Photo credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Gary Harris
- The NBA Injury Report is a daily piece that runs through the slate's key injuries and their betting and DFS impact.
- There's one key injury to analyze tonight: the Denver Nuggets' Gary Harris, who is questionable with an ankle injury.
There are five games tonight, although there’s just one major situation to analyze. In this piece, I’ll dive into the injury for Nuggets guard Gary Harris and how his potential absence could affect the betting and DFS markets.
Nuggets G Gary Harris (ankle) is questionable.
Injury background: Harris was originally diagnosed with an Achilles injury following Friday’s win, but he missed Saturday’s game due to a sore left ankle and is now questionable against the Lakers for the same reason.
Coach Michael Malone said of Harris’ absence:
My thought was, and I told him this when we got to the arena, I said ‘I want to shut you down tonight. I know you want to try to go out there and see how you feel.’ But second night of a back-to-back, third game in four nights, [he] was not able to finish the game against Orlando… it’s a long season. My concern was, if he plays, are we now risking injury and a further absence?
Harris received treatment rather than participate in Monday’s practice. Harris will have three days of rest before tonight’s game, and if he can’t go, he’ll get an additional three days before the next game. Malone is hopeful Harris responds well to treatment and can go tonight.
Tonight’s impact: Torrey Craig moved into the starting lineup on Saturday in order to guard Russell Westbrook and keep the Nuggets’ second unit intact. Craig played three fewer minutes than Westbrook, going a season-high 36.
Paul Millsap was the primary defender on LeBron James in the first meeting against the Lakers this year, and Trey Lyles guarded James when Millsap rested. Craig got the LeBron assignment to start the second half, and James’ presence may work in Craig’s advantage to keep him in the rotation. Alas, James notched a triple-double against that trio.
If Harris is unable to play, Craig may continue to start. However, Malik Beasley could garner an increase in playing time if Millsap continues to be the primary defender on James, limiting Craig’s utility.
Craig was in the starting lineup the last time the Nuggets faced the Lakers and played 26 minutes. He’s since been replaced by Juancho Hernangomez as a starting wing and played 16 combined minutes in the seven games prior to starting Saturday.
When Harris has been off the court, the Nuggets’ defense and pace have remained unaffected, but their Offensive Rating has dipped from 110.0 with Harris on the court to 104.4 when he sits. The Nuggets also have team-lows of a +3.7 Net Rating and 53.4% true-shooting mark without Harris, per NBA.com Stats.
Individually, Nikola Jokic has averaged a +12.9% usage rate differential in 64 minutes without Harris, and his DraftKings’ per-minute production has improved to 1.55, per the NBA On/Off tool.
When Tyson Chandler or JaVale McGee have shared the court with Jokic this season (33 minutes), Jokic has recorded 30 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals while shooting 12-of-16 from the floor.
Centers projected for at least 20 minutes have averaged a league-high and FantasyLabs’ +5.28 DraftKings Plus/Minus against the Lakers this season. That number has ballooned to a league-high +7.54 in November, and Chandler made his Lakers debut November 7. Jokic costs a season-low $8,800 on DraftKings, and he’ll likely be among the highest-owned cash-game targets.
In the first game against the Lakers a month ago, Jokic, Jamal Murray and Monte Morris all provided at least 40 DraftKings points, and Morris may be the value play instead of Craig if Harris can’t play.
Malone rarely speaks to the media after morning shootaround, and if Harris doesn’t provide an update himself, his status won’t be announced until after lineups lock at 7 p.m. ET. That’ll impact Craig’s viability as a punt option at $3,000 on DraftKings as well since he could return to a DNP-CD if Harris plays.