Lakers begin life without Anthony Davis
It’s Christmas Week in the NBA, which traditionally results in some interesting schedules. Fantasy managers will only have six days to deal with this week, as no games will be played on Christmas Eve. And with only 10 teams scheduled to play on Christmas Day, managers with rosters loaded with players who won’t be showcased on the holiday are down to five. That’s not great as far as fantasy production/value is concerned. While the scheduling will impact Week 10, so will the absence of Lakers star Anthony Davis, who will reportedly be sidelined for at least a month with a right foot injury.
Week 10 Schedule: Games Played
4 Games: DAL, LAL, MIL, NYK, PHI, PHO
3 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CHI, CLE, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, MEM, MIN, NOP, OKC, ORL, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
2 Games: BKN, IND, LAC, MIA
Top Storylines to watch
-- It’s Thomas Bryant time in Los Angeles
As noted in the intro, Davis will be out for at least one month after injuring his right foot during the first half of the Lakers’ December 16 win over the Nuggets. His absence, along with that of Wenyen Gabriel, has opened the door for Bryant to take center stage. Bryant played 24 minutes off the bench in that win over Denver, recording a stat line of 21 points, six rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one 3-pointer. The minutes represent Bryant’s floor, as Gabriel is still sidelined, and Damian Jones hasn’t offered much when given the opportunity to play. Bryant was rostered in 29% of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday afternoon, not long after the news of Davis’s injury was reported. That number will skyrocket, as it should, given the circumstances.
Also, worth watching will be LeBron James and Russell Westbrook and how Davis’s absence will expand their respective roles. With Bryant starting, Westbrook may have to provide even more scoring. The concern is the turnover count, as Westbrook is averaging 4.1 per game over the last two weeks. As for James, it would be no surprise if he logged more minutes at center in smaller lineups. According to Cleaning the Glass, James has played 19% of his minutes at the five this season. With Davis sidelined, that percentage could approach his mark from last season (49%), especially if Bryant proves ineffective.
-- Will Bradley Beal be cleared to return this week?
Due to a strained right hamstring, Beal has been out since December 4, with Corey Kispert replacing him in the starting lineup. The hope ahead of Washington’s six-game road trip was that he’d be cleared to return at some point, but Beal has already missed losses to the Nuggets and Clippers and is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Lakers. That leaves three games to play, beginning Tuesday night in Phoenix. And it should be noted that the Wizards end the trip with a Thursday/Friday back-to-back against the Jazz and Kings, so managers who have Beal rostered may be looking at two games tops if he’s cleared by Tuesday.
This preserves Kispert’s streaming value in the short term, but he hasn’t done much with the opportunity to start. Over the last two weeks, he’s ranked outside the top 200 in 9-cat per-game value, averaging 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.4 steals, and 2.0 3-pointers in nearly 34 minutes per game. Kispert has been a points and 3-pointers option, which is why he’s rostered in just 7% of Yahoo leagues. The other Wizards to watch are Jordan Goodwin (a top 50 player over the last two weeks), Kyle Kuzma, and Kristaps Porzingis. Kuzma and Porzingis, already high-usage players, are over 30% of the last two weeks. As for Goodwin, Beal’s absence has allowed him to retain some streaming appeal even with Monte Morris returning last week. But has he done enough to remain in the rotation after Beal returns? We’ll see.
-- Will the Time Lord return to the starting lineup?
Celtics center Robert Williams made his season debut on December 16, playing 18 minutes off the bench in a loss to the Magic. After their December 18 rematch with Orlando, Boston will be off until the 21st, when it begins a three-game Week 10 slate at home against the Pacers. Will that be enough time for Williams to move into the starting lineup? Or will the Celtics continue to bring him off the bench as he ramps up? The schedule lends itself to Williams being able to progress without any concern of overexertion, but a championship contender like Boston will also take the “long game” into consideration. Al Horford also returned to the rotation on December 16, doing so as a starter.
It won’t be long until Boston’s big man tag team is reunited in the starting lineup; the only question is when that will happen. That would impact Derrick White the most, as he’s been filling the void in the starting lineup on most nights. He’s ranked just outside the top 100 in 9-cat formats, which may be difficult for him to maintain once Williams can take on a full workload.
