Although we are only a month into the NBA season, the landscape of Fantasy Basketball has changed significantly. Injuries continue to pile up across the league while other players have struggled to adjust to new surroundings. It’s left a lot of Fantasy managers to adjust significantly on the fly, often bringing about some difficult decisions.
If you have a question about what you should do, reach out to me on Twitter @rotomikebarner to have it answered in next week’s mailbag column. Without further ado, let’s get on to this week’s dilemmas.
How do you feel about Enes Kanter now that the season has started? I know that he missed time due to injury, but it seems like he doesn’t have a role with how the Celtics play and the emergence of Daniel Theis and Robert Williams — @DagelsBagels
I’m normally higher than most on Kanter because he’s basically a walking double-double. Despite only averaging 26 minutes a game with the Knicks last season, he still recorded averages of 14 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. Even after he was dealt to the Blazers, he averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in only 22 minutes a night.
While the opportunity initially seemed to be there for Kanter to play 30 minutes a night with the Celtics, coach Brad Stevens mentioned during the preseason that he could bring Kanter off the bench to lead their second unit. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Kanter then battled a knee injury that forced him to miss seven games. He’s only played at least 20 minutes in a game one time since returning and that was only because Theis wasn’t available. To no surprise, he finished that contest with 13 points and nine rebounds.
The problem with Kanter moving forward is that he might not see enough playing time to be a significant Fantasy option outside of deeper leagues. Theis has played well and the Celtics are off to a great start, so there’s no need to shake things up right now. If your team is plagued by injuries and you need immediate production, it’s OK to drop Kanter. He has upside, but he might not realize it with the Celtics.
Who do you like better long term: Marcus Morris or T.J. Warren? – @OKharouba
While it’s difficult to predict anything regarding the crazy rotations of the Knicks and David Fizdale, Morris is off to a surprisingly productive start. After deciding to join the Knicks despite committing verbally to the Spurs at first, he’s started all 14 games and averaged 34 minutes a night. The playing time might be his most shocking stat given the options the Knicks have up front. Morris, R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle are the only three players on the team to average at least 33 minutes a night. In fact, no other player has averaged more than 26 minutes a contest outside of those three. Morris hasn’t let his opportunity go to waste, recording 18.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 3-pointers a night.
Meanwhile, Warren has been forced into an expanded offensive role with the Pacers being decimated by injuries out of the gate. Still, his averages of 17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.9 3-pointers are all down from last season when he was a member of the Suns. The plus side with Warren is that he’s shot a higher percentage from the field during his career than Morris. However, that’s really his only advantage. Once the Pacers are finally healthy, we could see Warren receive fewer shot attempts. The risk with Morris is that the Knicks could eventually make some moves at the deadline that impact his playing time, or even send him to another team, but I’d still take him over Warren right now and worry about that later.
What do you think the impact will be on Harrison Barnes when Marvin Bagley returns? — @OKharouba
The Kings entered this season with a tremendous amount of depth. While that’s come in handy with some of their injuries, it’s not necessarily a good thing for Fantasy basketball when everyone is healthy. De’Aaron Fox (ankle) won’t be back anytime soon, but Bagley’s return is on the horizon. He’s scheduled to be re-evaluated Wednesday and will travel with the team on their upcoming road trip. The original timetable that was given for his return was four-to-six weeks and the four-week mark is Thursday.
Barnes has had no shortage of playing time, but his numbers aren’t anything to write home about. While his shooting percentage has jumped up to 47.2 percent, his usage rate is only 17.5 percent. That could be the norm for him moving forward, as well, considering he posted a 16.3 percent usage rate after being traded to the Kings last season. He’s certainly not going to see his ceiling increase once Bagley returns, but he’s still probably worth rostering in most standard-size leagues. However, if you are in a shallow league, there are probably better options available on the waiver wire.
Is Kevin Huerter a drop? I have Marvin Bagley in my IR spot. — @WESYAP
With Bagley potentially only a few days away from a return, you might be able to hang onto to Huerter and just move him to your IR spot once Bagley is activated. However, from a broader perspective, the idea of dropping Huerter isn’t crazy in most leagues. He hasn’t exactly been lights out this season, averaging 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.7 3-pointers. Some of that was because the Hawks gave him limited playing time out of the gate as he worked his way back from a knee injury.
Now dealing with a shoulder injury, Hawks’ general manager Travis Schlenk said earlier this week that they anticipate Huerter to be out four-to-five weeks. His Fantasy value is on the fringes as it is, so I won’t argue against dropping him if you don’t have an IR spot or enough room on your bench.