Welcome to 2018, a year where NBA players finally start staying healthy consistently … I couldn’t even type that with a straight face. We begin the new year with James Harden going down for several weeks. With his injury, now eight of the pre-season top-20 players have missed significant time so far this season. Significant time, meaning more than just a couple of games. When will it stop? Hopefully soon. I’m tired of my phone getting blown up with injury notifications. I get it, half my team is a game-time decision every night. Stop reminding me.
Streaming will be a little more challenging this week as five teams play only one or two games. For some reason, the NBA felt the need to schedule a game in London between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics. Due to having to travel across the pond, this game in London will be each team’s only game this fantasy week.
Games Played by Team This Week
4 Games: BKN, DEN, GSW, IND, LAC, MIL, MIN, NOP, POR, SAC, TOR.
3 Games: ATL, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DET, HOU, LAL, MIA, NYK, OKC, ORL, SAS, WAS.
2 Games: MEM, PHO, UTA.
1 Game: BOS, PHI. (Playing each other in London on Thursday)
Delon Wright (PG/SG – TOR)
How does a stat line of 25 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, four steals, four three-pointers, and a block sound? Pretty damn good, right? Well, that’s exactly what Wright did last Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls. Granted, that was by far his best game of the season, but that just shows the kind of potential Wright possesses. When he gets 20+ minutes, you can expect a strong all-around stat line.
Wright is another per36 minute beauty that I love to mention. His per36 stats so far this season are 15.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 1.2 three-pointers. Those stats would easily be good enough for top-50 value, and likely borderline top-25. With Kyle Lowry battling a nagging wrist injury, Wright should continue to see 20+ minutes a night moving forward. Don’t expect many of those stat lines from the Chicago game, but Wright needs to be added where he’s available for his all-around contributions and rest of season potential.
Dwight Powell (PF – DAL)
Here’s another per36 waiver wire gem. On the season, Powell’s per36 averages are 14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 0.8 blocks on 58.5% shooting. Now that Dallas is finally starting to give him more minutes, Powell needs to be owned in more than 20% of leagues like he currently is. We all love Dirk Nowitzki, but come on, he’s like 60 years old and will be riding off into the sunset soon. There’s really no need for the Mavericks to be playing him too much, other than to sell a few extra tickets.
Powell, on the other hand, is a 26-year-old big man that has shown flashes of promise when given the opportunity. With the Mavericks well out of the playoff picture at 13-27, more and more minutes should be coming Powell’s way as the season winds down. If your front court needs a boost, Powell is a great player to add with his value trending up for the rest of the season.
Gerald Green (SG/SF – HOU)
Alright, fine Gerald, you got my attention. Due to past random hot streaks, I didn’t include Green here last week. But now with James Harden potentially out for the next several weeks, Green has a great chance to carve out some solid fantasy value here in January. Over his last five games, green is averaging 19.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and a ridiculous 5.0 three-pointers per game. Out of his last 99 points scored, 75 of those have been from downtown.
That’s the type of player Green is, and will likely always be. Don’t add him expecting contributions elsewhere. He’s going to get you points, three’s and chip in a few rebounds. That’s it. If you need those stats, and who doesn’t need three’s, then you have a green light to add Green. Just remember that Green’s value will take a massive hit once Harden returns to action.
James Harden (PG/SG – HOU)
A grade-2 hamstring strain will sideline MVP candidate James Harden for at least the next couple of weeks. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks, but this type of injury usually causes more of a 4-6 week absence. The Rockets are going to make the playoffs regardless, so don’t expect them to bring Harden back until he’s 100% healthy. In Harden’s absence, Green and Eric Gordon will benefit the most.
Kevin Durant (SF/PF – GSW)
For the last two games, the Golden State Warriors have been without Kevin Durant due to a calf strain. This is just Golden State being extra cautious with their star forward. Nothing to worry about here.
Blake Griffin (PF/C – LAC)
Come on, we just got Blake Griffin back last week. He didn’t suffer any long-term injury, but concussions have a sneaky way of lingering and causing more extended absences than originally thought. We know Griffin won’t play Monday, but beyond that, we just have to wait and see how he feels. Consider him day-to-day for now.
Otto Porter (SF – WAS)
Washington played without Otto Porter Jr. last night with what was originally thought to be a hip strain. Luckily, Coach Scott Brooks clarified that it was due to back tightness and not anything to do with Porter’s hip. The Wizards don’t play again until Wednesday, which gives Porter plenty of time to rest up. If he’s unable to go, Kelly Oubre becomes a sneaky good DFS play.
Andre Drummond (C – DET)
A rib injury has forced Andre Drummond to miss two of the last three games. He just can’t seem to put this injury behind him. The Pistons desperately need his presence, too, as they’re right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. Detroit begins a three-game road trip on Monday in New Orleans. Consider Drummond questionable for that game.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG/SF – NYK)
After missing the entire month of December, it looks like Tim Hardaway Jr. will suit up for at least part of January. He returned to practice for some half-court drills yesterday and has been cleared to begin running. He’s still likely two weeks away from a return, but make sure he’s not sitting on your waiver wire. THJ also makes for a solid buy-low target for his contributions in points and three-pointers.
I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question about a player not covered here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask me there.