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-- Raptors’ Anunoby expected to return during Week 10
Before his team’s December 18 game against the Warriors, Raptors coach Nick Nurse revealed that O.G. Anunoby is expected to return sometime next week. The game against Golden State will be the fourth that he’s missed with a hip injury, but the Raptors’ starting small forward has also been dealing with a hand injury. Toronto’s Week 10 schedule is interesting because they’ll play three games with a back-to-back, as they visit Philadelphia on Monday. If that game is off the board, the next opportunities for Anunoby to play are Wednesday (at New York) or Friday (at Cleveland). While Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, and Pascal Siakam have been locked into the starting lineup, two spots have effectively been “open” due to injuries sidelining Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. (quad).
Juancho Hernangómez, Thaddeus Young, Christian Koloko, and Malachi Flynn have all been in play, with Boucher remaining in his usual reserve role. Boucher’s fantasy value will be safe even after Anunoby returns, and he’s rostered in most competitive leagues, but that can’t be said for the other four. Each would need to be dropped as soon as Anunoby is cleared to play; hopefully, that announcement is made early enough for the convenience of fantasy managers.
-- Is it time to bid farewell to Miami’s Martin, Strus?
Miami is one of four teams scheduled to play two games in Week 10, which may put Caleb Martin and Max Strus on the fantasy “chopping block.” Martin missed the Heat’s December 17 win over the Spurs with a sprained left ankle, with his absence opening up a spot in the starting lineup for rookie Nikola Jovic. As for Strus, he was back in the starting lineup due to the absence of Kyle Lowry, who’s dealing with some soreness in his left knee (injury management). Martin and Strus are rostered in 33 and 32 percent of Yahoo leagues, and the two-game slate makes this a good time to seek alternatives on other teams.
And keep an eye on Victor Oladipo, who’s rostered in 12% of Yahoo leagues and has played 31 and 34 minutes off the bench in his last two appearances. He may not be a player to rush out and add now, but the workload and defensive impact (eight steals in those appearances) make him a player to keep an eye on. This two-game week will give fantasy managers a clear idea of how Erik Spoelstra will utilize Oladipo moving forward.
-- Joe Ingles set to make Bucks debut December 19
Ingles, who signed a one-year deal with the Bucks during the offseason, has not appeared in a game since January 30 due to a torn ACL. That will change on Monday, as it was reported that he plans to make his Bucks debut against the Pelicans. That starts a four-game week for Milwaukee, and while there are no back-to-backs, it’s fair to wonder if Ingles will be available for each game.
Who will be impacted the most by Ingles’ presence? Obviously, Jrue Holiday is safe amongst Milwaukee’s guards, but everyone else from Grayson Allen down could eventually take a hit. Ingles wasn’t a great fantasy player last season, but he’s capable of providing late-round value at his best. While this wouldn’t result in his being rostered in most leagues, it could bring down the percentages of players such as Allen and Jevon Carter, and neither of those two is rostered in 20% of Yahoo leagues right now. Ingles’ minutes and who takes the biggest hit will be worth tracking in Week 10.
-- Could Warriors’ Wiggins return by week’s end?
With Stephen Curry expected to miss a few weeks after injuring his left shoulder during the team’s December 14 loss to the Pacers, the status of Andrew Wiggins is of even greater importance to a team that has struggled mightily on the road. Golden State finishes its current road trip with games against the Knicks and Nets (Tuesday/Wednesday), with the third game of Week 10 being a Christmas Day showdown with the Grizzlies in San Francisco. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said on December 17 that he doubts Wiggins will be available for either road game, but will the two days off afterward be enough to get him back into action on Christmas Day? That’s the question many fantasy managers have right now.
Wiggins’ availability will impact Donte DiVincenzo the most, as he started alongside Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson in Friday’s loss to the 76ers. Knocking down five 3-pointers in the first quarter, DiVincenzo finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, one steal, and five 3-pointers in 35 minutes. He’s a must-roster player until Wiggins returns and may be worth holding onto until Curry is back due to the lack of consistent production on the Warriors (when Poole is starting). Now rostered in 51% of Yahoo leagues, DiVincenzo has been a top 50 player in 9-cat formats over the last two weeks.
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Light Game Days
Tuesday: 5 Games
UTA vs. DET
CHI vs. MIA
GSW vs. NYK
WAS vs. PHO
MEM vs. DEN
Thursday: 2 Games
SAS vs. NOP
WAS vs. UTA
Saturday: 0 Games
Week 10 Back-to-backs
Monday-Tuesday: PHO, UTA
Tuesday-Wednesday: CHI, DET, GSW, NYK
Thursday-Friday: NOP, SAS, WAS