Fantasy Basketball: James Harden suffers injury, and more for Week 16
By Nick Whalen, RotoWire
Especially for Yahoo Sports
By week 16, most of the league played about 50 games, which means we'll only be playing about 75 percent of the 2020-21 season by the end of the week. As the rankings of both conferences gradually grow together, there is still much to be decided in both fantasy and reality.
Injuries are still the main factor behind the creation of the fantasy landscape. Big names like Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Zion Williamson, Domantas Sabonis and Kristaps Porzingis are missing lately. Defending champions Los Angeles Lakers are still without LeBron James and Anthony Davis while the Nets - who may have lost James Harden to hamstring deterioration Monday night - eagerly await the return of Kevin Durant.
Meanwhile, bottom-feeders like Orlando, Houston and Oklahoma City apparently have half of their game-to-game rosters listed in the injury report. This resulted in an increased chance for multiple young players, but rotations are increasingly difficult to predict as the focus shifts directly to lottery positioning and player development.
As we look around the league, we'll be meeting some of these young players to oversee and review the NBA's top fantasy storylines:
James Harden pinched his hamstring early ...
... in the game against the Knicks on Monday evening, which forces him out after just four minutes of action. The Achilles tendon caused Harden to miss two games early in April, but an MRI cleared him of real damage. At this point it is unclear whether Harden actually injured the Achilles tendon or whether he was simply pulled due to persistent discomfort. In any case, the title-oriented networks can prevent him from some games as a precaution. UPDATE: An MRI revealed thigh strain for Harden. It will be reevaluated in 10 days.
Kevin Durant missed the game on Monday but could be back anytime next week. The networks play Wednesday (against NOR) and Saturday (against LAL) to wrap up Week 16 with three games. Whenever Durant returns, he'll almost certainly be kept out of half of the back-to-back sets. Brooklyn has four more games in a row - the first arriving April 20th and 21st. UPDATE: Kevin Durant will be back on the team against the Pelicans on Wednesday.
LaMarcus Aldridge started all three appearances with his new team and played at least 26 minutes in each game. In 28.0 minutes, Aldridge puts on 10.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steal per game. As of Tuesday, he will be represented in almost 80 percent of the Yahoo Fantasy leagues.
Before the game against Charlotte, the Thunder on Wednesday ...
... listed eight players in the injury report, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot) and Al Horford (shut down). Regular starter Darius Bazley (shoulder) hasn't played since the All-Star break, while Lu Dort (concussion) has missed eight of the last 12 games. Many of the young players - Theo Maledon, Moses Brown, and Isaiah Roby - have turned out to be viable fantasy contributors, especially in deeper formats.
Brown has slowed down a bit lately, but he was the most valuable of the three. Maledon and Roby were less consistent, which makes them more useful as DFS flyers than weekly starters in standard leagues. Meanwhile, Svi Mykhailiuk, Kenrich Williams and Aleksej Pokusevski have also taken on bigger roles since the break. In his last seven games, Pokusevski averaged 14.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.1 threes and 1.3 blocks.
On Monday, the Thunder signed Jaylen Hoard on a two-way contract and Justin Robinson on a 10-day contract.
The heat is 2-0 with Victor Oladipo in the lineup ...
... but he struggled through his first two appearances. Oladipo finished his debut against the Warriors on Thursday with just six points (2-8 FG), three rebounds, five assists and two steals in 23 minutes. He followed with eight points (3-13 FG), a rebound, five assists, two steals and four turnovers in 30 minutes against Cleveland on Saturday. The shooting was to come despite Oladipo scoring only 41.1 percent of his field attempts in 29 games with Indiana.
Robert Williams was a top 25 fantasy player ...
... since the All-Star break, an average of 11.0 points, 8.9 boards, 3.2 assists, 2.7 blocks and 0.9 steals, while 74 percent of his field goals were achieved. In a win against Houston on Friday, Williams nearly scored a triple-double, getting 20 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and two blocks in just 26 minutes.
The Hornets lost Gordon Hayward ...
... got a sprained ankle over the weekend and is expected to miss about a month of action. The injury prevents a good year to catch up for Hayward, who for the first time since 2012-13 averages 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.2 steals and more than 40 percent from depth (41.5% 3PT) shoots.
