Jameer Nelson: Bill Frakes/SI
Averaging 16.7 points, 5.4 dimes, 2.9 treys and 50 percent from the field, Jameer Nelson was enjoying his finest season as a pro. It was good enough to earn him a spot in the All-Star Game. But when he tore a labrum on Feb. 3, his season came to a screeching halt, and it appeared that the Magic's hope of winning an NBA title died that day, too.
Four months later, though, the Magic have upset the Cavs and are set to face the Lakers in the finals. There's also been talk about the possibility of Nelson seeing some game action.
Will he actually play? He has been practicing, which is a good sign. But Nelson said he'd need a "miracle" to happen. I think it's unlikely we'll see him at all, but if he and the organization believe he can hit the court for 10-15 minutes without aggravating his surgically repaired joint, he could make an appearance if the series stretches out to six or seven games.
Injuries are nothing new to Nelson, who has missed 81 games in his first five seasons, so be sure to factor that in when drafting your team next fall. He'll still have solid upside, but it will come with significant risk.
The Celtics announced last week that Kevin Garnett underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right knee. This was a minor procedure from which he should be fully recovered in six to eight weeks.
It turns out that the spurs were detected prior to the '08-09 season, but they let it go because he could play through them. This was completely unrelated to the sprained tendon in the same joint that sidelined him for the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
KG should be at full strength when next season gets underway. But what exactly is full strength for a 33-year-old big man who has 14 seasons of wear and tear on his body?
I jumped off the KG fantasy train as soon as it stopped in Boston because of his age and the fact that he finally had teammates who were good enough to dent his statistical output. In this, his second campaign with the C's, Garnett averaged a pedestrian 15.8 points, 2.5 assists, 8.5 boards, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals.
I'd be completely shocked if he improves on those stats next season or beyond. He'd be a quality middle-round option, but someone in your league will take him based solely on his name and legacy long before you reach that stage.
When J.R. Smith arrived in Denver three seasons ago, George Karl's hairline must have been a few inches closer to his forehead than it is today. Smith's frantic, chuck-it, play-no-D approach to balling made Karl pull out numerous hairs from his ever-receding hairline.
But Karl reached some sort of realization late this season that he could live with the bad side of the chucker -- because the points Smith could rack up helped the Nuggets win games.
It's kind of like the deal with the devil that fantasy folks make with a guy who kills your FG% by shooting in the low-40s but can score 20-plus points and 2-plus treys. We take the good and deal with the bad.
To that end, Karl said that Smith likely will start next season for the Nugs. Now you have to take that statement with a grain of salt, since Karl's notorious for having a dog house and a short fuse. So he could easily change his mind 10 times between now and the end of next season.
On the other hand, Smith has been much smarter with the rock this season and played some quality defense from time to time. If he keeps up that trend and gets starters' minutes, he could well end up producing Ben Gordon numbers, only with a better FG% and many more treys.
Ben Wallace: John W. McDonough/SI
As soon as the Cavs were pushed aside by the Magic, Ben Wallace hinted that he may retire. A lot of players say things in the heat of battle or after losing said battle, so there's still a very good chance that he'll be around next season -- particularly since he has $14 million left on the final year of his contract.
In fantasy terms, Big Ben basically retired when he left Detroit to sign a monster deal with the Bulls, because his statistical production all but vanished. But let's take a look back at the incredible run he had as a defense-only star in Fantasyland.
Wallace went undrafted out of Virginia Union, and aside from averaging a little over eight rebounds during his third and fourth seasons was a complete non-factor. In his first season with the Pistons, though, he tapped the power of the 'fro and averaged 13.2 boards, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals during the '00-01 run.
Big Ben maxed out his rebounding two seasons later at 15.4 per game -- and the season prior averaged a career-best 3.5 blocks. Twice (in '03-04 and '05-06), Wallace averaged a career-high 1.8 steals per game.
He'll go down in fantasy hoops history as one of only a couple of players who were top-end studs who never once averaged 10 points in a season.