Some major news broke on Sunday, and unfortunately it was of the injury variety. Eric Bledsoe was diagnosed with a meniscus tear in his left knee and will undergo surgery on Tuesday, and Alec Burks was diagnosed with a fractured left ankle and he will be sidelined for at least the next six weeks. Injuries suck, but they also translate to increased opportunity for other players. So who is going to be the next man up in Phoenix and Utah? Jared Johnson has you covered, it's Dose time.
Editor's Note: This is your chance to try FanDuel risk free! Sign up today and if you lose your first contest, you’ll be refunded the entry fee up to $10. Play now.
An MRI revealed a torn meniscus in Eric Bledsoe’s left knee, and he is set to undergo surgery on Tuesday. While we won’t know his official timeline until the surgery is performed, initial reports have him missing anywhere from six weeks to two months (which feels optimistic). The size and location of the tear will determine whether Bledsoe will have to have his meniscus removed or repaired, but if he elects to re-attach/repair his meniscus he’ll be looking at a much lengthier absence. Unfortunately for Bledsoe, this injury is to his “good knee,” so depending on the damage, this latest knee injury could have career-altering implications.
Bledsoe has a history with meniscus tears. He missed four months during the 2011-12 when he had his right meniscus repaired, and then in 2014 he had a piece of his right meniscus removed and missed another three months (despite his initial timetable being set at 6-8 weeks). With the Suns sitting on a 12-20 record, there’s zero reason for Bledsoe to rush back into action, so I think regardless of what procedure he has, he’s going to be looking at a lengthy absence. If you’re league doesn’t have an IR-spot, and you’re struggling in the standings, dropping Bledsoe isn’t entirely out of the question.
As for who benefits, Devin Booker slid into the starting five after Bledsoe’s injury on Saturday and went off for a career-high 19 points (with three 3-pointers) in just 20 minutes of action. Head coach Jeff Hornacek already confirmed that Booker is the likely candidate to start, and I think he’s worth a long look in most leagues for those seeking some 3-point shooting and scoring. On a per-36-minute basis, Booker has put in averages of 15.0 points, 1.9 three-pointers and 1.1 steals per game. The rookie is a straight shooter, and has hit a ridiculous 58.8 percent of his 3-point attempts this season. He’s probably not going to be that efficient going up against opposing squads' starting two-guards, but his opportunity will be substantial.
Brandon Knight will now be the starting point guard in Phoenix, and he’s set to put up some gaudy stat lines as the main man on offence for the Suns. So far this season, Knight owns a usage rate of 28.8 sans Bledsoe.
Interestingly, the player with the highest usage rate (29.3) with Bledsoe off the floor this season is Markieff Morris, so it’ll be intriguing to see if Hornacek lets bygones be bygones, and brings Chief 'Kieff back into the starting five as the Suns desperately try and find some offense to replace the massive void left by Bledsoe. Morris will spend Monday’s game on the sidelines (second-game of two-game suspension), so we won’t see how Bledsoe’s absence translates to Morris’ fantasy value until Wednesday’s game vs. the Spurs.
In other injury news, Alec Burks was diagnosed with a fractured left fibula, and he’s set to miss the at least the next six weeks of action, although no surgery will be required to correct the injury. Burks had the highest usage rate (25.6) amongst the Jazz players this season, so there’s going to be plenty of touches to go around on offense with him on the sidelines. Burks' averages of 14.3 points, 1.0 three-pointer, 3.6 boards, 2.1 assists and just 0.6 steals per game on 40.9 percent shooting had him putting up just nineteenth-round (9-cat) and sixteenth-round (8-cat) value in standard leagues, so he’s definitely a drop-candidate with this news.
So who benefits? With Burks off the floor, Derrick Favors owns the highest usage rate (25.1), followed by Gordon Hayward (23.9), Rodney Hood (21.8), and Trey Burke (21.7). Favors and Hayward are obviously going to be doing the heavy lifting on offense, and I see Hood being forced to be more aggressive on offense. Hood has often looked timid while taking his shots this season, however that is simply not going to be an option with Burks on the sidelines as Utah will be hurting for offensive production. If Hood is sitting on your waiver wire, swooping him up seems like a smart decision.
On the Radar
Larry Nance had his best game of the season during Sunday’s loss to the Grizzlies, going off for 17 points (8-of-12 shooting), 11 boards, two steals, an assist and just one turnover in his 25 minutes of action. However, he hadn’t done much with his starting role up to this point, averaging just 5.5 points, 4.1 boards, 0.8 steals and 0.5 blocks through his previous 10 starts, so he’s only on the radar as a speculative add in deep leagues. Just know that Byron Scott hinted that he may consider changing his starting lineup after the New Year, so Nance may find himself heading back to the bench in the near future.
Meyers Leonard took full advantage of Ed Davis (ankle) being on the sidelines, and put up 16 points, 11 rebounds, four trey-bombs, two assists and three turnovers in 30 minutes of action. The upside has always been there for Leonard, but the minutes have been sporadic, and with Davis hoping to be back on the court within the next couple of days, there are no guarantees Leonard can maintain the high-minute total. Still, he’s someone to consider adding in standard leagues after this performance.
