A string of significant injuries has cut through the NBA lately. That's left Fantasy managers scrambling, wondering who to add amidst all the chaos. Some situations have more obvious solutions than others, and many players don't have definitive timetables for a return, making things more confusing. Let's sort through some of the uncertainty.
LeBron enters protocols
The King can't catch a break. He's appeared in just 11 games this season, missing a significant chunk of time due to an abdominal injury that he recently recovered from. He was on a dominant three-game stretch as well, where he averaged 34.0 points, 8.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks.
But he entered COVID-19 protocols Tuesday night. The details aren't immediately clear, but Fantasy managers should expect LeBron James to be sidelined for at least 10 days. Assuming he has the virus, it could certainly be longer, depending on how he recovers. The primary beneficiaries from a Fantasy perspective should be Talen Horton-Tucker and Malik Monk. Horton-Tucker failed to capitalize in Tuesday's blowout win over the Kings, but he looked great earlier in the season, so there's reason to be optimistic. Monk popped off for 22 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Morant out indefinitely with knee injury
The worst was initially feared when Ja Morant suffered a non-contact knee injury Friday. Scans revealed that he suffered a knee sprain but avoided anything severe enough to end his season. The expectation is that the high-flying point guard will return this season, but he doesn't have a timetable for a return. As a result, it's tough to gauge what Fantasy managers should do. For now, Morant is a hold, but keep an eye out for new information whenever available.
Tyus Jones and De'Anthony Melton are Morant's immediate replacements, and we have a two-game sample so far without Morant. Jones has averaged 5.0 points, 7.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 29.0 minutes. Melton has averaged 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 17.5 minutes. Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane should see increased usage as well.
Michael Porter Jr. gets back surgery
This is a tough blow for Porter and the Nuggets. The back surgery will be the 23-year-old's third already, and he's been dealing with back issues since his prep days. Porter was expected to be the Nuggets' second option this season until Jamal Murray returned, but he was struggling even before his back gave out, posting 9.9 points per game. It's an especially worrisome development for the organization as a whole, as MPJ was given a five-year, $175 million extension in the offseason.
In the immediate future, the Nuggets will continue piecing together a rotation around superstar center Nikola Jokic. Unfortunately for Fantasy, there may not be an actionable move for most leagues. This season, with Porter off the court and Jokic on, Jokic himself is the one that gets the biggest usage bump. There will be more nights here and there where Jeff Green, Aaron Gordon and Will Barton will pop off, but there's not much reason to be confident in anything being league-changing.
Anunoby struggling with hip recovery
OG Anunoby missed his seventh straight game Tuesday, and he's reportedly "hit a wall" in his recovery from a left hip pointer. With that being the case, it's unsurprising that the forward doesn't have a timetable for a return, though the Raptors may continue to list him as day-to-day.
Coach Nick Nurse has spread around the extra available minutes and usage pretty evenly, so there isn't a must-add player in Anunoby's absence. Malachi Flynn, Precious Achiuwa and Svi Mykhailiuk are the players getting meaningful minutes bumps, but there hasn't been enough uptick in production to be actionable.
Suggs breaks thumb
Jalen Suggs broke his thumb Monday against the 76ers, and the injury will likely keep him out for several weeks. It's an unfortunate development for the rookie, as he was just starting to get more comfortable. Over his past eight appearances, he averaged 13.9 points, 3.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 27.0 minutes – a stretch that included career highs in points (21) and steals (4).
With excellent timing, Cole Anthony will be making his return Wednesday, and it's possible he parlays Suggs' absence into even better production. Per 36 minutes with Suggs off the court, Anthony is averaging 22.7 points, 6.9 assists, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals. Terrence Ross, R.J. Hampton and Gary Harris could also be beneficiaries. Hampton has the second-highest usage rate (21.6%) on the team with Suggs off the floor but is probably only a deep-league add, if that.
Thompson expected to return in December
As of Nov. 21, Klay Thompson was cleared to start practicing in full. He remains on schedule in his recovery and is expected to return around Christmas. Fantasy managers who drafted Thompson should be prepared for him to see limited minutes at first, and it's possible he really won't look entirely comfortable until after the All-Star break.
But if Thompson is getting minutes, he has to be taking minutes away from someone. It seems possible, if not likely, that Jordan Poole will be getting bumped from the starting five. However, I still expect him to remain in a sixth-man role off the bench, and he could still see 30 minutes regularly. Thompson's minutes will more likely come at the expense of Otto Porter, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damion Lee and other semi-expendable wing/guard options off Golden State's bench.