Injuries open doors in Portland, San Antonio
We’re now one week from the NBA trade deadline, and this has prompted some interesting adjustments to rotations. But injuries remain the biggest catalyst for change, and Portland and San Antonio lost starters during Wednesday’s eight-game slate. The Trail Blazers lost two-thirds of their frontcourt, while the Spurs saw a promising rookie and the starting point guard exit before the end of the first quarter of their game. Let’s get into some of Wednesday’s top pickups.
Eubanks and Payton weren’t going to be on the radar in most fantasy leagues before Wednesday’s win in Memphis, but the former was playing well enough to merit a look. Then Jusuf Nurkić limped off after playing two minutes, as he aggravated the recent calf injury he’s been dealing with. As a result, Eubanks played 24 minutes off the bench and finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one blocked shot. A 7th-round player over the last two weeks, Eubanks was already worth a look in extremely deep leagues. The Nurkic injury should only make Eubanks a more popular fantasy target, especially with the Blazers ending Week 16 with a Friday/Saturday back-to-back. This will also get Trendon Watford onto the radar in deep leagues since he’ll serve as the primary backup if Nurkic sits.
The other injury of note for Portland was Jerami Grant entering the league’s concussion protocols after hitting his head on the court during the second quarter. He finished the first half on the court but remained in the locker room after the intermission. Jabari Walker started the second half for Grant, but Payton is a superior streaming target. He played a season-high 29 minutes, finishing with seven points, four rebounds, one steal, one block, and one 3-pointer. Walker only played six minutes, so there’s little need to consider him as a streamer if Grant remains sidelined.
Rotoworld’s Roundball Stew Podcast: From waiver wire pickups to season-long NBA trends to DFS and random side bets, the crew has you covered. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts
As noted in the intro San Antonio also lost two starters, with Tre Jones (foot) and Jeremy Sochan (back) departing during the first quarter and not returning. The exit of the former meant additional minutes for Branham, who recorded a line of 22 points, one rebound, five assists, and three 3-pointers in 32 minutes. And the rookie guard did this without committing a single turnover. We should learn more about the severity of Jones’ injury on Thursday, and an extended absence would open the door for Branham to take on a larger role.
With Romeo Langford (adductor) still sidelined, Keita Bates-Diop remained in the starting lineup, which meant the Spurs had to dig a bit deeper once Sochan was lost. Enter Richardson, who put up 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes. He’s providing 12th-round value over the last two weeks, playing well enough to merit being rostered in deep leagues. The bad news for Richardson and Branham is the schedule, as the Spurs only play once more this week (Friday vs. PHI).
Naz Reid (12%)
The approach to Reid in fantasy leagues is simple: put him in your lineups whenever Rudy Gobert is sidelined. Gobert (groin) sat out Wednesday’s comeback win over the Warriors, with Reid replacing him in the starting lineup. Reid finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block, and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. Minnesota will play twice more this week, Friday against the Magic and Sunday against the Nuggets, which will only enhance Reid’s value if Gobert remains sidelined.
Even though he continues to come off the bench, Eason’s become a player worthy of consideration as a pickup even before Wednesday night. He’s been a top-75 player in 9-cat formats over the last two weeks, and Eason finished Wednesday’s win over the Thunder with 20 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, three steals, two blocks, and one 3-pointer in 19 minutes off the bench. Jalen Green (calf) should be back soon, but this shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to add Eason, as he should continue to figure more prominently in the rotation. Also, KJ Martin is rostered in 34% of Yahoo leagues despite being a fixture in the starting lineup due to Kevin Porter Jr.‘s foot injury.
The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the Rotoworld app to receive real-time player news and mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!
Neither DiVincenzo nor Kuminga was going to be worth picking up for Wednesday’s action, as the Warriors’ rotation was largely in place. But with the Warriors scheduled to visit Denver on Thursday, DiVincenzo and Kuminga’s fantasy values could be enhanced. The more reliable fantasy option of the two, DiVincenzo finished Wednesday’s loss to the Timberwolves with seven points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one 3-pointer in 25 minutes. Kuminga played 15, accounting for 10 points, three rebounds, one steal, one block, and one 3-pointer. The Warriors could decide to play most (if not all) of their stars in Denver, but DiVincenzo and Kuminga will be worth adding before any announcements are made, just to be safe.