C.J. McCollum got another start at point guard with Damian Lillard (plantar fasciitis) on the sidelines, and he blew up for 35 points (14-of-28 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs), 11 rebounds, nine assists, four steals, three 3-pointers, one block and two turnovers in 42 minutes. McCollum is having himself a fabulous year (fourth-round value in standard leagues), and he’s an easy choice for the Most Improved Player award this season.
Kenneth Faried attempted 20 shots during Sunday’s loss to the Thunder, connecting on 12 of them on his way to 25 points, 11 rebounds and two swats in 29 minutes. With Danilo Gallinari (ankle) and Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) not expected back until Saturday’s game vs. Golden State, Faried is going to be a much larger part of the offense in Denver (24.5 usage rate sans Danilo and Emmanuel Mudiay) and he should put up some quality stat lines this upcoming week.
On the other side of the Denver game, pretty much all of the OKC players went off. Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting (6-of-6 from the stripe) to go with nine boards, 12 assists, two 3-pointers, one steal and four turnovers. Kevin Durant double-doubled with 26 points and 10 rebounds while adding two assists, a block and three 3-pointers, and Serge Ibaka swatted away three shots while scoring 19 points and bringing down four boards. These guys are elite.
Other Injury updates:
Marcus Smart (leg) returned from an 18-game absence on Sunday, scoring six points on 2-of-6 shooting to go with three boards, one 3-pointer and one assist in 13 minutes off the bench. Smart is far from a must-own guy in standard leagues, he’ll hurt your percentages, and doesn’t get many assists for a point guard, but if you’re looking for some production in steals and treys in deep leagues, he’s certainly worth a look.
Jonas Valanciunas will return to action for Monday’s vs. the Bulls, although head coach Dwane Casey said he’ll likely keep his minutes low in his first game back with how well Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola have been playing. However, it’s only a matter of time until Jonas finds himself back in the starting five logging around 27 minutes a night, which is bad news for those that were riding Biyombo during his hot streak. There’s just no way that Biyombo is going to be earning 30 minutes a night with Jonas back in the fold, so cutting him for a hot free agent (such as Devin Booker) makes a ton of sense.
Rick Carlisle said that Chandler Parsons is no longer with a strict minutes limit, although he’d prefer to keep Parsons' minutes in the mid-30s. He’s shown steady improvement each month this season, and he should really get rolling through the month of January. I see Chandler being at least a top-50 guy to finish the year, so congrats if you bought low during his painfully slow start.
Bradley Beal (leg) will start non-contact activities within the next few days, although he remains without an official timetable to return. He’s going to have a minutes cap upon his return, but at least he’s getting close to getting back on the court. We’re currently in Week-3 of what was initially expected to only be a two-week absence.
Jerryd Bayless (ankle) went through Sunday’s practice and is traveling with the Bucks on their four-game road trip. He’s on track to be back on the court by January, and is worth swooping up in standard leagues at this point as he was a mid-round guy before going down with the injury. His imminent return is bad news for Michael Carter-Williams.
Kristaps Porzingis played through finger injury, and put up 16 points on 4-of-16 shooting to go with 12 boards, two steals, three blocks and two turnovers in 28 minutes. He was also kneed in thigh, but played through it, and it’s unlikely the injury forces him to miss any time. The rookie currently sits in fourth-place in total blocked shots, and he is going to seriously compete with Karl-Anthony Towns for Rookie of the Year honors.
Allen Crabbe briefly left Sunday’s game with a right ankle injury, but returned and finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. It seems unlikely the minor ankle injury forces him to miss any time.
Kobe Bryant (sore right knee) says he “should be good to go” vs. the Hornets on Monday, the second game of a back-to-back set for the Lakers. Given that Byron Scott is his coach, there’s little reason to believe he’ll be rested.
Derrick Favors (back) is questionable to play Monday vs. the 76ers.
Harrison Barnes (ankle) is doubtful to play Monday vs. the Kings.
Myles Turner will have X-rays taken on his broken right thumb on Monday, and if all goes well, he’ll be cleared for contact. He won’t immediately be inserted back into the rotation, but he is getting close to returning to the court. He’s someone to stash in deep leagues, but hasn’t done enough to this point to warrant ownership in standard settings.
Rodney Stuckey (right ankle) is probable for Monday’s game against the Hawks.
John Henson (back) sat out Sunday’s practice, putting his status in jeopardy for Monday’s game against the Mavericks.
Jahlil Okafor (knee) doubtful Monday vs. Utah
Week 10 schedule:
5 Games: PHX
4 Games: CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, GSW, IND, LAC, LAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, ORL, PHI, TOR, UTA, WAS
3 Games: ATL, BRK, CLE, DET, HOU, NOP, NYK, OKC, POR, SAC, SAS
2 Games: BOS, MEM