Charlotte was destroyed by Boston on Sunday (a loss of 116-86), so we couldn't imagine exactly how the Sans Hayward rotation would play out over the next few weeks. Miles Bridges started in his place but ended with just 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes. Bridges should benefit most from this, but he's already averaged 26.5 minutes per game since the All-Star hiatus.
Also buyout Andre Drummond ...
... suffered a right toe injury in his first game at the Lakers (Wednesday against MIL), which forced him to miss both of the team's games over the weekend. However, there is hope that the big man can play against Toronto on Tuesday. The Lakers start a 10-game fight that also includes matchups against Miami, Brooklyn, New York, Charlotte, Boston, Utah (twice) and Dallas (twice).
Frank Vogel reiterated on Monday that Anthony Davis is "still a long way off" from returning to the game. Tuesday marks seven full weeks since his last appearance.
Lonzo Ball returned ...
... after an absence of seven games on Sunday in Houston and without missing a blow. Ball played without restrictions (37 minutes) and ended with 27 points, nine assists, four rebounds and three steals. He hit a season high of six turnovers, but Ball has also lost the top eight three-point points of his career.
Lonzo Ball returned when the injured pelicans needed him most. (AP Photo / Matthew Hinton)
In other feedback, D’Angelo Russell ...
... was back on the ground for the Timberwolves on Monday evening. Russell finished the 116-106 win over Sacramento with 25 points (7-19 FG, 4-7 3Pt, 7-9 FT), five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block off the bench in 24 minutes.
The number one fantasy player since the All-Star hiatus? Karl Anthony Cities. After missing 20 of the Wolves' first 24 games, Towns is once again one of the most dominant big men in the NBA. In his last 15 games, he averaged 27.3 points, 11.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.3 blocks and 2.9 threesomes with a 48-40-85 line of fire.
Jrue Holiday caught fire in Milwaukee ...
... when he finished week 15 with an average of 26.8 points, 8.5 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 2.8 threes and 0.8 blocks in four games. Since returning to the starting grid on March 11, Holiday has held a 54-44-90 shooting line (12 games). During this time he is one of the top 10 fantasy values.
The Clippers have officially added DeMarcus Cousins ...
... over the weekend, the 30-year-old tall man signed a 10-day contract. The Clippers are the sixth team of the Cousins since the start of the 2016-17 season. His 25-game stint in Houston was mostly disappointing, though he had a few nights when he turned back the clock and looked like the player who got the fantasy first round (value per game) value every year from 2013-14 to 2017. returned. 18th
Wendell Carter's last three games:
18.7 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 12 of 14 FT, 33.3 MPG. With Khem Birch in Denver on Sunday, Carter finished the race with 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block. Birch will likely be active for Wednesday's matchup against Washington, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Steve Clifford hands the job over to Carter the rest of the way.
In other Magic news, Cole Anthony returned to training Tuesday and is considered questionable for Wednesday night. The 15th overall win in 2020 has not played since the broken rib on February 9 in Portland.
Aaron Gordon had his best game ...
... in a Nuggets uniform Sunday that ended Denver's sixth straight win with 24 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 35 minutes. In Thursday's win against the Clippers, Gordon scored 14 points, six boards, six assists, three steals and two blocks in 39 minutes.
For the first time this season, Kevin Love did the unthinkable:
Play three games in a row. Since his return against Philly on Thursday, Love's workload has gradually increased from 20 to 23 to 26 minutes. After a 10-point and 10-rebound double-double Saturday in Miami, Love finished Monday's win against San Antonio with nine points, eight boards, three assists and two steals. In the three games, Love is a combined 6-of-17 out of three.
Darius Garland hit a career high of 37 points in Monday's victory, hitting five three-point points and adding seven assists. Garland's first career with 30 points took place in his 100th NBA game.
One newcomer to watch out for: Toronto's Malachi Flynn
After Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet paused, the San Diego state product has scored 16 points in each of the last two games. He finished Monday's win against Washington with 16 points, six boards, four rebounds, four steals, three blocks and two three-pointers in 34 minutes. Flynn's run could be short-lived, but both Lowry and VanVleet have already been excluded from Tuesday's game against the Lakers.
In this article:
Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans
Oklahoma City Thunder
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