Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis became the latest player to catch the injury bug when he left Monday’s game with a left knee contusion. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that X-Rays revealed no structural damage, which is good news, but an MRI will reveal more and let us know how much time Sabonis will miss.
We also learned that the Clippers will be shorthanded vs the Hawks on Tuesday night. Per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, Kawhi Leonard (health and safety protocols), Paul George (health and safety protocols) and Patrick Beverley (right knee soreness) didn’t fly with the team to Atlanta and it’s unclear at this point in time when exactly they will return. This frees up a ton of minutes and creates the potential for big fantasy outings from some role players.
The same can be said for the Suns’ Cameron Johnson who could play significant minutes this week if Devin Booker (hamstring) sits out a couple more games. He’s already providing decent value in 9-cat and is only rostered in 30% of Yahoo leagues. But is he the better pick-up over Jae Crowder?
And which Portland player is going to be the most consistent fantasy option with C.J. McCollum sidelined?
Here’s my starting five for the week.
Lou Williams - The three-time Sixth Man of the Year is struggling this season and we can’t seem to understand why. Lou Will is averaging an uncharacteristic 8.8 points a game through 15 contests, his lowest average since 2006-07 which was his second year in the league. He’s playing a minuscule 19 minutes a night, also his lowest mark since his sophomore season, and has only scored in double-figures five times in 2020-21. So why pick him up? With Kawhi, PG and Pat Bev out on Tuesday, and maybe longer, someone has to step up and provide much-needed offense for the Clippers, and Williams is due for a big performance. Luke Kennard will see an uptick in minutes, too, but he’s been inconsistent and I think Lou Will could dish out 5-7 assists in addition to 15-20 points. The veteran guard is up for grabs in 57% of Yahoo leagues.
Goga Bitadze - Many of you are reading this and asking this question, “Who the hell is Goga Bitadze?” and it’s a fair question. He’s a second-year center from Georgia (the country) and is in a prime position to contribute to a Pacers team that could be without All-Star Domantas Sabonis (knee). Bitadze has only appeared in two games this season because of an ankle injury and currently holds no fantasy value if I’m being honest. Doug McDermott is the guy you really want, but the Georgian is worth keeping an eye on in deep leagues. He’s sitting on the shelf everywhere so no need to scramble just yet.
Anfernee Simons - Last week, I said Rodney Hood might be the best option with C.J. McCollum (foot) out. Then Portland had a couple of games postponed and he was a late scratch Monday but who would’ve known? Anyways, Simons came off the bench vs the Thunder and scored a season-high 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting with six 3-pointers, two rebounds, an assist and a steal in 29 minutes. With this big game, he now has a total of 42 and 10 3-pointers over his last two contests which makes the most reliable replacement pick-up for CJM. Carmelo Anthony started with Robert Covington (concussion) sidelined and scored 22 points with six rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks in 35 minutes. Although he shot just 9-of-21 and only made one 3-pointer. Gary Trent Jr. had one of his better games of the year, too, posting 22 points and four 3-pointers in the starting unit, but he’s been up-and-down so far. Melo is 38% rostered, GTJ 14%, Hood 13% and Simons just one stinking percent. It’s picking your poison at this point, and if my life depended on it, I’d say ride the hot hand and take Simons. What can go wrong?
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Cameron Johnson - To answer my question about whether Johnson is a better waiver add than Jae Crowder, the answer is yes, but it’s not by much. The 6-foot-8 wing is averaging 12 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. He ranks 122nd in 9-cat this season, according to Basketball Monster, which is decent considering his ADP in Yahoo leagues was 141. But his veteran teammate isn’t too far off with a ranking of 130 while averaging fewer points but more boards and dimes. They’re pretty similar players fantasy-wise, but Johnson is connecting from the floor at a higher clip, shooting 45% compared to Crowder’s 38%. Both wings are making 2.4 triples on a 35% mark. You can’t go wrong with either, but with Devin Booker possibly out for a few more games, Johnson will be looking to capitalize as a starter.
Nicolas Batum - I could also mention Marcus Morris Sr. on this list, but Batum has way more appeal and his wife just had a kid so he’s for sure going to ball out because that’s how it works. I don’t make the rules. The first-year Clipper is boasting a nightly stat line of 10 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and two 3-pointers per contest. He’s producing top-60 numbers in 9-cat and has scored in double-figures in three of his last four games. Ty Lue will rely on him not only as a scorer but also as a playmaker with Kawhi Leonard out, meaning Batum could be in store for a season-high in assists. The Frenchman is sitting on waivers in 45% of Yahoo leagues and might be the best streaming option of all NBA players on Tuesday.