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Stephen Curry getting closer to a return

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While we’re approaching the NBA’s true halfway point regarding games played, we’re well past that point in fantasy basketball. This makes the pending return of Stephen Curry from a left shoulder subluxation of even greater importance. That’s one of the major storylines heading into Week 13, where 13 teams will play four games.

Week 13 schedule:

4 Games: BOS, CHI, DAL, DEN, DET, MIL, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, POR, SAC, SAS

3 Games: ATL, CHA, CLE, GSW, HOU, IND, LAC, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIN, NOP, PHO, TOR, UTA, WAS

2 Games: BKN

Top Storylines of Week 13

-- Warriors’ Curry likely to return January 13

Stephen Curry has been sidelined since December 14, with his injury occurring when the Warriors were already without Andrew Wiggins (groin). Wiggins returned to the lineup on January 7, and Warriors GM Bob Myers said during an interview last week that Curry could return as soon as January 13 against the Spurs. That would be the second of three games Golden State will play in Week 13, but it’s worth noting that they’ll finish the week with a Sunday/Monday (Week 14) back-to-back. After a visit to Chicago on the 15th, the Warriors are scheduled to play the Wizards in the nation’s capital the next day.

If Curry were to return on the 13th as expected, would he play both ends of the following back-to-back, or would he miss one of those two games? And if he does sit, would it be Sunday or Monday? For the sake of those who have Curry rostered, the hope is that the rest day (if there is one) would kick off Week 14. But with the Warriors scheduled to visit the White House on the 17th, sitting out the game against Washington the day prior may be considered suboptimal. Donte DiVincenzo was viewed as a “drop” when Wiggins was cleared to play Saturday night, but he remained in the starting lineup due to Klay Thompson (knee) being a late scratch. He probably isn’t worth holding onto, especially with this being a three-game week for the Warriors, but he could be back on the fantasy radar at the end of Week 13 due to the schedule.

-- Will the Time Lord continue to come off the bench?

Celtics center Robert Williams has yet to make a start this season, with interim coach Joe Mazzulla keeping him in a reserve role since his return from offseason knee surgery. Could that change in Week 13, especially in the aftermath of his best performance of the season (10 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and four blocks in Boston’s January 7 win over the Spurs)? There’s been no shortage of people clamoring for Williams to return to the starting lineup, and Jayson Tatum made his feelings known after the win over San Antonio.

“Whether he starts or comes off the bench, just want him on the floor, want him healthy and want to be with him on the floor at the same time as much as possible,” Tatum said. “I’m going to start, so I would like Rob to start. But whatever’s best for the team, he’ll do that. As much as I can be on the court with him as possible, I think makes us better.”

Williams is providing 5th-round value in 9-cat formats and is more than capable of pushing his value even higher with increased playing time. But the Celtics clearly have their eye on the postseason and making sure the Time Lord is at his best when that time comes. Whether or not a lineup change occurs during Week 13, Boston has to contend with a four-game slate that includes a midweek back-to-back against the Pelicans (Wednesday) and Nets (Thursday). Williams getting into the high-20s in minutes per game would be a game-changer in fantasy leagues.

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-- How many games will fantasy managers get out of the 76ers’ Embiid?

Joel Embiid has missed Philadelphia’s last three games with a sore left foot, which has led to Doc Rivers going to a small starting lineup that features P.J. Tucker at the center position and Montrezl Harrell (36 points over his last two games) remaining with the bench unit. Philadelphia will play four games in Week 13, beginning Tuesday night against the Pistons, and there’s a back-to-back at the end (Saturday at Utah, Sunday at LA Lakers) to consider. So it’s possible that, if Embiid can play Tuesday night, fantasy managers are looking at three games at the most from The Process. And the longer he sits, the longer we wait to see what Rivers will do with the starting lineup.

Tyrese Maxey returned from a fractured foot on December 30 and rejoining the starting lineup on January 4 coincided with Embiid being sidelined. Before Maxey’s return, Rivers said he was open to going with a small lineup to keep De’Anthony Melton with the starters. That would shift Tobias Harris to the four, with Embiid being the center and Tucker moving to the bench. But with Embiid sidelined, the 76ers have gone small differently than they would have hoped. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Tucker isn’t worth rostering, while Harris’ rebounding numbers would be boosted with a move to the power forward position (he’s grabbed 10 and 11 in Philadelphia’s last two games).

-- How will Orlando’s perimeter rotation be handled moving forward?

