Fantasy Basketball: Tanking season officially begins in NBA
TO Alex Baruta, RotoWire
Special for Sportzshala Sports
This is really starting to feel like the last stretch of the NBA season. One look at injury reports will tell you why, and several teams at the bottom of the standings are fielding starting fives with names that most casual fans have never heard of. We also sometimes provide a day off for the star players of competing squads.
Excessive injuries can make it difficult to navigate individual listings, but it also opens up plenty of streaming opportunities for fantastic managers who keep up with the news. Staying active on the failure wire can mean the difference between winning and losing at this point in the year.
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Let’s take a look at some of the latest NBA news and notes:
Ja Morant enters the counseling program
Morant left for Florida to attend a counseling program and still cannot return. The Grizzlies are updating his availability in multi-game stretches, with the latest update saying the point guard will be out until at least Wednesday’s game against the Heat.
It’s understandable if fantasy managers want to keep Morant, but you have to evaluate where you are in the standings and how long your league has lasted. If you’re in contention and your league ends before April, it’s probably best to move on, especially since some reporters like Mark Spears think Morant “[won’t] play the rest of the season while he takes care of himself.”
Maybe it’s too late now, but make sure Tyus Jones is still unavailable in the failure transaction. Over Morant’s last five absences, Jones averaged 17.4 points, 7.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals, plus just 1.8 assists. Follow David Roddy also, who averaged 21.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks over his last two games.
It’s officially tank season
Over the past week, the number of names in NBA injury reports has skyrocketed. Sure, many players deal with legitimate injuries as bodies break down at the end of the season, but some absences are more suspect. A great example is the Pacers-Pistons game on Monday night. Players who watched 30+ minutes include Andrew Nembhard, Jordan Nwora, Eugene Omoruyi, Rodney McGruder And Corey Joseph.
Detroit, Charlotte, San Antonio and Houston remain at the bottom of the rankings, while Indiana, Utah and Oklahoma City are on guard. Orlando and Portland are also struggling but have not reported any suspicious injuries recently.
While this moment of the year is frustrating for fantasy managers, you can take advantage of it if you’re smart. This is the best time of the season for streaming, especially if you can target relatively anonymous players a week with four games that are set for bloated roles.
Jabari Smith Putting It Together
The rookie struggled almost the entire season, with a 40/31/79 shot split. However, he has been looking more comfortable and aggressive lately.
Smith hit double figures in six straight games – his longest streak, which was actually the first six games of his career. During that run, he averaged 18.7 points on 59/54/79 shooting, 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 combined steals plus blocks in 34.2 minutes. His last three games are noteworthy as he has 74 points, 33 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and four blocks.
If someone in your league dropped Smith, it’s worth picking it up. Many rookies over the years figured it all out in March and April, helped by some opposition defenses that tried less than usual.
Other players with notable success
Nick Richards, Hornets
with starting center Mark Williams Out indefinitely with a sprained right thumb, Richards took the position. In the last two games, Richards had 24 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists and 8 blocks in 62 minutes. While Williams is out, Richards should be listed in many leagues.
Jaden Hardy and Josh Green, Mavericks
With both Kyrie Irving (leg) and Luka Doncic (thigh) dropped out in the last two games, Hardy and Green took over the offense. Hardy had 50 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. Green had 44 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. They’re decent streaming options while Irving and/or Doncic are on hold.
Talen Horton-Tucker, Jazz
Don’t be surprised if Horton-Tucker gives you a quad double this season (points, rebounds, assists, losses). WITH Colleen Sexton And Jordan Clarkson each missed the last four games, the offense was at the hands of THT with the signing of a 10-day contract. Chris Dunn going into action, too.
In these last four contests, THT has averaged 22.5 points on 40/38/89 shots, 7.5 dimes, 5.3 boards, 1.0 steals and 4.0 assists in 30.8 minutes. He has been playing well since joining the starting XI on February 23rd. You probably just can’t list it unless you’re losing momentum.
Pacers players and Pistons players
I just mix these two commands together. As mentioned in the tanking section of this article, many guys on both rosters have been promoted in the past two games due to excessive injury reporting. Keep an eye on the situation over the next few games and double-check the failure wiring. From both teams James Wiseman And Isaiah Jackson have the most potential, but Wiseman deserves the most credit (a sentence I thought I would never write).