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Pacers lose Tyrese Haliburton to knee injury

Tyrese Haliburton

Tyrese Haliburton

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton has been an All-Star-caliber player thus far, averaging 20.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 10.2 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 3.0 3-pointers per game. That’s good for top-10 per-game value in 9-cat formats; it’s safe to say a team doesn’t simply replace a player of Haliburton’s caliber. Unfortunately, it appears the Pacers will have to figure some things out; the team’s starting point guard exited Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks during the third quarter with an apparent left knee injury. Playing 27 minutes, Haliburton finished with 15 points, three rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and one 3-pointer.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said after the game that Haliburton will be re-evaluated on Thursday, so we should get a more definitive statement regarding the severity of the injury and how much time (if any) he will miss. Which players would have the most to gain fantasy-wise by this development? Andrew Nembhard (19% rostered) and T.J. McConnell (3%) would certainly benefit, with both being capable point guards.

Nembhard has been a fixture in the starting lineup since early November, and he finished Wednesday’s game with 11 points, three rebounds, four assists, and one 3-pointer in 34 minutes. Providing 14th-round value in 9-cat formats for the season, the rookie guard has been a top-70 player over the last week. As for McConnell, his season-long fantasy value is low due to Haliburton’s presence, but he did finish with 14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and two steals in 26 minutes off the bench. If there’s a spot to fill in the starting lineup, McConnell is the player most likely to be called upon, and that would enhance his fantasy value.

Buddy Hield certainly doesn’t qualify as a waiver wire pickup, as he’s rostered in 91% of Yahoo leagues, but he scored a season-high 31 points to go along with eight rebounds, one steal, and seven 3-pointers. No Haliburton would mean even more scoring opportunities for Hield.

Moving on to some of Wednesday’s top pickups:

Quentin Grimes (36%)

Grimes remains rostered in less than 40% of Yahoo leagues, and it would be a mistake to let that number drop any further. He’s now a fixture in the Knicks’ starting lineup, even with RJ Barrett returning after a six-game absence due to a lacerated left index finger. Grimes played 30 minutes, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and four 3-pointer. Over the last two weeks, Grimes has been a top-100 player in 9-cat formats. As evidenced by Wednesday’s performance, he’s capable of offering solid fantasy value despite not being an offensive focal point.

Deni Avdija (14%)

With Kristaps Porzingis (ribs) and Daniel Gafford (ankle) both sidelined for Wednesday’s game against the Bulls, the Wizards needed someone to step up on the boards. Enter Avdija, who grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds to go along with nine points, three assists, and one 3-pointer in 29 minutes. He hasn’t been a great fantasy option this season, offering 15th-round value in 9-cat formats, but Wednesday was a good night to add Avdija due to the absences. Washington hosts the Knicks Friday night, and the hope is that Porzingis and Gafford will be able to play. If they don’t, it would make sense to add Avdija. Another Wizards fill-in who played well on Wednesday was Anthony Gill, who scored 18 points with four rebounds and one assist in 23 minutes off the bench.

KJ Martin (9%)

Martin is a player who did not begin Wednesday night as an “add,” but he may be moving forward due to injury. Kevin Porter Jr. exited Wednesday’s loss to the Kings due to a left foot contusion, which freed up additional minutes for Martin. He played 27 minutes, shooting 9-of-13 from the field and finishing with 21 points, five rebounds, one assist, and three 3-pointers. Given where Houston is in the standings, that may influence the team’s handling of Porter’s foot injury, especially if it isn’t severe. Martin has been the fill-in on most nights when Eric Gordon has rested, which may be the case here. And Jae’Sean Tate (14%) is worth keeping an eye on, as his playmaking ability should get him more minutes if Porter has to miss additional time.

Torrey Craig (17%)

Wednesday’s blowout in Denver was a “schedule loss” for the Suns, especially with Chris Paul (hip), Devin Booker (groin), Deandre Ayton (ankle), and Landry Shamet (foot/hip) all sidelined. Craig is providing 11th-round value in 9-cat formats for the season, and he’s been a top-100 player over the last week. He started and played 23 minutes on Wednesday, scoring 16 points while accounting for five rebounds and three 3-pointers. Of course, you’d like to see some production in the assist and defensive categories, but you’ll take what Craig was able to provide Wednesday night. The Suns visit Minnesota Friday night, so we’ll see if he can build on his performance in the Mile High City.

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Nerlens Noel (2%)

The Pistons were again without Isaiah Stewart (shoulder) and Jalen Duren (ankle), which kept Noel in the starting lineup for another night. While each of the Pistons’ other four starters scored at least 18 points, Noel held it down defensively, as he racked up three steals and four blocked shots in the 135-118 win over the Timberwolves. The veteran center was also responsible for two points, five rebounds, and two assists, but the defensive stats are why a few brave souls rolled the dice on Noel in either fantasy leagues or DFS tournaments. He’s essentially the Pistons’ only healthy big man, so it would make sense to hop onto the Noel bandwagon if Stewart and Duren also miss Friday’s game against the Pelicans.