NBA Injury Report: Betting, DFS Impact of Devin Booker, CJ McCollum 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 Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers.
- Below I'll detail the impact of the injuries to Devin Booker, TJ Warren and CJ McCollum.
There are just three games tonight but still a lot of injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze one key game in this piece: the Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers.
Injuries: Devin Booker (hamstring) and T.J. Warren (ankle) are out.
Injury background: Booker is dealing with a strained left hamstring. He’ll sit for the second straight contest and fifth time this season due to the injury.
Warren is nursing a sore right ankle and won’t play for the fourth consecutive game. Warren is technically listed as doubtful, but after Wednesday’s practice, coach Igor Kokoskov confirmed Warren will not play tonight.
Kokoskov doesn’t expect either to play Friday as well.
Tonight’s impact: Without both starters Tuesday, the Suns started three rookies and scored nine points in the first quarter. Elie Okobo was replaced by fellow rookie De’Anthony Melton to start the second half, and Deandre Ayton was benched the final 19 minutes. Trevor Ariza led the team with 13 field goal attempts, and Mikal Bridges played a team-high 34 minutes in the blowout loss.
Not much has changed since Tuesday’s injury report. The Suns have averaged 97.2 points per game when Booker hasn’t played. With Booker, Warren, Isaiah Canaan (waived) and Tyson Chandler (waived) off the court this season, the Suns have recorded an 88.4 Offensive Rating and 119.0 Defensive Rating, per Cleaning the Glass.
Those lineups have ranked in the bottom-three percentile of offensive and defensive effective field goal percentage, turnover rate, free throw rate and offensive and defensive efficiency. Without an NBA-level point guard, the Suns lack offensive cohesion, rarely run in transition, average among the fewest passes and devolve into isolation basketball.
Kokoskov didn’t commit to a starting lineup after Wednesday’s practice, and he didn’t rule out Melton starting ahead of Okobo. Melton has been a better defender and shooter than Okobo, but Okobo has a better handle of the offense. Melton’s defensive aptitude may increase his chances of starting against the backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum — should McCollum play.
DFS salaries for Okobo and Jackson have risen incrementally, decreasing their value. Neither has been consistent in an elevated role. Melton was able to boost his stats in garbage time on Tuesday, and if you’re deciding between Okobo or Melton, flip a coin or go with the one who doesn’t start as a leverage play and hope the backup gets extended run in a blowout.
Richaun Holmes has averaged 25.95 DraftKings points in his last five road games, and he’s exceeded salary-based expectations in 10 straight. He’ll remain a value option on DraftKings at $4,300.
The Blazers have allowed at least 110 points in nine of their last 11 games, ranking 29th with a 118.6 Defensive Rating over that stretch. Much of that is due to increased dribble penetration leading to open 3s. Opponents have converted on a league-high 43.9% of 3s over that span. The Suns, however, have converted on just 32.0% of their 3s when excluding shots from Booker, Warren and Canaan.
Trail Blazers G CJ McCollum (ankle) is questionable.
Injury background: McCollum was a surprise addition to the injury report with a sprained left ankle. It’s unclear when he suffered the injury, but he played 40 minutes — including the final 11 — in Tuesday’s loss.
Tonight’s impact: McCollum, Damian Lillard, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jusuf Nurkic have started every game this season. Lillard, Aminu and Nurkic have played only 29 possessions together without McCollum.
Coach Terry Stotts has a set rotation that typically groups starters and reserves. However, the reserves have struggled lately, and Lillard has played at least 37 minutes in five straight games. McCollum has played at least 30 minutes in all but four games this season.
Minutes may not be an issue for the bench on Thursday, as the Suns are the worst team in the NBA by record and nearly every other metric. They have one road win and are missing their top-two scorers. The Suns have trailed by at least 11 points for a league-high 35.1% of their minutes this season, and the Blazers are presently favored by 13.5 points, per the Vegas Dashboard.
Evan Turner is the only non-starter averaging more than 20.0 minutes per game for the Blazers, but his role as the second unit playmaker diminishes his chances of starting. Nik Stauskas, Seth Curry or Jake Layman could start if McCollum is ruled out. Layman makes sense as a spot starter in order to keep the second unit and rotations intact. He started this season when Maurice Harkless was limited or sidelined and has averaged 15.8 minutes per game in 19 starts.
Lillard has averaged a ridiculous 47.3% usage rate and 1.58 DraftKings points per minute in 75 minutes minus McCollum this season, per the NBA On/Off tool. In that limited time, the Blazers’ Net Rating tanked to -16.5, but their pace spiked to an unsustainable 119.8 possessions per game. The sample amounts to 3.4 minutes per game without McCollum, and much of that has been spent with reserves — non-representative of what may transpire if McCollum is ruled out tonight.
Without McCollum on the court last season, Lillard averaged 1.38 DraftKings points per minute and a 37.3% usage rate, as Lillard and McCollum were generally staggered. The Blazers’ Net Rating was a solid +7.3, and they played at a slightly slower pace.
Lillard has averaged 32.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 9.5 free throw attempts, 50.81 DraftKings points, 36.38 minutes per game and 1.40 DraftKings points per minute in his last eight games against the Suns.
McCollum missed one of those games, and Lillard registered 50.75 DraftKings points in 29.5 minutes. The Blazers won that game 124-76. Despite the spread, the chance McCollum plays and Lillard priced higher than any other point guard option, Lillard may already be a must-play candidate on a three-game slate.