Fantasy Basketball Mailbag: It's not looking good for Kyrie Irving

Welcome to 2020, where teams are making changes, Kevin Love is complaining, and the Bucks are still a juggernaut. I took some of your questions from Twitter and Instagram to try and help you make the most of your fantasy team. Let’s get to it.

@royshim Do you think Kyrie Irving will be back this season?

We had heard nothing on Kyrie for months and then, over the weekend, he spoke to the media about his shoulder issue. He said that he has pain in his shoulder still and is dealing with some bursitis.

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The next step is a cortisone shot and he’s likely out another month or two. If he doesn’t respond to the cortisone, surgery is an option which would be a 3-4 month recovery.

So, taking all of those things into consideration, Irving’s appearance this season seems unlikely.

Kyrie Irving's shoulder injury is likely to keep him from playing for another few months, after an update on his health late last week. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Which is bummer, especially considering we just have heard no information for the last two months for an injury which is obviously serious.

If you are in a tough spot in the standings, with no IL, Irving has to be considered close to a drop, or if not, a sell low, just to get some return, because any games before the All-Star break seems like a pipe dream.

@Tradewinds23 Do you see Aron Baynes sticking in the starting lineup and putting up good numbers? 

Last game, the Suns went unconventional and started two centres, with Baynes playing alongside Deandre Ayton in a solid win over the Knicks.

Monty Williams has been noncommital about starting the pairing together as a permanent thing, but given Ayton’s exuberance about playing out of position, I imagine we get an extended trial of this pairing.

Baynes has started 20 games this season. 17 of those were in place of Ayton when he was suspended, one was together with Ayton and two were ahead of Ayton as he returned from his ankle injury. In those 20 starts, Baynes averaged 26 minutes a night and 27.05 fantasy points.

Perhaps surprisingly, Baynes was not a top 100 player during his stretch as a starter, ranking outside the top 120.

Baynes may stick in the starting lineup, expecting mind-blowing performances is probably a fool’s errand. He is okay to add, but the results may be underwhelming. 

@jobsarmiento Opinion on players you expect to be shut down at the end of the season?

Shut down is my most hated term in fantasy, marginally ahead of contract year and revenge game.

A few years ago, the Suns decided not to play Eric Bledsoe after the All-Star break to improve their lottery odds, while fully healthy, and since then, the fantasy discourse has moved to discuss almost every player on a team that may not make the playoffs as being a shutdown candidate.

After the Bledsoe issue, which caused him to demand a trade, and the Suns to receive notice from the NBA and rules regarding rest to be tightened, panic sets into every fantasy manager. But, the reality is, outside of the last couple of games of the season, players aren’t just going to stop playing.

What this question is basically asking is who is going to get injured, which nobody knows. But, it is worth looking at players who may have a role reduction due to injury risk, and the top two candidates for that are Blake Griffin and Bradley Beal.

Both guys are currently out with knee and leg injuries respectively and their teams are going nowhere. Blake is going to miss a chunk of time and his knees are a real problem, so while he may get shut down, and he should, he is injured.

As for Beal, he has leg soreness and has dealt with stress reactions in his leg before.

The Wizards have placed an unnecessary load on Beal for the last two seasons and it has caught up with him. Now, he may not miss large swathes of games, but I would be stunned if he kept playing 37 minutes a night every night.

@Jaeee_Young Is Larry Nance Jr. worth a stash? His knee issues are worrisome. John Henson’s outlook is looking better at the moment.

First of all, I disagree with the premise about Henson. Henson is strictly a backup to Tristan Thompson and can’t really play alongside him.

We have also seen Henson struggle in big minutes with his defence and while the blocks can be interesting, the path to playing time is a lot harder, with Thompson much more likely to keep playing his role.

It has been rough for Nance this season. Playing almost exclusively as a backup to Kevin Love has made him irrelevant in fantasy.

In the preseason, I hoped we would see Nance and Thompson split a lot of the centre minutes, but John Beilein has refused to play Nance at centre, instead leaving him exclusively at power forward.

But, and this is a big but, Kevin Love is not going to be playing for Cleveland for the entirety of this season.

That is as close to a guarantee as you can get. Now, another power forward may come back in a deal, but apart from that, Nance is then going to start and if he gets 26 minutes a night, the top 100 is going to get smashed into.

So, while the knee is a worry, I would be stashing Nance for the next few weeks to see what happens with Love.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and keep an eye out for the next mailbag tweet to gather your questions.