Injuries continue to dominate the fantasy basketball landscape in both positive and negative ways, shuffling up the rest-of-season rankings once more.
Big-name stars such as Myles Turner and Kawhi Leonard remain without timetables to return, which sends their rest-of-season fantasy stocks plummeting for the time being. Until fantasy owners receive more clarity on when to expect each player back, both remain must-owns, although some skittish owners may be inclined to sell low to avoid having to fret about any further setbacks.
On the other hand, a few players recently made their returns from lengthy injury-related absences, much to the delight of fantasy owners who had the patience to stash them. Zach LaVine and Tim Hardaway Jr. are ramping back up slowly, but it isn’t difficult to imagine either being a difference-maker down the stretch of the fantasy regular season and into the playoffs.
Here’s a look at updated rest-of-season rankings for owners in nine-category leagues. Below the rankings, check out some of the more notable risers and fallers from the past week.
Zach LaVine, PG/SG, Chicago Bulls: LaVine made his long-awaited debut for the Bulls on Saturday, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, three triples and two assists in 19 minutes against the Detroit Pistons. Two nights later, he added 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and two triples in an eight-point win over the Miami Heat. LaVine remains on a 20-minute limit with no fourth-quarter action, but Bulls executive vice president John Paxson said the team will review his playing time “on a weekly basis with the plan to increase his activity assuming no setbacks, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. With the Bulls also reportedly shopping Jerian Grant ahead of the NBA’s Feb. 8 trade deadline, per Johnson, those who stashed LaVine could have just walked into a top-75 rest-of-season option.
Myles Turner, PF/C, Indiana Pacers: Turner made an appearance in our weekly panic meter in early December, as a slower-than-expected start had him failing to return positive value based on his average draft position. Now, thanks to a ligament sprain and muscle strain in his right elbow that he suffered against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 8, the Pacers have already ruled him out for their upcoming four-game road trip and plan on listing him as week-to-week “depending on how quickly the injury heals.” Until the Pacers release a definitive timeline, his upside is too high for owners to consider dropping him outright, but he plunges in the rest-of-season rankings for the time being.
Tim Hardaway Jr., SF, New York Knicks: After missing 20 games with a stress reaction in his left tibia, Tim Hardaway Jr. made his long-awaited return last Wednesday, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting, four 3-pointers, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 25 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Two nights later, he poured in 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and two treys in a five-point loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. He missed Monday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets since it was the second night of a back-to-back, but barring any setbacks, he’s again looking like a top-75 option moving forward.
Zach Randolph, PF, Sacramento Kings: The Kings’ long-expected youth movement appears to be underway, much to the detriment of Randolph’s rest-of-season value. According to Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento, head coach Dave Joerger announced Monday that he’d be resting two veterans in every game moving forward, which began with Randolph and Vince Carter sitting out Monday night’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. While that’s music to the ears of those who have Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere and De’Aaron Fox on their rosters, Z-Bo owners in 10- or 12-team leagues may want to consider cutting bait, as he’s no longer a top-100 option moving forward.
Lauri Markkanen, PF/C, Chicago Bulls: Though Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis continue to challenge him for playing time, Markkanen has only strengthened his grip on his starting gig in recent weeks. His 33-point, 10-rebound, eight-triple outing against the New York Knicks last Monday was the highlight, but he entered Wednesday riding an 11-game streak with 10 or more points. The Finnisher’s rest-of-season outlook could be even brighter after the trade deadline, as Mirotic reportedly still wants out of Chicago, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Jahlil Okafor, C, Brooklyn Nets: When the Nets traded for Okafor in early December, I speculated he could have a middle-round ceiling once his worked his way into his new team’s rotation and supplanted Tyler Zeller in the starting lineup. Nearly a month-and-a-half later, that still has yet to happen. After sitting out all but one of his first 14 games with Brooklyn as he worked his way back into game shape, Okafor is only playing a handful of minutes off the bench most nights. He could emerge as a late-season difference-maker if he begins carving out regular playing time, but he’s by no means a must-hold for the time being.
All ownership percentages via ESPN.com. All average draft position info via FantasyPros. All rankings via Basketball Monster are based on nine-category leagues and are current heading into Wednesday, Jan. 17.