NBA Injury Report: Betting, DFS Impact of Lonzo Ball, Stephen Curry Injuries
- The NBA Injury Report is a daily piece that runs through the slate's key injuries and their betting and DFS impact.
- There are two key teams with injuries to analyze on Thursday night: the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors.
- Below I'll detail the impact of the injuries to Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Lonzo Ball and more.
There are three games tonight with a lot of injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze two key situations in this piece: the Indiana Pacers at Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors.
Lakers G Lonzo Ball (ankle) is questionable.
Injury background: Ball suffered a sprained left ankle during the second quarter of Tuesday’s loss. After playing the first 145 seconds of the second half, Ball was benched for the rest of the game.
After the game, Ball unequivocally stated, “I’m playing Thursday.” Nonetheless, he’s officially listed as questionable vs. the Pacers. Coach Luke Walton said, “If he’s at risk of getting hurt worse or hurting something else – and that comes from the training staff – then it will be our call to keep him out or not.”
Ball didn’t practice on Wednesday. X-rays were negative, and Walton added “[Ball] said he feels good. He’s not limping around. He came in early, got treatment and just lifted.”
The Lakers could recall Alex Caruso from the G-League to buffer their point guard depth, except Walton had this say about Caruso:
Undecided still: He sprained his ankle, too. He hurt himself. So depending on his health, we’ll make that call.
Tonight’s impact: The Lakers are already without Rajon Rondo (hand), and in the last six games without him, the Lakers’ pace has slipped to 100.25 possessions per 48 minutes — down from 105.50 in the first 14 games, which ranked third in the league. “We don’t want to slow things down, but we also aren’t emphasizing as much as far as pushing every chance we get,” Walton said.
Josh Hart, who is also dealing with a strained ankle tendon over the past week but has been cleared to play by the training staff, replaced Ball in the lineup near the beginning of the third quarter on Tuesday, and he was the primary replacement in the starting lineup last season when Ball was unavailable. In those games, Brandon Ingram was the primary ball-handler. This time, however, LeBron James will orchestrate the offense.
According to an article by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, less Rondo has meant more James:
Since Rondo had to leave a game in Portland and subsequently have surgery, James is handling the ball almost a minute more per game than before, according to Second Spectrum’s tracking data. This is a significant spike because the Lakers have so many possessions where they push the ball in transition that ball-handling stats can be a little skewed. During this span, James has increased his scoring average five points a game. In fact, his stats have improved across the board, especially his shooting, which has soared since Rondo went down.
Advance scouts, who have been tracking the Lakers, report that Ball frequently becomes an off-guard when James is in the game with him.
Ball has been James’ primary screen-setter of late, and Ball and James have exchanged passes more than any two players on the roster.
When Rondo and Ball have been off the court this season, James has led the Lakers with 1.59 DraftKings points per minute, a 39.4% usage rate and a 27.5% assist rate, per the NBA On/Off tool.
In the playoff series against the Pacers last season, James averaged 1.55 DraftKings points per minute and played at least 39 minutes in six of the seven games. Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic were his primary defenders, and the Pacers didn’t double-team much due to the shooters surrounding James.
The Lakers don’t possess similar marksmen, and the Pacers have done well this season to limit shots at the rim in lieu of above-the-break 3s. The Lakers have scored the second-most points in the paint this year, while the Pacers have limited teams to a league-low 40.5 points per game in the paint.
The Lakers are presently implied to score 110.25 points against a top-five ranked defense. They’ve averaged 103.8 points in five games against teams ranked in the top 10 in Defensive Rating this season, and the Pacers also rank in the bottom five in pace. In fact, the Lakers have scored more than 110 points just once in the last five games.
The Pacers have posted a +4.9 Net Rating when Victor Oladipo, who is presently listed out for the sixth straight game, has been off the court. However, their Defensive Rating has marginally dipped to 106.3 sans Oladipo.
Lance Stephenson is the primary ball-handler in the second unit, and he’s played five games against his former team. He posted a career-high 24.9% usage rate in those five games, and he doesn’t have a usage rate greater than 21% against any other team.
Stephenson costs $3,700 on FanDuel and DraftKings, and he makes sense as a flier only if Ball is ruled out. His minutes have routinely been under 18 over the last month, and that’s with the loss of Rondo. Revenge will be on his mind after Pacers president Kevin Pritchard remarked that Stephenson was sometimes the best player on the other team this past offseason.
Golden State Warriors
Injuries: Stephen Curry (groin), Draymond Green (toe), Alfonzo McKinnie (foot) and DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) are out.
Injury background: Curry has been sidelined since suffering a groin injury on November 8. Green and McKinnie have missed the previous six games, and Green won’t return until next Monday at the earliest.
Tonight’s impact: Coach Steve Kerr has settled on a starting lineup of Quinn Cook, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Damian Jones over the last four games.
Kerr claims the center spot remains fluid, and Jones, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell have all averaged no more than 20.4 minutes per game; any combination of the two have shared the court for a combined six minutes in the past six games.
During that six-game sample, the Warriors have ranked 17th in Offensive (110.2) and Defensive Rating (110.5), and they’ve ranked in the bottom 10 in offensive and defensive rebounding, per Cleaning the Glass.
Durant and Thompson rank first and second in the NBA in field-goal attempts over the last six games, and they rank second and seventh in usage rate, respectively. No other Warrior has averaged more than 12.0 shots per game or a usage rate higher than 20% over that span.
Because Durant and Thompson have absorbed a majority of the usage, they are the primary targets on the Warriors while the rest of the rotation players are viewed as lottery tickets in DFS. However, Durant and Thompson will have to deal with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
The last time Durant faced Leonard, Durant recorded 55.5 DraftKings points in a 29-point loss in which Curry and Green played. The year before as a member of the Thunder, Durant converted 15-of-38 shots when sharing the court with Leonard.
In his last 22 games against the Spurs, Thompson has exceeded salary-based expectations five times — three of which occurred in the postseason — on FanDuel. Green was his chief antagonist, as Leonard suffered a series-ending leg injury in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals.
Thompson costs at least $7,000 on DraftKings and FanDuel, and he’s the most-expensive shooting guard by a hefty margin. Durant is the most-expensive player on DraftKings ($11,000) and FanDuel ($11,500).
Their usage justifies their salaries, but the matchup makes it difficult to rely on them. Thompson can skew towards matchup-proof as long as the shot is falling, but he could have more on his plate if he gets the Kyle Lowry assignment to hide Quinn Cook on defense.