NBA Fantasy Lab: Time to pounce on injured players has come
The year was 1987 and an award-winning commercial featured a young
Years later in 1996, a Guinness beer commercial later dubbed the "Best Beer Commercial Ever" promised, "Good things come to those who wait." The idea behind this ad was to reverse negative consumer opinion of the average two-minute process it takes a bartender to properly pour a pint of the tasty Irish stout. It's hard to argue against that notion with 10 million glasses of Guinness enjoyed per day.
The message in each campaign echoes the sage proverb "patience is a virtue." Clearly this is great advice, with practical application in fantasyland when it comes to injured players. If you are able to remain patient and wait out a productive yet injured player's lengthy absence, you will often be rewarded come playoff time.
But who is worthy of a wait? And whom should you cut loose? More important, when is the right time to add an injured free agent to your roster, especially at the expense of a healthy player who is producing in the meantime? Unfortunately, there is no overarching steadfast rule, as is often the case when dealing with injuries -- or pretty much anything else in fantasy basketball for that matter.
Waiting obviously worked out for
While the messages from the commercials are useful,
The Lab will never forget
Griffin is this year's Roy. Even though he has yet to play an NBA game, the Lab has zero doubt that Griffin will provide an immediate impact upon his return and will be playing at an incredibly high level come March and April.
And since we're talking Sixers, now is the time to make your move for this second-year stud. Coming off a partially torn left MCL, Speights is ahead of schedule and is already practicing. He's saying things like his left knee feels just like his right knee, which is about as reassuring as it can get. Already playing more minutes than
Sticking with the big men, Biedrins is due back in a week, possibly two, depending on his soreness level after testing out his, um, pelvis in practice. The Lab has seen the injury listed many ways, either as a back, groin or abdomen injury, when in reality his injury has been diagnosed as "osteitis pubis," an injury most common to rugby or Australian rules football players. The recovery time is usually four-to-six weeks, but the pain can linger for much longer. Even with the possibility of more missed time in the future, Biedrins needs to be rostered due to Golden State's severe lack of big men. For reasons not known to the sane (i.e. not
A lighting rod of controversy both in Chicago and across fantasyland, Thomas has the power to enrage or elate his fans, owners and loathers when he's playing. The situation in Chicago is a mess, and
Wrist surgery to repair a hairline fracture has kept Martin out for several weeks and will likely keep him out several more. He's due for a CT scan on Dec. 30 and then it will probably be two more weeks until he's back in live action. That said, if he's on your wire, you need to scoop him up right now. Even if the five games he played this year is a small sample size, you can't let 30.6 ppg, 3.4 3pg and 85.7 FT% on 9.8 FTA sit there unclaimed, no matter how small your league. There's little doubt those numbers will shrink some, but paired with a dynamic force in
The hardest player to accurately assess on this list, Granger is a top-five fantasy stud when healthy. The injury he suffered -- torn right plantar fascia near his heel -- isn't an easy one to recover from. Right now Granger may speak optimistically about coming back early, but he has no way of knowing that and is almost assuredly going to be wrong considering the overly generous four-week timetable haphazardly being tossed about. The recovery time is more likely to be double or even triple that if, you know, history and non-team doctors have anything to say about it (7-12 weeks). That means he should be back at minimum anywhere from just before the All-Star break to sometime in March.
There's no doubt Granger can carry your team in the playoffs if he makes a full recovery, but will anybody want him playing if Indy is out of the playoff picture in March? How effective will he be after such a long layoff? And will he be capable of playing in back-to-back games, or subject to the soul-crushing random DNP in your playoffs?
In the Lab's main league, Granger was dealt a week after his injury from the first place team, who subsequently lost 8-1 in his absence, to a team on the fringe of the playoffs for players of near equal value but not quite. The thinking here is that the first-place team gets immediate relief and stays relevant with the production from the players he received, while also putting all of the risk on the fringe team. The fringe team gambled that he'll be back on the shorter end of the spectrum and will be able to tread water long enough that when Granger returns, he can ascend the team to new heights not possible before and possibly lead him to a championship. Take from that what you will, but if the Lab had to make a call, they'd prefer to jump ship and let Granger's waiting game be someone else's problem. By no means can you cut him, but if you can find decent value in return with a trade, you have to give serious thought to making the move.
A fringe fantasy player at best when healthy, Prince's best fantasy asset was his ability to stay healthy and play every game of his career. Now that that streak is over and other players are filling his void (
An energizer bunny and electric scorer off the bench, Barbosa was struggling mightily this year with injuries to both wrists before a severely sprained ankle sidelined him. Due back a little after Christmas, Barbosa's three-point ability isn't needed in the same way as it was before he was injured, thanks to the emergence of
Hopefully you cut the cord when the back surgery was announced, if you hadn't already. No need to hold onto a fringe player like Fernandez.
Early rumors of his return this year were quickly dismissed by GM
Two years ago, Brand worked hard to come back form an Achilles tendon tear and managed to play six meaningless games for the lottery-bound Clippers. Why? He was an impending free agent who needed to prove he was healthy enough to warrant a big-money contract. Brand did enough to trick the Sixers into giving him a ridiculously huge contract and cost the Lab a fantasy championship that year. Yao has reportedly given indications he won't be opting out of his contract after this year, and Morey won't foolishly let him play after reconstructive foot surgery, especially with just one more year left on the deal after this season.
Keeper leaguers, it's not worth it. There are other fish in the sea. Dynasty leaguers, maybe, given how young he still is. But do you want to rest the fortunes of another season on his porcelain-like knees? The Lab wouldn't.