Fantasy Basketball Edge: Who is stepping up amid a spate of injuries?

Josh Lloyd

As we come to the end of Week 5 in the NBA, I’m digging deep into the numbers to see how you can benefit in your fantasy basketball league.

Keep an eye out for the Fantasy Basketball Mailbag, which goes out every Monday.

Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner

Domantas Sabonis is the 19th ranked player this season in fantasy basketball points leagues. That’s great and his run as a starter has been super impressive this season.

But, Myles Turner has missed eight games this year, which does skew quite a bit. In his minutes without Turner on the court, Sabonis has a usage of 25.7% and a rebound percentage of 22.7%.

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In the minutes they have played together, the usage is similar at 25.3%, but the rebound percentage drops all the way down to 17.1%.

Given that a bulk of Sabonis’ minutes have been without Turner so far, and the bulk moving forward will be with Turner, it is an important note to consider when viewing Sabonis’ future production.

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As for Turner, playing alongside Sabonis really impacts him. Together, Turner’s usage is 14.9% and rebound percentage is 10.2%.

In his minutes without Sabonis, usage is at 25.6% and rebound percentage is at 18.0%. I highlight this because if Sabonis does have to miss any time, we can expect Turner to see his scoring and rebounding increase.

Spencer Dinwiddie’s surge

Kyrie Irving is currently dealing with a shoulder injury, and that has pushed Spencer Dinwiddie into the starting lineup.

This has been fantastic news for his fantasy managers, after battling through a slow start to the season.

In his three starts so far, Dinwiddie has dropped 36.2, 49, and 40.8 fantasy points, an average of 42.0 points per game. For reference, 42 points per game would place ‘Starting Spencer’ as the 19th ranked player this season, ahead of the aforementioned Domantas Sabonis.

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, pictured, has impressed while Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert have been out injured.
Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has shone in the absence of the injured Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

In addition to Irving’s injury, the Nets are dealing with Caris LeVert being out and that has also benefitted Dinwiddie.

Prior to Irving’s injury, Dinwiddie had scored over 40 points just once and scored under 20 points three times as he struggled to fit into the new Nets’ rotation. So, while his recent production is great, there is a two-stepped drop off coming when Kyrie is back, then Caris.

If you can trade Dinwiddie away and get some strong top 70 player back, I would do it.

Evan Fournier’s big run

Evan Fournier looked great at the FIBA World Cup, and the early returns from his play for the Orlando Magic this season would suggest he has carried that form over.

Over his last six games, in only 30 minutes a night, Fournier is averaging 34.8 fantasy points, good for 50th in the NBA, with 21 points and 5.0 assists per game.

The Magic will be without Nikola Vučević and Aaron Gordon for the foreseeable future due to injuries, and as a result more responsibility is going to be in Fournier’s hands.

We have only a 26 possession sample of Fournier on the court so far without Vučević and Gordon this season, but if we stretch it back to last season, we can see Fournier has a usage of 24.9% without that big man duo and he averaged 0.86 fantasy points per minute when he was on the court without them compared with 0.81 over the course of the last two seasons.

Clint Capela’s rebounding

Who else was worried Russell Westbrook would come in and steal all of Clint Capela’s rebounds?

I admit I worried Capela’s rebounding numbers would drop off with Westbrook hunting triple-doubles, but something strange has happened.

Capela is averaging a career-high 13.7 rebounds per game and now has five consecutive 20 rebound games. There have been 14 games this season with 20 rebounds. Capela has five of them, Andre Drummond has six, while Anthony Davis, Derrick Favors, and Kevin Love have one apiece.

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Capela is the 10th ranked player in fantasy points leagues over the last two weeks (averaging 47.04 points) with sky-high minutes, despite missing two games due to a concussion.

It’s actually Westbrook that is ceding rebounds to Capela, seeing his own rebound rate drop from 15.8% to 12.1% this season on his new team.

Luke Kennard’s breakout

Casual fans won’t know much about Luke Kennard, especially before this season began. He began the year coming off the bench for a middling Pistons team.

Lately though, he has forced himself into the starting lineup and is putting up great numbers in his third NBA season.

He is the 90th ranked player in fantasy points leagues, playing 34 minutes a night, but sceptics out there will point out, rightfully so, that a lot of those games were without Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose. So let’s look at how he has performed in those games with Griffin and the times they share the court.

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In the 91 minutes, they have shared the court this season, Kennard is averaging 0.62 fantasy points per minute and 4.4 assists per 100 possessions, with a usage of only 11.5 percent. When Kennard is on the court without Blake, his usage is at 21.7% with an assist rate of 6.4 per 100 possessions and averaging 0.87 fantasy points per minute.

Now, 91 minutes isn’t enough to make broad sweeping conclusions, but Griffin’s return is having an adverse impact of Kennard’s production. Trading him away now may be worth looking at before the problem becomes more apparent.

Every week, I’ll be looking at some weird trends across the NBA and seeing what they mean, so make sure you’re checking out The Edge, here every Friday.