christian-wood-1400.jpg

The first half of the 2020-21 NBA season was full of plenty of surprises, which is evident by just looking at the standings. Fantasy teams were affected as well, especially by COVID-19 health and safety protocols in addition to normal injuries. 

The second half of the season could play out with some more normalcy, likely once vaccine distribution gets sorted out. However, interesting and unexpected things will still happen. Below are some bold predictions for the second half of one of the most unpredictable seasons in league history.

Christian Wood will be a better Fantasy player than Anthony Davis

An ankle injury has kept Wood sidelined since Feb. 6, and he's played in just 17 games. Davis has appeared in 23 games, missing the past nine due to calf and Achilles issues. It's not precisely clear when either will return, but it seems likely Wood will be back before Davis, whose earliest expected return is March 19.

Christian Wood
DAL • C • 35
PPG22
RPG10.2
BPG1.53
View Profile

The Lakers will be taking Davis' Achilles issue seriously because the primary concern is having him healthy for the playoffs. It would be surprising if he played in any of the team's upcoming back-to-backs, and the occasional rest day aside from that should be expected. When he was on the court, he was having a down season. He's ranked 22nd in eight-category Fantasy leagues on a per-game basis behind averages of 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.4 steals. That was in 32.8 minutes per game. If that mark is an over/under for the number of minutes Davis will average when he returns, I'd take the under.

The Rockets haven't won a game since Wood suffered the ankle injury, with the team dropping 13 in a row. Houston won't bring Wood back before he's ready, but there's no reason for the organization to save him for the playoffs since the Rockets are 11-23. Surprisingly, he's ranked just one spot behind Davis in Fantasy while averaging 22.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 assists. Moving forward, I expect Wood to play more games, average more minutes and be the bigger focal point of his team than Davis. If I had to choose one for the remainder of the season, it's Wood.

LaMelo Ball will be a permanent starter

Injuries to both Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham forced Ball into the starting lineup on Feb. 1. What has resulted is Ball practically locking up the Rookie of the Year award. As a starter, Ball has averaged 20.7 points on 15.9 shots, 6.7 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 34.0 minutes. On a per-game basis, that's resulted in him being the 12th-best Fantasy player in eight-category leagues.

LaMelo Ball
CHA • PG • 2
PPG15.8
APG6.3
SPG1.63
3P/G2
View Profile

Fantasy success doesn't always translate to meaningful real-world production or an increase in role -- just ask Hassan Whiteside. But in Ball's case, the impact seems legitimate. Charlotte has had a positive point differential when he's on the court since Feb. 1, and secured impressive wins over good teams like Miami, Golden State, Phoenix. It feels like both Ball and the team have too much momentum to risk taking him out of the starting five once Graham returns from knee soreness.

Draymond Green will be a top-30 player

Green started the season slowly after missing most of training camp, plus the first four games of the season due to a foot injury. Through his first 17 appearances, the veteran averaged just 4.6 points on 33.3 percent shooting, 6.6 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 27.2 minutes. He was struggling, and it was reasonable to wonder if age had caught up with him. 

Draymond Green
GS • PF • 23
PPG5.7
RPG6.1
BPG.71
View Profile

However, Green turned a corner in early February. Over the past 14 games, he's averaged 7.0 points on 45.2 percent shooting, 11.0 assists, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks in 32.5 minutes. During this stretch, he's ranked as the 27th-best Fantasy player in per-game value.

The Warriors are making a playoff push and are currently in the nine seed at 19-18. Green has been a major part of the team's success, and the All-Star break has likely helped him get fresher. Look for him to continue playing at a high level and driving wins for the Warriors.

Isaiah Roby will become a must-roster player after the Thunder trade (or phase out) Al Horford

This prediction is bolder than the rest because it requires a player to be traded or have their role significantly reduced. But it's no secret the Thunder are trying to tank the season, and Horford has been helping them win too many games. OKC is 15-21, tied with New Orleans for the 11th seed in the Western Conference. The Thunder would much prefer to join the Houston/Minnesota tier of bad to secure a better draft pick.

Isaiah Roby
SA • C • 22
PPG8.6
RPG5.4
BPG.57
View Profile

Horford's contract won't be easy to move. He essentially makes $27 million this season, next season and the year after that. But he's been good enough for competing teams to at least have to consider acquiring him. In 28.2 minutes per game, Horford has averaged 14.0 points on 13.0 shots, 6.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Even if Horford doesn't get dealt, there's a chance the Thunder send him home, rest him for more games, or phase him out of the rotation. If any of those scenarios come to fruition, Isaiah Roby would step up as the Thunder's starting center. He's started 12 games and averaged 11.7 points on 8.8 shots, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 27.5 minutes. During a six-game stretch in January during which Roby started every game, he ranked as the 117th-ranked player in Fantasy on a per-game basis. That's not an eye-popping number, but it suggests he'll need to be rostered if the team moves on from Horford.