Two fantasy experts, Tamer Chamma and Travor Lane, examine three players who have missed significant time this season due to injury. Can these players stay healthy and produce the rest of the year? Let the debate begin.
No Statistics to date.
A lot was expected of Griffin after being picked No. 1 overall in the draft this past June. He put together a strong Summer League which only added to the hype and expectations. Unfortunately, Griffin's star was suddenly dimmed right before the start of the season when it was discovered that he would be out up to six weeks with a stress fracture in his left knee. Six weeks has turned into eight weeks, though Griffin is expected to be back by the first week of January. Will fantasy owners regret holding onto Griffin or will their loyalty pay off with fantasy gold?
Tamer: Unlike the other two players we are going to take a look at, it is difficult to judge what production from Griffin would satisfy fantasy owners because he has never played a regular season game in the NBA. Based on his ADP of 72.3 in Yahoo! leagues, fantasy owners would probably want around 16 points, nine rebounds and a block per game with a 55 percent field goal percentage and a 60 percent free throw percentage. Will he be able to put up these numbers? Not a chance. Why? Well for starters Griffin will be returning to a logjam in the Clipper frontcourt. Chris Kaman, Al Thornton and Marcus Camby have all been playing well and have all remained healthy so far this season. Given how well these three have played and the fact that Mike Dunleavy will look to work his number one draft pick in very slowly, I do not see Griffin getting more than 25 -30 minutes a night for the rest of the season. This may change if say Camby or Kaman gets hurt, which is always a possibility, but as long as they stay healthy Griffin's minutes will be limited. I also think Griffin will struggle to meet fantasy owners' expectations because it will take some time for him to adjust to the NBA game especially coming off a knee injury. Rookies tend to struggle when completely healthy to acclimate themselves to the speed and physicality of the NBA game. Griffin's task is even more daunting because he needs to gain strength back in his knee and also play himself into game shape when the rest of the league has already shed the offseason rust. While I do think Griffin will ultimately be a dynamite fantasy player, it will not happen this season, so I have to give Griffin a Fool's Gold.
Trevor: I completely understand Tamer's decision to call Griffin Fool's Gold, and I have my doubts as well. However, after seeing Griffin in person during the preseason I can confidently say that he is a true beast and is going to give the Clippers a major boost when he gets back on the floor. What was particularly striking was how Griffin's presence on the floor changed the demeanor of his teammates. Whenever Blake got on the trampoline and threw down a dunk it gave a glimpse into the bright future of the Clippers. I know he is trying to join an already crowded front court but it is in L.A.'s best interest to give the number one overall pick all the minutes he can handle. If the Clippers have an eye on actually contending with the Lakers the best way to do that would be to land LeBron James this summer. If that is their goal then showing that Griffin will be a star is the best thing they can do to convince King James to sign up. He has the talent, he will get the minutes, and as long as his health holds up Blake Griffin will be a Mother Lode player.
Through 13 games: 28.4 MPG, 12.9 PPG, 43.4 FG%, 78.8 FT%, 18 3PM, 5.1 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG
After a tremendous first half of the 2008-09 season that earned him a spot on the Eastern Conference All Star team, Nelson's regular season was cut short in early February by a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Nelson's injury woes have continued this year and he has struggled to regain his All-Star form in the 13 games he has played in. Are the days of Jameer Nelson putting up All-Star caliber numbers over?
Tamer: Jameer Nelson was a revelation to fantasy owners last year until he suffered a regular season ending shoulder injury (he did return in the NBA Finals). In 42 games, he averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and two made threes per game. As if that weren't enough, he shot 50.3 percent from the field and 88.7 percent from the free throw line. Those are early third round numbers for a guy who was drafted in the middle rounds last year. He is off to a slow start this year and has already missed some time due to a knee injury but I think Nelson's All Star form will return within the next month. I wouldn't be too worried about Nelson's slow start this year before he injured his knee because he got off to a slow start last year only to turn it on in December and January. In addition, the shoulder injury and knee injury that Nelson suffered in 2009 were not significant enough to think that he can't make a full recovery. Finally, Nelson is 27 years old and has played in only 361 NBA games. He is entering his prime and should have no problem matching his numbers from last year once he gets back into playing shape after missing 16 games. I will admit that Nelson's recent injuries are a cause for concern but he did play in 287 out of a possible 328 games in his first four seasons in the NBA. That's not going to get him on any ironman lists but considering his production when he is on the court fantasy owners can deal with 10 missed games a season. He gets a Mother Lode from me.
