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It's a sad time for basketball fans. We've seen a rash of injuries dominate the headlines in recent weeks. Sadly, I had to delete Kobe Bryant and Brandon Jennings from my trade value chart this week, and had to drop a red-hot Kemba Walker from 26 points to just six after his own potentially season-ending injury. We desperately need the All-Star break to let some guys rest up before we have any more major injuries.
We did dodge one collective bullet last week, when LaMarcus Aldridge went from "out for eight weeks" to "back in two games" after making the decision to forgo surgery on the torn ligament in his thumb. Aldridge will play through the injury with a brace on his hand, and has told reporters he cannot make the injury worse long term, so he will play as long as he can handle the pain. That's the good news.
The bad news is, he is now a major red flag for Fantasy purposes. Aldridge can stay healthy and avoid a major recurrence of this issue through the end of the season. But can you really trust him to do that? He looked fine in his first game back, scoring 26 points on 22 field goal attempts, but shot just 9 of 22 overall and 4 of 13 from outside of 15 feet, a bad sign for someone who is so reliant on his jump shot.
Aldridge is one of the best players in the league, sure, but what makes him so valuable for Fantasy isn't just how productive he is, but how consistent he is. He has scored 20 points or more in 29 of 39 games, and also had nine or more rebounds in 30 games. He is a high-usage beast, and you rarely get an off night from him. If his touch is just a bit off with the jumper, that might not be the case down the stretch, and that might be just enough to knock him off the second tier of Fantasy forwards.
Between the possibility Aldridge's play might suffer as a result of the injury and the knowledge he might be one wrong fall away from going down for the rest of the season, it might not be a bad idea to move Aldridge. In fact, his value is probably relatively high still given how good he looked in his first game back. If you are fighting for a playoff spot and are desperate, it might be best to hang on to Aldridge now because his best-case scenario is probably enough to carry you to the playoffs. If you've already got a spot locked up and can't take the risk he won't be available in Weeks 21-24, it might be best to bank what Aldridge has already done for you, say "Thanks," and move on to someone safer.
What you can get will depends on the mood of your league, but I bet you could talk one person into giving you 95 cents on the dollar for Aldridge. That would be something like Jeff Teague or Kyrie Irving at the guard position, or possibly a Rudy Gay or Andre Drummond at forward or center. Given the uncertainty surrounding Aldridge, that may just be enough to justify the move. At least, if you're as risk-averse as I am.