NBA Fantasy Waiver Pickups & Schedule (Week 14): How to Pivot off Injuries to Zach LaVine, Deandre Ayton, More
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls.
Over the weekend we saw some significant injuries pop up that will have short- and long-term impacts on teams and fantasy owners. This week’s article will focus on how to approach players who are sitting and others who are returning for their respective teams.
Joe Dellera and Dan Titus break down their top players to watch entering the week through the lens of injuries along with some notes on how to benefit on worthwhile fantasy trends and scheduling quirks for Week 14.
Read below to see where they are finding small edges this week.
Fantasy Basketball Schedule — Week 14
- Four Games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHA, CHI, DAL, DET, GSW, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, POR, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
- Three Games: CLE, DEN, MIN, PHX
- Two Games: HOU, NOP, SAC
Fantasy Friendly Teams in Week 14
- Heat: (TOR, POR, @ATL, LAL)
- Bucks: (@ATL, MEM, CHI, SAC)
- Hornets: (@NYK, @BOS, OKC, ATL)
- Guards: Anfernee Simons, Malik Monk, Coby White, Alec Burks, Lu Dort, Grayson Allen, Ayo Dosunmu, Facu Campazzo, Devin Vassell, Kevin Huerter, Gary Payton II, Eric Bledsoe, Gary Harris, Patty Mills, Facu Campazzo, Immanuel Quickley, Tyus Jones
- Forwards: DeAndre Hunter, Amir Coffey, Trey Lyles, Jae Crowder, Brandon Clarke, Max Strus Jeff Green, Nassir Little, PJ Tucker, Otto Porter, Royce O’Neale, Marvin Bagley
- Centers: JaVale McGee, Onyeka Okongwu, Nerlens Noel, Mason Plumlee, Da’Ron Sharpe, Jalen Smith, Kelly Olynyk, Isaiah Hartenstein
Players to Watch
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Durant suffered a knee sprain (MCL) in Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. At this time, it’s expected that Durant will miss between four (14 games) and six weeks (19 games).
The Nets return from the All-Star break on Feb. 24 and that should help Durant miss fewer games. The biggest note is that 11 of the Nets’ next 14 games are on the road, so Kyrie Irving would be available to play to help mitigate the damage of losing Durant.
This Big 3 just cannot stay healthy together, but that has not kept this team from regular season success. Over the past two seasons, when Kevin Durant does not play, the Nets are still an impressive 28-15.
Both Irving and James Harden see natural upticks in both their usage and their outputs but no one truly can fill the void that Durant leaves.
Here are their splits with and without Durant the last two seasons:
- Irving w/ Durant: 30 Games | 34.4 Minutes | 24.2 Points | 4.6 Rebounds | 5.1 Assists
- Irving w/o Durant: 27 Games | 35.2 Minutes | 28.8 Points | 5.0 Rebounds | 6.8 Assists
- Harden w/ Durant: 43 Games | 36.9 Minutes | 21.2 Points | 7.8 Rebounds | 10.5 Assists
- Harden w/o Durant: 30 Games | 36.5 Minutes | 27.2 Points | 8.9 Rebounds | 10.3 Assists
Besides Irving and Harden, Patty Mills should continue to hold his value, especially in home games where Irving cannot play. But one player who stepped up the past few games is Cameron Thomas.
Over his last five games, he has scored 20 points three times, and he just saw 35 minutes against the Pelicans when Durant went down with injury. Some of these games have been blowouts, but it’s something to keep in mind.
The Nets are obviously better when Durant plays, but let’s look at how their lineups performed last season (larger sample size) when Durant was off the floor but Irving and Harden were on the floor. In those possessions, their offense was incredible, scoring 120.4 points per 100 possessions, but the defense was lacking and they allowed 118.1 points per 100, per Cleaning the Glass.
Last season’s Nets’ Defense graded worse than this season’s; however, over the last two week’s they’ve ranked in the bottom five in team defense. Without Durant’s length, this team may struggle even more defensively.