Trevor: I was very high on Jameer Nelson heading into this season, but unfortunately it's time to slap the "injury prone" label on him. When he plays he can be a solid addition to any fantasy squad, but with two major injuries so close to each other it's tough to trust that he will be there night in and night out. Even when he was playing so far this year he just hasn't been the same player as he was last year. It's true that he likely isn't in playing shape, but this is fantasy basketball and it all comes down to the numbers. Either the guy is producing or he isn't. So far Nelson just hasn't lived up to expectations, and with the high likelihood of another injury putting him on the sideline I have to give Jameer a Fool's Gold.
Through 5 games: 41.8 MPG, 30.6 PPG, 42.3 FG%, 85.7 FT%, 17 3PM, 5.4 RPG, 2.6 APG, 2 SPG
Martin got off to a sizzling start this season until he broke his left wrist five games into the season. In his absence, rookie Tyreke Evans has come into his own and taken over for Martin as the alpha dog on the Kings. Will Martin be able to produce like he has in his first five plus seasons in the NBA when he returns or will the ascension of Evans cut into Martin's playing time and numbers?
Tamer: Before we get into any discussion about Martin's value when he returns, an expected level of production has to be established. Martin was simply off to a hot start before he got injured in early November. As a fantasy owner, you should be content if you get the production Martin provided in 2007-08 and 2008-09 for the rest of this season. What Martin's value will be the rest of the season depends on two factors; the presence of Tyreke Evans and Martin's injury history. As for the first factor, I do not foresee any problems with Evans and Martin coexisting. They play two different positions and have different offensive styles. Martin is more of an outside shooter while Evans is more of a slasher. If anything Evans ability to breakdown the defense should provide Martin with better scoring opportunities and a higher field goal percentage. Look for Martin to still score in the low 20's per game but with a field goal percentage on the north side of 45 percent. As for his injury history, much like Jameer Nelson, Martin has had a propensity to get injured over the last couple of years. He missed 21 games in 2007-08 and 31 games last season. I wouldn't consider this a problem for the rest of this season because Martin has already gotten his annual long term injury out of the ways. Over the last two seasons, Kev-Mart missed 22 games and 17 games early in the season only to stay relatively healthy in the second half of the season. He did miss the last three games of the season in 2007-08 and the last eight games in 2008-09 but that was because the Kings shut down him due to minor injuries because they were hopelessly out of the playoff picture. This year the Kings are in the mix for one of the last playoff spots even without Martin in the lineup for all but five games. Once he returns they should have no problem staying in the playoff hunt right down to the last few games of the season which means Martin will play through any nagging late season bumps and bruises. Since Martin should stay healthy in the second half of the year and thrive with Evans as his backcourt mate, I am giving him a Mother Lode.
Trevor: Kevin Martin aka "The other K-Mart" is a very intriguing fantasy player. He scores tons of points, hits threes, gets steals, and gets to the free throw line like crazy. If he were to continue to produce at the rate he was prior to his broken wrist his owners would have a top 10 quality player joining their squad. It's really too bad that it's not going to happen. For one thing Martin was playing way above his head before the injury. With a sample size larger than five games we should see his averages drop down to his still impressive levels from last year. However, the real killer is that he is incredibly brittle. He is currently working on a streak of three straight seasons with a max of 61 games per. To make matters worse he scores a lot of points by getting fouled and getting to the line, and those fouls take their toll. The odds are very high that this isn't the only trip Martin will be making to the IR this year. To me he's a very interesting option, and would be a great guy to pair with Dwight Howard's terrible free throw shooting, but for right now he gets Fool's Gold from me.
* All Stats up to date as of 12/23/09