With Jalen Suggs returning to action during a January 5 loss to the Grizzlies and playing 16 minutes two nights later in a win over the Warriors, the Magic are as healthy as they’ve been at any point this season. Suggs played 16 minutes off the bench in his first game back, with fellow reserve Cole Anthony logging 30 and starting point guard Markelle Fultz. Clearly, Jamahl Mosley is willing to play two of the three guards together, which was the case at times on Saturday, with Gary Harris (24 minutes) being the starter who will lose out on some minutes.

Prior to Saturday, Fultz and Suggs had not been available for the same game this season, but they did start alongside each other for Orlando’s penultimate game of the 2021-22 season. Fultz played 24 minutes, and Suggs 16. The lack of consistent perimeter shooting may keep Mosley from starting games with those two, but Week 13’s four-game slate will provide answers as to how he’ll use his guards moving forward. Thus far, Fultz has been the best fantasy option amongst Orlando’s “true” guards, offering 10th-round value in 9-cat formats.

-- How many reliable fantasy options will the Spurs have?

San Antonio was hit hard by the injury bug during Week 12. Devin Vassell will undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his knee in the near future, and there won’t be a concrete timeline for return until that happens (we could be looking at six weeks). Keldon Johnson exited the January 6 win over the Pistons due to hamstring tightness. He did not play the following day, while Jakob Poeltl (Achilles) also sat out the January 7 loss to the Celtics. Outside of Tre Jones, a 7th-round player in 9-cat formats, is there anyone on that roster that fantasy managers can put their trust into for the Spurs’ four-game Week 13?

Trust may not be the best word to use, especially when sifting through streaming options. Josh Richardson, rostered in 15% of Yahoo leagues, has been a 10th-round player over the last two weeks, while Zach Collins, Romeo Langford, and Malaki Branham have had their moments when the Spurs have been shorthanded. At this point, Richardson, Collins, and rookie Jeremy Sochan may be the “best” options if Johnson and Poeltl join Vassell on the sideline for an extended period. Branham hasn’t played as much as Sochan, but with the Spurs careening toward the draft lottery, he stands to figure more prominently in the rotation come fantasy playoff time.

-- The Suns’ backcourt in the aftermath of Chris Paul‘s hip issue

Phoenix was already shorthanded on the perimeter, with Devin Booker being sidelined after aggravating his groin injury at the end of Week 10 (Christmas Day). During their January 6 loss to the Heat, the Suns lost Chris Paul, who did not return after halftime due to a sore hip. Whether or not he plays in Sunday’s game against the Cavaliers, Phoenix’s final game of Week 12, will give fantasy managers an idea of how severe Paul’s hip issue is. And with Booker and Cameron Payne (foot) already sidelined, the last thing anyone can afford is for CP3 to join them on the shelf.

Landry Shamet has been filling in for Booker in the starting lineup, and he would be in line for more playmaking opportunities should Paul miss additional time. Damion Lee, who started the second half of that loss to the Heat, and Duane Washington Jr. would also be in line for minutes increases to the point where they would be worth streaming. Phoenix plays three games in Week 13, beginning Tuesday night on the road against the Warriors, and that’s the first game of a back-to-back. The Suns visit Denver the following night before capping their week in Minnesota on Friday (January 13). Neither Shamet nor Lee has been consistent when given extended minutes, and Washington has been a DNP-CD on most nights when the Suns have been healthy. So this won’t be the easiest situation for fantasy managers to sift through if Paul misses time.

-- Are any Nets beyond the “big three” worth rostering?

This season, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Nicolas Claxton have all been fantasy standouts. This question does not apply to them, and Ben Simmons’ importance to the rotation protects him. But it does apply to Royce O’Neale, especially with the Nets due to play just two games in Week 13. Providing 10th-round value for the season, O’Neale, who’s rostered in 40% of Yahoo leagues, has been a top 100 player over the last two weeks. But this will be when that percentage decreases, as the Nets won’t play their first game in Week 13 until Thursday night against the Celtics. With so many teams playing four games, there are other options to use O’Neale’s roster spot on in most leagues. But he’ll be someone to add ahead of Week 14 when the Nets will play four games. T.J. Warren (18% rostered) and Seth Curry (16%) are in a similar position fantasy-wise.

Light Game Days

None. Every day of Week 13 has at least six games on the schedule.

Week 13 Back-to-backs:

Monday-Tuesday: ORL

Tuesday-Wednesday: PHO, DET

Wednesday-Thursday: MIL, BOS

Thursday-Friday: OKC

Friday-Saturday: ATL, IND, UTA, MIN

Saturday-Sunday: DAL, PHI, POR