Fantasy Basketball: Important Injury Storylines

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Carmelo Anthony

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

With the fantasy playoffs coming at us at breakneck speed, people are bound to get hurt. In this case, it’s mostly the players who are dealing with the pressure of a long season winding down, securing playoff standing, and shortened rotations. The added stress can take a toll on players’ bodies and ultimately rewrite the fantasy basketball landscape.

So, XN Sports brings you some injury-related storylines you should keep on your radar. For most, the trade deadline has passed, so trading players isn’t an option when readying for the playoffs, but it certainly helps to be prepared in the event of an emergency. It could mean a waiver wire change that you weren’t anticipating or exactly the opposite. In any case, keep your ear on these narratives.

Melo’s Bruised Hand Vs. Bruised Ego - Hurt players pushing their body to the limit, especially as a season is winding down, is always a recipe for disaster. For Carmelo Anthony, a shot-happy veteran who has to constantly carry the scoring load on a lackluster Knicks team, it’s a recipe for a world of pain.

His hand injury isn’t all that serious — he did suit up against the Bulls this Sunday — but it’ll definitely be something worth worrying over as the Knicks battle to get into the Eastern Playoffs. With Melo’s ego at stake, it’s doubtful he’ll see the needed rest time to get over the ailment and that hasn’t boded well for elite players this season.

All On George Hill‘s Shoulders? - Recent acquisitions of Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum could pay dividends for the Pacers but it all might be for naught if Hill can’t retain his health. He’s missed some games now with a shoulder injury he suffered during a Bucks game. Worse: an MRI has shown that it’s partly tied to an injury he suffered in 2011-12. Recurring injuries are never good, especially for a point guard playing alongside Lance Stephenson, Paul George, and Evan Turner — three ball-dominant wings.

Blessed By Bledsoe – Mini LeBron should be back any day now. That’s a relief for his fantasy owners and for the Sun’s offense which, as Grantland points out, outscores opponents by 8.1 points per 100 possessions when the double dragon tandem of Bledsoe and Dragic play together. He’ll take some time on the court to round up into form, but, it’s good to know that with Bledsoe back the supporting cast might see a nice offensive boost. The notion is usually that when dominant guards like Bledsoe return, everyone else’s stats suffer. That could certainly ring true for players like Gerald Green, who has made up Bledsoe’s minutes, and Dragic, who sees lower assists numbers with Bledsoe at his side, but in this scenario it might end up helping the efficiency of mid-round studs like Markieff Morris, Channing Frye, and P.J. Tucker.

Polish Hammer Time - The Polish Hammer, also known as Marcin Gortat, is shaping up to be a top-five center with Nene gone. That means that on top of his sky-high field goal percentages and his blocks/steals, he’s now contributing with more points and double-digit rebounds. With the Wizards on a mini-run, his play might only improve. So, if he’s on your roster, and you’re hurting in non-Gortat-providing categories like free throw percentage, threes, and assists, his recent surge could help you seek them out when you couldn’t before.

Nick Young Isn’t Feeling So Swaggy P - The court jester known as Swaggy P has been one of the Lakers’ prime fantasy options. There was a stretch in the season when Young hit double-digit scoring for a good 12 games straight. But his recovery from a knee injury isn’t going very well, with Lakers sources saying that his return isn’t anywhere near (this after already returning from a good deal of time off). Considering the news, the Lakers’ place as the worst team in the West, management’s plans for Young’s future, and their stable of wing talent, it might be time to abandon Young to the waiver wire.

The J.J. Redick Domino Effect – As reported in our sell-high, drop-high piece – J.J. Redick is dealing with a batch of injuries that the Clippers worry will put him out for the rest of the season. It’s time to drop-high on the sniper.

But his absence opens up a number of opportunities on a wing-heavy Clippers team.

First, Jamal Crawford gets to play hero on the starting lineup. For the past 15 games, Crawford has averaged 23.2 points, 3.0 assists, and 3.8 three-pointers as a starter.

Second, it opens up minutes for reserve Matt Barnes who is starting to look like a nice late-season add. In the past seven contests, he’s racking up 15.3 points, 2.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 3.3 three-pointers, and is getting about 31 minutes of action.

If either of the two are hit by injury, as Crawford has been for a couple of games, Darren Collison becomes a nice streamer, offering steals, assists, and threes. Where Redick doesn’t eat, Crawford, Barnes and C0llison come to dine.

Bogar Alonso is a dedicated student of the hardwood, soccer pitch, boxing ring, and tennis court. He is a regular NBA contributor to XN Sports. His work, involving more than just sports, has appeared on The Creators Project, A&E Networks, XXL Magazine, and others. Follow Bogar on Twitter @blacktiles
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