Pelicans head into Week 2 banged up, Jazz still undefeated
Week 2 is also the first full game week of the 2022-23 season, and half the NBA will play four games. And, as usual, there will be some scheduling quirks for fantasy managers to navigate. Multiple teams that will play three games won’t get going until Wednesday, while the Kings play the first of their two games on Thursday. That’s a big deal for managers in leagues that require lineups for the week to be set before the start of Monday’s games. Also of concern are injuries and how teams that will have to play back-to-backs will handle their rotations. This week’s look ahead begins in New Orleans, as the Pelicans have two banged-up stars to worry about.
Week 2 Schedule: Games Played
4 Games: BKN, CHI, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, MIA, MIN, NYK, ORL, PHI, SAS, UTA
3 Games: ATL, BOS, CHA, CLE, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIL, NOP, OKC, PHO, POR, TOR, WAS
2 Games: SAC
-- Pelicans come out of overtime loss banged up
Not only did New Orleans lose at home to the Jazz by a 122-121 final score Sunday night, but the team also lost two starters due to injury. Brandon Ingram exited after playing 11 minutes, as he was on the receiving end of an inadvertent shot to the face from teammate Naji Marshall. Following the game, coach Willie Green revealed that Zion Williamson was held out for the remainder of the fourth quarter and overtime for injury reasons. The “good” news here is that he’s dealing with a posterior hip contusion after taking a hard fall on a fast break, as opposed to an aggravation of the foot injury that sidelined Williamson for the entire 2021-22 season. No decisions have been made regarding the status of either player for Tuesday’s game against the Mavericks, and the answers will have a major impact on fantasy rosters.
How Green handles this rotation was already going to garner a significant amount of interest due largely to the medical histories of Ingram and Williamson. Who gets the opportunity to step forward if either of those two cannot play on Tuesday? Trey Murphy immediately comes to mind, as he played 40 minutes off the bench Sunday night. He’s scored 16 points in two of New Orleans’ three games and appears poised to take a step forward after an inconsistent rookie season. Another reason why Murphy will be of greater importance: Herb Jones suffered a right knee injury at some point in Sunday’s game. An MRI on Monday revealed no structural damage, but he’s questionable for Tuesday night.
The aforementioned Marshall may pick up a few more minutes, and Garrett Temple could re-enter the rotation after receiving a DNP-CD in all three games, but Murphy is the man to watch. And that may be the case even if Ingram and Williamson are deemed healthy enough to play on Tuesday.
-- Can the Jazz keep this run going?
There’s a no bigger (positive) surprise in the NBA thus far than the Jazz, who are now 3-0 with wins over the Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Pelicans to their credit. Lauri Markkanen has looked like a star, Jarred Vanderbilt has taken a major step forward with increased minutes, and Kelly Olynyk has also performed well. Will Hardy‘s received contributions throughout his rotation, which will likely be tested in Week 2. Utah plays four games, including a Friday/Saturday back-to-back against the Nuggets (road) and Grizzlies (home). After playing 32 minutes in the opener, Mike Conley played 36 in each of Utah’s last two games.
Regarding Conley’s participation on back-to-backs, he played in both ends of three last season, but each of those occurrences occurred before the All-Star break. Essentially, fantasy managers who have Collin Sexton rostered will want to hold onto him. The minutes have been a bit frustrating, as Sexton’s played 21, 19, and 19 minutes off the bench in Utah’s first three games. But he can be an explosive scorer, and Utah’s past handling of Conley means that there will be moments when Sexton is asked to take on a more prominent role at the point. He’s still rostered in 89% of Yahoo leagues, a sign that many remain committed to Sexton.
-- Can Smith Jr. and Richards continue to step up for shorthanded Hornets?
Charlotte’s rotation is also worth watching, as the Hornets are down their top two options at the point guard position. LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier are both dealing with ankle sprains, the former having been out since the preseason and the latter missing Sunday’s win over the Hawks. While the Week 2 schedule isn’t great for fantasy managers, as the Hornets don’t play the first of their three games until Wednesday, Steve Clifford is unlikely to complain. Dennis Smith Jr. started on Sunday and played well, tallying 18 points, two rebounds, six assists, three steals, one block, and one 3-pointer in 34 minutes. Until it’s official that either Ball or Rozier will be available, hold onto DSJ. Kelly Oubre is also in a position to benefit as he put up 20 shots on Sunday.
Charlotte’s center rotation is definitely worthy of attention, thanks to the effort put forth by Nick Richards. Shooting 9-of-9 from the field, he accounted for 20 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, and two blocks in 20 minutes Sunday outplaying Hawks backup center Onyeka Okongwu. Richards has posted a double-double in two of his three games, providing more production than starting center Mason Plumlee. Even if Clifford doesn’t entertain making a change at the center position, Richards is well-positioned to play consistent rotation minutes. Richards is now rostered in 20% of Yahoo leagues, so there are clearly some managers convinced that this isn’t a fluke. As for everyone else, the Hornets’ Week 2 schedule makes this a good time to exercise some patience and take a longer look at Richards before making the decision to pick him up.
-- Will this be a three-game week for Clippers’ Leonard and Wall?
