The Red Rock Fantasy Basketball Mailbag is back with issue three, and for this one, I’m going to tackle just one email, but there’s a lot to digest about the NBA’s injured players, so let’s get straight into it.
From John from Chicago
First of I love the show, love the team analyses, love the insight, and I especially love how many podcasts you’ve been putting up.
I have been doing some mock drafts and when a player comes up who has been consistently/recently injured I never know what to do. So I wanted to know if you could give me your opinion on some of these players in relation to their yahoo average draft for head to head.
26.0 Derrick Rose
31.7 Kobe Bryant
34 Rajon Rondo (yes, where does he rank even when drafting him injured).
34.7 Dwyane Wade
40.4 Eric Bledsoe
49.1 Nerlens Noel
61.1 Pau Gasol (why the hell is he so low?)
73.1 Michael Carter-Williams
As well as anything else you can think of.
First of all John, thanks for the kind words about the podcast. Myself and the co-hosts have been working very hard to give a lot of hopefully helpful and relevant information, especially across the team preview podcasts we have been releasing lately. We’re on the home stretch with only eight to go and I hope you’re as excited as I am for them.
Now, I was debating on replying to John in an email, but I though, “Hey, this would make a great article” and here we are, as I’m sure John is not the only fantasy basketball manager with concerns about players who are coming off injuries or have been injury prone.
Coupled with my rotisserie and head-to-head ranks, I will give a brief thought on each of these players and how their value matches up to where they are being picked on Yahoo based on their average draft positions (ADP). John’s question related specifically to head-to-head leagues, but I’ll also mention roto leagues in my response.
So, here goes, with my rankings in parentheses.
Joakim Noah (28 H2H, 25 Roto, 23.9 Yahoo)
So, as you can see, I have Noah only slightly behind Yahoo’s ADP of 23.9 and wouldn’t blame you for taking him a couple of spots higher. I don’t think there’s anyway his assist numbers remain at 5.0 per game, as when Rose was last in the lineup, he only averaged 2.5 per game. Last season, he played 80 games, after missing 52 games over the previous three seasons. Noah has missed the FIBA World Cup due to injury, so let’s hope that doesn’t carry over into the season, but he appears to be practicing without restriction. I wouldn’t factor injury too highly into whether you draft him or not.
Al Horford (35 H, 22 R, 25.8 Y)
Horford’s ADP falls right between my rankings depending on league scoring format and I’ve probably been a little cautious with my games played prediction for the big man. Horford has suffered two season-ending pectoral tears on opposite sides of his body in the last three years, but in no way do I consider him an injury-prone player. Aside from the two lost seasons, Horford has missed 30 games in his other five NBA seasons. Horford isn’t yet 100% recovered from his latest injury and isn’t taking contact in practice, so grabbing him in the middle of the third round seems about right.
Derrick Rose (57 H, 76 R, 26 Y)
If Derrick Rose is going at pick 26 in drafts, then it’s obvious he won’t be on any of my teams this season. This is a guy, that although I’m a Bulls fan and Rose is in fact my favourite player, that you can’t do anything but consider him injury prone. Couple that with how bad he looked early last season and how underdone he was in Spain for the World Cup, I just wouldn’t want to be taking a third round pick on him. He was the seventh overall head-to-head player in his MVP season, but to expect him to be that guy again this season seems far-fetched. I wouldn’t want him at that steep a price.
Kobe Bryant (42 H, 56 R, 31.6 Y)
Kobe has the fact that he is a shooting guard going in his favour, as that is the weakest position in the NBA, and subsequently, fantasy basketball. But, at age 36, and missing 16 months of competitive basketball (save the six game stint in January), can he possible be the same Mamba? I’m voting no, but I’m also not writing him off as a fantasy contributor. He could very easily be a 20-5-5 guy, but all the talk from coach Byron Scott and Lakers’ management is that Kobe will have is minutes and games limited, which is never good news for fantasy owners.
Rajon Rondo (86 H, 137 R, 34.1 Y)
Warning! Warning! Warning! I am way off his ADP data and that’s because Rondo is really only a two category contributor — assists and steals. He hurts both percentages, doesn’t score, doesn’t shoot threes and his rebounds, while good for a point guard, are not above average in fantasy leagues in general. And my rankings were done pre-injury. I don’t want any part of Rondo this season, even though, like Rose, he is in my top three players to watch in the NBA.
Dwyane Wade (56 H, 72 R, 34.8 Y)
While I don’t think Wade will play anywhere near as low a total as he did last season, when he suited up for only 54 games, it’s hard to rely on the ageing veteran for a full slate of 82 games, despite his claims that that’s his aim. His ADP feels inflated as in the two industry mock drafts I’ve been a part of, Wade has slipped into the 50’s or 60’s and if you can get him there, it’s worth it.
Eric Bledsoe (50 H, 50 R, 40.4 Y)
The biggest downfall for Bledsoe is the competition in the Phoenix backcourt, although you can’t ignore his injury history. He missed 39 games last season, six in 2012-13, 26 in 2011-12 and just one in his rookie season of 2010-11. So, it’s not like he’s missed chunks every season, but two years out of four with lots of time on the shelf is concerning. Having signed a huge five-year, $70 million deal recently, he looks to be the Suns’ guard of the future and will get minutes over Isaiah Thomas, but he may not get much more than the 33 minutes he averaged last season. Even though I have him at 50, grabbing im just before his ADP is not a bad option, as I ‘ve said many time, between picks 40-70, so much depends on what you need, rather than strictly adhering to rankings.
Nerlens Noel (32 H, 83 R, 49.1 Y)
As everyone knows, Noel missed his entire rookie season recovering from ACL surgery. One ACL injury does not an inured player make, so I’d expect him, so far removed from the injury, to be back to full strength very quickly. He didn’t look encumbered in Summer League and I think Noel is an awesome option in a punt free throw percentage head-to-head team build, especially for his ability to contribute in blocks, steals, rebounds and field goal percentage. In roto, I’d be leaving him alone.
Pau Gasol (96 H, 111 R, 61.1 Y)
Why so low, John? Well, you’ll be shocked to see where I have him and it’s not because I’m scared of injury. Not entirely anyway. He’ll miss games as older players are wont to do, but he’ll also be asked to play a much smaller role than he was accustomed to in Los Angeles. The Bulls’ frontcourt is arguably the deepest in the NBA, and Pau, who is primarily a centre these days, will have to compete with Noah, Taj Gibson, as well as rookies Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic for minutes. If you can grab him late, he’ll still be awesome, but I don’t want him that early.
Michael Carter-Williams (31 H, 99 R, 73.3 Y)
MCW is still recovering from May shoulder surgery and hasn’t been cleared to participate in training camp yet. He says it won’t be long until he’s back, but there is a little bit of doubt for his availability for the season opener. In saying that, in a head-to-head league, he’s a bargain at pick 73. His counting stats were amazing last season and on a team with arguably less talent, there’s no reason he won’t be able to replicate what he did when he won Rookie of the Year. Just do not count on him for percentages. In short, if you are getting MCW 40 picks lower than where I have him valued for H2H, injury is not a concern in the slightest.
So, there we have it. John, I hope this answers your questions and adds a little light on the situations of these talented, but sometimes frail players. Remember, the later you get in drafts, the less care you need to place on injury risk, as I always say, on average, you’ll turn over about a third of your roster by season’s end anyway.
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