THE National Basketball Association 2013-2014 season isn’t even two months old yet and the stars are falling like flies after a six-week grind—which leaves fantasy hoops managers everywhere, yours truly included, virtual basket cases (pardon the pun) as they (we) try to salvage what’s left of their flagging campaigns.
By position, here are the All-Injured All-Stars, with some bit players thrown in for good measure. For arguments’ sake, I’m only including those who managed to make an impact this season yet are staring at the dreaded word “indefinitely” when it comes to their projected returns:
Anthony Davis—The New Orleans forward was the No. 1 player overall in fantasyland so far this season with stellar per-game averages of 18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.6 blocks, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals with nearly 50 percent field goal shooting and 85 percent accuracy from the free throw line (at just 1.4 turnovers) in 16 outings. But that all changed Sunday night when “Brow” fractured his left hand against the Knicks, and his absence will definitely hurt not just the Pelicans but all fantasy managers who got him as high as No. 3 in preseason drafts.
Marc Gasol—The younger, arguably better Gasol suffered a sprained left knee that conflicting reports said may take as many as 10 weeks to heal, leaving the Memphis Grizzlies without their best low-post operator and defender. The Spaniard had just recovered from a statistical mini-slump and was averaging 16 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.1 blocks, 0.9 steals and just 1.7 TOs for the year, good enough for 23rd overall in fantasy rankings.
Andre Iguodala—Hamstring injuries seem to be in vogue in the NBA these days, and Golden State’s new acquisition was not spared. He heard a “pop” in his left hammy against the Lakers. That’s the sound fantasy managers heard too—the disappearing line of his 12.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.9 steals for the Warriors that made him a top-42 value for the year.
Tobias Harris—Well, he hasn’t really done anything this season yet, but fantasy owners who burned a fifth-round pick (or better) on the budding Orlando forward (like me) are still seething that his Doritos ankles have not allowed him to post a tepid 6 points against the Phoenix Suns last Nov. 24. They (we) were expecting more along his projected lines of 16.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.1 bpg and 0.8 spg for the Magic this season, good for top-50 value; instead, Glen Davis came back sooner than him.
Derrick Rose—Now this guy is catching all the wrong breaks with his knees, causing guys like me and Boss Riera my editor (an avowed Bulls fan) much, much grief. Never mind the thousands of owners, who gambled on D-Rose in the first round on draft day and expected him to pump out at least 20 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and an improved 3-point shot every night for at least 70 games. Now he won’t be ready for at least the start of next season. Sound familiar? Sad times in Chi-town indeed.
All-Injured Second Team
JaVale McGee—One of the first to go down the injured list this year, the Denver center fractured his left leg and let down a lot of managers who wasted a fifth-round pick on this tarnished Nugget. He was averaging a paltry 7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in five outings.
Larry Sanders—Fantasy basketball’s waiver wire steal of 2012-2013, he’s out for at least six weeks after ripping up his right thumb in a series of unfortunate events that followed his $44-million contract signing with Milwaukee over the summer. He did next to nothing in three games for the Bucks earlier in November.
Jimmy Butler—We hear turf toe is a persistent injury, which is why (to lessen the pain Boss Riera and I feel for our Bulls) we hope the promising swingman gets over it and resumes his nice production for Chicago—1.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks, 1.1 treys and just 1.3 turnovers, equivalent to top-40 value on the year.
Bradley Beal—The Wizards were already a hobbled team before their red-hot two-guard suffered a stress injury to the same right leg that kept him to just 56 games last season. He was averaging 2.8 3pg, 20.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, and 3.5 apg in 13 outings for Washington, landing him in the top 60 of fantasy value.
Steve Nash—One of my favorite players of all time, the two-time MVP is hobbled by the same back injuries that eased out Larry “Legend” Bird from the Celtics. Father Time has certainly caught up with the Lakers’ elder statesman, and whenever he can play this season should be a cause for applause. Fantasy-wise he no longer has no value, but we don’t watch and love basketball for the numbers, do we?
POSTSCRIPT: To my nephew John Joeben and my Mom, the beautiful Josefina Gulle, who celebrate their natal days on Dec. 2 and 4, respectively, happy birthday! I love you both to bits.