Durant’s injury also opens up the MVP race. Stephen Curry has fallen off a bit and Durant had just overtaken Curry as the betting favorite. Now, there is a window for players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, and Ja Morant to make a surge in both the odds and the polls.
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo is expected to return on Monday against the Raptors and he last played about six weeks ago. He may be limited a bit to start, but considering this was an injury to his thumb, I’d imagine his conditioning is still fairly good.
Miami will be happy to see their elite defensive Center return. Adebayo made Miami’s defense 6.4 points better per 100 possessions and he gave them a lockdown defensive presence on the interior to match up with players such as Giannis, Jokic, etc.
Fantasy Impact: Adebayo’s return likely ends the impressive run Omer Yurtseven has had and Dwayne Dedmon is likely the odd man out. Yurtseven is a rookie, and surpassed Dedmon on the depth chart with his averages of 12.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 steals in 29.6 minutes per game over his lat 12 games.
Yurtseven is still a per 36 minute monster though, and if he’s able to see about 20 minutes per game he could still touch eight points and nine boards per game. I don’t think he’s a cut candidate just yet but his days of automatic double doubles are likely past us.
Check out our free NBA odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
Bulls All-Star guard Zach LaVine injured his left knee on Friday night versus the Warriors. But, Bulls fans and fantasy managers can breathe a sigh of relief after an MRI revealed no structural damage to his left knee.
He’ll be reevaluated in a week, but is not expected to miss a significant amount of time. Still, he won’t be on the court for Week 14, which should present more playing time for Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu.
A majority of LaVine’s usage will be funneled through MVP candidate DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic but White has done a decent job filling in for LaVine when he’s missed time this season.
- White w/ LaVine: 20 Games | 34.4 Minutes | 11.9 Points | 2.4 Rebounds | 2.3 Assists I 1.3 3PM
- White w/o LaVine: 3 Games | 31.9 Minutes | 16.3 Points |3.0 Rebounds |3.0 Assists I 3.3 3PM
Dosunmu will also get a look after playing extremely well against the Celtics on Friday night, dropping a career-high 27 points and 10 assists with four rebounds in 40 minute of action. He shot 9-for-10 from the field and, most importantly, held All-Star Jayson Tatum to just 8-for-24 shooting in the evening.
Take a look at both guards if they’re on waivers because both Lonzo Ball (knee) has been reportedly dealing with knee soreness for “some time.”
Billy Donovan says the knee soreness that is holding Lonzo Ball out of tonight’s game is something he’s been dealing with for “a period of time”
Felt it during Warriors game, after waking up this AM medical decided best to rest him. Donovan called Ball doubtful for MEM game
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) January 16, 2022
Also, Alex Caruso (reconditioning) has yet to make it back to the court after a stint on the IL due to a foot injury and entering health and safety protocols.
Ball and Caruso have been ruled out for Monday’s tilt against the Memphis Grizzlies and should be considered questionable for Wednesday leaving the door open for White and Dosunmu to get a boost in playing time.
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns
Deandre Ayton left Sunday’s contest against the Pistons and did not return after spraining his right ankle in the first quarter. Suns head coach Monty Williams did not provide an update on the severity of the injury, leaving his status for Monday’s game against the Spurs in jeopardy.
Monty Williams said he saw Deandre Ayton sprain his right ankle in the first quarter.
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) January 16, 2022
Ayton is having a solid season for the Suns, producing 16.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists with 1.6 steals + blocks in 29.9 minutes per game this year. He’s also shooting a career-best 63.7% from the field.
The issue with Ayton this season hasn’t been between the lines, it’s his inability to stay healthy. He’s missed 14 games so far but the Phoenix frontcourt have held it down in his absence — utilizing serviceable backups in JaVale McGee, Jalen Smith and Bismack Biyombo.
Fantasy Impact: With a back-to-back set Sunday and MLK Monday, it’s unlikely that Ayton will play which gives McGee streaming value early in the week, beginning Monday. McGee is averaging 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.1 blocks in the 10 games without Ayton in the lineup this year.