Week 2 is the first of three straight weeks in which the Clippers don’t have to worry about playing a back-to-back, which is good news for the many who hope to see Kawhi Leonard and John Wall on the court more. After sitting out Saturday’s win in Sacramento, both were in action Sunday night against the Suns, with Leonard and Wall playing 21 minutes apiece. This week, the Clippers will play two games in Oklahoma City (Tuesday and Thursday), followed by a home game against the Pelicans next Sunday. Does this open the door for Leonard and/or Wall to play in all three games? And will their minutes increase, or will the Clippers remain conservative in their approach?
The short- and long-term answers to those questions will impact the entire roster, with players like Reggie Jackson and Norman Powell in a position to take the biggest hit fantasy-wise once Leonard and Wall can take on more minutes. Wall started the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Suns, with Jackson moving to the bench after an ineffective first half. Wall plays faster than Jackson, hence the decision to have him run the second unit before the season began. Could there be a change in that approach down the line? That question may not be answered this week, but Wall getting more minutes would signify what’s to come down the line.
-- How will the Warriors navigate their upcoming back-to-back?
Golden State will play its first back-to-back of the season at the end of Week 2, visiting Charlotte on Saturday and Detroit the following night. The minutes of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have been monitored, but both experienced slight increases in Sunday’s win over the Kings. Both hit season-highs in minutes played, with Thompson logging 27 and Green 28. Of course, the bench’s inability to close out the Kings (who trimmed a 26-point deficit all the way down to four) led to Steve Kerr putting his starters back in the game during the fourth quarter, so this was a factor. But are Thompson and Green ready to play in both ends of a back-to-back?
If the answer to that question is “no,” there really aren’t any available options that aren’t rostered in most leagues already. Jordan Poole would clearly benefit from Thompson being held out, while Green’s absence would open the door for JaMychal Green. Jonathan Kuminga could also see an increase in minutes if Green were to sit, but that can’t be guaranteed as he didn’t check into Sunday’s game until the fourth quarter. After playing 13 minutes in the season opener, Kuminga has played a total of 15 minutes in Golden State’s last two games. It’s safe to say that he isn’t trending in the right direction, but there’s still plenty of basketball to be played.
-- Is it “Cedi Time” in Cleveland, despite the schedule?
With Darius Garland (eye) ruled out for Sunday’s home opener against the Wizards, Cedi Osman was an obvious streaming option despite his coming off the bench. He played 32 minutes in the overtime victory, scoring 16 points to go along with three assists, one steal, and three 3-pointers. Isaac Okoro, who replaced Garland in the starting lineup for a second straight game, logged 20 minutes and accounted for two points, two rebounds, and one steal. Okoro may be a better defender than Osman and thus a better fit with the starters, but his fantasy value does not compare.
With Osman still rostered in 11% of Yahoo leagues, some managers will decide to pick him up in the aftermath of Sunday’s performance. However, the Cavaliers’ Week 2 schedule isn’t the best, as the first of three games on the slate won’t be played until Wednesday. Garland’s left eye remains swollen, and he’ll remain without a concrete timeline for return until that changes. Getting ahead of the rush to add Osman wouldn’t be the worst idea, even with the upcoming schedule not being the best.
-- Grizzlies still awaiting the return of two rotation wings
Memphis, which plays the first of its three Week 2 games Monday night against the Nets, is still down two perimeter players. Dillon Brooks (thigh) has been listed as questionable ahead of each of the Grizzlies’ last two games, only to be ruled out shortly before tipoff. He’s listed as questionable for Monday’s game, but there’s clearly no guarantee that he’ll be able to play. And Ziaire Williams (knee) is also working toward making his season debut, but he will not be available Monday night.
Those issues mean that John Konchar is a “hold” in more competitive leagues, and managers should consider picking him up if he’s still on the waiver wire (22% rostered in Yahoo leagues). If Brooks and/or Williams can return in time for games against the Kings (Thursday) and Jazz (Saturday), Konchar’s fantasy value will take a hit. But until that time comes, it makes sense to hold onto Konchar since he’ll be in the starting lineup.
-- Raptors hoping for good news on Barnes, Boucher
Already playing without Chris Boucher (hamstring), Toronto lost Scottie Barnes (ankle) during Saturday’s loss to the Heat. Both are listed as questionable ahead of Monday’s rematch, the first of three games on the Raptors’ Week 2 slate. Who should fantasy managers monitor? Precious Achiuwa is the obvious answer, and he’s rostered in just 15% of Yahoo leagues. He logged 34 minutes Saturday night, tallying 18 points 11 rebounds, one assist, and two 3-pointers. Achiuwa was already worth taking a flier on in deeper leagues; Barnes’ injury is simply another reason why he should be added where possible.
Christian Koloko and Thaddeus Young played 12 and 11 minutes, respectively (Koloko was ejected for his role in an altercation with Caleb Martin), so there wouldn’t be much value to be had if Barnes has to miss time. Boucher’s return would make things even more difficult for Koloko and Thomas in fantasy hoops, as their respective values are already low.
Light Game Days
Tuesday (4 Games)
DET vs. WAS
DAL vs. NOP
LAC vs. OKC
GSW vs. PHO
Thursday (4 Games)
DAL vs. BKN
LAC vs. OKC
MIA vs. GSW
MEM vs. SAC
Week 2 Back-to-Backs
Wednesday-Thursday: BKN, MIA
Friday-Saturday: ATL, CHA, CHI, IND, MIL, PHI, UTA
Saturday-Sunday: DAL, GSW