Fantasy breakdown: Mother Lode or Fool's Gold?
While Garnett is not currently injured, he has been a walking injury risk ever since having microfracture surgery on his right knee last offseason. Concerns over the health of his right knee were only heightened when he missed 10 games in December and January after hyperextending it in a game against the Clippers on Dec. 27. Garnett, however, has looked good since returning to the Celtics lineup on Jan. 22. Will the Big Ticket be a reliable fantasy force for the remainder of the season?
While I'll admit that Garnett will be an injury risk for the rest of his NBA career, I feel good that he will play in most if not all of the Celtics remaining games. The Celtics are in a dog fight with the Magic and Hawks to determine the second, third, and fourth seeds in the Eastern Conference. Not only are they trying to get home court advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs, but they also want to avoid the fourth seed which likely means a date with the 42-11 Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. Therefore, the Celtics need Garnett to play over the last two months of the season so they will not have the luxury of being cautious with the Big Ticket. In addition, Garnett is the definition of a gamer, so you know he will go out and play unless he absolutely cannot due to a significant injury.
Roy was playing his way into the MVP race when he abruptly injured his right hamstring in a game against the Bucks on Jan. 13. Roy has missed 14 of the last 15 games for the Blazers and is definitely out through the All-Star break if not longer. Once Roy does return to the court, what can fantasy owners expect? Will he pick up where he left off in early January or is he destined to struggle for the rest of the season?
Realistically, you would have to give him five to seven games to find his rhythm again and get back into playing shape. So now you are looking at about 20 games of the real Roy for the stretch run. If he was dealing with any other injury besides maybe a back injury, I would not be worried. Hamstring injuries, however, can be easily re-aggravated. Players know this and tend to compensate for the injury. In addition, the Blazers know this, so I can't expect them to play Roy 40 minutes a night like they were doing during his hot streak. Plus, given all the injuries that they have endured this season, they will be extra careful to keep Roy on the court. Expect between 30-35 minutes a game from Roy for those last 20 games. At the high end, I think you get 20 games out of Roy where he averages around 20 points, four assists, four rebounds, and a steal per game. At the low end, he misses about five more games after the All-Star break and re-aggravates the injury once he returns.
Kobe made headlines late last week by missing his first game in nearly three years due to a sprained left ankle. This injury has added fuel to a growing sentiment that Kobe should take it easy down the stretch of the regular season to be sharp for the playoffs. Will Kobe and the Lakers take this approach or is it business as usual for the superstar shooting guard?