The content below provides you with a projected outlook on some of the NBA’s most notable fantasy producers this yea,r as they attempt to work their way back from significant injuries. For those players who will remain out of commission at the start of the regular season, we look to highlight their prospective replacements, and how likely they are to produce. — Injuries can devastate a fantasy squad, but it’s a necessary evil that we’re all forced to cope with. So if that’s the case, why not prepare yourself for the inevitable? This column serves as a tool in order to help safeguard yourself from those dilemmas.
Bounce Back Candidates & Injuries/Replacement for the 2013-14 Season:
Injured. We can’t start a bounce back column without focusing on the biggest star that was injured last season, Kobe Bryant (Lakers, SG). Most people would agree that you bet against Bryant at your own peril. He is six months post-injury and, depending on whom you believe, could play opening night. At most, he probably doesn’t miss more than 15-20 games. He’s a steal in drafts right now, and this injury should not take away any of his jump shooting ability or basketball acumen. Plus, 60 games and 22ppg, 6apg and 5rpg are all within his reach.
Replacement. There may be no need for a replacement, but if Bryant is out then his minutes will go to Jodie Meeks (Lakers, SG) and Xavier Henry (Lakers, SG). The other potential beneficiary is Nick Young (Lakers, SF). Young is a scorer, but he doesn’t stuff the box score. He has limited fantasy upside and is not a particularly good shooter. With his high FT%, you would think he’d shoot over 45% from the field but has not yet done it in the NBA. Meeks and Henry are both unproven commodities. In summary, look elsewhere if it becomes necessary.
Injured. The next huge star coming back from injury is Derek Rose (Bulls, PG). It’s hard to believe (sore knee or not) that he’s not 100% healthy. Everything points to Rose having a huge bounce back year, and he is a leading candidate for comeback player of year while averaging 22ppg, 8.5apg and 4rpg.
Replacement. There is no replacement needed, he’s back.
Injured. Russell Westbrook (Thunder, PG) is going to miss time at the beginning of the season due to ongoing knee issues. When healthy there are maybe one or two PG’s in the league that are as dynamic as him. However, it’s hard to predict what he’ll look like for the first 20-25 games when he returns to the court. With a capable back-up (see below) you’d think they take it slow with Westbrook and gear for the playoffs. Top of the draft talent but how many games do you lose?
Replacement. Based on last year’s playoffs and the preseason Reggie Jackson (Thunder, PG) looks ready to take the reins while Russell Westbrook recuperates. Jackson can post numbers similar to what was seen at the end of last year. With the fast paced Thunder and plethora of PG scoring opportunities he should be able to average 15ppg, 6apg and 4rpg while he starts for the first quarter of the season.
Injured. Rajon Rondo (Celtics, PG) provides an excellent foundation for a fantasy team. He has delivered in multiple categories throughout his career with assists and steals being the strongest. Rondo won’t be back until a couple of months into the season. Once he’s back, however, he should be able to produce numbers similar to his past performance. He may even improve offensively now that more will be required of him.
Replacement. Is Avery Bradley (Celtics, PG) a star in the making or is he a really good back-up? At this point, he seems more like a defensive stopper who will get steals but defer to others on the offensive end. People should steer toward other options if they can.
Injured. Kevin Love (T-Wolves, PF) should have no issues returning to the points and rebounds double double threat that he is every night. On top of that he’s an excellent three point shooter and a no doubt first round pick. No need to have the replacement talk.
Injured. Danilo Gallinari (Nuggets, SF) has a funny looking game. Nothing seems very smooth when he’s on the court, but he’s a fantastic shooter and has a lot of grit and size for his position. The problem is that he’ll miss a substantial amount of time this season. He should not be drafted.
Replacement. Wilson Chandler (Nuggets, SF) has shown ability since he was with the Knicks. Now, he is going to start for the Nuggets and there is ample opportunity for him to post career numbers. 16ppg, 5rpg and 2.5apg are achievable at least until Gallinari returns and maybe for even longer.
Injured. John Wall (Wizards, PG) is poised for a break-out year. He looks healthy and is playing at a high level this preseason. There is every reason to believe that he is on target for 19ppg, 8.5apg, 4rpg and 1.0spg. The combination of Wall and Bradley Beal (Wizards, SG) should be explosive.
Replacement. None needed.
Injured. The Pelicans are an interesting squad now and Eric Gordon (Pelicans, SG) can be a primary beneficiary of an improved squad. When healthy (always key), he is a dynamic scorer with a good FG% and also contributes rebounds and assists.
Replacement. The protection if Gordon cannot play a full season is Tyreke Evans (Pelicans, SF). Evans is a multi-talented player that can do it all on the floor.
Injured. Carl Landry (Kings, PF) just went down with a hip injury and is expected to miss over half the season. His solid offensive game and rebounding will be missed by the Kings but Landry wasn’t ever going to be more than a late round pick.
Replacement. Neither Jason Thompson (Kings, PF) (the presumptive starter) nor Patrick Patterson (Kings, PF) will create much excitement this year. It’s rumored that Thompson would have started even if Landry wasn’t hurt, but he is what he is. Over five seasons he’s proven capable of averaging 10ppg and 6-7rpg. That’s all you should expect. Patterson will be a back-up.
There is a lot of talent in the body of Danny Granger (Pacers, SF). Despite dealing with a knee injury all of last year, you have to incorporate some of the track record he developed over the previous five years in evaluating him. Prior to his injury, he was good for 19 – 25ppg, 5rpg, 2.5apg and 1spg. Plus, he’s an excellent FT shooter. My gut feeling is that he returns to being part of the rotation, and the Pacers find a way to exploit his ability. He’s a potential late round steal. A championship team needs three stars and he can still be one of them for the Pacers.
Ricky Rubio (T-Wolves, PG) is also returning from injury and with Kevin Love should help turn around the fortunes of the Timberwolves this year. Rubio is as pure a point guard as you’ll find, he can post 10+apg, 12ppg, 4rpg and 2+spg. He is a break-out candidate if he can straighten out his shooting from the field.
Eric Bledsoe (Suns, SG) hasn’t really had an opportunity to be a go to guy before but this is his chance. The Suns are begging for someone to fill up the stat sheet. Bledsoe should be able to double his point’s production and put 16ppg, 4rpg, 3apg and 1spg on the board on a nightly basis. He could even explode into fantasy all-star territory on that team.
Pau Gasol (Lakers, PF) oozes basketball talent, and it’s easy to see that the game comes easy to him. Even though he may be rightly or wrongly labeled soft, his talent will allow him to put up 18ppg, 10rpg and 1.5bpg this year. Last year’s slide was an aberration.
Thomas Robinson (Blazers, PF) is in a word rugged and has shown serious rebounding ability at times. If he can get on the court regularly he will get rebounds and should be adept around the basket. Houston wasn’t the right fit for him and Sacramento was a bad situation. Portland should provide opportunities for him inside.
Nerlens Noels (76ers, C) is an interesting potential late round draft choice or waiver wire pick up if your team is looking for blocks and rebounds. He’s too thin and offensively challenged at the NBA level, but he does a couple of things very well.
Evan Turner (76ers, PG) is a little bit of an enigma so far in his career. He’s been in the league three years and was a high draft pick but hasn’t delivered to this point. This year the 76ers are desperate for points and playmaking and Turner should be able to deliver. My belief is that Turner will improve his FG% while also averaging over 15ppg, 7rpg, 4.5apg and 1spg. He is a mid to late round value pick since people are focusing on Thaddeus Young (76ers, PF) as the fantasy stud on that team.
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Posted by: Mike Comerford