Paul George injury boosts Mann, Morris
Tuesday night was brutal for the Los Angeles Clippers. Not only did Tyronn Lue‘s team lose the game, and the season series tiebreaker, to Oklahoma City, but they may have lost Paul George to a significant right leg injury. George landed awkwardly after colliding in the air with Thunder guard Lu Dort, hyperextending his right knee as a result. He needed help getting back to the locker room, with the Clippers not knowing the extent of the injury in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s game. More will be learned on Wednesday, which will give us all a better idea of the injury and how much time George could potentially miss.
Who should fantasy managers target now, as opposed to waiting for official word? Terance Mann is one name, even though he did manage to get ejected from Tuesday’s game during the second quarter. Rostered in 10% of Yahoo leagues, Mann has been on the court as part of the Clippers’ closing lineup some nights, with Russell Westbrook being on the bench. A prolonged absence for George could push Mann back into the starting lineup, playing alongside Westbrook. Eric Gordon (21%) shot poorly in his 28 minutes on the court, going 2-of-7 from the field and scoring five points, but his ability to knock down perimeter shots makes him worthy of consideration as well.
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Marcus Morris (18%), Robert Covington (18%), and even Nicolas Batum (3%) should also be in the mix, with the former already being a starter. If not for the shoulder injury that he’s rehabbing, Norman Powell (41%) would be the best choice on the Clippers roster to fill the void left by George. But with it being unknown when he’ll be cleared to resume playing, it’s possible that Powell won’t even be back quick enough to impact fantasy playoffs. If fantasy managers are going to add anyone Wednesday morning before an announcement is made on George, let it be Mann.
With the potential impact of George’s injury fleshed out, let’s take a look at some of Tuesday’s top pickups.
Marvin Bagley (38%)
Bagley had his best game of the season in Detroit’s loss to the Hawks, scoring 31 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the field while also putting up eight rebounds, one assist, three steals, two blocks, and four 3-pointers in 41 minutes. Normally, a player with only two games in a week wouldn’t be an attractive fantasy option. But that isn’t the case for Bagley. The Pistons are without Jalen Duren (neck), which leaves Bagley and James Wiseman as the only available bigs. Bagley is worth adding ahead of Friday’s game in Toronto, and the Pistons will play four games in weeks 23 and 24 to end the regular season.
Deni Avdija (18%)
Corey Kispert (13%) was the choice to replace Kyle Kuzma (ankle) in the starting lineup, but Avdija remains the better fantasy option, especially in category leagues. What made things even better for him on Tuesday was the fact that he was able to snap out of his recent shooting slump. After shooting 28.2% from the field in the six games prior, Avdija shot 5-of-6 from the field in Tuesday’s loss to the Magic, scoring 15 points with 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Kispert played 36 minutes, tallying nine points, four rebounds, three assists, and one 3-pointer. With Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. saying before Tuesday’s game that Kuzma’s sprain was “pretty significant,” Avdija will continue to be a player of greater value to the Wizards. And Washington plays three more games in Week 22, beginning with Wednesday’s home game against Denver.
Daniel Gafford (33%)
Gafford is providing 10th-round value in 9-cat formats over the last two weeks, and he’s shot 90% from the foul line during this stretch. While he only played 24 minutes in Tuesday’s loss, Gafford did put up 12 points, three rebounds, one steal, and two blocked shots. Gafford has recorded at least one steal and one blocked shot in four straight and six of his last eight appearances. While he hasn’t played 30 minutes or more in a game since March 2, Gafford doesn’t need to be on the court for too long in order to be impactful in fantasy basketball. He’s consistently played both ends of back-to-backs, so Gafford should be available for Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets.
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No Zach Collins (rest) and Charles Bassey (knee) being done for the year meant another spot start for Mamukelashvili, and he was sure to take advantage of the opportunity. Mamu scored a season-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field, supplementing his point total with five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and three 3-pointers in 25 minutes. Even if Collins is available for Wednesday’s game against the Bucks, Mamukelashvili will get the minutes needed to build on his performance Tuesday night. San Antonio will play three more games in Week 22.
Day’Ron Sharpe (1%)
Sharpe wasn’t on anyone’s radar before Tuesday’s game. But Cleveland getting Jarrett Allen back and reuniting the frontcourt tandem of Allen and Evan Mobley opened up a spot in the Nets’ rotation for Sharpe. Playing 20 minutes off the bench in Brooklyn’s loss to the Cavaliers, he recorded a line of 20 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and one 3-pointer. With these two teams meeting again on Thursday, adding Sharpe in deeper leagues wouldn’t be the worst idea.