Short schedule means patience isn't an option for injured NBA stars
Should Manu Ginobili and Zach Randolph be dropped in fantasy leagues? It all depends on the league setup, of course, but in a 12-team league with daily lineups, three bench spots and no injured reserve it is probably time to let them go.
Thanks to the NBA lockout, the 2011-12 fantasy season is only 18 weeks long compared to the normal 25. For leagues with playoffs that run 3-4 weeks, that leaves just 14-15 weeks of regular season fantasy basketball. With Randolph, who could easily be out until March with a tear in his MCL, a fantasy team would be forced to play a man down for over half the fantasy season. If you are having trouble keeping your team afloat during that time, then it's time to drop the injured star and find a replacement.
Dropping an All-Star caliber player is always a tough decision, especially since the available players on the typical waiver wire will not come close to replacing the production of someone like Ginobili or Randolph. But during a season where the average NBA team plays nearly four games a week, it is a move that could mean the difference between making the fantasy playoffs or missing out due to injuries and missed games.
What injuries have fantasy owners twisting in the wind? Here is an update:
Given the Warriors' schedule this week (they play at home on Tuesday and Thursday before heading to Charlotte to play the Bobcats), the earliest that Curry can be expected to return to the lineup is next Saturday at Charlotte. However, it is likely that he misses more than one week if he and his doctors decide to fully rest that ankle before stepping back on the court.
Rookie Charles Jenkins has been starting at point guard in Curry's absence, but has only seen around 10 minutes a game as a starter. Nate Robinson, who the Warriors signed this past week, has been getting the bulk of Curry's minutes. While Robinson won't make disgruntled owners forget about Curry, he is not afraid to shoot the ball and is worth a look in 12-plus team leagues if you need a scorer.
Gary Neal has taken over the starting spot for Ginobili during the Spurs' last two games and has averaged 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 threes over that span. Neal is primarily a shooter and he'll be a great source of threes while Ginobili is out. Danny Green also exploded for 24 points off the bench for the Spurs on Saturday. Even if Green can't duplicate that shooting performance again, he is still in line for a lot of minutes off the Spurs' bench and is worth a look in deeper leagues.
If Lopez's recovery stays on schedule, he will return to the court sometime between the beginning and middle of February, or around Week 6 or 8 of the fantasy basketball season.
Dante Cunningham has started the Grizzlies' last three games at power forward and has averaged an anemic 4.3 points and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes over those games. He shouldn't be owned in any leagues with 14 teams or less. The Grizzlies also signed Marreese Speights to provide depth at the position. Speights makes an intriguing speculation pickup: his per-30 minute averages are 14.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and a block a game. Of course, the real life results have not been nearly as encouraging: Speights played just five minutes in his first game with the team and is expected to eventually split time at the position with Cunningham.