama (31%), Jake LaRavia (5%)
There's positive buzz around Jackson's recovery. I don't necessarily buy it. He's had a history of injuries, and a broken foot for a big man is especially concerning. He needs to be rostered, but he'll presumably be pretty limited out of the gate.
Surprisingly, Santi Aldama looks like he'll start at power forward. He's more of a center, but he has 3-and-D upside, which is more similar to Jackson than Brandon Clarke (78%). Clarke should still see plenty of minutes and may be fantasy relevant in 12-team formats, but he's not available in many leagues. In the preseason, Aldama averaged 12.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 threes and 1.2 blocks in 25.2 minutes. The rookie, Jake LaRavia, is a deep-league option. In preseason, he averaged 8.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.1 combined steals-plus-blocks in 21.4 minutes.